Category Archives: Web 2.0

Business Impact of Web 2.0 Technologies

 

Source: http://is.gd/i4YSh

This article describes research designed to measure the impact of the business value of wikis, blogs, podcasts, folksonomies, mashups, social networks, virtual worlds, crowdsourcing, and RSS filters—all Web 2.0 technologies. Properly deployed, they may well permit companies to cost-effectively increase their productivity and, ultimately, their competitive advantage; the research reported here includes results of interview, observation, and survey data-collection from select companies and industries primarily in the U.S. across six performance areas: knowledge management, rapid application development, customer relationship management, collaboration/communication, innovation, and training. The results include caution, skepticism, and a significant contribution to collaboration and communication. Wikis, blogs, and RSS filters have had the greatest impact, while virtual worlds have had virtually none. Security remains a concern, but we found that communication and collaboration are generally well served by Web 2.0 technologies.

My research posed the following questions to managers and executives:

    * What good is Web 2.0 technology to your company?;
    * What problems might Web 2.0 technology solve?;
    * How can we use the technology to save or make money?; and
    * What are the best ways to exploit the technology without complicating existing infrastructures and architectures?

Research objectives included:

    * Understand which Web 2.0 tools and techniques are most likely to improve corporate productivity and management;
    * Identify how Web 2.0 tools and techniques can be used to enhance corporate productivity and management; and
    * Measure impact via collection of interview, direct observational, and survey data.

Questions addressed included:

    * Can wikis, blogs, RSS filters, and folksonomies help companies improve their knowledge management?;
    * Can wikis be used to build "corporate encyclopedias," training manuals, and other forms of documentation?;
    * Can blogs be used to vet ideas about markets, customers, and strategies?;
    * Can podcasts be used to document products?;
    * Can folksonomies be used to organize structured and unstructured content?;
    * Can RSS filters be used to create content streams to improve customer relationship management?;
    * Can mashups be used for rapid application development?; and
    * Can crowdsourcing be used to stimulate innovation?

Research methods included:

    * Profile the range of Web 2.0 technologies available to corporations;
    * Define "impact" across multiple dimensions of productivity;
    * Collect data on the use of Web 2.0 technologies and the impact areas through interviews, direct observation, and surveys;
    * Analyze the data to identify usage patterns and impact;
    * Identify correlations from the survey data among technologies and impact areas; and
    * Measure the relative impact of individual and groups of technologies on individual and groups of impact areas.

Moodle 2.0 Boosts Integration and Web 2.0 Features

 

Source: http://bit.ly/f6HQVt

Following more than two years of development, the Moodle community has formally released Moodle 2.0, a major update to the popular open source learning management system.

Moodle is a widely adopted electronic learning platform, one that boasts greater reported usage than any other open source or commercial LMS. It’s used by about 1.1 million teachers and more than 38 million users via 49,000 sites worldwide. Those users participate in some 3.9 million total courses as of this writing. Moodle supports both small and large deployments (with several sites well beyond 100,000 users) and includes course management tools, various Web 2.0 technologies, online assessments, and other features common to learning management systems.

The latest 2.0 release, formally launched last week (Thanksgiving day), adds a wide range of new capabilities as well as improvements to the core functionality found in earlier releases. Moodle 2.0 allows users to set up "community hubs," which are searchable directories of courses for public or private use that allow teachers to publish and advertise their own courses. It also adds support for standards-based Web services throughout, cohorts (groups of users that can be enrolled in a course through a single action), prerequisites, and conditions for course completion. And it adds new content block types, including comments for any page, community monitoring, status updates, and private files.

Version 2.0 also emphasizes integration with third-party and external tools. Among these:

    * Plagiarism and detection tools, such as Turnitin;
    * Content repositories via plugins (currently for "Alfresco, Amazon S3, Box.net, File system on Server, Flickr, Google Docs, Mahara, MERLOT, Picasa, Recent Files, Remote Moodle sites, WebDAV servers, Wikimedia, [and] Youtube," according to Moodle’s documentation), as well as the ability to add files from external stores via an AJAX interface or by specifying a URL; and
    * Electronic portfolios, which, like external repositories, can be integrated via plugins (for Box.net, Flickr, Google Docs, Mahara, and Picasa) or through export modules, with support currently available for HTML, image, text, and LEAP2A formats.

