When did we start saying 'It's a small world'? Could it really have been Disney, and the 1964 World's Fair? Little did they know in 1964, that the personal computer, still in its nascence, was about to make it even smaller.
Now, with the World Wide Web, we can travel across the globe in a millisecond just by opening a window.
But there's so much on offer, you need a GPS even for the web. How do you winnow down where you want to go?
"There's too much noise," said Dee Poku, and although she was referring to why she founded the WIE Symposium, it's true here too. So it's fitting that her co-founder for that event, June Sarpong, is also the founder of this project: Row6.com
The common thread? Connection.
Sarpong believes that we really are all connected by 6 degrees of separation, and she seeks to bridge that distance with her own spin on that paradigm: 6 degrees of integration.
Row6 is an interactive website that seeks to introduce disparate cultures through individual interaction. With the world's population teetering on the 7 billion mark, finding ways to connect and bond through our commonality has an encroaching urgency.
Sarpong, made an MBE of the British empire in 2007, has been using her talent for connection for over a dozen years, as a television presenter in the UK, eliciting stories from dignitaries, politicians, and activists such as Bill Clinton, Nelson Mandela, George Clooney, and Halle Berry. But her impulse for generosity impelled her to expand her reach to foster global connections.
There are, appropriately, 6 profiles to kick off Row6.com -- from Indonesia, China, Africa, India, Brazil, and the U.S.-- complete with translation.
I met the young South African woman featured on the site; lovely and gracious, she excitedly explained that the clothes on her back were furnished by Ubuntu -- an organization founded by Nelson Mandela to foster networking and partnerships, so she could travel to New York for the site's launch. Although she was thrilled to see the City, she was looking forward to returning to start school to become a hospital inspector in her area.
The pathos and positivity in the segment on the 9/11 first responder (pictured) brings a much-needed healing perspective to the 10th anniversary of this gaping wound.
I also met Eva Schloss at the Row6.com launch -- the stepsister of Anne Frank! Her story whisked me beyond time, space and borders, to the Holland of World War II. Although she isn't on the site, she should be, and can be.
Because anyone can upload their story, along with pictures, video. The operational aspect of Row6.com analyzes the story content, then aligns the common threads with others on the database. Funds for the project also help provide computers and Internet connectivity to many of these remote areas. Worlds of possibility for cross-cultural connection...and understanding, begin to open with each window.
Row6.com has an ambitious goal: to get a global online community "talking through storytelling" -- "The Hero with Seven Billion Faces."
And frankly, yesterday's passing of Steve Jobs and his wise words about seizing the day, makes it seem like an insult not to take advantage of the kinds of opportunities he has in part made possible. We can therefore we must.
All you have to do is open a window - then climb through.
Gerit Quealy writes in Style & Substance at StyleGoesStrong.com