Our planet faces many impending crises as a consequence of growing populations and rising affluence. Governmental bodies at any level seem unable to provide the leadership to mitigate these. It seems to be up to those in the community who are most directly affected to take the leadership. Yet, without access to knowledge and understanding, individuals and communities are powerless against administrative juggernauts that are all too often beholden to a few powerful individuals rather than the communities they are supposed to represent and support. However, the Internet and newly invented social and cloud computing technologies provide individuals with fingertip access to humanity’s knowledge base; tools for extracting, evaluating, and sharing knowledge that is relevant to local needs; as well as tools for socially coordinating that action to promote and guide action. This paper reviews some of these tools and discusses how they can be applied for good or ill.


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