Moodle 2.0 also includes a number of improvements to features carried over from the previous generation. These include:

    * A new TinyMCE-based HTML editor with a resizable editor window and "cleaner" XHTML output;
    * Improvements to messaging, including a message overview panel;
    * More flexibility with themes, including custom menus for all themes;
    * Enhanced assessment tools, including improved navigation, reports, editing, and administration;
    * General improvements to RSS;
    * Simplification of roles and improvements to defining and assigning roles;
    * Enhanced backups, which now support courses of any size;
    * Blog comments and support for external blogs;
    * Overall improvements to enrollments, including guest accounts and multiple simultaneous forms of enrollment;
    * More robust fIle handling, including unicode file names, metadata, file associations, and duplicates; and
    * Improved navigation and settings blocks, which now appear on all pages with contextual links and settings.

Moodle lead developer Martin Dougiamas said in a blog post Thursday that development had already begun on version 2.0.1, with a particular emphasis on "performance and robustness." He added: "We are also switching the whole project from CVS to git and taking the opportunity to significantly improve our entire development process with more staff and better structures and workflow."

Aside from individual efforts, Moodle partners in the United States that contributed funding or code to the development of version 2.0 included ClassroomRevolution.com, Moodlerooms, NewSchool Learning, and Remote-Learner USA. (A total of 51 partners from around the world contributed.)

Moodle 2.0 supports PHP 5.2.8 (5.3.3 recommended); a minimum of MySQL 5.0.25, PostgreSQL 8.3, Oracle 10.2, or Microsoft SQL Server 2005; and most recent browsers, regardless of platform, including Safari 3, Internet Explorer 7, Firefox 3, Chrome 4, or Opera 9. Complete details of version 2.0, including a full list of bug fixes and system requirements, can be found on Moodle’s release notes page here.

Moodle 2.0 Boosts Integration and Web 2.0 Features

Source: http://bit.ly/fr1hrG

Following more than two years of development, the Moodle community has formally released Moodle 2.0, a major update to the popular open source learning management system.

Moodle is a widely adopted electronic learning platform, one that boasts greater reported usage than any other open source or commercial LMS. It’s used by about 1.1 million teachers and more than 38 million users via 49,000 sites worldwide. Those users participate in some 3.9 million total courses as of this writing. Moodle supports both small and large deployments (with several sites well beyond 100,000 users) and includes course management tools, various Web 2.0 technologies, online assessments, and other features common to learning management systems.

The latest 2.0 release, formally launched last week (Thanksgiving day), adds a wide range of new capabilities as well as improvements to the core functionality found in earlier releases. Moodle 2.0 allows users to set up "community hubs," which are searchable directories of courses for public or private use that allow teachers to publish and advertise their own courses. It also adds support for standards-based Web services throughout, cohorts (groups of users that can be enrolled in a course through a single action), prerequisites, and conditions for course completion. And it adds new content block types, including comments for any page, community monitoring, status updates, and private files.

Version 2.0 also emphasizes integration with third-party and external tools. Among these:

- Plagiarism and detection tools, such as Turnitin;

- Content repositories via plugins (currently for "Alfresco, Amazon S3, Box.net, File system on Server, Flickr, Google Docs, Mahara, MERLOT, Picasa, Recent Files, Remote Moodle sites, WebDAV servers, Wikimedia, [and] Youtube," according to Moodle’s documentation), as well as the ability to add files from external stores via an AJAX interface or by specifying a URL;

- Electronic portfolios, which, like external repositories, can be integrated via plugins (for Box.net, Flickr, Google Docs, Mahara, and Picasa) or through export modules, with support currently available for HTML, image, text, and LEAP2A formats.

Moodle 2.0 also includes a number of improvements to features carried over from the previous generation. These include:

-A new TinyMCE-based HTML editor with a resizable editor window and "cleaner" XHTML output;

-Improvements to messaging, including a message overview panel;

More flexibility with themes, including custom menus for all themes;

-Enhanced assessment tools, including improved navigation, reports, editing, and administration;

-General improvements to RSS;

-Simplification of roles and improvements to defining and assigning roles;

-Enhanced backups, which now support courses of any size;

-Blog comments and support for external blogs;

-Overall improvements to enrollments, including guest accounts and multiple simultaneous forms of enrollment;

-More robust fIle handling, including unicode file names, metadata, file associations, and duplicates; and

-Improved navigation and settings blocks, which now appear on all pages with contextual links and settings.

Moodle lead developer Martin Dougiamas said in a blog post Thursday that development had already begun on version 2.0.1, with a particular emphasis on "performance and robustness." He added: "We are also switching the whole project from CVS to git and taking the opportunity to significantly improve our entire development process with more staff and better structures and workflow."

