just a little more on the social media and the internets as a tool of social change. i got this link from a friend, which shows the power of activism via the net:
“If the Internet didn’t exist, Barack Obama would not be president of the United States,” says Ben Rattray, the founder of Change.org. “The fact that the most powerful person in the world wouldn’t be in that position without the Internet and organizing online says something.” ...
Although e-petitions, Change.org’s most common advocacy tool, might top the list of low-commitment activism in some minds, Rattray says that the organization wins a campaign — changes an unjust law, policy, or practice — at least once a week. But he also admits this is probably not the most dramatic method of activism out there....
Avaaz.org uses a similar approach to organize online activists throughout the world. When the UK announced a plan to double the total area of protected ocean in its conservation zone this April, it cited the more than 221,000 responses from 223 countries that Avaaz.org coordinated. The organization has an arsenal of examples of its online actions translating to real change.
the whole thing is well worth reading, as there are some great examples of individual activism as well. the piece was written in response to an article by maxwell cromwell, and i now know a new word. slactivism, being internet activism in lieu of real & meaningful action.
an example of this is the current breast cancer campaign, encouraging women to use their facebook status to write where they like to put their handbag when they get home. except of course, there is no mention of the handbag & the status updates starts with "i like it" and continues with a place in the house. all very naughty, but does it really achieve anything for breast cancer funding or breast cancer sufferers or even in the prevention of breast cancer? a point made more elegantly by scubanurse here.
then there is this piece, looking at the effects of blogs on the controversy around the new york islamic cultural centre. however, although the whole sorry mess started with a few pretty nasty blogs, the things didn't grow legs until the mainstream media started flogging the story, reproducing all the inaccuracies without bothering to check for the facts. a little like our media reporting on a cameron slater mash-up of jim anderton's interviews without bothering to check if he actually said what mr slater claimed he'd said.
i guess the trick is to overcome slactivism by motivating people to act offline as well as online. and as the first piece shows, there are people who've managed it successfully. and online activism in terms of writing to politicians or people of influence is an effective activity in itself.