LoneEagleLogosmall.jpg (2622 bytes) 
Click Home

                           The New Gold Rush
    Mining Raw Human Potential using Free Web Tools

                                                    By Frank Odasz,  frank@lone-eagles.com

As the cost of computers and Internet access continues to drop, and the range of free web tools and online self-directed learning opportunities continues to proliferate, serious questions are emerging. How can we provide the best training, for the most people, requiring the least investment of time and effort, proven to produce inspired, self-motivated learners? There is a huge untapped economic reserve of raw human potential, made accessible by the Internet’s ability to offer ongoing, low-cost education, training and support.

The proliferation of free web tools, and robust personal portals, is creating incredible "leapfrogging" possibilities for greater equity. Providing a computer and Internet access is inadequate without targeted training that produces MOTIVATED self-directed learners, new collaborative relationships, and measurable benefits.

Encouraging Local Self-publishing and Peer-mentoring

Citizen-to-citizen mentoring is the only way there will be enough mentors to meet the need as six billion new Internet users are expected over the next fifteen (plus) years due to advances in low-cost high speed, 2-way Internet satellite and wireless technologies. All this in a world where over half the population has yet to make their first phonecall, and where 15,000 cultures will be impacted.

We’re seeing tutoring and mentoring services popping up along with free online course authoring sites with increasingly powerful authoring and management tools. The social value of peer mentors is part of the secret to motivating people and building self-esteem for both mentor and mentee.

At About.com we see individual mentors hosting national topic-specific directories of resources as part of a commercial business. Where is the local counterpart? A local mentors' roster would make good sense.

While the definition of "community networking" has been continually redefined over the past ten years with emphasis on serving the public good, ‘building online communities’ is now considered an important strategy for many Ecommerce businesses. Profit motives, and the public good, may well be aligning around new golden opportunities!

A major component of many Internet businesses is to give away free services and a rapidly growing array of useful software tools to grow an online following as large and as fast as possible. We’re now seeing free Ebusiness Start-up services offered by dozens of businesses. Growing online consumer communities using interactive tools is fast becoming a mainstream Ebusiness strategy, with an eye toward consumers also becoming co-producers.

What does this mean, and what’s around the corner? We can expect to see a literal gold rush by corporations attempting to empower the most people, the most rapidly, and at the highest level the technology makes possible.

Never before in human history has the needs of big business converged to meet the needs of the poor.

There are rapidly emerging, and diverse, models for micropayments and alternative economies. For example: Fatbrain.com, and Mightyworlds.com, reward creative citizens who post learning resources and articles. Epinions.com  rewards citizens who rate online resources. The number of examples is soaring.

An Important Difference of The New Economy:

In the past, the economy was limited to a fixed demand for primarily physical products. One could sell only so much corn before the demand was met. In the emerging information and service economy, there is no fixed demand, but the potential for dramatically different dynamics.

In the past, if you didn’t have a product to sell, you provided physical labor to make a living. Today, one can literally learn-to-earn, instead. Because "Information condenses to knowledge, which condenses to wisdom, and VALUE is created in a knowledge economy," anyone can learn to create value by providing time-saving resources and learning opportunities online for others.

As one learns-to-earn, more money can be spent on time-saving information services and also for entertainment, thus creating potentially more wealth, and more demand. There is no fixed saturation point. In an ideal scenario, this suggests the possibility of a world where wealth and learning can increase without an upward limitation, potentially to meet the needs of everyone on earth. This is something we’ve not been able to achieve through a physical products economy, alone.

This is more than theory, the three largest technology companies (Cisco, Microsoft, and Intel) have generated more NEW wealth in the last fifteen years than all the precious metals mined thoughout human history!

Since anyone can create a globally accessible web page, it is already clear the sheer volume of innovation through such self-publishing is creating a demand for a marketing and productizing business, or cooperative, to tap into the dramatic increase in citizen-created resources and instructional opportunities, and to stimulate further innovations.

A Missing Formula for Stimulating Human Motivation

Many organizations have provided computers, and/or posted listings of hyperlinks, to help bridge the digital divide. What is needed is much more focus on carefully assessing the level of genuine end benefits, in particular ‘human motivation!’
There are too many assumptions.