Aside from individual efforts, Moodle partners in the United States that contributed funding or code to the development of version 2.0 included ClassroomRevolution.com, Moodlerooms, NewSchool Learning, and Remote-Learner USA. (A total of 51 partners from around the world contributed.)

Moodle 2.0 supports PHP 5.2.8 (5.3.3 recommended); a minimum of MySQL 5.0.25, PostgreSQL 8.3, Oracle 10.2, or Microsoft SQL Server 2005; and most recent browsers, regardless of platform, including Safari 3, Internet Explorer 7, Firefox 3, Chrome 4, or Opera 9.

Web 2.0 Summit to Map ‘Net Economy’s ‘points of Control’

By Juan Carlos Perez

Internet companies are engaged in an escalating landgrab of world-war proportions, involved in vicious battles over many fronts, and the outcomes will have far-reaching consequences for years to come.

At least that’s how the current status of the Web economy is perceived by Tim O’Reilly and John Battelle, the head honchos of the hyper-exclusive and highly influential Web 2.0 Summit conference, which runs from Monday to Wednesday in San Francisco.

“We’re excited this year to be dealing with the biggest set of transitions in the Internet economy since the dot-com bust. In fact, it’s way bigger than the dot-com bust,” O’Reilly said recently during a webcast to discuss the focus of the conference.

To illustrate the wrangling for market share and opportunities that is going on, O’Reilly and Battelle have set up an interactive map with clever cartography that includes the Clouds of Infrastructure, the Union of Social Networks, the Land of Search, the Kingdom of E-Commerce, the Oceans of OS and UI, the Subcontinent of Advertising, Location Basin and the Plains of Content.

All those areas are considered “points of control” and will be discussed at length in on-stage interviews and panels at this year’s conference, where the speaker roster as usual features industry superstars, including top executives from Yahoo, Facebook, Google, Twitter, Research in Motion and Adobe.

For O’Reilly, founder and CEO of O’Reilly Media, the Internet economy is at a stage now where players have known where the money is, for a while, the period of hyper-growth has settled down and opportunities for expansion involve invading others’ stomping ground.

“Companies are focused less on inventing the future and more on what they’re going to take away from the competition,” he said.

As in previous years, companies will probably take advantage of the industry attention on the conference to make product announcements. Facebook, for example, will hold a press conference on Monday morning in San Francisco to announce what is rumored to be a major enhancement to its messaging capabilities. The company may launch a full-fledged webmail service, with Microsoft involved in a significant way, according to various media reports.

“Getting into e-mail is a natural extension of what Facebook is doing. E-mail is probably the most widely used form of modern-day social networking, and most of us still do more social networking with e-mail than with any specialized tool every day, including networking to get our work done,” said IDC analyst Al Hilwa, who hasn’t been briefed on the announcement.

“Facebook is already being used extensively as a marketing and CRM [customer relationship management] tool as social and business worlds continue to blur. Moving deeper into the enterprise sector is a natural growth strategy. So, it is about time Facebook started looking beyond its established franchise to leverage its brand and user base for other ventures,” he said via e-mail.

In that sense, it’s only fitting that Web 2.0 Summit kicks off on Monday with a keynote appearance by Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, a company whose restlessness and eagerness to branch out from its core business of search exemplify the main theme of the event.

“I think we’re setting it up great by starting with Eric Schmidt, because they have so many different plays and so many different points of control,” Battelle said during the webcast. In addition to being one of the show’s hosts, Battelle is founder, chairman and CEO of Federated Media Publishing.

Attendance at Web 2.0 Summit is capped at 1,000 attendees, a select group made up primarily of CEOs, CFOs, CIOs, marketing executives, entrepreneurs, product managers and venture capitalists.

They come from companies of all sizes: Twenty-four percent work at companies with fewer than 50 employees, while 30 percent work at companies with more than 2,500 employees, according to event co-producers O’Reilly Media and UBM TechWeb.

Banks use Web 2.0 to increase customer retention

By pntmarketingservices

Web 2.0 offers financial institutions abundant opportunities to engage with customers. Networks such as Twitter, Yelp and Facebook are now becoming common elements of multichannel and customer loyalty strategies, and banks are beginning to use these sites proactively to spread their messages.

In a recent article for Bank Technology News, Shane Kite describes how Citigroup’s Global Transaction Services unit monitors social media outlets to address customer issues and improve products. Furthermore, the FI uses Twitter to release “breaking news” and upcoming events, and YouTube to disseminate videos that feature executives speaking about market news.

