Free hugs day – courtesy of the read/write web?

Free hugs day – courtesy of the read/write web?


Okay, I know there are those of you who will shudder at the saccharine nature of this, but if you can set aside your more cynical side for a moment and look at the mechanics, you might just be wowed.

It started with a YouTube video about a young man who came back to Australia from the UK after a major life trauma in 2006, and felt the way to heal himself would be to give away free hugs. His idea was infectious and after being temporarily shut down by authorities due to a lack of public liability insurance, the man rallied a host of supporters who gathered 10,000 signatures on a petition to allow it all to go ahead. The video has had more than 17 million views to date and received more than 36 thousand comments since being posted in September 2006.

Now there are Free Hug Days all over the world. I noticed on FaceBook there are several groups related to it – one is organising a day for September 10th

People are making their own videos, sharing their own stories, organising events and rallies — it’s crossed into traditional media with the originator of the movement being interviewed on Australian and American TV (Oprah!) and back again as web sites are built and Groups are formed in online communities. The official web site

Do you think this could have happened before self publishing/the read write web was possible? Do you think the ability to contribute one’s own digital story — be it a comment, photo, video, song, group, whatever medium — helps people to feel more a part of a movement or historical event than just being on the receiving end of information?