At the Chicago Humanities Festival last month, Ethan Zuckerman delivered this talk on digital activism, which is long but well worth watching. In his speech, he offers a very well-reasoned middle path between cyber-pessimists, like Malcolm Gladwell, and cyber-optimists, like Clay Shirky.
Zuckerman, who is the new director of MIT’s Center for Civic Media, also gives a more complicated and I think accurate account of the role that social media and technology played in sparking the revolution in Tunisia than could generally be found in the mainstream media.
Among the many other issues he tackles, Zuckerman makes a convincing case that activists are better off using large sites, like Facebook and YouTube, to organize and spread their messages rather than smaller platforms designed specifically for activists. Larger sites are far more difficult to incapacitate through distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks by governments, which has been a serious problem for sites like Irrawaddy.
It also significantly raises the costs of government censorship. If a site that is used only by a small number of activists is shut down by the government, only they will know about it. On the other hand, if governments choose to censor digital activism by shutting down sites millions are using primarily for entertainment, it heightens awareness of censorship and may get them out in the streets for the first time.
Humor in Native culture has never been simply about entertainment. Comedy is also used to fight cultural invisibility and structural oppression.
Waging Nonviolence is hiring a writer to interview leading movement figures and analysts and produce one Q&A-style article per week. The writer will work with our small editorial team to identify the interview subject each week. For the most part, we’ll be looking to hear from activists, organizers and scholars who can shed light on… More
By melding theory and practice, Philadelphia’s Vanguard S.O.S. are building skills and collective power.