By Themrise Khan in New York
(HN, September 19, 2011) - "Early to bed, early to rise, have a good time and advertise."
This was one of the many sound bytes media mogul and billionaire extraordinaire Ted Turner gave out at the opening of the Social Good Summit in New York today.
Organized by the 92Y, Mashable and the UN Foundation, the Summit brings together a range of social entrepreneurs and social media activists, for quite literally, the social good.
The summit runs parallel all week with the opening of the United Nations General Assembly.
The initial focus was heavy on technology and a wired world for “doing good”. From education, to clean water to maternal health, the key message was that technology, new media and the youth, are a lethal contribution to rid the world of poverty.
But using social media for global good has its pitfalls, as Ted Turner openly declared that the print media was “gone”. For someone whose business is the broadcast media, that’s quite a declaration. But whether one downloads the Economist on an iPad as Mr. Turner regularly does, or manages an online site to provide young graduates with jobs in the non-profit sector as idealist.com does, its hard to say whether the speed of the social media can keep pace with the speed of natural and man-made disasters.
This is why Turner had strong words to say about cuts in military spending to redirect towards more local causes at home, like alternative clean energy, a cause close to his heart. As Chairman of the UN Foundation, Turner would also like to see an end to nuclear arms and a reduction by 10% in global military budgets, every year for ten years.
For someone whose business has been the media all his life, the fact that the CNN giant thinks the US media focuses too much on itself and not enough on the rest of the world, is something many of us would like to admit, but are perhaps a tad bit fearful of doing.
But most of the initiatives showcased today, were far from being focused on the US.
From the One Laptop One Child Initiative which has 3 million child users globally, to USAID’s initiatives of using text messages to inform global programmes with real life statistics, to providing maternal healthcare for women in developing countries, it’s the rest of the world that social media for social good is trying to change.
But despite the tweeting, blogging and online fundraising that has spurred a new generation of “do-gooders”, there is still a lot to be done and done properly, as philanthropist Howard Buffet, grandson of another billionaire mogul, surprisingly candid views on the failure of corporate and non-profit philanthropy around the world showed.
But the Summit has tried to begin on a very optimistic note in dark times.
With world leaders congregating in New York this week to debate some very controversial issues, one hopes the optimism rubs off the right way.