Photo of five young people taking a photo of themselves using a selfie-stick

Connecting Across the Globe

15 Dec 2015 by Susie Steckner

Technology’s reach into our lives grows every day, deepening our connections around the world.

We play an online game with a teammate across the country. We fund a charitable cause with thousands of supporters using the same mobile app. We practice our faith alongside others in a foreign country with the help of video. We get fit with our laptop and a virtual yoga studio.

Here’s a look at our growing global connectedness through the five F’s — faith, foundations, fashion, fitness and fun — of our daily lives.

Faith

Faith organizations are putting tech to work every day, whether texting prayer chain messages or connecting far-flung missionaries online. The goal: keeping members informed, growing membership and spreading messages across the globe.

The Ramp, a ministry in Hamilton, Alabama, is a perfect example of how technology is helping meet those goals. The Ramp produces hundreds of live events, seminars, training classes and conferences every year; for the past decade, officials have been successfully live streaming their events to reach people around the world.

The ministry relies on Piksel Faith's video platform, a cloud-based platform that allows users to easily upload, manage and share content to almost any device. Staff at the Ramp stream and manage all of their own content, and officials plan to boost streaming and on-demand usage even more.

The use of technology in faith organization is vital, and is dramatically changing the ways organizations operate, says Church Tech Today. What’s more, tech is helping bring faith to people around the world who fear persecution for publicly practicing what they believe.

A faith group uses a messaging service and Facebook to collect and send prayer requests. A weekly worship service is live streamed across the world. An outreach organization connects people seeking faith with online volunteers willing to share theirs. Youth missionaries traveling through foreign countries rely on Google Translate’s WordLens for real-time translations to improve communications.

A missionary in China uses a video Skype call during a Sunday morning service to reach all members of a congregation. The result of that call?

“The impact it had was invaluable,” according to Church Tech Today. “The congregation felt connected on a deeper level by seeing the missionary in the field, and it certainly compelled people to a new level of missions giving that Sunday.”

Foundations                                    

Foundations and other nonprofit organizations are realizing greater and greater visibility with crowdfunding sites and mobile apps that allow people to do everything from rally around immediate causes to support long-term initiatives.

The technology is helping shine a light on issues affecting people worldwide: a devastating childhood illness, a science education initiative, a men’s health awareness campaign, an environmental restoration effort. Supporters anywhere in the world can quickly learn about these issues and make donations, volunteer time and expertise, or share information on their social networks.

GlobalGiving, the first and largest global crowdfunding community for nonprofits, has drawn roughly 500,000 donors to support more than 13,000 projects worldwide. The projects focus on hunger, protecting the environment, housing, job training and more. Crowdrise links people with roughly 1.5 million charities around the United States and beyond. Users find recognizable names like UNICEF, as well as small organizations like a community museum seeking funds for educational exhibits.

Google’s One Today app encourages users to do “one good deed a day.’’ A simple $1 donation funds wide-ranging efforts, from providing antibiotics to poor children in Africa to offering wigs to cancer patients in Cincinnati.

“Using the surplus of technology available to us today, society has transformed crowdfunding into a vehicle of hope for people going through a tough time, or those who have a dream they need help achieving,” according to GiveForward. “It has the potential to continue to do great things for humanity, from nurturing human creativity to fostering human generosity and kindness.”

Fashion

Fashionistas are following trends, shopping and swapping, scanning bloggers, and finding inspiration on a dizzying number of apps and sites. They are exploring the world of fashion here and everywhere. 

Need a personal shopper? PS Dept. puts professional stylists and on-trend looks at your fingertips. Want to explore different brands in one place? Spring offers access to more than 800 clothing, lifestyle and beauty brands. Want to discover new-to-you designers? Avenue 32 features labels-on-the-rise from around the globe.

Just want to lose yourself on Instagram? A host of fashion bloggers showcase any number of looks and trends, bringing the streets of Brazil or New York or Australia to all.

Fitness

Technology takes fitness accessibility to a whole new level for people looking to shake up their routines, try out the next big thing, compete virtually with others, and connect with a trainer or teacher across the country or globe. Users can engage in just about everything, from belly dancing to martial arts to ballet, and take part in a private session or group class.

“Skypercise” offers the easiest way for people to get fit with friends who can simply grab their laptops and access group video calling. Sites like Powhow can connect people with thousands of classes in fitness, dance, yoga and wellness offered by experts around the world via live webcam classes.

Tech also opens the doors to celebrity fitness experts, whether U.S. celebrity trainers like Ramona Braganza or Andrea Orbeck, who offer one-on-one sessions, pregnancy sculpting and more, or wellness expert and social media devotee Sadie Nardini, who draws millions to YouTube for yoga classes as well as lifestyle advice. 

Personal training is easier — and more accessible — than ever with sites like Cody, which offers video training from a range of coaches who can help tackle strength training, weight loss, yoga and other goals. The best part: The coaching works around the user’s schedule.

Fun

The gaming market continues to explode, with as many as 1.2 billion people now playing games worldwide and 700 of those online, a report by Spill Games says. What’s more, multiplayer games on mobile and handheld devices are seeing dramatic year-to-year growth across Google Play and the iOS App Store, according to an industry report by IDC and App Annie.

"A decade ago, online multiplayer games were the exception to the rule and were practically a novelty," says Lewis Ward, IDC’s research director of gaming. “Given the recent rise of eSports, it's clear that online multiplayer has become central to many of today's most popular and lucrative franchises. One can imagine a time in the not too-distant future when story modes and single-player experiences become the exception to the rule.”

Top multiplayer games — from Clash of Clans and Minecraft, to Monster Strike and Game of War: Fire Age — draw young and old alike. Players team up or compete fiercely against one another, uniting (or dividing) strangers from all corners of the world.

San Francisco-based Bandura Games has plans to launch a new kind of game specifically aimed at bringing people together from all over. The peace game app is designed to bridge gaps, build connections and create empathy between people from different sides of conflict zones.

The game, which is nonviolent, incentivizes players to make friends with other players in different countries.

“We realized that we had an opportunity to bring youths together not just across the Israeli-Palestinian divide, but really around the world, across any divide — whether it’s India-Pakistan, China-Taiwan or the Democrat-Republican divide in the United States,” says Justin Hefter, Bandura Games chief executive officer.