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Going digital

"Going digital" Continued...

Issue: "Our long war," March 8, 2008

Guo plans to sue the parent companies since neither Google nor Yahoo! has a formal legal identity in China: "They have infringed my right to my name, and also the rights of anyone called Guo Quan because you can find no information for this name. They have violated my political rights. I am opposed to violence and dictatorship but these sites have blocked me."

He said in his open letter that threatened the suit, "To make money, Google has become a servile Pekinese dog wagging its tail at the heels of the Chinese communists."

Hi-tech gleaning

For decades Americans have been cleaning out their closets and selling their old stuff at garage sales, or donating it to organizations like Goodwill or the Salvation Army. In 2003 folks in Tucson, Ariz., concerned about the amount of trash that ends up in landfills, had the idea to use the internet to help match old stuff with new owners. The Freecycle Network now has more than 4 million members in 80 countries and more than 4,000 communities. It calls itself a "worldwide gifting movement that reduces waste, saves precious resources & eases the burden on our landfills."

Unlike a garage sale, Freecycle items have to be free. Unlike donations to a nonprofit organization, givers receive no tax benefits. But Freecycle may be able to find a home for hard-to-donate items that nonprofits don't want: a broken TV or that green microsuede sofa with the yellow paint pawprint, for instance.

Each community has its own email member list. Before a volunteer moderator allowed me to join the Austin Freestyle Network (AFN), I had to give my zip code, area of town, and the major cross streets near my house to make sure I was eligible. It took about 24 hours to be approved and able to read notices for items "offered," "wanted," "taken," and "received," including a twin bed, "little boy jeans," Christmas ornaments, and a washer and dryer.

Susan Olasky
Susan Olasky

Susan pens book reviews and other articles for WORLD as a senior writer and has authored eight historical novels for children. Susan and her husband Marvin live in Asheville, N.C. Follow Susan on Twitter @susanolasky.

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