We’ve moved this blog to http://www.changeyourtools.com
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We’ve moved this blog to http://www.changeyourtools.com
There will be no more updates on this adress…
Just before leaving for holiday – which I’m still enjoying – I ran a one-week course on social media and social change at MS ActionAid sporting a combination of great external lectures, intense toolstraining and the actual design of online campaigns. The content and context of the course is probably pretty relevant to the readers of this site – so here you’ll have a couple of the inputs of the course.
As you’ll notice the key external speakers were talking via Skype – which is a great way to get not just the best of what’s going on in Denmark (which in the field of online campaigning is is not much!) – but the absolute pioneers in online campaigning for social change world wide! However, it’s not quite the most optimal and engaging format – to look at a person in front of his or her webcam via a poor quality skype-connection- and especially not when recorded on a video-camera for documentation as is the case here. Hence, it might only be the nerds and geeks out there actually whatching it all through – but it’s definately worth the effort. To my best knowledge, Jeremy Heimans and Josh Levy range among the pioneers of redesigning politics to take advantage of the powers of new social media!
Jeremy Heimans talks about his experience with starting getup.org and avaaz.org and educating us on how to introduce ambitous and large scale online campaigning in a country with no such tradition – Australia, his home country.
Josh Levy takes us on a tour around some of the best examples of how to use online campaign sites to spawn offline engagement and introduces key concepts such as ‘The Hub’, ‘The Spoke’ and the all-important ‘List’, that all online-campaigns seek to build – with Obama and Moveon.org as the most successful so far.
A big thank you to both Josh and Jeremy for taking their time to educate us (and to my friend Solana Larsen of Global Voices who introduced me to them!)
For those interested in the course itself and other materials relating to the subject – a comprehensive if somewhat messy resource-room can be found here
At MS ActionAid we’re planning a follow-up course in both Copenhagen and Nairobi, Kenya in October for regional activists, social change-makers and citizen journalists alike.
I recently had the chance to join in at the Open Translation Tools 09, where bloggers, translators and coders from across the world came together in Amsterdam for a discussion about the state of translation and which tools to wish for in the future. From Cambodia, India and South Africa projects showed how translation and localization of sofware into local languages enable the growth of social change. Projects like Global Voices Lingua and Meedan have proved that hundreds of people will gather to make global discussion possible across language barriers. But those projects are still small compared to the dramatic shifts in the destribution between languages on the Internet – the Chinese blogosphere alone with sites like Sina and QQ exceeds the total amount of English language content on the Internet. Welcome to the diversified diversified Polyglot Internet. I think it is important not to dismiss this as purely a tendency in the Global South. In the middle of the greatest newspaper crisis in history, US ethnic newspapers are flourishing and clearly benefitting from not having spend forty years losing touch with their readers.
Contequenses for campaigning and advocacy
One of the most impressive organizing efforts last fall came from “Voto Latino”, which mobilized young Latino voters in key swing states such as New Mexico, Colorado and Nevada through a powerfull cambination from MySpace to SMS and celebrity support. Voto Latino are now keeping up steam with an impressive support for Sonia as Supreme Justice nominee.
Both the emergence of ethnic media in the US and diversified campaigns as Voto Latinos proves that efficient campaigns can merge from a point of diversity. The imploding Republican party has clearly defined it self as the party the white-male and surely doesn´t fit nor understand this model of campainging, as they showed to the fullest extend with the immigration debate in 2007. This campaign video shows that progressives such as Voto Latino are not always afraid of offering clear narratives and hard politics, while campaining for diversity, which is promissing to see.
Following the previous post, here is an interesting explanation of why the Iranian government — which has attempted to block eveything from BBC Persia to text messaging — can’t keep the twitter out. Jeff Jarvis from the Buzz Machine explains a little about the architecture of twitter and why new media is changing the way social activists work together.
So then it came to us – a large scale social upheveal evolving with twitter as an al important medium of exchange and repporting.
