I know I’m using the term ‘volunteer’ fairly loosely here but what I’m referring to the voluntarily act of sharing or providing a service in the form of knowledge or our actions. If you think about why we volunteer, we often do so when we have free time, when we feel like it, when there seems to be some benefit for us, some of us do it for the sake of volunteering, others for the fact that they know they are contributing to a greater good, i.e. for the benefit of the wider community.
Clear examples of this we can see through the establishments of service clubs such as the Lions Club and the Rotary, and for those in the IT industry, the open source industry where software created with volunteer contribution from developers all around the world. The Mozilla Firefox browser is one example of a product of this.
This desire to make a difference and make a change to the wider community can be extended further and as the Internet has enabled and extended many social interactions and relationships today. It too has changed the way we can volunteer and collaborate our spare time in many different ways.
This video of a presentation presented at a TED.com event terms this volunteering as ‘cognitive surplus’ and is what I believe shows how globalisation through the Internet and collaboration can reach new levels and hopefully help resolve those lingering social and non-social issues in our world today. Enjoy! : )