“We’ll be closely monitoring these channels for feedback on the news and content we are distributing, and on what additional topics and issues customers want GTS to cover,” Leslie Klein, marketing chief for the bank’s securities, cash and trade finance unit, told BTN.

Citigroup exemplifies how this new technology is becoming essential to banks looking to improve their customer retention efforts. Mark Rogers, CEO of London-based Market Sentinel, explained how new apps can help stakeholders make any necessary changes by answering questions such as: “Have I gotten away with inching up my prices? Are customers talking about closing their bank accounts? How can I make the conversation more positive?”

Many experts are urging banks to adopt social media strategies or risk being left behind. In October, Mark A. Nystuen, a principal at the Kineo Group, told the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago that a lack of online interactivity could cost banks customers.

Web 2.0 Security Strategy

 

By Samuel Greengard, baselinemag.com

Over the last few years, Web 2.0 has changed the way people access and exchange data. These days, it’s next to impossible to find a public or private sector enterprise that doesn’t rely on Web 2.0 functions to handle a variety of tasks and processes.

Although definitions vary, Web 2.0 generally refers to an interactive, extended computing experience. These tools boost information sharing and collaboration by interconnecting computers and data in a more seamless way.

Social networking sites, blogs, wikis, video-sharing sites, hosted services, Web applications, mashups and folksonomies are some examples of Web 2.0 capabilities. Cloud computing also incorporates Web 2.0 functions by sharing and syncing data across a variety of devices. For example, data backup and sharing services such as Dropbox and Apple’s Mobile Me make it possible to store and retrieve data across devices, including desktop computers, laptops and smartphones. And Google Apps and Salesforce.com offer features that aren’t available in a more conventional computing environment.

Despite these Web 2.0 benefits, there is a cost that’s beyond the price of the systems and software: significant security challenges. For one thing, IT must oversee a tangle of interconnected servers—sometimes spanning several organizations or entities—and attempt to understand how and where data flows. For another, there’s almost no way to enforce standards or adopt a consistent set of security applications spanning servers and organizations. Finally, it’s clear that Web 2.0 programming languages such as AJAX are exploitable.

“From a security standpoint, Web 2.0 is a big can of worms,” says Rob Cheyne, CEO of security consulting firm Safelight Security Advisors. “By definition, it’s an open and connected environment. Systems and services are always on and always available. Instead of keeping people out, you want them to enter and access the data. This is the complete opposite of traditional enterprise security, which focuses on building a closed and guarded environment.”

In recent years, Yahoo! Mail, Gmail, MySpace and Facebook have all been targeted with malicious code. The sheer openness of today’s computing environment is unprecedented. Employees, customers and business partners use an array of devices—including smartphones and other mobile units—to tap into intellectual property, credit card information, personal data, health care records and more.

The key to success is to balance security requirements with business needs. Although every organization is different, shutting down social networking sites, cutting off access to blogs and wikis, and limiting a variety of other interactive services and capabilities will probably prove counterproductive. “Without many of today’s Web 2.0 tools, an organization is likely at a disadvantage,” explains Bill Phelps, executive director of Security Practice at consulting firm Accenture.

Today, the average organization channels approximately 3.4 percent of its IT budget into security, according to Gartner. However, that figure is expected to rise to 5.1 percent in 2010—and there’s no relief in sight. As business and data become more intertwined, and Web 2.0 applications and services—including computing clouds, social media, Web apps and mobile devices—become more pervasive, the risks increase dramatically.

“There is a growing focus on protecting the network and all the data that flows through it,” states Gary Loveland, U.S. Advisory Practice Leader for Security at consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers. “What makes security so difficult today is that it’s becoming more difficult to know where your data is located and who has access to it. Data is more transient than ever.”

Minimizing Web 2.0 Risk

 

By Samuel Greengard, baselinemag.com

The challenge of the Web 2.0 world is that security must focus on protecting open systems rather than shutting everyone out. Traditional security measures don’t work. The interactive environment offers remarkable opportunity and allows organizations to connect with customers and business partners in powerful ways. But there’s a downside: data often resides across multiple servers operated by multiple organizations, and determining how and where it flows is an enormous challenge. Even if an organization has stringent controls in place, there’s no guarantee that a partner’s partner is fully committed to security. And as the line blurs between work and personal use of social media and other Web tools, the vulnerabilities grow. Clicking on a rogue app in Facebook or MySpace might unleash malware. An effective phishing attempt may dupe an employee into providing a password or other valuable data. Your organization cannot afford to ignore or minimize the risks. Protecting the network and all that flows through it is a challenge of the Web 2.0 world.

