Technology: Promise or Peril?

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Technology: Promise or Peril?

Rev. Julia Hamilton

About ten years ago, I was invited by my sister to join her at a conference in San Francisco. It was called the Nonprofit Boot Camp, and it was hosted by the Craigslist Foundation. You may be familiar with Craigslist, the online local marketplace for everything from apartments and furniture to jobs and singles ads. It’s the modern equivalent of the “classifieds” in the newspaper, but with a kind of community-building spirit that is as much about encouraging local connections as it is about selling your old car. It started in San Francisco, but now there is a Craigslist for just about every town in the United States as well as many all over the world. This is a short sampling of some of the things that I have obtained on Craigslist over the years: An apartment. A car. A gliding rocker for the nursery. Bunches of baby things. An apartment for a week in Paris. Patio furniture. A bed frame. And here are some of the things I have sold or given away on Craigslist: A car. A gliding rocker for a nursery (yes, the same one, two years later). An accordion. A chair from Ikea. Bunches of baby things.

So I was intrigued when my sister invited me up for one of the first conferences hosted by Craig Newmark, the founder of Craigslist and a cheerleader for the way technology is changing the nonprofit world. I don’t remember much in detail about the workshops I attended, or the keynote speech by Craig himself, but I do remember the sense of optimism and promise that he conveyed. He was buoyant, energetic, and really wanted the people in the room to embrace the potential that new technology was opening up. He was an evangelist for the human spirit, for basic community goodness facilitated by technology. Craigslist, after all, only works if the good experiences outweigh the bad, it only works if the collective usefulness of the site outweighs the few people who will try to scam you….

Click here to read Rev. Hamilton’s full sermon.