A sad truth emerged when a few misguided souls actually suggested that the Internet be considered for a Nobel Peace Prize earlier this year: While there is great potential for the Internet to be used for good, many projects that seemed like good ideas in theory have fallen short of reality on the Web.
Sure, Twitter, Facebook, and other social sites have been used to get the word out about various political struggles, but the idea that the Web by itself qualifies as a peacemaking entity in its own right is nonsense. The Internet is only a tool for good, albeit a powerful tool when in the proper hands. Sadly, a lot of proper hands can't seem to get a grip on the Net, and the potential of the Web to better humankind simply hasn't been realized.
Indeed, the Web is littered with the detritus of worthy projects that began with fanfare and ended with little or nothing of substance – except the disappointment of supporters who rallied 'round only to see their causes evaporate. Whether dreams of putting online technology to use involve improving the lot of urban dwellers, increasing the quality of education, making government more accountable to its constituents, or ensuring better use of the Web for healthcare, many have simply disintegrated into lost bits.
All this is a testament to the questionable motives of some project initiators, as well as a lesson in the need for greater persistence in putting a good cause above what's expedient or immediately profitable online.
In this report, Internet Evolution explores the good ideas that have fallen short on the Web, as well as some great ideas now at risk of being lost. We also discuss what causes this shortfall of good intentions and what can be done about it. What do these failed projects teach us about questionable motives, the need for ethics, and our priorities as creators and users on the Web?
Without further ado, we present Opportunities Lost: Why Good Internet Ideas Burn Out.
— Written by Mary Jander, Managing Editor; Michael Singer, Senior Editor; and Nicole Ferraro, Executive Editor, Internet Evolution
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