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NAME:
Alan Shaw
WHAT HE DOES:
Creates ways for communities to organize online
LATEST TRIUMPH:
Wiring a New Jersey housing project

With the Internet making the world smaller and smaller, it makes sense, says Alan Shaw, that neighborhoods shrink as well. “If technology can make it easy to communicate with people in China, why not with the person next door?”

In 1993, as a graduate student at MIT’s Media Lab, Shaw created a computer bulletin board system called the Multi-User Sessions in Community (MUSIC). With an $8,000 Wood Foundation grant, he moved Apple computers and high-speed modems into a dozen homes in his working-class Boston neighborhood of Dorchester and hooked them up to MUSIC. Within weeks, residents–some of whom had never met before–logged onto the system and organized a food co-op, a newsletter, and crime watches.

Dorchester is just the first stop. A school board used Shaw’s MUSIC plan to help outfit a housing project in Newark, N.J., with home computers, launching an online community of more than 70 people. Lynette Tucker, a 29-year-old mother of two, says, “Before, if I saw a person from the neighborhood walking on the street, carrying grocery bags, if they weren’t a family member I might just see them and keep on going. Now people will stop and help.”

More MUSIC is planned for a lower-class Chicago neighborhood, and for a statewide program reaching into rural Mississippi. “It’s exposing people to technology,” Shaw says, “and giving them a voice they might otherwise not have.”

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

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