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 Online Community Lesson


The AOL Founder Stole a Montebello Idea ?

           Steve Case, the founder of AOL, was on television in February, 2007, talking about a new project, “Revolution Health”,, meant to help people get health care.  It was said on the home page that we could compare and rate doctors and hospitals.  Has this billionaire stolen an idea from Montebello? 

          No.  But it is satisfying to know that we are in the same league as he.  At the “My Montebello” Web site,, there is a menu in the left margin of the home page.  One menu item, not yet in use, is called “Open Suggestion Box”.  When it is in use, people who labor, learn or live in Montebello will be able to make suggestions to improve the quality of life in Montebello.  Without criticizing individuals, we will be able to use the open suggestion box to document experiences, find others who have had similar experiences, and share ideas, making it more likely that we could and would come together and improve life in Montebello.  Strength in numbers. 

          Really that important?  Judge for yourself.  Had the suggestion box been common here and everywhere in the United States, at least three recent issues known to this writer could have been addressed: 

·        first, in February, there was work done on the railroad tracks paralleling Olympic Boulevard;  the railroad company did not follow its announced schedule, and there was a time when all the Montebello railroad crossings except Bluff Road were blocked;  imagine the danger that represented—not to mention the adverse environmental impact (more pollution);

·        second, the recent congressional hearings about the poor quality of patient care at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and the hospitals of the Veterans Administration might not have occurred;  members of Congress, the news media, and the public would have been aware of the problem earlier, because they could have read comments placed by veterans into a national open suggestion box;

·        third, the emerging problem with credit-card company policies is being aired at other congressional hearings;  it is saddening that certain policies have gone unchecked for so long and have put or kept people in debt;  had we had an open suggestion box, we would have known of the problem earlier.  

          How many times do we face a danger, loss, obstacle or annoyance like one of the above without knowing how many other people have been affected?  Do we realize that, if we knew who else had been affected, we could use our strength in numbers to make a change for the better?  Does it become apparent how something as simple as a community open suggestion box could be good for the community, as a national open suggestion box could be for the country? 

If you answer the multiple-choice questions below and e-mail to with “Lesson answers” in the subject field, you will be credited toward a “certificate of recognition in community affairs” to be awarded in 2007 by a local nonprofit organization. 

1. What new idea has AOL founder Steve Case brought to us?

(a) AOL software enabling the home computer to converse with us.

(b) A Web site meant to help us get health care. 

2. What is similar about the “rate doctors and hospitals” feature at Case’s Web site and the “open suggestion box” feature at

(a) People may send information to the Web site which others may read and upon which they may act to help themselves.

(b) Each is the same as the service provided by the Better Business Bureau. 

3. What is the difference between Case’s feature and our open suggestion box?

(a) At Case’s Web site, but not ours, we can read criticisms about individuals.

(b) Our Web site displays suggestions, which means that submitters to the open suggestion box must give thought to how what has harmed or annoyed them might be improved.

March 8, 2007






























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