Importance of online activism
#1
Quote:People are using social media to hunt war criminals, win the White House, defeat an American House Speaker, change banking regulations, and overthrow dictators in Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, and Yemen. In each instance it was social media that facilitated broad-based social activism and empowered the aspirations of millions. Its power has just begun to be tested, but the evidence so far indicates that social media has successfully reinvented social activism.
Source:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mark-pfeif...94287.html?
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#2
I would say online activism is important with an important caveat - social media is only a communications tool. Sometimes the tool itself may suffice to bring about a change. But to bring about changes like those in the Arab spring, the activists still needed to get out on the streets, or confront authority to bring about a change. Such acts usually involve putting your safety, financial well-being, social standing or some-such on the line.
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#3
(16-Jun-2012, 05:34 AM)Lije Wrote: I would say online activism is important with an important caveat - social media is only a communications tool. Sometimes the tool itself may suffice to bring about a change. But to bring about changes like those in the Arab spring, the activists still needed to get out on the streets, or confront authority to bring about a change. Such acts usually involve putting your safety, financial well-being, social standing or some-such on the line.

Also we can perhaps add that social media simply functions like a 'supply chain' of sorts, which needs to be continually fed by concrete, productive activity elsewhere. Having the means to 'share' and 'reshare' is of little worth, unless there is content to share in the first place! Of course, collaborative crowdsourcing infrastructure modeled on social media, can itself serve as an 'assembly line' to feed the abovementioned supply chain.

Even before putting our 'safety, financial well-being, social standing or some-such on the line', a healthy start would be to at least place our cognitive surplus at the service of our chosen cause. Investing in collaborative infrastructure is key, because cognitive surplus is a very perishable commodity like labor which needs to be harnessed within short time-windows when a critical mass of skilled collaborators is simultaneously available.

In a manner of speaking, two measures of gauging our own usefulness as participants in freethought advocacy via social media can be:
Contact count: The number of freethinking 'friends' (or group members) were added in the past month. This is at best a first-pass measure of outreach capability i.e. potential consumer base.
Content count: The number of content creations (articles, videos, images etc.) we participated in the past month and in what capacity (a measure of what we may call 'the fundamentals of the freethought economy')
Of course, neither of the above measures is quality-sensitive and can at best measure how active the movement is, not how edifying it is.

Some individuals maybe more temperamentally suited to outreach activity and may notch up high contact counts, while others with a more creative or developmental bent may notch up high content counts. However, at a group-wide or movement-wide level, due attention needs to be accorded to both and imbalances need to be attended to. A high contact count with a measly content count means a defunct group of sleeper participants, whereas a high content count with a meagre contact count means a lot of unsung creations not being done justice to. The tall order before freethought advocates, like the order before moviemakers who wish to make art cinema that is commercially viable, is to both pull the crowds and keep them captive without a dilution in the quality of content. Perhaps it is the Creed of the Infotainer than freethinkers must follow, to strike this balance.




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#4
Well said arvind!


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#5
A relevant talk, which also hints what we are planning Ninja
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#6
Don Tapscott in the talk above uses the starling murmuration somewhat like a cover-design illustrator would, as a vivid metaphor and little else. In this TED talk, Prof. Steven Strogatz, a leading expert on nonlinear dynamics offers a delightfully simple and elegant description of this phenomenon.

Some of the underlying principles he describes can perhaps be loosely bio-mimicked in attempts to design movements without explicit ringleaders, and synchrony without obvious choreography. The freethought movement is looking for assertions of presence that are neither as fleeting as flash-mobs nor as static as organizations prone to being banned, and displays of finesse that are neither as contingent upon individual stars as Cirque du Soleil nor staged by seeming automatons devoid of personality as a Soviet army parade. How then do the starlings manage to get it right? Strogatz demonstrates how behaviors as impressive as the murmuration can emerge from as few as four simple rules:
Quote:There are just three simple rules. First, all individuals are only aware of their nearest neighbors. Second, all individuals have a tendency to line up. And third, they are all attracted to each other but keep a small distance apart....There's a fourth rule. When a predator is coming, get out of the way.

As for the advantages of such swarming, Strogatz continues,
Quote:If you're in a swarm, the odds of being the unlucky one are reduced as compared to a small group. There are many eyes to spot danger. And you'll see in this example with the starlings, with the birds, when this peregrine hawk is about to attack them, that waves of panic can propagate , sending messages over great distances.

At the risk of belabouring the analogy and ignoring the fact that the simple model above may not adequately account for the caprices of human mobilization, some 'biomimicry' that loose, heterarchic groups such as many current freethought groups can benefit from, inspired by the behavior of such swarms, are:
1)Grow close-knit local communities, down to the scale of having your own 'freethought buddies' like lunch-buddies or study-buddies. The 'Think Global, Act Local' dictum is best served when local partnerships are fostered.
2)The globally shared principles animating each local community, a 'common minimum programme' of non-negotiables if you will, on which broad consensus prevails, need to be constantly reiterated and reinforced. It is when both global,universal principles are well internalized and local support is at hand, that undertaking small-scale campaigns for secular humanism in the family or workplace become feasible.
3)Interactions between participants must be facilitated by networking of the sort that can help them get readily in touch, but respecting personal space and maintaining the voluntary nature of the exercise without any trace of coercion.
4)Finally, to avoid 'predatory' witch-hunts and censorship, it helps to keep identities small and affiliations flexible enough to be reconfigured at will i.e. a page being taken down on a social network shouldn't mean that community members are entirely disconnected.

Also, besides 'waves of panic', these networks should support the propagation of 'waves of opportunity' of creative, collaborative activity. One condition that goes without saying is that such a dynamic is best expressed when the size of the group of participants is sufficiently large and so, Rule Zero perhaps is that 'Size Matters!'.

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