From Slacktivism to Activism


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  • How many know the reference being made in the tag line here?Subterranean Homesick BluesKeep a clean noseWatch the plain clothesYou don’t need a weathermanTo know which way the wind blows
  • good analysis with the problem with this campaignRussell argues that the only entity that can find and arrest Kony is the Ugandan army. Given that the Ugandan army has been trying, off and on, since 1987 to find Kony, that seems like a troublesome strategy. Journalist Michael Wilkerson, who has reported on the LRA for many years, notes that the Ugandan army is poorly equipped, underfed, incompetent and deeply corrupt. Past efforts to crack down on Kony have failed due to poor planning, poor coordination and Kony’s deeply honed skills at hiding in the jungle.Complicating matters, Kony continues to rely on child soliders. That means that a military assault – targeted to a satellite phone signal or some other method used to locate Kony – would likely result in the death of abducted children. This scenario means that many northern Ugandans don’t support military efforts to capture or kill Kony, but advocate for approaches that offer amnesty to the LRA in exchange for an end to violence and a return of kidnapped children.
  • Starting a couple of years ago cynics like EvgenyMorozov and MalcomGladwell questioned the value of the social web as a place where democracy can come to life . . .I took a look at this and thought now wait a minute . . . I have worked with a dozen non-profits who have used - with more or less success- social tools to build communities, recruit canvassers, solicit funds and influence public policy. Why then do we have public intellectuals, columnists and editorial writers questioning the social web’s role in broader social change. I’ll assume they’re doing this not because they are stupid or they think that being contrarian will give their writing a higher profile, but because they likely have no experience in actually organizing social action.
  • Democracy requires that we do something about things we are angry . . . Which gets to the part about my special experience to talk about this whole concept of acting on your principles . . .In my youth, I wasLeft-wing activist, member of a group called Red Morning which modeled itself on WeathermenOrganized a demonstration . . . And ended up spending a month in the Don JailI then went on to be a truck driver and trade unionist with CFAW and the United Brotherhood of Railroad, Airline and Steamship Clerks . . . I was chief steward of a local, a delegate to the Canadian Labour Congress national convention, member of the union’s negotiating team, and an agitatorNone of which his meant to be self-aggrandizing, only to make the point that I have been an activist, anorganizer and have been on the streets . . . All under an older paradigm of activism
  • What I can say from that experience is that I would rather be an activist today, than 40 years ago because the means for activism and the potential for its impact are of a magnitude of order or difference today . . . If done right . . .
  • Because of my history andmy understanding of the dynamics of the social web, that I can say . . . Slacktivism is not a problem
  • In fact, there are a number of studies that all show that using the Internet for campaigns does not have a negative effect on real-life participation. Other studies go further and show how effective the Internet is at mobilizing the young into “off-line forms of political participation.”
  • Even the weak ties that a Gladwell or others talk about can become strong ties . . . Strong enough to create a revolution.Following Greenpeace on Twitter, or liking it on Facebook might be a “weak tie” as Malcom Gladwell puts it, but it’s a tie nonetheless, and every little bit helps.Weak ties can become stronger. A single tweet might be easy to click, but it means a lot - a person is effectively standing up in a room full of everyone they know and taking a public stand.With one click, the target, the media, and all their friends see it. Contrast that with a traditional clipboard or email petition where the only people who know you signed it are the people the petition gatherer shows it to.
  • An example . . . I first got involved with Greenpeace reading a blog entry in passing. Then I wrote a comment. Then I joined an online forum, and became a volunteer in a local group, collecting signatures in the street, and convincing people in the street to give us the five eurocents that were left in their wallets. I became an online volunteer for Greenpeace International, then got an internship, and then got a job.
  • Moving people to social action is non-linear, messy, and fraught with challenges but it can begin anywhere . . . And it is the job of the ‘organizer’ to give it order and structure
  • I don’t think we should panic that people only click a like button or sign a petition.As my friend Rob Cottingham said in the newspaper the Globe and Mail yesterday,“For a lot of people, sharing something will be their first case of activism,” they’re filled with the kind of enthusiasm you're seeing from people who are becoming engaged politically for the first time.’It is the job of the organizer to take sharing and turn it into changing.
