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24 Hours of Democracy

Monday, February 12, 1996 by Dave Winer.

Good Morning! Permalink to Good Morning!

Here's an idea that I'm floating.

Check it out.

What do you think?

Can you help?


The net has been redefined Permalink to The net has been redefined

On 2/8/96 cyberspace was redefined by the US government.

If you doubt me, visit http://www.whitehouse.gov/. Click on the calendar icon next to What's New. Check out their coverage of the Telecom Act, their celebration of 24 Hours in Cyberspace. I think this trip should be required reading for every freedom-loving webmaster, webwriter and web user.

The first huge blast of cyberpsace puffery and a historic rejection of the US Constitution, on the same day.

A coincidence? An accident of history? Hmmmm.

I was educated as a mathematician and then as an engineer.

I've spent 20+ years debugging software.

I've learned that when I want to really understand what's going on, don't look to an Act of God as the explanation, when it's more likely just an error in logic.

The truth: the media people have learned how to use the net and to combine it with TV, radio and print media.

They're transferring the power structures in their world to the web world.

If we want real change, now is the time to make an investment in democracy on the Internet.

Every voice can be heard. Our ideas speak for us. We can persuade, cajole, taunt, seduce, use logic, examine all aspects of a problem, learn, be angry, be scared, and then find the most eloquent statement, the one that resonates deepest within all of us.

And then we march.

It's an exciting time to be a webwriter!

I get to write about the biggest issue of them all -- freedom.

And, please read on -- you do too.

It's our turn Permalink to It's our turn

Another truth: the media people liked the blackout campaign. It worked. The day after 24 Hours in Cyberspace, the big news on TV was the blackout. It demos well. It was an appropriate protest. Good job!

Now, let's go the next step.

Here's my proposal.


Start time: 12:01AM, Pacific, 2/14/96.

End time: 11:59PM, Pacific, 2/14/96.

24 Hours of Democracy.

They defined cyberspace.

We define democracy.

Write an essay Permalink to Write an essay

What does freedom mean to you?

What does democracy mean to you?

What are your hopes and dreams for the Internet?

Have you ever experienced grace or nobility on the net?

Do you have children? Are you a child? What do you think?

How does the Internet help make things right?

Be angry! That's cool. And be respectful. It's Valentine's Day!

Write a love letter to the Internet.

How it works Permalink to How it works

Spend a couple of days writing your essay.

Talk about it with your friends. Share ideas. Listen.

When you're ready, post your essay to the web. If you don't have a website, check out the Sponsors page at the 24 Hours website. I'm enlisting the help of service providers. We may have an easy way for people who don't have sites to get their essays posted to the web.

Shortly after the start time I'll mail a DaveNet piece telling you where to send the URL for your page.

The styling of the page is entirely up to you. There's a Template page on the 24 Hours site, the URL is at the bottom of this email. I suggest using a white background for easy reading, and to contrast the black backgrounds of last week. Use animated GIFs. RealAudio. Java applets. Shockwave parts. JavaScript banners. Near the bottom of the page, put some keywords about yourself, where you are geographically, your email address. Web crawlers will be able to extract this information and index it. Follow the example in the template if possible.

At the top of your page, create three links, Next, Prev and Index. After the 24 Hours database is compiled, a few days after the end time, we'll send you a mail message containing the addresses to fill into each of these pointers. Next and Prev will point to essays written by other 24 Hours participants. The Index link will point to a home page for the whole project.

Essays will not be judged or reviewed. You own your own words, and are responsible for what you write.

Who can help Permalink to Who can help

Moms & Dads: Ask your kids how they feel about the Internet. Have they made new friends? What have they learned? Did the Internet ever scare them? Make some quiet time. Listen.

Teachers: This would make a great homework assignment for your students.

Webmasters: You have to seduce people into caring about this stuff. Convey your excitement to people you work with. It's not just about pornography, it's about freedom. Point them to Netscape's home page. Ask them to read your essay. Create a page of pointers to their essays.

Computer users: Be a visionary! What kind of software would you like to see coming from the software industry over the next few years?

Graphic artists: We need colorful schemes, a simple message, low bandwidth art with commercial appeal.

Celebrities, political leaders: Do you have something to say?

Editorial organizations: Can you review essays and choose the most compelling ones or the most interesting ones?

Online companies: We need mail, web and database servers; search engines. Can you make it easier for your users to get a single page up on your server? Can you assist them in registering their pages on Wednesday? Can you give them a discount, or provide free storage for their essays? Bandwidth, support and free service to participants is what counts.

Everyone: Have fun! That's what this is about. Be creative. As soon as it stops being fun we stop growing, and that's the end. Be positive!

Only 42 hours left Permalink to Only 42 hours left

That's about it.

I've committed the next few weeks to making this happen.

I want to work with people, where possible, but by design it's a very distributed Internet sort of thing.

I plan to write my own 24 Hours essay, and have lots of ideas for the sponsors.

There are only 42 hours till the essays start rolling in.

Let's have fun!

Dave Winer

PS: People have said there's not enough time. I think there is. I've been getting lots of long emails from people in response to the DaveNet pieces I've been running. We'll get something done on 2/14/96 and then if it works, we'll do it again in a few weeks.

PPS: Please watch http://www.hotwired.com/userland/24/ for project and sponsorship news and other information.

PPPS: Remember, if you want to participate the legal system, it's *very* important that if you're old enough, that you vote. Think about who you can support. 1996 is an election year in the US. Be part of the system. If you're a voter, please vote!

PPPPS: Please pass this essay on! The 24 Hours project is worldwide. It's open to everyone, of all nationalities.

© Copyright 1994-2004 Dave Winer. Last update: 2/5/07; 10:50:05 AM Pacific. "There's no time like now."