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Online Activism 101


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As presented to Sydney Atheists on 8th August 2010, Jason Brown's Pilot Online Activism overview.

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Online Activism 101

  1. 1. online activism 101:A Crash course in internet campaigning<br />Jason Brown, Little Known Skeptic<br />
  2. 2. Activism?<br />The practice of using action to achieve a result, such as political demonstration or a strike in support of or in opposition to an issue.<br /><br />
  3. 3. Three Levels<br />Strategic<br />Long term objectives<br />Tactical<br />Short term gain<br />Skirmishing<br />Harrying the opposition<br />
  4. 4. Three Toolsets<br />Research<br />Getting your ducks in a row<br />Collaboration<br />Rallying the troops<br />Outreach<br />Spreading the message<br />
  5. 5. Is this still just slacktivism?<br />Slacktivism (sometimes slactivism) is a portmanteau formed out of the words slacker and activism. The word is considered a pejorative term that describes "feel-good" measures, in support of an issue or social cause, that have little or no practical effect other than to make the person doing it feel satisfaction. The acts also tend to require little personal effort from the slacktivist.<br /><br />If you do it wrong: yes.<br />But there are ways of doing it right.<br />
  6. 6. First, some fundamentals <br />1. Choose your target wisely<br />2. Know your enemy<br />3. Determine your goal<br />4. Get others on side<br />5. Do not start a campaign without knowing what you’re letting yourself in for<br />6. School yourself on the basics: good logic, research, scientific sources. Know your fallacies. Know your bible/koran/dianetics/whatever<br />KNOW YOUR ENEMY<br />
  7. 7. B is For Blogs<br />Blogs are easy, versatile and a largely unrestricted platform<br />Building readership can be hard, but communities exist<br />Specialised blogs may see more success than general in activism terms<br />
  8. 8. Wikipedia<br />Excellent for basic research, but follow citations<br />Make sure the Wikipedia articles in your chosen area are fully updated<br />“controversy” sections<br />Specialised variants:,,<br />
  9. 9. Podcasts: Radio 2.0<br />Preaching to the choir is good to rally support<br />It’s good for morale<br />Not, however, an ideal platform to speak to fence-sitters or the opposition<br />Definitely worth using to rally the troops<br />
  10. 10. Youtube and vodcasting<br />Huge user base<br />Easily embedded elsewhere<br />Usually best suited to short videos<br />You can get started now. All you need is a webcam, a mic and something to say<br />
  11. 11. Facebook<br />Phenomenal, highly populated social media site<br />Groups, Pages and Causes all allow for activism to flourish<br />API means savvy programmers can innovate<br />Censorship is rife<br />
  12. 12. Atheist Nexus & Think Atheist<br />Specialised social networking sites for atheists<br />Many very active groups, Atheist News and Aussie, Kiwi and South Pacific Atheists<br />Collaboration, not outreach!<br />
  13. 13. Twitter<br />Direct engagement<br />Immediacy – realtime web<br />Group discussion via #hashtags<br />Individual engagement via @replies<br />Can be tricky to get a point across in 140 chars<br />Great medium for promoting other efforts<br />
  14. 14. Sidewiki * (and its brethren)<br />Hitting them where they live<br />Countering misinformation at its source<br />Can be flooded out if the “enemy” are numerous<br />Audience penetration isn’t too high<br />
  15. 15. Geotagging<br />Props to Tim Farley for this one<br />Tag your posts and tweets with the location of a target<br />Even FourSquare can be used for activism<br />
  16. 16. Email Campaigns and petitions<br />Are these as effective as traditional letter campaigns?<br />Not really, however in cases such as StopAVN, we’ve been able to use email channels to “add value” to our paper-based complaint<br />Petitions: OK if you have a very large support base >10,000<br />Reason Makes a Difference<br />
  17. 17. Organising Supporters<br />Google Groups<br />Mailing lists<br /><br />Your skeptical group may already be using some of these channels<br />Remember: link them to your other channels, Facebook and Twitter<br />
  18. 18. Miscellaneous others<br />Web forums, IRC and usenet are still very much alive<br />Great research tools such as<br />Search tools – oh so obvious, but do you use What about Google Alerts? Custom Search? Yahoo Pipes?<br />Skeptical Speakers Bureau<br />SEO & googlebombing<br />New tools are constantly coming online – watch this space!<br />
  19. 19. Free your data!<br />Web 2.0 is all about programmability<br />Allow clever third parties to expand upon your work by syndicating your content<br />Example: Skepticator<br />
  20. 20. Don’t neglect IRL!<br />The real world still matters<br />Old Media still dominates<br />Letters are still better than emails<br />In-person events are great for morale<br />
  21. 21. Some “Success” Stories<br />Stop The AVN<br />10:23<br />#voterachie<br />Chanology<br />
  22. 22. Getting More Info<br />Several skeptics worldwide can help<br />@Sc00ter<br />@krelnik<br />@drunkenmadmanaka @theskepticator<br />And a growing list of others…<br />
  23. 23. Closing tips<br />Screenshots, screenshots, screenshots.<br />Be prepared to back down if necessary.<br />Make it fun.<br />Always be better people than “them”.<br />The internet is not your private army.<br />Ultimately, though, you don’t have to be a full-time activist to help<br />
  24. 24. Discussion/Questions<br />