Yesterday we looked a little into blogs and youtube – today we continue with a note on twitter. The Iranian post-election rupture is my debut on twitter – I just had to take a look at how it was evolving on twitter, and must say that it is totally overwhelming. So, are you puzzled on what to make of twitter – this is the time to check it out. It was big during the Mumbai shootings last year – but this time its really quite extraordinary to see what this extremely simple tools does to spread communication across the globe – in a situation where all established media has been shut down and few else than Robert Fisk and a couple of Al Jazeera journalists remain in the country.
The trick of twitter is the hashtag. This is the most important horisontal organizing concept, whereby people with no prior knowledge of eachother can engage in the same dialogue. For Iran its #Iranelection. By typing this on your twitter-search, you get a constantly expanding tread of links, comments and invitations to engage by individuals all over the world – each minutes the updates are counted in hundreds, and is by all comparisons the number one source for information on what’s going on right now.
If you still doubt the importance of this new tool – how about this: the US state department has asked Twitter to postpone a scheduled maintainance-update, that would have disabled the service for a couple of hours – in order for the flow of information to be kept alive.
So why don’t you get started? Twitter.com, make your own acount and search for #Iranelection and watch the posts come in second by second.
Need a guide? go for mashable.com
Having friends with Iranian background and met people still living there, struggling and striving for change – the latest events in the aftermath of the elections are thrilling to say the least. No upheavel of such proportions have been seen since the revolution in 1979.
In the context of this blog – it’s not less interesting whats going on. The regime has expelled foreign journalists and closed of media reporting from the established media outlets. However, Iran has for some years now been one of the largest blogging-nations – ranging third worldwide in numbers of blogs – as a direct result of the supression of the freedom of expression.
Despite the crack down on professional media – reports, images and video-footage is flowing around in great abundance on blogs, youtube and facebook. No doubt, when things are boiling over as they are right now – the ability to communicate local protests and demonstrations is all important for the snowball to keep on rolling.
Despite the ban on gatherings, people continue to take to the streets – and document these events on blogs and youtube extensively:
The Rotten Gods blog is a good first stop for first-hand documentation and coverage on the events – including video footage of huge demonstrations, killings of demonstrators, peaceful manifestations etc.
The Volcano Erupts is one recent youtube-video mashup of a great deal of photos and videos from the protests shows quite well how apt and fast activists and citizen reporters use video, blogs and images, combine it with popular tunes and thereby help build the narrative and document the events:
I’m no person to say where it’ll all lead – but for sure, the free availability of citizen media is an important contribution to getting the stories out and continue to build the pressure on the regime. As in all social upheavels, acces to or control over media and information is one of the most important aspects of getting the upper hand and ruling the game. What is happening right now in Iran is turn out to be a case in point on how dificult control of information has become with the unfolding media revolution.
Up for more? A good overview of Iranian blogs in English can be found here.
(And yes, the title of this post is a reference to the film about the coup against Hugo Chavez in Venezuela in 2003 and the takeover of the large broadcasting stations as the all important measure in the – failed – effort to takover goverment. The film – The Revolution Will Not Be Televised – has some quite extraordinary footage of the minutes and hours of chaos inside the presidential palace – and some even more historical ones where the assumed president-to-be appears on the privately held TV-network for the first time, thanks the TV-station for his rise to primacy and lays out their whole scheme in front of the rolling cameras.)
Great post I came across earlier this spring, which makes us learn quite a lot about how information can be distributed despite lack of access to media outlets. Alfred Sirleaf runs a giant black board on a street of Monrovia, Liberia clled the “Daily News”. Check it out:
At the board posts news from a network of volunteer correspondents from across the country. His writings are supported by symbols in order to get the message through to people with limited literacy skills. An analog blog can teach us how to think about online and offline communication in areas where internet, or let alone power is limited. Circulating information among people who already have the access to this information is much less challenging than broadening the scope to the wide public. Ushahidi, which we have praised on this blog, is trying to meet exactly those challenges of online-offline disconnect by talking to journalists from old media of radio and print, who still reach way more people.
Alfred wants to bring the black board to other parts of Monrovia and Liberia. It will be interesting to see how bloggers and online activists can learn to connect better with communities offline and the “Daily News” black board format could be a great place to start!