On this day, June 30th, 2008, the news brings to our attention a grassroots cry for help to Bob Barr, a reminder that “real change” happens offline, a look at what happens when you make the netroots angry, and much, much more.
Zmister Dashkevich learned firsthand that in Belarus, collective action is too often met with violence and incarceration. Dashkevich was ushered into a Belarus prison for being the de facto leader of the political opposition group Youth Front. Formely a faction of the Belarusian Popular Front (BPF), Youth Front has been fighting against the Belarusian regime since Alexandr Lukashenko took power in 1994. Some popular contentions with the regime include the ownership of all the media outlets, imprisoning or otherwise crushing political opposition, praising Adolf Hitler, and supporting Yugoslav war criminal Slobodan Milošević.
Enter Amensty International.
Amnesty was at the forefront in the campaign to release Dashkevich from prison. They organized a global campaign to send 10,000 paper cranes to the Belarus Minister of Internal Affairs as a sign of solidarity with the young activist.
Cranes came as far away as Mexico, Canada, and Croatia. Amnesty’s flikr account shows groups of smiling children folding cranes in the shape of a lit candle or a “Free Zmister” sign. Many of the cranes came from high schools, where Amensty helped educate students about free speech issues in Belarus and elsewhere. In colleges, student activist groups organized workshops to make cranes for Dashkevich and denim wristbands for other prisoners.
But the internet played a major role too.
Searching for Zmister’s name on Google leads you to a trail of bloggers, promoters, and Amnesty supporters urging people to send in their cranes, complete with a ready-made cutout and a how-to video to help people along. Bloggers reposted the call for action and reached many more people who were either unaware or not familiar with Amensty’s actions, including a “widget” that played John Lennon covers and linked to a petition to show support for Belarus.
Overall, the campaign was a huge success.
Zmister Dashhkevich was released from prison early, determined to keep fighting for representation and democracy in Belarus. Lukashenko has no intention of stepping down soon, but Amensty’s efforts are at least a small indication that his regime is not above international law, and it has made a small but noticable change in the country’s greater political climate.
-Filed in Ideas
David All is a Republican 2.0 (and emerging 3.0, as he notes in this episode) consultant who has long been advocating for an Internet conservative grassroots movement. Further, he is the brainchild behind Slatecard, a conservative competitor to ActBlue. He came to my attention last year when a summer issue of Mother Jones highlighted a conversation with key players in the politics 2.0 movement included him as an authority on the subject. Composed and articulate, All outlined his efforts to bring the Republican Party to a Netroots style movement.
We reached out to All because his efforts are inspiring from several perspectives that many collective organizers can learn from:
Please enjoy our MSHcast with David All:
[And a special thanks to Connecticut-based Waiting For Sully for providing the opening song.]
-Filed in People
On this day, June 25th, 2008, the news brings to our attention the contention between hackers and social activists, the feminist blog as a hotbed for action, a look at what, exactly, the future holds for the Internet, and more.
-Filed in News
I will be excitedly live blogging from this year’s Personal Democracy Forum, which is taking place in Manhattan over the course of the next two days. The conference, something of a who’s who (and a who’s doing what and how) in the world of “user-centered politics,” is expected to bring to light plenty of refreshing examples of how folks are effectively organizing and ultimately making things happen
5:14 pm: Notes on the closing plenary:
Panel: Redefining Leadership in a Networked Age w/ Scott Heiferman, Craig Newmark, Joe Trippi, Brian Behlendorf, and Gina Cooper:
3:52 pm: Notes on Ideas that Spread Win: Going Viral Online featuring Jason Calacanis, Jonah Peretti, Ami Dar, and Sean Parker:
2:07 pm: At the local blog breakout session, here are some concepts thrown around:
12:25 pm: It’s not really called 2.0 anymore, is it?
11:19 am: Just talked with Ben Geyerhahn [from Click To Blue] about what is actually required of bloggers who wish to monetize their model. “It’s a small business,” he says. “It needs to be looked at it that way. 70% of time should be spent on content, but then the other 30% should be focused on development and getting people to look at the site.” He will be talking more about the topic on a panel later on in the day.
10:56 am: I just chatted with Bernard Sifry, conference co-chair Micah Sifry’s father. He expressed great pride in all of his children and talked a bit about Micah as a kid. The elder Sifry exposed his boys to computers at early ages, going back into the late 70s. He had me laughing a great deal, and he said, “Look – I got you laughing. And at my age, that’s the best thing to get people to. Laughter is the best medicine.”
10:36 am: Was just interviewed by MobLogic.tv and was asked: “What do you wish to declare independence from?” I answered by saying that I wished to “declare independence from apathy” and then waxed unpoetically about why that is the case.
Pictured left is MobLogic’s attractive and, by all appearances, competent host Lindsay Campbell interviewing someone who is not, in fact, me.