  • But the participation flow is a continuum and is the job of the activist or organizer to find ways to move people along that continuum . But the demos has to be used strategically . .. And that requires organizers who are willing to shape anger into action . . . And who know the principles behind effectively turning connection into the will to act Turning membership into engagementIn fact, membership in a social asset like a Google+ or Facebook page has to be seen not as a dead end, but as a starting pointConnection, in other words, is only the starting point of a participation continuum and it is the job of the activist or organizer to find ways to move people along that continuum .
  • And there are things you can do at each stage . . . With connection . . .you can educateWith engagement . . . You can work on helping people to organize themselvesWith influence . . . You can work on creating the courage to actWith action . . . You can provide the means for making the anger known, although preferably with driving towards solutions
  • In the 1960s ad 1970s we followed the organizing principles of Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals | Che Guevara’s Guerilla Warfare | Regis Debray’sRévolutiondans la révolution and Nousesommes les TupamarosToday with the social web we have to follow slightly different organizing principles Then . . . People ‘gather’ (meeting, demonstration, party) Then they ‘share’ (exchange ideas)Today . . . People ‘share’ (Facebook, Flickr, blog, IM) Then ‘gather’ (coalesce around dissatisfaction, complaint . . . party idea)
  • Forget the whole idea of ‘messaging’
  • Old activism . . . As a left wing activist, I would attend social events, rock concerts, student meetings, free food centres, and sell or distribute newslettersNew activism . . .integrate all social tools and be available and engaged in the major social tools (a Facebook page just isn’t enough, although it can be a hub)
  • Old activism . . .this was the really tough stuff . . .we only had a couple of alternatives to organizers activists (meetings – clandestine or public – phone trees and parties)New activism . . . Social collaboration and organizationSuite of group collaboration tools, such as private wikis, task lists, file repository, and decision making tools.(
  • Old activism . . . We created cells with leaders and coordinated both locally and internationally (especially U.S.), working with such organizations as Rising Up Angry in ChicagoNew activism . . . Identification of network leaders globally is incredibly easy, because people self-identify as social issue or cause leadersGetUpindependent, grass-roots community advocacy organisation giving everyday Australians opportunities to get involved and hold politicians accountable on important issues. Moveonfamily of organizations brings Americans back into the political process. JumoLeveraging connection technologies, Jumo enables people to find, follow and support those working toward solutions on the ground in their community and in regions across the globe. Jumois founded and directed by Chris Hughes, co-founder of Facebook and director of online organizing for Barack Obama’s 2008 Presidential campaign.
  • Feb 29 shut down corporations . . . Anarchic is structure . . .Attempted continuation of the ‘occupy’ movement . . . Facebook page has only 2000 likes . . . No way to engage | no encouragement to other forms of action | no discipline re: recruiting organizers
  • Old activism . . . We would work with individuals to determine their willingness to engage, where they are comfortable. Band members from Sound Horn (some wanted to be active on the streets, others just wanted to play music so we worked with them to write lyrics with a message)New activism . . . Find ways for individuals to act on their own or with friends – Amnesty makes it easy to personalize your anger online
  • “Close to two-thirds (64 per cent) say they value being able to easily share content with others. For young Canadians, the figure rises to 83%.”So . . . Create content that is by its nature shareable
  • Old activism . . . Simple and clear messages + offer action alternatives consistent with people’s level of comfort ((distribute leaflets- openly or surreptitiously . . .organize a demonstration . . . Spray painting slogans)New activism . . .repost a video/start a petition/re-tweet an event invitation
  • From Slacktivism to Activism

    1. 1. From Slacktivism to ActivismOr . . . Why you need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows Boyd Neil September 12, 2012 1
    2. 2. Founders of Invisible Children
    3. 3. Why I’m Doing This
    4. 4. The streets weren’t that different then
    5. 5. Hugh Macleod . . .
