Think about the Internet for a moment. I blog; you blog; millions of people blog. I tweet; you tweet; the world has gone Twitter crazy. Probably just about all of you who stop by Straight From Hel have a website and email. We socialize on the Internet via Facebook, YouTube, Shelfari, and GoodReads. We make business connections through LinkedIn. I, one among millions, am on the Internet about 16 hours a day. I research via the Internet. I keep in contact with my publisher, my friends, my family, my editing clients via the Internet.
And, yet, I never give the Internet a second thought. It’s there. It takes me where I need to go. I haven’t a clue how it works. I’m just glad it does.
After reading an article on the BBC site, I won’t take it for granted anymore. In the back of my mind, I knew it was maintained by volunteers. I’d heard that somewhere at some time. But I didn’t quite understand that they work almost independently in a chain that can only see a few links down the chain on either side. When something happens, they’re not obligated to act. But they do.
In 2008, when the Pakistan government took YouTube offline, YouTube could do nothing about it. Google could do nothing about it. It was up to this chain of volunteers to come together and get it back up. And they did - restoring service within hours.
So, the next time you’re zipping around, doing book research, tweeting, answering email, or downloading a book, whisper a thank you to those volunteers, or as the BBC called them, the unsung heroes.
6 months ago