South by (South) Reflections

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SXSW 2013 has officially come to a close. Participants from the festival are still recuperating from the travel edured, 6th Street, and of course their participation in panels, shows, and exhibits; Austinites are happy to see everyone vacate until next year despite the level of weird(ness) captured in Austin over the past 2 weeks.

The Public Interest Registry was fortunate enough to participate in this year’s Interactive Trade Show for the very first time. Although our 22-person company seemed like a tadpole in a vast sea, we felt right at home amongst the other entrepreneurs, creatives, artists, and tech geeks that congregated in this one place to share products, developments and forward-thinking visions.

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Our main goals at SXSW were:

  • To let people know who the Public Interest Registry is,
  • Showcase our first .ORG film, Digital Citizen,
  • Collect and curate new .ORG stories from SXSW attendees, and
  • To promote the .NGO domain extension that is expected to launch by 2014.

After having time to reflect on everything that happened last week, we realized that we did everything we hoped to and more. The Public Interest Registry (although a behind-the-scenes persona) prides itself as the operator of the .ORG database, serving the public interest and empowering online communities.

At SXSW, we were able to speak face to face with people who have experienced all sorts of trials and tribulations, which in turn has inspired them to put forth their efforts into specific causes in hopes of attaining a positive outcome for generations to come. This was an experience for us in itself because the stories behind each ORG was/is personal, and the people behind them are extremely passionate about being a part of something bigger and making a difference in other peoples’ lives. This resonates with us, the Public Interest Registry, to our core. We are here to understand your humble beginnings, and to offer a voice to your cause with three simple letters to the right of the dot: ORG.

We did in fact demonstrate that the .ORG platform has successfully connected communities of people through our short film, the Digital Citizen. While this documentary specifically highlights Wikipedia, Craigslist, Occupy Wallstreet, and SXSW4Japan, we explained that .ORGs are a powerful means to serve the public interest — through activism, fundraising and donations, civil rights, sports and recreation, health, religion, politics, and beyond. In turn, we asked those who visited our booth to share their own .ORG websites with us so that we could collect more stories for our next .ORG film.

To give you an idea of what we discovered, here are a few brief examples:

  • www.ecaware.org – Esophageal Cancer Awareness Association (ECAA)
    We met a young (twenty-something) man named Chris who survived turlock esophageal cancer as a teenager. Since his experience of overcoming terrifying odds, he has devoted himself to supporting the research and care for other esophageal cancer patients.
  • www.illegalart.org – Illegal Art (Rest assured, nothing about the art is actually illegal!)
    Another young man named Otis shared his artwork with us. He explained that each project carries a central theme; no artwork is complete until the public has contributed to its message. Otis actually gave us a live example at the Interactive Trade Show to preview:

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“From the refrigerator to the computer screen, from the purse to the bedroom door, to-do lists, commands, reminders, mantras and more have graced these tiny 3×3 inch squares all over the globe.”

  • www.oneflaginspace.org
    The mission is to send astronauts to outer space and promote the use of the “Blue Marble” aka the Earth as a symbol of world unity in space exploration. In 1972, the blue marble became the first complete picture of Earth taken from space by humans; thus, a universal message for the benefit of humanity as a whole, as opposed to independent nations across the globe, would in itself be another milestone in space exploration.

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  • www.growyourbase.org – Grow Your Base (Supported by Salsa)
    This is an online platform that specifically teaches nonprofits how to leverage online channels for their mission(s) — using email, social media and mobile applications to maximize outreach and support.

…These were only 4 of the 150+ .ORGs and stories that we learned about at SXSW. We cannot wait to see what else we find! If you or someone that you know has a .ORG story, please share it with us because we want to help your story be heard.

Also, if you are affiliated with a nonprofit, you may qualify for a .NGO domain extension. The Public Interest Registry anticipates launching this new domain by 2014, and there will be a validation process, which will be the main difference between .NGO and .ORG. For more information, and to submit an Expression of Interest (EOI) for your own .NGO domain, please visit http://www.ngotld.org

Sincerely,

The Public Interest Registry Team

Until next time, Austin…

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The Digital Citizen

As technology and the Internet advances, is it shaping us or are we shaping it? Last year .ORG created a short film, the Digital Citizen, which explored the concept of human interactions in a digital age. What we found was that the .ORG domain extension consistently serves as a platform that empowers the community — for a cause, through activism, perseverance, and the desire to engage in social good.

This year at SXSW 2013, Public Interest Registry has had the privilege to participate in the Interactive Trade Show for the very first time. We have been showcasing the Digital Citizen at our booth to help the public understand our true mission: to serve the public interest. Coincidently, one of the storytellers from our film (Leigh Durst) just happened to walk by our booth (#737) and see herself on the screen, so we were able to snap a picture and thank her for sharing her story with the world!

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(From left to right, Thuy LeDinh, Leigh Durst, Megan Soffer, and Anand Vora)

Leigh’s story was/is pretty special, and actually hits home with the SXSW festival. In 2011, she took action with other Interactive participants and created http://www.sxsw4japan.org after they witnessed the tsunami and catastrophic damage happening in Japan while they sat in the exhibitor halls at the Austin Convention Center. Leigh and her peers were determined to help all of those affected; by creating a fundraiser through their site they were able to raise over $125K for the cause in just a matter of 4 days. Simply amazing.

In addition to sharing the Digital Citizen, Public Interest Registry has been collecting a list of all of the .ORGs that are in attendance at SXSW this year because we want to know what their stories are and how their purpose(s) have been fulfilled thus far. Following the conference, we will reflect on each of these stories to create a second .ORG short…hopefully to submit for the film festival at SXSW 2014! To participate or view the terms and conditions of our contest here.

Again, we want to acknowledge everyone who contributed to the making of the Digital Citizen, as well as those who came by our booth at SXSW to share their own .ORG stories with us. Additionally, a big thank you to all of those who actively strive to do social good and support worldly causes. Your efforts do not go unnoticed and we appreciate you.

Sincerely,

The Public Interest Registry Team