Missing is thoughtful identification of the most effective process of applying Internet resources within a relevant context with measurable outcomes –
I.E. the dynamics of measuring the highest levels of benefit per unit time invested.

There is a missing formula related to the most effective training possible for measurable empowerment of people of all cultures and literacy levels.

It might look something like this...

(Infrastructure Quality +Convenience of Access + Targeted Training)
___________________________________________________________ = Level of
(Time Invested+ Motivation + Literacy Level)                                               Benefits

At issue, is what set of self-directed curriculum could be provided to digital divide citizens to allow the most people to benefit from the best available services at the least cost with the least amount of time, energy and literacy required? Subtle dynamics to encourage optimal self-motivation would necessarily be a key feature, along with peer mentors to provide ongoing encouragement and confidence-building.

Who will demonstrate the necessary combination of vision, action-oriented leadership, and vocal advocacy as to what needs to be done? There is a current leadership shortage in this key area.

Fueling the Home Fires of Local Innovation

If people shared in the vision of genuine self-empowerment via Internet, and were given a step-by-step pathway forward, there are few real barriers. Many of the following community and citizen awareness and engagement activities are examples of the most scalable local action initiatives possible based on combining caring and connectivity with common sense.

The need exists to emphasize the role of youth-based community Internet awareness-raising through low-cost, short-term local action initiatives such as those listed below, taken from the Bootstrap Academy http://lone-eagles.com/academy.htm

Citizen Engagement Internet Awareness Programs
           Short-term, Low-cost, Action Initiatives for
           Measurably Effective Citizen Engagement

1. Hold a Press Release Competition:

Articulate a shared vision, and tangible short-term goals.   Hold a competition for the best Press Release on what your community could, or will, accomplish in the next 6-12 months. (At minimal cost, through the sheer will of being determined to make something good happen.)

2. Begin Holding Regular Community Technology Nights

Initiate Youth-driven digital storytelling presentations. Begin regularly scheduled community technology nights to raise awareness and provide a showcase for local innovations and to connect those who need tech-training help with those who can provide it. (Youth and elders, particularly!)

Citizens need frequent informal opportunities to see how other citizens like them are benefiting from Internet innovations. Regular (weekly or bi-monthly) entertainment-style 1-2 hour presentations emphasizing visual web pages, digital art, digital photography, and digital music, presented by locals, particularly youth, would provide the means for generating initial awareness leading toward motivation to learn more.

The social recognition for local innovators would be self-reinforcing. A sustainable local community-driven awareness program would result, supported with local and global web-based resources.

3. Create a Community Web Content Competition...    

with prizes for the best instructional site, best local resource, best collection of resources from other communities and sources, best Ecommerce site, and/or the most entertaining site. Or, hold a competition for the best (fun, or most rewarding) hands-on 15 minute web tour; a self-directed learning experience using only text and web addresses.

4. Hold a Community Web-raising;  

similar to barn-raisings, bring your web-literate youth and citizens together with those who need help creating their first web pages. A community Talent Roster and/or Web-Mall could be created in a day, hosting both business sites and citizen mentoring/topical resource web sites. The social recognition would be self-reinforcing and new information-sharing relationships would result in enhanced community collaborative capacity.

5. Ecommerce "Ebay" Web-raising;

Everyone with something to sell would be invited to attend the event and bring a sample product. Youth would take digital photos of each product to be sold and would post them on Ebay. Ebay is an online auction site projected to exchange six billion dollars in 2001. The local paper would report on how many items were posted and after two weeks, how many sold. A 10% commission would go to the youth for products sold, only, for purchase of community training equipment for the youth hosting the Ecommerce Web-raising.
Ebay http://www.ebay.com
A first lesson http://lone-eagles.com/auctions.htm

Citizens would become aware of the effectiveness of Ebay and would learn the basics of researching online to see what similar products are selling for. The collaborative interaction about Ebay will set the stage for local sharing as new ways of selling online are identified.

Emerging Communities and Nations of Purpose

The Community Networking movement began with a geographical emphasis, then shifted to a ‘communities of interest’ emphasis, and now may be evolving toward a ‘communities of cause’ emphasis with an emerging financial cooperative theme.

