Ask not what the Net can do for you....

Karen Coyle's list of 10 things you can do as a Cyber-Activist

Talk given at DEFCON ][, August, 1994, Las Vegas (Viva!)
  1. Adopt a Newbie- Yeah, it's a pain, but every newbie who learns the ways of the Net is a Netizen who isn't posting messages to the wrong end of the listserv. It makes it better for all of us.
  2. Encourage a kid - Ever watch a ten-year-old get online for the first time? Kids get it right away. They're amazing. But a lot of kids don't have a parent or teacher who is online and who can get them online. Do it, and let them in turn teach the adults in their lives.
  3. Get your mother on email. - If she's already on email, get your grandmother on. Nobody's too old, and she'll love the idea that she can reach you, instantly, anywhere in the world, any time.
  4. Help a journalist - You've read those horribly, mis-guided articles about the Space, right? Well, don't just blame the journalists. They are usually well-meaning people on impossible deadlines with editors from hell. Find a willing journalist and offer your time and your information; show them how to use the Net to contact people, to find stories, to do research.
  5. Give your knowledge away free. - Schools, libraries, non-profit organizations all need your knowledge of the Net. They have no money and they lack the technical expertise. Volunteer on your own, or form groups like CompuMentor, which provides technical help for non-profits. Who would you rather see get online? The tobacco companies, or Planned Parenthood? TimeWarner, or your public library?
  6. Learn a second language. And I don't mean C++ or Visual Basic. I mean a human language. There's a lot of talk about the Net being global, but the fact is it's overwhelmingly dominated by the US, and by our language and culture. "Global" shouldn't mean that everyone else in the world has to learn to speak English in order to participate.
  7. Be all you can be - be "out" online. - Are you completely normal? I mean, are you the online norm? Or are you maybe: younger than 16 or older than 40? Operating without a Y chromosome? Golden brown? Having sex for other than reproductive purposes? It's neat to hide behind catchy handle, but let's let the Space have the same variety as Real Life.
  8. Respect other people's bandwidth. - Some of us are in the fortunate position of having a free or nearly free ride on the Information Highway today. But remember that other folks are paying, paying to receive what you write and send. Before you hit the "send" key think: would I pay 25cents to read this?
  9. Use your local library. - Forget the hoopla about the National Information Infrastructure, as if Al Gore invented it one day on the golf course. We've got an NII, and it's in our libraries. There's stuff in those libraries that you wouldn't believe - stuff that you can't get online. The real Info Highway will be when we combine the power of the libraries with the Space, and we need people to know them both who can work toward this goal.
  10. Join SOMETHING. - Join EFF or CPSR. Give a few bucks to the people who fight the battles in Washington against the forces of evil and incompetence. Lend your name to a group with clout. We need you; they need you. Numbers do count. You must be present to win.

©Karen Coyle, 1994
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