Synonyms for Change

It's amazing how much one word can actually say.

Our first mission on Day 1 was to use one word to describe ourselves and the reason why we do the work that we do. After we find our own word, we were asked to pair off and find other words that match well with ours, and talk to the people who wrote them.

Usually, describing myself is pretty hard, but I know what I do and why I do it; my word was rights. Human rights, civil rights, legal rights...rights. And I knew that there would be people who used digital technology for the same reason - to rally together those who have similar concerns about their rights and the rights of others in their countries, and to arm them with the knowledge and tools necessary to defend those rights. And I was absolutely right.

Karl Jean-Jeune's word was the first to get my attention - justice. I make a beeline in his direction and ask him about the injustices that he fights for in his country of Haiti. Turns out, he's a lot like me. He speaks out on any sort of injustice, from political to social, both through the internet as a blogger and through NGO work.

Diego Mauricio Garzon's yellow post-it had the two words information activism on it. The first thing I noticed was the word activism, and the second thing I noticed was that he wrote two words instead of one (which technically is 'cheating', but I call it creative license). He's involved in informing and empowering people about how to access and use information in his country (just when you think he couldn't get any more noble, he says he's a librarian).

And then there's Maria del Mar, and the word accessibility on her post-it. She's much like Diego Mauricio in trying to give people access to information on politics in Paraguay. We had a discussion about the look and feel of politics in our respective countries, and the availability of information about politics and the law.

And then it hits me. Much like the realization that I'm the youngest person here, and the only native English-speaking participant too. We're not completely alike here; some are leaders of tribes that develop digital activism avenues, while others use digital activism to further their face-to-face work. But we do have a common thread of desire for compassionate change, using the new media that we have to reach the people who are just as concerned but didn't know they could get involved.

In a way, everyone's words meant the same thing - change for the better.

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Thanks for sharing brendon.

tettner's picture

Thanks for sharing brendon. Its interesting to combine Karl's word justice with rights: Do you think what is just or unjust depends on what we agree are our rights? as in, does the concept of "rights" precede the concept of just?

Anyway, my word was innovation. I don't think innovations are inherently "Change for the better", what do you think?

I think justice has preceded

BrendonOBrien's picture

I think justice has preceded rights, but have also informed it. It was because of self-editing international perceptions of slavery that allowed people to see freedom and liberty as a right of persons. The civil rights movement in the US was governed by the class-consciousness of Africa-Americans about how their nation was being unjust to them. Because of people's ability to identify injustices with a compassionate eye, we have rights.

And I think that innovation is inherently 'change for the better'. There's a difference between invention and innovation; invention is made simply because it can be and because people have the ability, but innovation is a response to a need and a desire to make an existing situation better. The atomic bomb was an invention, because the splitting of the atom was not geared towards a better world but simply greater information about the capacity of science. However, cloud storage is an innovation, because it was geared towards protecting individuals' important data from accidental data loss. At least that's what I think...

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