Through skillful leveraging of technology, YourVox focuses on promoting interaction in a context which transcends boundaries often created by language, culture and politics. Ultimately, it creates a new kind of dialogue, one which gives voice to perspectives, dilemmas and solutions not yet conceived. Collaborative exchange brings about thoughtful responses to local and international issues. This forum opens up new channels of communication regarding peace issues in the Middle East, North Korea, or Somalia. It has the potential to change the way we frame our thinking about remote areas of our planet and about some of the seemingly intractable world problems we face.
Young Money spoke to President and Founder, Ali Alam.
YOUNG MONEY: What is YourVox.org?
ALI ALAM: YourVox is an innovative platform for “interactive journalism”. In summary, this is a concept which allows participants and contributors from anywhere to share information and ideas about events taking place in our world, on a real time basis. Unlike traditional news sources, YourVox is about interaction and discussion. It creates a venue that inspires thoughtful opinions and exchange regarding current affairs, of both political and social interest.
YM: What gave you this idea?
AA: Two realities of today’s evolving world have inspired YourVox. The first is my own curiosity and desire to explore the world through multiple lenses. In this context, I have always admired the freedom-of- speech philosophy which underlies so much of how we live in the United States. The second source of inspiration comes from emerging technology which harnesses the internet’s ability to instantaneously connect individuals from all corners of the globe. At the speed of light, contributors from the Pacific Rim can share ideas with students in the US and Europe.
YM: When dealing with journalists and readers from all over the world, how do you deal with different languages? Does everyone have to submit in English?
AA: Currently, we use English as the host language. However, to welcome new participants, we are working on developing auto translators. Although many foreign users are comfortable with posting in English, we are sensitive to the fact that others, with equally valid opinions, thoughts and perspectives, may be more comfortable expressing their ideas in another tongue.
YM: Are you looking for a certain type of story?
AA: Only in terms of the impact of the issues. As long as an issue touches the global community—by the way, few do not—it qualifies for inclusion. However, on a given day, we do have to sift and sort to maintain accuracy, balance and some kind of rough parity in the regions we cover in the articles presented. We also focus on quality articles which show that the author has drawn attention to the issue at hand in a thoughtful way. We do not encourage, for example, hate communications of any kind or comments designed to trigger a violent response.
YM: Do you have regular contributors? Do you try to get a variety of countries represented?
AA: We invite contribution from all corners of the world. As part of our quality control framework, we have representatives with particular expertise who contribute to the site on a regular basis. However, many more contribute spontaneously. The goal is to offer the global community a menu of thoughts, opinions and perspectives presented concisely, on timely topics.
YM: How did you get funding for your business?
AA: The continuous funding for YourVox comes from advertising we do on and off the internet. We have received kind contributions from writers and others. In the future, we anticipate engaging the world community to get funding to support the growing infrastructure for the site. Additionally, we are developing new aspects of the site to be used as flow-through channels for philanthropic activities across the globe.
YM: What was the hardest problem you faced when starting your own business?
AA: The most difficult thing was framing the idea in a concrete way that would be executable. Although it can be very difficult to anticipate how people will respond, we primarily focused on strengthening the underlying core of the site, while making it easily accessible.
YM: What advice do you have for other young people?
AA: I would urge students to manage change creatively, with courage and with the sense that they can affect the world’s future in positive ways. The world is changing rapidly. The wisdom of the past will have to evolve to keep pace with this change. We, as the next generation, must master the art of shifting to meet new realities. This requires mental agility, resilience and an unrelenting belief in one’s endeavor. It is my hope that YourVox will stand as an example of these qualities and will inspire others to act creatively and with courage to meet the challenges of the world as they evolve.
YM: Is there anything else that you would like my readers to know?
AA: Because of the site’s recent growth, students from all over are applying to be part of YourVox, not only writing articles, but also determining the future of the very project they contribute to. Members of “teamvox” have the opportunity to meet and interact with fellow members (from all over the world) via monthly group conferences. We are also operating at the ground level here in the United States by recruiting senior leaders of school districts in the effort to spread the word and to include their students in the network. If you would like to be part of this growing global effort.