The best kind of 'global warming'

 Often “globalization” and “technology” are presented as inexorable forces of dehumanization, metamorphosing workers across the planet into interchangeable commodities that can be bought, sold and discarded on the open market.

Belying that narrative is the charity campaign by local law firm Walkers Global, which successfully married technology with the better instincts of mankind in order to provide assistance in a targeted and efficient manner to victims of super typhoon Haiyan (also called Yolanda) in the Philippines.

Walkers could have contented itself by cutting an oversized check for an international relief organization, sending a press release to the news media and calling it a day. Instead, the firm’s global HR executive Inga Masjule, who had previously worked in the Philippines, enlisted the help of Cayman resident Tess Fontanos, who is from Baguio City, to track down Filipinos in Cayman whose families are suffering from the November disaster.

As of the end of last year, Cayman was home to about 2,700 work permit holders from the Philippines, a country of some 110 million people.

“I was told I would not be able to find one person in Cayman whose family had been affected,” Ms Masjule said.

Undeterred, Ms Fontanos attacked the problem by leveraging technology, in the form of a social networking site for on-island Filipinos, kind of like using a magnet to wrest needles from a haystack.

The outcome is that the firm was able to provide direct assistance to 36 families (with four more in the queue). This is not meant in any way to denigrate the admirable activities of international groups such as the Red Cross, but immediate family members are of course in the best possible position to ensure that all of the funds make it to the intended recipients, and quickly, and that the money is ultimately spent on necessities such as shelter, food and medicine.

The amount of time and thought that Ms Fontanos, Ms Masjule and Walkers staff put into the campaign is as impressive as the clever utilization of the Internet.

The Walkers campaign for the Philippines demonstrates that the brave new “flat world” of the near future does not have to be cold and one-dimensional, and that communications technology can assist Good Samaritans as surely as any spectral villains of the corporate oligarchy.

In 1994, between his stints at Apple, Steve Jobs sat down for an interview with Rolling Stone magazine. Asked if he had as much faith in technology as he did two decades before, Mr. Jobs responded, “Oh, sure. It’s not a faith in technology. It’s faith in people.”

He explained, “Technology is nothing. What’s important is that you have a faith in people, that they’re basically good and smart, and if you give them tools, they’ll do wonderful things with them.

It’s not the tools that you have faith in — tools are just tools. They work, or they don’t work. It’s people you have faith in or not.”


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