I’m writing to you as the One Web Day Ambassador for July 9th 2008. One Web Day is a once-a-year celebration of all that is good about the Web. It’s organized by a non-profit team in New York City, but the celebrations take place all over the world. The Ambassadors project is designed to help spread the word about OWD and subsequently connect the relevant communities into the celebration.
This year’s One Web Day theme is participatory democracy. Given the current American political climate it is no surprise that participatory democracy and the web is such a hot topic. In March, CSPAN decided to release their streams under a license similar to CC’s BY-NC license. As the primary season was heating up, Creative Commons’ founder and former CEO, Lawrence Lessig implored the television networks to release the political debates for free. Taking Lessig’s point to heart, Barack Obama, John Edwards, and Christopher Dodd all urged the DNC’s chairman Howard Dean to release their debates under Creative Commons’ Attribution license. Finally, CNN announced that they would release the debates for gratis online “without restriction.”
While it would have been ideal to see CNN release under a Creative Commons Attribution license, the steps were made in the right direction: towards opening and freeing the media that matters in our participatory democracy. Moreover, the whole exchange demonstrated the central tenets of how participatory democracy on the web works, and would probably not have been possible without the Internet.
So when September 22nd 2008 rolls around, give some thought to why and how the web is influencing our participatory democracy, and how you can play a role in celebrating its success on One Web Day — and don’t forget to make it to one the many parties!