    6. 6. Slacktivism is not the problemMorozov/Gladwell think
    7. 7. “Although it is not possible to determine a consistent impact of Internet campaigns onreal–life decisions, there is no evidence of the substitution thesis. If anything, the Internet has a positive impact on off–line mobilization. Accordingly, there is littleevidence to support the accusation of Internet campaigns being slacktivism.”
    8. 8. Feel good ties canbecome action ties
    9. 9. ONE ACTIVIST’S PATH Reading a blog entry Write a comment Join a forum Become a local volunteer Collect signatures on streetInternship with advocacy group Job with advocacy group
    10. 10. Slacktivism is aconsequence of weak organizers
    11. 11. 11
    12. 12. The organizer • "To the organizer, imagination... is the dynamism that starts and sustains him in his whole life of action as an organizer. It ignites and feeds the force that drives him to organize for change.... The organizers searching with a free and open mind void of certainty, hating dogma, finds laughter not just a way to maintain his sanity but also a key to understanding life.” – Saul Alinsky, Rules for Radicals (p. 74-75) Hugh MacLeod 12
    13. 13. Social participation continuumConnection Engagement Influence Action 13
    14. 14. What social web activism can do CreateEducate Organize Courage to Act Act 14
    15. 15. Organizing Principles Organizing principles1. Contain anger | find ideological balance2. Make action choices straightforward, obvious and easy3. Connect everywhere4. Use social tools to organize groups (We used to call them „cells‟)5. Give people offline connection and action opportunities6. Identify local network leaders . . . And empower to self-organize7. Personalize the relationship8. Facilitate peer-to-peer opportunities9. Provide incentives for offline action10. Create content that rocks
    16. 16. Organizing Principles Organizing principles1. Contain anger | find ideological balance
    17. 17. Two reasons this doesn’t work:1. Moves away from core organizing message2. Substitutes anger for argument 17
    18. 18. Organizing Principles Organizing principles2. Make action choices straightforward, obvious and easy
    19. 19. Four reasons this works1. Offers calls to action + petitions2. Educates on what it means to engage3. Urges you to imagine something different4. Makes it easy 19
    20. 20. Organizing Principles Organizing principles3. Connect everywhere
    21. 21. Three reasons this works:1. Displays and repeats evidence of multiple platforms2. Uses visual platforms3. Has multiple points of access for connection
    22. 22. Organizing Principles Organizing principles4. Use social tools to organize groups (We used to call them „cells‟)
    23. 23. 23
    24. 24. Organizing Principles Organizing principles5. Give people offline connection and action opportunities
    25. 25. ‘App’ It25
    26. 26. Organizing Principles Organizing principles6. Identify local network leaders . . . And empower to self-organize
    27. 27. Three reasons this doesn’t work:1. No place to identify yourself as willing to lead an action2. No infrastructure for self- organization of groups3. Doesn’t educate within the context of organizing But this does . . . 27
    28. 28. Organizing Principles Organizing principles7. Personalize the relationship
    29. 29. “I do not think for one moment that @PresidentAz reads anything I write withmy thumbs. But I do know that we all contributed to a critical mass of shortsentences that together was of a significant size to be noticed. It is definitelythe case that Azerbaijani officials, linguists and supporters would have beenaware of this chatter.” Robert Sharp, Liberal Conspiracy, 27.05.11
    30. 30. Organizing Principles Organizing principles8. Facilitate peer-to-peer opportunities
    31. 31. Three reasons this works:1. Begins from your own story2. Makes starting your own peer- peer campaign straightforward3. Defines progress
    32. 32. Organizing Principles Organizing principles9. Provide incentives for offline action
    33. 33. Game-style rankingPersonal invitations to events Special training/education opportunities 33
    34. 34. Organizing Principles Organizing principles10. Create content that rocks
    35. 35. Drawing by Numbers 10 Tactics Message in-a-box Mobiles in-a-box Security in-a-box Info-design guide Maps for advocacyOnline advocacy guide ONO filmsDigital Survival Guide 35
    36. 36. 36