Have you heard about OneWeb Day ? It’s an international celebration of the internet. Held annually on September 22, this worldwide event calls attention to the exchange of information and ideas the internet inspires. From the relationship between musicians and fans to grassroots organizing and civic participation, the web gives everyone access to the most important communications platform of our time.
Well, it should be that way.
In some parts of the world, like China and Iran, the open internet is not an everyday reality. Even in the United States, access to quality affordable broadband is lacking in many communities. Another problem is the powerful telecommunications and cable companies who seem to set all the rules.
For the last three years, OneWebDay has attracted global network partner organizations and individuals who were committed to broadening the public’s awareness of Internet and Web issues. In 2008, OneWebDay organizers documented volunteer-driven events 34 different cities across the world.
OneWebDay was founded by Susan Crawford, a cyberlaw scholar. She is the current technology policy advisor to President Obama. According to Ms. Crawford:
“Earth Day was the model when I founded OneWebDay in 2006. In 1969, one man asked the people to do what their elected representatives would not: take the future of the environment into their own hands.” Today, a worldwide citizens’ movement has put the environment front and center politically. Peoples’ lives now are as dependent on the Internet as they are on the basics like roads, energy supplies and running water. We can no longer take that for granted, and we must advocate for the Internet politically and support its vitality personally.”
OneWebDay 2008 focused on political participation and civic engagement. But this year’s theme was less about the web as a privilege to be used for social good and more about the web as a public utility on par with electricity and running water – something that should be extended to all citizens to allow them to function in society.
“It’s no accident that there was $7.2 billion allocated for broadband in the stimulus bill,” said OneWebDay executive director Nathaniel James.
“Everyone understands that the Internet is the pathway to economic opportunity, from educational achievement to success on the job. Even finding and applying for a job requires online skills and access.”
James also noted that OneWebDay volunteers were sent into less-wired communities to help create more public Internet access. “This year we are rolling up our sleeves in a big way to install hardware and do trainings that will make a difference right now for people who are getting left behind.”
The Washington Post had an article recently that showed that although music is rapidly transitioning to online access and delivery, many people in this country can’t participate in the legitimate digital music marketplace. Country music fans are especially affected by this lack of connection.
With the Internet becoming an increasingly dominant way for fans to discover and purchase music, a survey of 7,500 people by the country music industry’s trade organization revealed a sad fact: Only 50 percent of core country fans have Internet access at home. That statistic, released in March, is far below the national average. A 2008 survey by Nielsen Media Research found that 80 percent of all U.S. homes have a computer, and almost 92 percent of those homes have Internet access.
Cost and availability were among the most prominent reasons cited for not having an internet connection at home (or having dial-up, which, when we’re talking about the delivery of music files, is almost the same thing).
Musicians, in particular, would benefit from broadband expansion. As the music world continues the shift to digital, it’s increasingly important that artists can utilize current innovations and fans can lawfully access the music they want. But it’s not just about today: tomorrow’s music industry is being built before our very eyes. In order for this change to be successful, there needs to be education about the value of art and how to protect and nurture it. It will involve experimenting with new digital business models that benefit creators. It will involve more attractive systems for the legal consumption of music. It will involve systems for grassroots information-sharing so musical artists can book tours, network and find out more information about their fan-base. It will (and already does) involve direct communication with fans. And it definitely involves getting broadband to more communities so people interested in careers in music don’t have to move to another city to access the basic tools to get them started.
With so much of our day-to-day lives taking place in the online realm, it’s crucial that artists, entrepreneurs and innovators can use the internet to help create the future of music.
For more information on OneWebDay, click HERE