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Serving the UMN community since 1900

The Minnesota Daily

Serving the UMN community since 1900

The Minnesota Daily

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A new way to network

The Spark is an upcoming site that offsets corporations or governments that defy public interest.

The smoke from last week’s election has cleared, leaving the nation with a few new trends. We are able to see the shifting terms of “majority” and “minority” as voter demographics reveal new, strong political voices. We also learned that our role has changed from mere voter to active participant.

We Americans used internet-based news and social media to connect ourselves and each other to leading issues of election campaigns and political events. We were able to act and react instantaneously to each political proposal, comment on debates and ultimately become as involved as we have ever been in an election. The power of the Internet is beginning to be fully realized. More specifically, the power that we have when using the Internet is remarkable.

The election is over, but that doesn’t mean our involvement in our national and international community should stop. It doesn’t need to. In fact, the opposite is much more necessary.

Traditional news carriers are becoming less credible, and their lack of believability is expressed on both sides of the political spectrum. This isn’t helping their rough predicament — national, state-wide and local newspapers have been dropping off since 2008. While the most successful publications struggle to stay in business, the Internet has steadily become more popular as a news source.

Journalism is in a long-term transition from the more traditional sources. This can leave a lot uncovered. In order to accurately capture events and issues, we must once again redefine journalism: what it means, what it requires and what it can now do without.

What could journalism do without? The answer has never been stronger: private means. The fight for power between corporations, government and the people is not dying out, it’s plaguing national headlines.

Yet, this fight has a new contender: The Spark. An online community, The Spark is a tool that people around the world can use to define and discuss some of the globe’s biggest problems with the aim to create agreed-upon solutions. Problems that are seen by the community as more important are “up-voted” for visibility, as are the best resolutions to a problem. This kind of crowd-sourced decision-making bypasses any type of political party system to deal directly with problems and those offering solutions.

The movement began a year ago as a thread on the popular forum website Reddit, posted by a director at a Fortune 500 company. Under the username “humans_inc,” he proposed to fund the movement, beginning with online aid for Occupy Wall Street protests. Soon after, he began to arrange a team of Redditors who are now completing the website.

Skeptics may not hold much faith in the ideals of this community. However, since its first proposal, the concept of The Spark has taken hold with a great number of people. The website has not officially launched, but it is preparing to do so in early 2013. Other features of the site will include access to social media sites for integration of ideas, candid information about corporations given by employees and links to regional and local issues. Anyone interested in becoming a part of The Spark can sign up for beta now.

Much of America’s masses unite every day on social media and micro-blogging sites like Facebook or Twitter. We’ve seen the awesome power these sites can have. Imagine a site that is accessed by millions daily from around the world, where the main purpose of those millions was to help people and communities who need it. It is a chance for everyday people to become louder than corporations, partisan politics or corruption.

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