May 26 2009: Mitch Kapor writes:
I’m excited to let everyone know I’ve taken on a new responsibility as Board Chair of OneWebDay. OneWebDay is an annual, global event which is celebrated every September 22. Much like Earth Day, which inspired it, OneWebDay provides an opportunity for communities to celebrate the power of Web for positive change, to take action to protect what is precious about it, and to educate the public and policymakers on how the Web works.
The major news I have to report is that OneWebDay has new institutional support, new leadership and a new theme for 2009.
We have been awarded our first major grant, which comes from the Ford Foundation. The Foundation strives to strengthen democratic values, reduce poverty and injustice, promote international cooperation, and advance human achievement The Ford Foundation grant will enable OneWebDay to make a transition from being an all-volunteer organization to having a paid Executive Director position.
As such I’m delighted to announce that Nathaniel James has joined OneWebDay as its Executive Director. Nathan comes to us from the staff of the Media and Democracy Coalition and brings a unique blend of skills and experiences as an organizer on communications policy.
As Board Chair, I will provide strategic direction and lead the Board in developing a plan for long-term growth. Nathan will manage day-to-day business of OneWebDay, build and support our network of volunteers, and develop our program plans for OneWebDay 2009. We would like the thank the Media and Democracy Coalition for Nathanâ€™s support leading up to the grant award, and we hope to build on our relationship.
Every year, OneWebDay focuses on a new theme. This yearâ€™s theme is the promise of digital inclusion, and we will call attention to efforts that work to ensure that anyone who wants it has access to the Internet and the skills they need to engage in our new communications environment.
The fight for digital inclusion is now on the cutting edge in the long struggle for social and economic justice. Access to a fast, affordable, and open Internet is essential for every child in school, every entrepreneur with a new idea, and anyone who wants full access to our government and the democratic process.
Here are a couple of sobering facts:
The US has fallen to a rank of 17th for broadband penetration. So on a good day we’re competitive with Latvia in broadband.
As recently as 2007, only 29% of households earning less than $35,000 had adopted broadband at home.
Thomas Jefferson once said that he would prefer newspapers without government to government without newspapers, but his following comment, while less known, is just as important: â€œâ€¦every man (sic) should receive those papers, and be capable of reading them.â€
Jefferson understood not just the importance of news and information in a democratic society, but also the needs of the whole citizenry and every community to be able to access that information. We have much work to do to achieve the Jeffersonian ideal.
One Web Day was founded by Susan Crawford in 2006, who now advises President Obama on science, technology, and innovation policy at the National Economic Council. We are proud to continue building her legacy and enacting her vision.