10:15 am: Steven Clift, a builder of e-democracy, talks about US policy on participatory, networked democracy:
9:50 am: Jonathan Adelstein, the present chair of the FCC, discusses information and the transformation of government [hilariously, he opened by playing the harmonica so that he could tell people that he's played at Lincoln Center]:
9:45 am: Larry Lessig is somewhere right around amazing. His slide-show is unbelievably amazing:
9:12 am: Morley Winograd, who has written extensively about the rise of the Millennial/Civic Generation, talks about the Millennials and the rise of the civic generation:
8:50 am: From Rushkoff:
Roundup: Writing is like voting. You can do it anywhere, from the safety of your own home. Though we need to reprogram our culture; it is an open-source culture. The thing we should want in ‘Age Obama’ is that Democracy is a participatory event. They are there to create the conditions where we can do stuff for one another.
8:33 am: Back in business. Sitting in the Rose Theater, anxiously awaiting a speech by Douglas Rushkoff. I have been a big fan of Rushkoff’s writings and thoughts since a friend brought them to my attention a few years ago. From his site: Democracy as we know it was built around the notion of the individual. Democracy as an open source phenomenon needs to be something else entirely – and it may look and feel strange to those of us raised on Enlightenment ideals of individual rights and possession of property. It’s a collective phenomenon that requires intelligence, participation, knowledge, and collaboration.
1:39 pm: Josh Levy and Danny Moldovan of Change.org discuss decentralized organization, social movements, Foucauldian power and more. Questions asked: Will Obama heed the will of his supporters, or will he use “people power” to leverage a different agenda? Why are movies still following a narrative in which only one person is responsible for saving the world? 12:30 pm: There is sort of a fight between a former-Edwards online coordinator and a McCain online coordinator. “You don’t need to use a computer to know how the Internet is influential,” the McCain coordinator casually suggests. “That’s the point, though” exclaims the Edwards coordinator. “You do.”
11:50 am: Paul Downey stands with his illustration of how openness works on the Internet. He discusses user tendencies and wonders whether we’ll ultimately use our new networking capabilities for good or evil. We discuss how radio was used to mobilize atrocities in Rwanda and opposition in the Balkans. We’re both bummed out that we’re not watching Clay Shirky speak. Downey works for BT, thinking through issues related to openness.
10:50 am: Shaun Dakin of StopPoliticalCalls.org discusses with us his (and the rest of the country’s) aversion to robocalling. As the founder and CEO of the National Political Do Not Contact Registry, he has been invited to speak on the Senate floor on the behalf of American’s who are infuriated with phone harassment. “Robo-calling,” he says, “has become like the nuke race. I have talked with politicians who want to stop using them, but they feel as though they can’t possibly stop if they think their opponent will keep using them.”
10:04 am: Scott Heiferman of Meetup and Andrew Mason of The Point discuss site re-design and a upcoming panel discussion. A ton of non-creepy schmoozing is going down at present. Folks are hocking their wares. If you’re here, feel free to stop by. 9:30 am: Everyone is milling about accordingly. Talked briefly with Joe from blogads and touched base with the Electronic Frontier Foundation at their stand. We’ll talk with them in a bit. Any question suggestions for that?
-Filed in Ideas
On this day, June 24th, 2008, the news brings to our attention reference to PDF2008, the rise (or fall?) of America’s democracy, even more questions about China and democracy, and more:
-Filed in News
17 teenage girls at Gloucester High School in Gloucester, Massachusetts are pregnant. Time Magazine reports that some adults “dismissed the statistic as a blip,” while others blamed media glamorization of young, unwed motherhood. It has been revealed, however, that the regional boost in youth pregnancy was attributable to a pregnancy pact made between the young girls.
Often considered in any discussion of effective collective action is the concept of safety/strength in numbers. By moving forward with an otherwise radical action side by side with many co-conspirators, potential adverse reaction is assumed to be diluted, if not diminished completely, when distributed over many perpetrators rather than a few. Further, by many perpetuating an otherwise perceived devious action, an image of normalcy can then be associated with the action when many participate.
While two teen moms from the area, unrelated to the pact, have come out to call the pact “dumb,” I wonder how ingenious the proposed agreement sounded to the girls in the planning stages. It is likely that the allure of such a pact was rooted in the perception of safety in numbers that was imagined to be inevitable when a certain critical mass of expecting mothers showing up to school was reached. These teenagers, believing that motherhood would bring to their lives something they felt was otherwise missing, believed that they would make deliberated teenage pregnancy a non-deviant, normal action by moving forward together.
Herein we ask, at what point does safety in numbers cross from being a successful tool for collective action into being an inhibitor on reason?
-Filed in Uncategorized
On this day, June 20th, 2008, the news brings to our attention Google-bombing McCain and an introduction to Anonymous:
And a large handful of commentaries regarding the AP and their assault on bloggers:
-Filed in News
On this day, June 19th, 2008, the news brings to our attention the Internet-savvy Red Guard, the dilemma of modern collective action, public choice theory, and much, much more.
-Filed in News