Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

So You Want to be a "Social Media for Social Good" Star?

September 21, 2012

You can. Tomorrow begins a global conversation on the ways we can use the digital tools to help change the world for the better. This year? You can be there -- and I highly encourage you to do so. The more voices the better, people.  The 3-day Social Good Summit opens tomorrow in New York City, with China and Kenya joining in on the action on Monday, September 24 all in service to debating the best ways to use things like social networking and mobile technology in the quest to eradicate hunger and improve health (and health care). I'm here in New York City to join the conversation live but because all of the sessions will be live-streamed and there are hundreds of "meet ups" happening around the world as well, you can easily participate also. And when I say easy, I mean easy.

How can you join the conversation and make a difference in the lives of millions no matter where you live?

  • Livestream the event. Everything is being livestreamed - everything! And there is a speaker for everyone. I dare you not to find someone or some topic that sparks your interest. From Pete Cashmore, founder of Mashable, speaking about "The state of social good" to 8 year-old YouTube sensation JD Malkin on using music as inspiration for social good to Egyptian blogger Rami Raoof who will address the (major) role of digital activism in the Arab Spring. Not to mention, Claire Diaz-Ortize of Twitter, the Gates Foundation's Chief Communications Officer Kate James speaking from Beijing, and how to use social gaming for social good.
  • Find a meet-up near you. If you're not the kind of person who enjoys watching these things by yourself, and want more action, find out if there's a meet-up your way - or organize your own. On Monday, September 24th meet-ups will mobilize around the world!
  • #SGSGlobal. Yep, you knew it was coming. Join the conversation on Twitter. It's bound to be fast and furious. There are hundreds already tweeting. The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) tweeted: @UNFPA: Big ideas + new media = Innovative solutions. How will YOU make a difference? #SGSglobal
  • Spread the word. Whether you're a seasoned blogger, an ardent tweeter, a lover of Tumblr or you simply refuse to stay silent as children continue to die from vaccine preventable diseases like polio and pneumonia, as young girls are forced into marriage, as families in the poorest parts of the world still lack for clean water or access to sanitation, or as women die by the thousands daily from unsafe childbirth, please spread the world that we can harness the power of technology to help solve these problems.

The truth is new media, social media, technology - all of these tools - are powerful mechanisms for conversation and, when things go well, the world changes for the better as a result. I write "when things go well" because, of course, technology can and does become the impetus for anger and negativity sometimes. But the ways in which new media, in the hands of passionate, committed, intelligent citizens of the world, has already helped address some of the most pressing problems should be celebrated, understood and harnessed further.

There's a reason this event is held during this particular weekend. It's because global leaders come together at this time every year for the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) high-level meetings to discuss major world challenges. What better way to supplement these discussions than with a parallel global conversation on how we - all of us - can and should use technology as a tool to solve some of these major challenges; from eradicating poverty and hunger to improving the health and lives of women and girls in the poorest countries?

I encourage everyone to join with the foundation (one of the sponsors of the summit) and our incredible partners - from Mashable, the United Nations Foundation, and the 92stY to Ericsson and the UNDP. Do you want to be a social media for social good superstar and connect with tens of thousands (maybe millions?) of others, all in service to the shared goals of reducing the number of people who are hungry, who live in poverty, who cannot access the health care they deserve to lead healthy lives, or grow the food they want to take care of their families? Take a few hours of your day, each day - or on one day, to join the conversation. I promise you - your voice counts.

 
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