The internet is more than a source of information and entertainment; it offers opportunities to individuals to make a positive impact and inspire others. Here are some main ways which individuals have leveraged on platforms on the internet to effect positive change.
Raise Awareness and share information
Raising awareness and funding for your social cause have never been easier. The power to reach vast numbers of people in a short period of time facilitates the spreading of messages for good. Whether it is an environmental cause, highlighting poverty in Singapore or animal abuses, the online medium can be harnessed to convince people to buy into your cause.
During outbreaks of infectious diseases such as dengue fever, updated information is useful for residents to take preventive or containment measures. The sharing of information allows government and citizens to coordinate efforts and work collaboratively to achieve a common goal.
The effectiveness of internet and social media was demonstrated in the 2011 East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami. Vital relief functions such as locating displaced-persons, raising funds and coordinating volunteer efforts were carried out using social media. During the disaster, Twitter published a blog post in English and Japanese explaining how to use Twitter for the disaster and the hashtags for different topics. Open mapping services such as Google Maps are powerful tools when combined with other information. Websites such as Sinsai.info overlays information gathered from social media and emails onto maps to show which areas lost electricity and where individuals can find shelter. Such information provided a lifeline for directly affected individuals and timely updates for others.
Crowd-sourcing is the practice of obtaining services, ideas, content or funding from a large group of people. Through crowd-sourcing, organisations and individuals are able to mine collective capabilities, intelligence and knowledge to achieve certain goals.
Entrepreneurs can also crowd-source for funding, known as crowd-funding, on websites such as Kickstarter.com. Within the first day of funding, a Singaporean start-up raised more than US$300,000 on Kickstarter, far exceeding its target of US$100,000. Due to their success in crowd-funding, their product has gained media attention, which attracted more funding for their company. Instead of the traditional sources of funding from angel investors and venture-capitalists, crowd-funding on the internet may be an alternative way to kick-start your business.
Learn a skill, showcase your talent
Learning how to play a musical instrument can be an expensive endeavour without the internet. It involves buying a musical instrument, music scores and hiring an instructor, which may be out-of-reach for many families. Fortunately, the online world offers many video lessons and materials for free. Once you have picked up a skill, you can showcase your talents on YouTube and even record a teaching video! There have been many instances of musicians who are talent-scouted from their covers on YouTube.
Besides music, there are plenty of lessons on a variety of topics: You can pick up the fundamentals of a new language, a new recipe or even how to replace the wheels of a vehicle.
Learning on the internet goes beyond learning of skills, supplementing formal education as well. The Khan Academy provides video lectures for primary, secondary and junior college students. For university students, Coursera partners with universities to deliver video lectures from top schools to everyone. This has enabled students of underprivileged economic background to gain access to courses from universities such as Harvard, Princeton and Yale!
Leveraging the power
The internet can be used to project your positive influence to thousands, if not millions of people. Use the internet to satisfy your ambition and your thirst for knowledge. Think of new ways to help others and make your impact in the world!
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