In June of this year 713 million people around the globe were projected to be Internet users. As Lee Rainie
, Director of Pew Internet & American Life Project
, points out, Internet use has become a norm in America. The vast increase in Internet users is mainly due to the spread of higher-speed broadband connections. Rainie importantly notes, “the rise of these two-way technologies has enabled Americans to become their own publishers and media producers”. Web sites are often geared towards an intended audience and successful for intriguing readers of similar interest. As the Internet begins to dominate global communication, the importance of knowledgable web sites increases. A Webby Award
, is the leading international award honoring excellence on the Internet. The Web Style Guide
points out the importance of site design, content and structure. Activism
is a popular subject recognized by the 2006 Webby Awards. Philanthropy and activism within a community are closely related topics because both are concerned with improving society by achieving goals of common interest. One of the nominated websites, under Activism, for the 2006 Webby Awards was entitled Help Your Community
Using TheWayBack Machine
, I was able to appreciate the evolution of this site. First ap
pearing on January 26th, 2002, Help Your Community was sponsored by The Ad Council
. The background was plain, three small photos appeared on the home page along with options to learn about coalitions, get involved and hear success stories. This archaic site provided efficiency options in the form of search and contact tabs. The main purpose of this webvsite in 2002 was to simply provide information, like many other sites from this time period. Research Specialist, Mary Madden
, says over time, Internet users note big improvements in their ability to pursue hobbies and interests online. Consistent reports show the Internet has “improved various aspects of life” including access to health information, job resources, hobbies and shopping. As we become more dependent and trusting of the World Wide Web, we integrate the Internet into our daily lives, along with technology. Our rate of integration is only speeding up. The WebAwards
point out the importance to recognize the people and organizations responsible for developing some of the most effective and best web sites on the Internet today.
Help Your Community, is an organization-based site that successfully relays information associated with activism, youth and community. Aligned upon the goals of activism
, this site "facilitates social movement, human rights, public education, and reform or revolution." The organization believes by engaging children in y
outhful activities, with the help of volunteers, the kids will be less likely to engage in drugs. Instead of influencing children through anti-messages, volunteers and the target audience, are educated on making positive changes within a community. This site works as a connector, educator and recruiter. The viewer may access links to anti-drug collations and learn how to start their own with a seven-step plan. One may play previous public service announcements
in both radio and TV formats. Applications and contact information for grants, including one for a drug-free community, are easily accessible and properly located. In order to relate to an individual viewer, this site incorporates a place to enter a zip code and search for nearby “volunteer opportunities
”. One is also provided with the choice to work with kids, teen, seniors, and/or groups. When I searched a local zip coed in Los Angeles I received 440 organizations recruiting volunteers, a description of their “opportunity” along with start dates. These results were powered by Volunteer Match in a separate pop-up window allowing the viewer to stay connected to their original site. The pop-up window did not contain graphics or a distracting color scheme, which contributed to the effort of simply obtaining results.
This site allows viewers to help inspire each other, by reading success stories of others making a difference. Thus, ideas for community involvement may be shared, transferred and improvised for one’s own circumstances. The “success stories
” share a broad range of forum, including one particular story of board teens from Newberg, Oregon, a small rural community 30 miles outside of Portland. A core group of youth were challenged to do something by a mentor sick of whining. Together peers decided they wanted a skate park, and they set about to make that happen. A two-year campaign taught the youth about their city’s government along with life lessons about determination and perseverance. Today, there is a $300,000 skate park in Newberg, Oregon. The children developed an “advisory board” in charge of establishing park rules and maintaining the concessions stand, two independent skate shops have opened up nearby. These efforts brought forth leadership and responsibility skills along with a victorious achievement.
This site was not created for children or does it engage children. There are no places for children to learn about fun activities in their local communities. An optimistic but unrealistic portion of this web site is displayed in a list of “101 Things You Can Do
” with youth. My first problem with this portion is why this list exists. I would assume most people visiting this site would already have an idea to help or be competent enough to think of one on their own. However, some of the suggested activities are beneficial and useful, such as, #3 Be a camp counselor, #40 Visit a museum or #27 Learn another language. Although knowing another language is an extraordinary t
hing to know, after struggling with years of foreign language in college, I don’t know if a kid would participate actively. Other items on the list may be viewed as frivolous. These items include, #78 Play a video game, #79 Have a birthday party, or #82 Go swimming. Sure, these are fun things to do but I don’t know if these past times would engage communities. Worst of all, Have a bake sale is repeated on the list.
With such an abundance of growth online, in all demographics, it is important for websites to be highly functional and able to provide information in a cohesive manner. Four years later, this site proves its credibility as a nominee for the 2006 Webby Awards, Activism category. Credibility is further established through well-known sources of sponsorship, links and affiliates. As the Web Style Guide
points out, the design and original framework of a site determines the viewer’s overall experience. Parallel to the viewers needs, this organization’s mission is to educate the viewer. All content is geared towards developing the reader’s knowledge and community. The visual graphics, structure and navigations have all improved tremendously along with our technological advancements. Overall, this web site spreads a good reason to get involved through a credible source with the hopes of benefiting our youth.