Researchers Claim Web 2.0 is a Massive Leap Forward in Human Evolution

GENEVA, Switzerland, Oct. 19 (SEND2PRESS NEWSWIRE) — The Future Research Group of the World Mind Network, a think tank composed of scholars from the Silicon Valley, Oxford, Harvard, Rutgers, the Universities of Tokyo and Lausanne, and Kansas State University, says that popular Internet and Smart Phone phenomena which have emerged in the last five years represent a quantum leap in the evolution of Homo Sapiens, comparable to far earlier transformations in hominid history.

According to the network’s co-director Yannick Wittgenstein, this has enormous implications for business, culture, government, education, the Environment, and sustainability– and yet almost no one realizes this, because we’re too close to the situation to view it comprehensively.

Those who do realize it will be able to change society in days or weeks rather than years, because the power of today’s Web to connect brains instantly ensures that ideas can be refined, shared, experimented with, improved, and perfected at warp speed, by hundreds of people in dozens of countries.

A similar transformation occurred two million years ago when our ancestors experienced a major increase in brain size, associated with the appearance of the first tool-making humanoid, Homo Habilis.

The wedding of a powerful brain with infinitely capable hands proved to be a genetic advantage that would eventually lead our ancestors to out-compete all other primates.

But we, according to the researchers, have been given tools in the last five years which are far more potentially revolutionary:

Through social networking sites like Facebook we can spread knowledge and wisdom around the world instantly at no cost.

Through Skype we can talk and even video conference with most people around the world for almost nothing.

Through blogs we can float our opinions and determine their relative value against a myriad of other viewpoints.

Through YouTube we can access complex video and audio content about any subject immediately and at no cost. And we can easily create videos which will be used the same way by others.

Through Wikipedia we can shape the way knowledge is presented, co-editing with thousands of other interested parties.

Through Google and other search engines we can answer millions of questions with access to the world’s best experts on anything.

Through Twitter we can know the most intimate thoughts of millions, almost as soon as they utter them.

Through Smart Phones and their 200,000 apps we can– well, we can do 200,000 things, most of which have never been possible in human history.

We are a species which has been gifted with the powers of comic book super heroes. But for the most part we don’t act like it.

Why do most human beings not sense the enormous power of their new tools?

For one thing, according to Wittgenstein, most web technologies are marketed as toys.

Also, the early adopters of Web 2.0 have largely been young people, who tend to be more interested in entertainment than in changing the world. And the trivial and in some cases harmful uses they make of the new technologies do not inspire their elders to explore further.

Additionally, very few people of any age consistently ask what the new tools can do IN COMBINATION.

Right now, World Mind Network students are using a Google map which plots emergency-related text messages from the flood-ravaged areas of Pakistan to speed relief supplies to where they’re needed. Others are turning unused cell phone minutes into legal tender for a Kenyan ICT center. Still others are creating new research paradigms for universities, based on a social networking model rather than the old publish or perish model.

Says the World Mind Network’s research director Sarah Mendel, “We live in exciting times. And we have the power to make them far more exciting, if we only demand the most from the powerful technologies around us.”

Minimizing Web 2.0 Risk

 

By Samuel Greengard, BaseLineMag.com

The challenge of the Web 2.0 world is that security must focus on protecting open systems rather than shutting everyone out. Traditional security measures don’t work. The interactive environment offers remarkable opportunity and allows organizations to connect with customers and business partners in powerful ways. But there’s a downside: data often resides across multiple servers operated by multiple organizations, and determining how and where it flows is an enormous challenge. Even if an organization has stringent controls in place, there’s no guarantee that a partner’s partner is fully committed to security. And as the line blurs between work and personal use of social media and other Web tools, the vulnerabilities grow. Clicking on a rogue app in Facebook or MySpace might unleash malware. An effective phishing attempt may dupe an employee into providing a password or other valuable data. Your organization cannot afford to ignore or minimize the risks. Protecting the network and all that flows through it is a challenge of the Web 2.0 world.

VIDEO Using Web 3.0 Technology to Share Stories that can Change the World

 

by Caty Borum Chattoo, The Huffington Post

Ten years ago, global leaders came together to create one of the most revolutionary pacts for well, saving the world, essentially — in modern times.

