Tracey Mendrek, Executive Vice President

Last week, some of the biggest tech companies in the world announced a new initiative. Facebook, Samsung, Nokia, Qualcomm and Ericsson have come together to make the Internet available in developing countries.  Proposed as a way to connect the entire world, and thanks to a voiceover provided by John F. Kennedy, debuted.

As intriguing as the idea is, perhaps even more intriguing is the use of the 35th President of the United States as the pitchman on the new website.   In the commencement address to the American University on June 10, 1963, President Kennedy spoke these words, “Our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s future. And we are all mortal.”  The genius of Mark Zuckerberg to use a 50-year-old speech, by a President most people on Facebook only know from history books, is extraordinary.

While the speech focused on the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty during the Cold War, pieces of it, as noted above, perfectly support Zuckerberg’s idea that access to the Internet should be available to all, no matter what their economic status or living conditions.  The idea that somehow the Internet can solve the problems of people who don’t even have water is a bit lofty, however it does draw attention to those who desperately need our help.

It is unclear exactly how Zuckerberg proposes to provide this access, as the New York Times points out.   The next several months and years will define and its ability to make real change.  No doubt other famous people will step up to join the cause, but with an intro by President Kennedy the bar is set very high.