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Dr. King: Social Pioneer

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He had a dream....

On August 28th, 1963 Dr. Martin Luther King, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC, called for an end to racism in the United States at the now legendary "March on Washington."

It was a defining moment for the civil rights movement in the US and arguably a defining moment for people anywhere who felt enslaved.

Today, (Monday, January 20), in the US, we celebrate Dr Martin Luther King Day and while many of us are off from work and government offices are closed I always feel that is not nearly enough to celebrate his life, his message and his accomplishments....hence my Ramble today...

Think about it - some 250,000 plus people - jam-packed into the plaza around the monument. Many of them fearful as they had suffered the cruelty of Southern police at other demonstrations - yet all of them knowing that this was a stake in the ground - a historic moment - there was no turning back...never would be....

Now think about this - there were no smartphones or Mobile devices; no Twitter; Facebook or texting to spread the word - no Instagram to share the moment - just people and the word spread like the word from the Mountain.....

The Mountain, today, is the world of digital communication...instantaneous....huge aggregated audiences...interactive...shareable...imagine the possibilities had 'The Dream' been liked......

Yet, as we pontificate on the world we have created...on the Internet of Things...or better the Internet of Everything...where are we with Dr King's message? How has his dream fared in our ever on; fully connected world?

It's interesting to note, that the story of hate on the World Wide Web begins on January 11, 1995 with the establishment of the extremist Stormfront site - an early effort to give racists a new, clean, modern look.

In other words one of the earliest web endeavors was to spread hate.

Sadly not much has changed and in fact the number of hate based sites; hate messages and hate shares goes up every year as racial and religious intolerance grows and flourishes by using the very tools that should be making our society better.

Social media struggles with balancing free speech and sheer vitriol - some better than others. According to a grading system established by the Simon Wiesenthal Center.....Facebook got an A-minus because of its effort to eliminate digital prejudice and hate on the site. YouTube was graded C-minus because of the number of how-to terror videos on the site...Twitter got an F because "you can post anything you want without being screened or removed."

And by the way - bullying fits the hate bill.

Bottom line - take the day and week established to celebrate a man who walked in Gandhi's footsteps, who fought racism, bigotry, hatred, and small-minded thinking his whole life, and who understood, long before the Web, that we are all inextricably linked.

While he didn't have the advantage, that we have, of digital sharing he knew what social sharing was all about and its power to change the world for good...listen:

"And when this happens, and when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: Free at last! Free at last!

Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"
Dr. Martin Luther King...I Had a Dream

Let the leaders of all of the social tools you use know that they need to make the rules tougher; pledge to help eradicate bullying and bad behavior online and off...make the promise of the Web of Everything ring with freedom and truth and not hollow protestations of freedom of speech masking hate....

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