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‘Planes, Dames, and Bottles of Beer’: The Globalization of Today
By: Victoria Hoey
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(A Lucky Limerick) 

There once was a statistician named Galton,

Who asked a town, “What’s the weight of my ox(en)?"

When he found the median guess,

Was only off by 1% or less,

He proved crowdsourcing is a viable option.

Humanity and big business alike took giant leaps towards one united world last weekend. The following are highlights from the largest crowdsourcing effort, the most expensive Kickstarter movie, and boycotting of the oldest St. Patrick’s Day Parades in America by sponsors.

Crowdsourcing Compassion. 
It’s now 10 days into the international hunt for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. The increasing mystery around this flight has done more than spark people’s interest; it has sparked their humanitarianism.

DigitalGlobe launched its crowdsourcing platform, “Tomnod,” on March 11, inviting the public to look at the imagery from five high-definition satellites to help in the search. The response was so overwhelming that it crashed the system’s computers a few times last week.

Volunteers from 26 different countries are viewing two million pages of satellite imagery every 10 minutes in what The New York Times is calling, “the world’s largest crowdsourcing project.” Everyone from the girl next door to Courtney Love is joining in to what is beginning to resemble a Willy Wonka–esque search for the Golden Ticket. For many of the volunteers, it’s NOT fame that they are looking for. It’s closure. Many simply want to help the families of the missing passengers find answers. Yesterday DigitalGlobe said that its “search area has been expanded to 24,000 square kilometers (9,266 square miles) and that more images are being added daily.” These include a new area in the Indian Ocean. There is still plenty of searching to do and you can volunteer your time at http://www.tomnod.com/nod/.

Fan Fare
It was almost one year to the day that Veronica Mars show creator Rob Thomas posted his Kickstarter campaign to raise money for a feature film. Within the first 12 hours, fans of the show donated $1.2 million dollars, but the money didn't stop there.

In true Kickstarter fashion, there were outlandish incentives to donate. Everything from PDFs of the script and personalized video greetings to an actual walk-on speaking role were being auctioned off to the highest bidders. By the end of the drive 91,000 fans donated $5.7 million dollars and Warner Bros. filled in the rest. "Once we raised the money and it became a fan-funded movie, there was this added pressure to give 'Veronica Mars' fans what they wanted," said Thomas. "So I wrote it with the fans in mind."

The LA Times reports that, “Thomas didn't want to stray far from the show's roots because initially, it wasn't even clear that the film would ever be made available to moviegoers nationwide.” On Friday of last week, 291 theaters debuted the Veronica Mars Movie and the initial return was not bad (about $2 million in first weekend); but as Buzzfeed points out, it’s also not great (it needs another 10 million dollars to break even.) According to Warner Bros. the studio will expand the showings to additional theaters in the coming weeks depending on how well it performs in the next few days.

The Great and Powerful Cause
What started in Sochi was brought back to the streets of Boston last weekend. For two decades, the LGBTQ community has been excluded from openly marching in the city’s St. Patrick’s Day parade. Many of the state’s residents choose to ignore this fact. They see it as a hopeless battle against the archaic Allied War Veteran’s Council and an embarrassment to contemporary society. (Massachusetts was the first U.S. state to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples!)

This year promised to be different. Mayor Martin J. Walsh held weeks of discussions between gay rights organization MassEquality and parade organizers, but as the day of the parade grew closer, the viewpoints of the opposing sides did not.

The Boston Beer Company (parent company of locally brewed Sam Adams) was one of the first companies to speak out. They said they were hopeful that “both sides of this issue would be able to come to an agreement that would allow everyone, regardless of orientation, to participate in the parade. But given the current status of the negotiations, we realize this may not be possible.” Unfortunately, they were right. The day before the parade, Mayor Walsh confirmed that the negotiations had failed and reported that he would not take part in the event. Sam Adams issued a statement soon after, saying, “We share these sentiments…and therefore we will not participate in this year’s parade.”

Boston was not the only city whose parade sponsors listened to public outcry. ABC News reports, “New York Mayor Bill de Blasio chose to become the first mayor in decades to shun the parade over gay rights issues.” Following in his footsteps was probably the most surprising sponsor withdraw in history. Guinness announced last weekend that it was pulling out of its sponsorship deal, saying: “Guinness has a strong history of supporting diversity and being an advocate for equality for all. We were hopeful that the policy of exclusion would be reversed for this year’s parade. As this has not come to pass, Guinness has withdrawn its participation. We will continue to work with community leaders to ensure that future parades have an inclusionary policy.”

People couldn’t believe there would ever be a St. Patrick’s Day without Guinness, especially in New York, but thanks to hundreds of thousands of residents who wanted to see a positive change in their city, Guinness listened.

It was a groundbreaking few days showcasing the power of the masses. Whether it is as important as inclusion for all, as universal as loss, or just a bunch of fans willing to pay to see a show that got cut down in its prime turned into a movie, many of us felt like we were a part of something bigger than ourselves. We were able to amplify our strength and conviction with that of others and see results in real time.

From Sochi to the South End and to all the volunteers on Tomnod, let your voices be heard. Happy (belated) St. Patrick’s Day. Or as we say in Boston, Happy Evacuation Day.


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About the Author
Victoria Hoey is a recent graduate with degrees in copywriting and advertising.
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