In a recent post, we asked you to start thinking about ways digital technologies can revolutionize the world through industries such as health care, education and media. Your ideas will play a key role in shaping the World Congress on Information Technology (WCIT)’s action plan for a Global Digital Society that they hope will influence real world decisions.
There will be two Jams or brainstorming sessions on the digital revolution leading up to October’s WCIT event in Montreal. First, our in-person CareerMash Youth Tech Jam in April and May. Second, youth can apply online to participate in the global 72-hour online WCIT World Tech Jam in June.
Just what kind of ideas are they looking for from youth? We asked WCIT Program Chair Anthony Williams to tell us how your ideas and participation can win a trip to Montreal and possibly even an award from the participating UN World Youth Summit. Anthony says this opportunity could change your life!
Hi Anthony! Please briefly introduce yourself to our CareerMash readers.
I’m the program chair for the 18th World Congress on Information Technology in Montreal. I am also the co-author of the international bestseller Wikinomics and its sequel Macrowikinomics: New Solutions for a Connected Planet.
What can you tell me about the WCIT and the World Techno Jam?
The World Congress on Information Technology is the IT industry’s premier global congress. It happens every two years. In 2010, the WCIT was held in Amsterdam. In 2014 it will be held in Guadalajara, Mexico. This year, the spotlight is on Montreal as the host city. I think Canadians will agree that Montreal provides an unparalleled venue in which to celebrate the achievements of the global IT industry and take a hard look at the opportunities and challenges facing all sectors as the digital revolution reshapes our core institutions for commerce, politics and everyday life.
This year’s WCIT will also bring something new, and perhaps unprecedented, to the world stage. From June 5-7, thousands of conference participants, alongside tens of thousands of online contributors, will take part in an online World Tech Jam to discuss ways in which our increasingly interconnected society can marshal human skill, ingenuity and intelligence on a mass scale to re-evaluate and re-position many of our institutions for the coming decades and for future generations. The result will be a Digital Agenda. Think of it as an action plan for realizing opportunities for digital innovation that can inform, inspire and guide decision makers in sectors ranging from public administration and health care to education and science. The Digital Agenda will be unveiled by a broad cross-section of stakeholders in Montreal.
Why were this year’s themes specifically chosen?
In short, our goal is to identify opportunities for digital innovation in virtually all sectors of society. We hope that these innovations will help current and future generations address the economic, social, and environmental challenges facing the world.
What kind of ideas are you expecting youth to contribute? Can you provide examples?
We’re looking for all kinds of ideas. They could be proposals for how to use digital technologies to improve local neighbourhoods. They could also be grand ideas for changing the world.
For example, convincing your college, university or high school to put their educational course materials online could help aspiring students in low-income countries gain access to world-class educational resources. Or, forcing industrial polluters to disclose information about what and how much they pollute on the Internet could empower local communities to organize effective campaigns to improve environmental practices in industry.
Why is it important for youth to start talking about these issues?
The digital revolution is profoundly reshaping the world around us, changing just about everything about the way we connect with family and friends, the way we work, and the way we inform and entertain ourselves. It has upended and reshaped major industries, from media and entertainment to financial services, from software to pharmaceuticals. And, as its influence permeates beyond the world of business, there are clear signs that the digital revolution is set to transform virtually every institution in society, ranging from science, health care and education to the way we produce and consume energy to the very nature of government and democracy.
Young people should be informed about the changes happening around them. But more importantly, young people can take advantage of these digital tools to have a voice in the conversation and influence the world around them.
Why is it important for teens to contribute to the Jams?
In short, this is a chance for young people in Canada and around the world to have their ideas heard and potentially acted on by some very key figures in Canada and internationally.
The World Tech Jam and the parallel CareerMash Youth Tech Jam will attract the attention and involvement of a lot of influential people in government, business and society. We want the Jam to lead to concrete actions and commitments by governments and companies. For example, we want governments to address issues of digital inclusion to make sure everyone in society has a chance to benefit from the opportunities that the digital revolution creates in areas such as health care, education and job creation. We want companies to invest in innovative ideas that address social and environmental challenges. And we want leaders in non-profits and advocacy organizations to see the positive contribution that the Internet can make to movements for human rights and social justice.
Can you tell us a little more about how teens can win a trip to Montreal?
WCIT will award free passes to the Congress to a handful of young people who make exceptional contributions to the CareerMash Youth Tech Jam. More specifically, we’re looking for two kinds of exceptional contributions.
One is to propose a really innovative, world-changing idea for using digital technologies to address social or environmental challenges. We’ll be judging ideas based on their originality, but also in terms of their feasibility. In other words, we want ideas that can be practically implemented. If your idea is really exceptional, you could even win an award from the UN World Youth Summit Awards, which will be co-hosted with the WCIT in Montreal. That’s a pretty big deal and could even be a life-changing event for the winner.
The other way to make an exceptional contribution is to be an outstanding evangelist for the CareerMash Youth Tech Jam. That means getting active in your school or community by promoting the opportunity for involvement to your peers. It could also mean playing a very active role in moderating discussions or finding other ways to help the CareerMash team make this event successful. In other words, enthusiasm and active participation can count just as much as contributing great ideas.
What impact do you think participating in an event like this could have on a young person’s career?
Perhaps the most important contribution is to simply learn more about the breadth of opportunities that the digital revolution is creating for new and interesting careers across all sectors. As CareerMash is fond of pointing out, IT careers are no longer just about coding software or maintaining Web servers in the back office. Increasingly, you can be someone who applies technology to solve big challenges in society and that often requires a broad skill set that draws on other disciplines like sociology, economics, and political science.
These are also great networking events where you can meet lots of like-minded people. And the sky is the limit if you happen to be one of the lucky ones who wins a trip to the World Congress in Montreal or gets nominated for a UN World Youth Summit Award.
Don’t pass up this opportunity to get involved and don’t forget to have fun. This is a really unique experience that won’t come around all that often. Take advantage and join in the global conversation about how IT is changing the world.
For more information on WCIT, visit our previous post and be sure to check out the official Jam website. Next week, we’ll begin exploring the Congress’s five themes in more depth to help you formulate your world-changing ideas.