This week is week eight and our last week of summer classes. Over the weeks, though the summer has felt fast, I feel I have learned a lot. There were so many things I learned from this class that I otherwise may have never learned about. We learned topics ranging from types of social media, to government projects, and to this last week as we watched the TED talk with Clay Shirky.
Shirky talked about how cognitive surplus will change the world. His speech began when he talk about a blog up in Kenya in 2007 after some political disputes. The blog had been receiving so much attention that she could not handle it. Two programmers agreed to help and created a program called Ushahidi. It helped her to manage all the information that was coming in. This random act of kindness then spread and the program began to be used by others to help them with their work.
Shirky then begins to talks about wall cats, and that along with experimenting, comes both seriousness and fun depending on what that particular person doing the experiments wants to do. The difference between the wall cats and Ushahidi was that the wall cats were for mere fun and entertainment while Ushahidi could be used to help not only a few people in the same interest, such as the wall cats help to bring entertainment to cat lovers, but could help and be useful to several people.
The first question asks if I have seen a collective effort on the internet that fits in the description of a collective surplus project. The example given by Shirky is a great one right there. As for what I have seen, I can think of one that is not quite as big as Ushahidi, but it can be used as this. What I thought of was Facebook. Let me explain. It had not been created as a random act of kindness unlike the Ushahidi project was. However, people can post several things on Facebook for both personal and business reasons.
For my first mission trip, I went to Philadelphia. I got to do all sorts of things such as pack lunches for the poor, meet the homeless, and even help set up a party at a retirement home on New Year’s Eve. One of the things I did was work with a man named Raymond Grant. He does projects around the city such as helping to fix things in old homes that belong to people that just cannot afford to get those necessities fixed and he will do it for free. What my group did with him was sweep the streets and pick up trash on the sidewalks. It was not the easiest job to do in freezing cold weather, but we all worked together to get the job done.
Raymond Grant asked after for our names since he knew we all went to school together so he hoped to just be able to find us and we look for him if he had trouble finding us. I did not end up becoming a friend of his until a few months back. While his friend, he has asked me to “like” pages. There is the dreadful word of the “like” button on Facebook. However, his pages were just to promote upcoming larger projects he was doing and keeping us updated, and even asking if we could help in anyway if we could.
I know that this is not exactly like what had happened with the Ushahidi project, but it has similarities. Facebook can be used to promote good things going on and can help for people to ask for help for things such as nonprofit organizations or projects, such as Raymond’s. If I have the opportunity to help in a way that those programmers did, then I definitely would. For me, if someone needs help and I am able to provide it, then why not? Why wouldn’t I help?
This summer semester has taught me a lot of things over the quick eight weeks that went by. It was cool to learn about the simple social medias that many people use every day and how that expands into something more, such as the stars on YouTube.
I also liked learning about the government project, though I was kind of freaked out by it at the same time because I am always feeling like I am being watched now. There were so many things brought up this summer that I had no idea on and liked learning about. This was a great class and I am glad to have learned all that I have with all of my classmates.