Individual and community identity is evolving based on the combination of shared beliefs, and the commitment to take purposeful action. Such communities will soon compete on the basis of the quality of their demonstration of their understanding of how to use the Internet to impact the greatest numbers of those in need.

Politics may well be redefined globally on the basis of these new ‘Communities and Nations of Purpose.’ Such frictionless politics will have the power to move very quickly as the ability of these communities to effect purposeful global change becomes fully recognized by the participants.

We can expect to see governments at every level take on this same challenge as it becomes clear that those communities and countries which first learn how to leverage their latent human potential most effectively, will outshine the rest economically, and, we can hope, socially, as well. This involves engaging people in ongoing instruction in a social, yet goal oriented context, where sharing information is an important part of information access skill development.

The Builders Must Partner with the Users!

How to best motivate people to learn to explore their full potential is the hidden treasure of the new gold rush. This treasure will not come from the top-down, but from the bottom-up. For this treasure to be realized, the builders of networks must partner with the users of networks in fundamentally new ways. The treasure will indeed be found, its just a matter of who and when.

More from this author on: ‘Building Learning Communities’
can be found at http://lone-eagles.com/teled.htm

It is Not Obvious!

The vast untapped potential for Internet use exists, but has not been obvious to many:

Educators and Educational Institutions resisted the indisputable educational benefits of Internet

Philanthropists and Foundations resisted the opportunity for more effective giving, and for leveraging the many benefits and economies the Internet provides.

Citizens and communities resisted the indisputable quantum leap in organizational capacity and new Ecommerce opportunities the Internet puts at their fingertips

Elected representatives and governmental agencies resisted the inherent opportunities for greater democratic input, and outreach, the Internet provides.

Philanthropic Leadership Needed

There is a real need for vocal leadership in the world of philanthropy to take notice of what models will scale to meet the need, and to identify where lack of vision and leadership hampers effective giving. A philanthropic counterpart of the successful corporate "skunkworks" model is strongly recommended to showcase:

A. All citizens as knowledge producers, demonstrating individual and community
    self-publishing across the entire bandwidth spectrum. "Value-Pull, Not Tech-Push"
    means we cannot assume physical bandwidth is more important than ‘human bandwidth.

B. Development of scalable training models for citizens to learn to create knowledge,
     with collection and evaluation methodologies of the most useful learning resources,
     and micropayment models to reward citizen producers in proportion to the benefit
     they’ve created, as assessed by peers.

C. Ongoing measurement of the dynamics of the inevitable global ramp-up of an inclusive unlimited learning economy.

Here are major resources offered to the cause of self-empowerment:

Community Internet Empowerment Resources for Rural Communities

Good Neighbor's Guide to Community Networking
Eleven chapters, including a bibliography of community networking guides.

Common Ground:
A Cross-Cultural Self-Directed Learner's Internet Guide

http://lone-eagles.com/guide.htm   Created for USAID, AT&T and the ERIC clearinghouse.
An instructional brokerage resource with emphasis on pointing to the best online tutorials,
and educational resources, on the Internet for self-directed learning. This is the text for the
online course below "Making the Best Use of Internet for K-12 Instruction."

Community Internet Empowerment Resources for Native Americans and Alaskan Natives

A Native American Community Internet Empowerment Guide
Three pages of links to over 50 pages of visioning articles and specific resources.

Echoes in the Electronic Wind:
A Native American Cross-cultural Internet Guide

http://lone-eagles.com/nativeguide.htm   Created for Tachyon, Inc, Internet satellite system provider
for 60 BIA schools for distribution at the FCC Tribal Telecom conference, Sept. 2000.
Same resources as Common Ground, (above) but with the addition of over 20 pages of
carefully reviewed Native American web resources listed by topic.

These guides are supported by free access to two college credit online classes:

1. ED 597 4L - Making the Best Use of Internet for K-12 Instruction
Alaska Pacific University Three Semester Credit Version
A hands-on course on how to broker the best resources for your classroom.

2. ED A597 6L - Designing K-12 Internet Instruction
Alaska Pacific University 3 Semester Credit Version
A hands-on course on how to easily create Internet hotlists, web-tours,
lessonplans, project-based learning activities (Webquest, Cyberfair,
Thinkquest) and complete online courses using online web tools.