Global Pulse 2010: An invitation to talk to decision makers online

global_pulseFrom March 29 to 31, Global Pulse 2010 aims to gather over 20.000 individuals and representatives of organisations in an online conversation dealing with topics ranging from human development to science and technologies.

The event is sponsored by US Agency for International Development (USAID), and the goal is to give world citizens an opportunity to voice opinions and share ideas for innovative solutions to social issues. According to USAID, the inspiration for the online event is a speech President Barack Obama gave in Cairo in June 2009 in which he said he would promote partnership with the rest of the world.

Ten topics of discussion

The event will start at 0 am (GMT) and will last 72 hours non-stop, and participants will be able to follow and comment in several live discussions simultaneously. All discussions will be led by featured opinion leaders, decision makers and NGO members, including Youssou N'Dour [fr], famous Senegalese singer, deeply engaged in the fight against malaria, Iqbal Z. Quadir, founder of Grameenphone in Bangladesh, and even Ethan Zuckerman, co-founder of Global Voices Online.

Participants from at least 128 countries will share and discuss on ten broad topics, listed here :

  • Inspiring a new generation
  • Empowering Women and Girls
  • Enabling the Essential Education
  • Building Stronger Partnerships
  • Exercising Political and Civil Rights
  • Promoting Global Health
  • Advancing Entrepreneurship, Trade & Economic Opportunity
  • Fostering Science, Technology & Innovation
  • Supporting a Sustainable Planet
  • Pursuing Grand Challenges

Innovative technology

Gathering thousands of people online at the same time could be tricky. Fortunately, the forum technology that will be used, IBM Jam, has been already been tested in previous events.

Bill Tipton took part in Habitat Jam – a three-day online event in 2005 to solicit ideas on urban sustainability. In a blog at the Global Dialogue Center he shares his experience:

I know this can work from participating in such an event in 2005 […] Tens of thousands of individuals – including government and business leaders, NGOs and specialists — came together to discuss real issues and concerns facing the world’s urban communities.


I still meet and work with people I met in that truly remarkable Jam and  expect to meet other extraordinary individuals in Global Pulse in 2010.


To join the Global Pulse event, you only need a computer and internet access – and you also have to register in advance (for free). Before March 29, you can follow @globalpulse2010 on Twitter as well as the hashtag #gp2010. There is also a Facebook page with almost 700 fans, where suggestions have already been posted.

One idea by Oliver Mupila goes:

Query: Can Global Pulse suggest effective indicators for tracking the progress of grand corruption cases from referral to the investigating agencies, through to the Director of Prosecutions, onward to the courts and progress while they are in court without compromising the individuals right to a fair trial/hearing or reputation before they are convicted? What is considered good practice in this area and are there any countries that do this particularly well? And why are news writers in Africa not in good books [of] the government?

According to Dr. Rajiv Shah, Adminsitrator of USAID, the online summit will gather “individuals who are not normally seated at the table with key decision makers”. Could this be a move towards the future of democracy? It should at least be interesting to find out.

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