In September 2000, the United Nations created and signed the Millennium Declaration, a very public announcement of the notion that — at the threshold of the new century — the leaders of prosperous nations and developing nations alike, according to the statement, "have a collective responsibility to uphold the principles of human dignity, equality and equity at the global level. As leaders we have a duty therefore to all the world’s people, especially the most vulnerable and, in particular, the children of the world, to whom the future belongs."

As superstar global activist Bono writes in The New York Times ,"it wasn’t a promise of rich nations to poor ones; it was a pact, a partnership, in which each side would meet obligations to its own citizens and to one another."

"Obligations to its own citizens and to one another" — obligations of the highest moral (and economic) imperative — to end global poverty and work to systematically dismantle the institutional forces that fuel its perpetual cycle. And, for us — the citizens of the world — an obligation to keep our elected leaders accountable to their unique responsibilities for meeting these goals.

Back in 2000, global leaders made the commitment with the firm idea that it would be imminently, urgently possible to reach (by 2015) the stated Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) established by the agreement. In the month of the declaration’s ten-year birthday, the world — the post-9/11, Iraq War, global recession, economic-turmoil world — is a different place.

But incredibly, progress is being made, according to the United Nations’ new report — progress that includes "big gains in cutting the rate of extreme poverty, getting children into primary schools, addressing AIDS, malaria and child health, and a good chance to reach the target for access to clean drinking water." The work of thousands of NGOs, individuals, world leaders, is paying off, despite the unforeseen challenges of the decade.

With this momentum chugging along, and yet with so much progress yet to be made, what can the rest of us do to help advance this mission? Once we take the five minutes or so to get past the jargon-y language of "MDGs," how can we understand the real stories about impacting lives in countries we may never inhabit or even visit? And will our understanding help us to incrementally add to this ripple of social change?

As a true believer in the power of media images and storytelling to create social change, I have some partial answers to share — in the form of a new Web project from the innovative U.S.-based independent broadcaster, Link TV. Link TV and its group of socially-minded programmers, executives and creative smarties, are harnessing the best of the next phase of the Web — the semantic Web — to create a global-aid portal that combines "the video-sharing power of YouTube with the open information of Wikipedia and the mission of your favorite advocacy Web… Using the latest search and engagement tools, we are harnessing the power of storytelling to change the world," according to Link TV’s president.

The new site, ViewChange.org, showcases incredible stories from around the globe that illustrate – in real, living, breathing, concrete ways – the stories of Millennium Development Goals being met on a daily, incremental basis. The portal, which was created by Link with support from the Gates Foundation, is not set to launch with its fullest technological power until November 2010 (you can check out the public beta site now, though), but Link has already started gathering short films that showcase tangible examples of the Millennium Declaration at work.

The early launch pad for the ViewChange project, the ViewChange Film Contest, showcases incredible stories from around the world — thoughtful stories, joyful stories, stories that build awareness and inspire action. (Check out this week’s announcement about the film contest finalists from TedXChange, an event that commemorates the 10th anniversary of the Millennium Development Goals.) These are stories that illustrate real people making change toward the Millennium Development Goals on a daily basis — people working on the change and people impacted by the change. They include stories like the Feminine Training Center, which is transforming the lives of women and girls in Haiti; a new loan system in Kenya that’s allowing farmers to be self-sustaining and economically independent; the fight for maternal health in Sierra Leone, and on and on.

But here’s where the magic really happens: When the ViewChange portal is up and running in a few months, with its maximum backend power and search functionality, users will be able to search for "access to clean drinking water," for example, and pull up the most directly-relevant white papers, action campaigns with ways to get involved, background resources — and of course, real stories in videos — to explain the issue and what’s being done about it. It’s a dazzling example of how digital media engineers are creatively leveraging the next phase of Web-based media toward the mission of social change, with real stories at the centerpiece. It’s a vital public awareness tool, and it can become an incredibly powerful agent for change on Capitol Hill and other places where leaders come together to decide on domestic and global agendas.

By sharing and supporting these stories, not only with our friends and family members, but with our elected officials and leaders, we can help — to use a terribly-overused-but-beloved phrase — "be the change we want to see in the world." Of course there is more to be done and more to learn on scales much larger than this one, but this is one way we can be part of answering the call to care for our global neighbors. We have five more years to make good on the specific Millennium Declaration promise, but we have a lifetime to care for our fellow citizens of the world. Watch, connect, spread the information, and speak up.