Technology to answer the call of nature

U.S. politics marked a milestone this week when YouTube video clips were used in a debate involving eight presidential hopefuls from the country's Democratic party, supposedly to help Americans better decide whom they want as their leader in the 2008 election.

U.S. politics marked a milestone this week when YouTube video clips were used in a debate involving eight presidential hopefuls from the country's Democratic party, supposedly to help Americans better decide whom they want as their leader in the 2008 election.

The first-of-a-kind debate was featured on CNN, and members of the public were invited to submit questions for the candidates via YouTube. While there were clips showing the usual face-to-the-camera shots, others opted to be more creative--posing their multimedia questions in various forms. One strummed the guitar as he sang a song lamenting the amount of taxes he has to pay, ending off his little tune with a request for the candidates to lower the country's taxes.

Another video showed a man in dark shades, with music playing in the background, sitting on a chair with a stack of flashcards. He didn't utter a word, choosing instead to pose his question by flipping through the flashcards--displaying a couple of words at a time. Aptly, his query touched on benefits for the country's disabled community.

This landmark debate is a fine example of how technology and the availability of Web 2.0 tools have changed the way we normally live through our daily lives.

Attention is usually focused on why businesses should embrace Web 2.0 technology, but lest we forget, it's also really about giving the public--whoever they are and wherever they're from--a voice.

Aided by tools such as Web videos, the plight of low-income families or the disabled could never be as effectively expressed as it was in the U.S. Democratic debate.

Technology has also improved the lives of some Singaporeans, and the Internet can be a medium to encourage the younger, tech-savvy generation to get more involved in Singapore's, erm, rather tame political scene.

So, here's my challenge for those who are interested...

I have a habit--a bad one, I must add--of waiting until the last minute before I answer the call of nature. Needless to say, there are often times when my bladder is pretty much about to bust at the seams by the time I make my way to the washroom. So yes, I shamefully admit, I've had to use stalls marked for the disabled on some occasions...hey, it was either that or I would have had to buy a new pair of pants.

My question then is, does anyone have an idea on how I can avoid inconveniencing a wheelchair-bound soul the next time I visit the washroom?

Here's one to start the ball rolling: How about a location-based application that I can activate on my mobile phone to help locate an empty toilet booth nearest to where I currently am?

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