On my way home I needed to pick up some items and dashed in a liquor store and about half way through I found myself crying! A homeless man asked me what the problem was and I said, “They are going to pull the plug on my dad tomorrow and I can’t even contact the doctor to talk to him about it!” The homeless man, said “Oh, you need to call 211, they will help you.”
And I said “They can’t possibly help me with this.” The homeless man said “Oh yes, they help with just about everything!” So the next morning I called 211 and someone on the line said they would help me. He called somewhere on my behalf with me and right after that the doctor called and we made a plan for my dad to recover…he is 81 years old now, in a wheelchair, but I have my dad… and I have 211 to thank.
The Information Age Goes Old School
Stanford Social Innovation Review
April 14, 2010
By Peter Manzo
“But it’s really an information ocean, not a highway. If you think of it as an ocean, then you have to consider the kind of tools that are used, who builds the boats, who designs them, and whether you’re surfing or diving. If you have a message in the bottle, how do you get the bottle to the people who need it?” Peter Gabriel, (New York Times, July 13, 1994 )
Many of us have come to expect uninterrupted access to the Internet everywhere. For too many of us, round-the-clock checking of email, Twitter and Facebook have become an unhealthy obsession, and increasingly, an intrusive expectation of employers and co-workers. For the connected, the challenge is now how to unplug, to avoid being overwhelmed by the fire hose. As Nicholas Carr recently observed, reflecting on what seems to be growing revulsion to this “Disconnection is the new counterculture.”
Internet access by now is so ubiquitous that even the poor can connect - the “digital divide” is so 1990s, right?
Unfortunately, no. As Ford Foundation president Luis Ubiñas wrote in a recent op-ed in the Chronicle of Philanthropy, 65% of households with income below $25,000 do not have access to high-speed broadband connections, according to the Social Science Research Council. In Ubiñas’s view, making broadband access widely available to the huge number of low income people not yet connected, and keeping the Internet open and neutral, are essential challenges to our democracy. He went on to invite all foundations to join the Ford Foundation, which has committed $50 million over five years to the cause, to address these challenges.