ecampaigning

A Monstrous Mashup - The United Nations and Social Media

  • "How do new communication technologies and their inherent new opportunities for interaction of people and social communities impact the United Nations' ability to act?"
  • "What are the new media's consequences for global networking and international community action in forging and realizing global policy initiatives?"
  • "How can the United Nations system make use of the new media and information infrastructure in order to transmit its ideas and communicate its mission to the youth who will form the next generation of opinion leaders and decision-makers?"

Great questions, of the kind that this blog returns to again and again; but I wonder how many UN folk realise that the answers may turn the UN itself inside-out!

GREEN SHOOTS

The promise of social media for the UN is the opportunity to spread a human rights culture in online cultural spaces (such as social networks) and the potential for large scale mobilization around global issues. The green shoots are already emerging in the shape of projects like the Genocide Intervention Network and Never Again Rwanda, along with spontaneous self-organisation at scale around around crises like Burma .

IDEAL VERSUS INSTITUTION

But the UN is both Ideal and Institution, and the implications of social media are different for the two sides of this duality. For the Institution, the transition to the world of digital natives will be a difficult one. No institution, let alone a leviathan like the UN, is well adapted to the informal & peer-to-peer culture of the social web. More than that, the increased transparency enabled by the web is going to bring pressure to bear on the gritty realities of UN delivery. Big brands are already experiencing this pain and the UN will surely follow.

COLLABORATIVE SOCIAL ACTION

For the ideals that the UN represents, on the other hand, the collaborative space of the social web is a new and energising way for people to organise around issues that they care deeply about. The barriers to innovation are lowered and there signs that online social networks could evolve in to social action networks. These benefits are refusing to be contained by the digital divide and many initiatives are spreading the relevance of web 2.0 to poor & marginalised communities around the world.

NET INTERNATIONALISM

The Internet was constructed as an international and egalitarian technology who's architecture should make it a natural ally of the United Nations Charter. The potential for the net to support a human rights culture can be seen in the digital spaces created by diasporic communities. Unfortunately there are many threats to the progressive potential of the Internet, ranging from censorship & filtering to the loss of net neutrality. The new opportunities for community interaction also bring new threats, setting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights against Terms of Service agreements in a race to the bottom against privacy and freedom of expression. To take full advantage of these spaces the UN will have to help defend the social web against government intrusion and, to some extent, against itself.

REBOOT?

So how can the UN adapt to the digital age in a way that embodies and extends it's mission? There are smaller examples of institutions who are trying to renew themselves through an engagement with social media; one that I'm involved in is the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures & Commerce. There are hints in the notion of the The Permeable Organization and models at hand in open source with "the movement of innovative activity to the edges of organizations and into communities".

THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT

But the UN can't simply "make use of the new media to transmit its ideas and communicate its mission to the youth". The digital space is post-deferential and participative. The UN has engage young people in dialogue, starting from where they're really at, and not only through the filtered order of schools and universities. I've been working on issue-based campaigns within social media, and particularly in online social networks, and it can be a shock to encounter young people as they present themselves to each other. Txt talk and tattoos, mindwarping aesthetics and absent privacy boundaries - it's a long way from the suited respectability of the UN corridors! But dig a bit deeper and the perennial idealism of youth starts to emerge from their online profiles & comments - as in every generation, plenty of young people care passionately about peace and justice.

UN INCUBATORS

In what ways could the UN go with the grain of the digital age? What does crowdsourcing mean for the UN's mission? What is the Long Tail of human rights defence? One way to take advantage of the innovation that flows from the internet's 'architectures of participation' would be to encourage and catalyse startup projects that embody its values. The UN could act as a 'venture philanthopist' for social enterprises that enact its values, and draw on it's huge reservoir of expertise to act as mentors in the incubation of these projects. One easy way for the UN to get young people directly involved & excited would be to run web-based challenges . If the UN wants to stay relevant to the next generation, it will be hard for it to ignore the global reach of social networks as a way to interact directly with the digital natives. And this is not just an exercise in youth outreach or PR but an engagement with the future face of international community. As the BBC's Bill Thompson writes :

What happens when the photos on Facebook and Flickr show devastated crops and starving families - and these people are not just faces on the television but old friends, people whose likes and dislikes and reading habits and favourite films we know and share?
The world is different when it's the people you know, and I do not think we will be able to resist the forces of change when our friends are dying on screen, in front of us, and we know that we could do something but have decided not to.

Next steps for the Number 10 e-petitions

In a pub after the 2007 eCampaigning Forum, Tom Steinberg of mySociety laid down a challenge. Though out of the media headlines, the Number 10 e-petitions engineered by mySociety are still getting tens of thousands of visits a day. Tom's challenge was "what's next?" - how do the people visiting and signing petitions get connected to something actionable? What about all the charities and non-profits that are campaigning and working on the same issues that people are petitioning about - how do people get connected to them?

Tom repeated the challenge a couple of weeks later at The Social Impact of the Web event at the RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures & Commerce) - "we built, as a independent contractor, the Number 10 petition site... 25,000 people a day are coming... what I'd like to do is be able to point people to a debate about what happens next... petitions, a very low form of political engagement, can help get people more engaged..." Tom also triggered a conference debate about the relative primacy of tools versus people. He's an advocate for the disruptive effect of new tools - the things that the toolsmiths create challenge the way we do things. Several speakers from the audience challenged that, arguing that it's not the tools which are transformational but the people.

So here's my tool-centric attempts at an answer to Tom's challenge.

Option 1: Ask people to tag their petitions with relevant keywords (in the same way as for Flickr photos or other user-generated content). Link this to a Google Custom Search Engine which indexes a range of charity and NGO websites with relevant campaigns, and display the search results as action links. A proof of concept Advocacy Search was set up by Fairsay a few months ago. One catch here is the effort required to build the site list for the search, especially if refinements are used to provide targeted search (e.g. for 'Campaigns' or 'Advice'). On the plus side the Google CSE is set up to enable collaboration.

[disclaimer: proposing the use of Google tools in no way overwrites my opinion of their actions over China: see also Open Letters Shame Corporates For Their Complicity In China & Real-Time Revisionism]

Option 2: Use petition-tagging tied to an NGO 'action registry' which aggregates all the current advocacy and campaigning actions from the non-profit & NGO sector. Such an Action Registry is proposed as part of Fairsay's eCampaigning Tool (currently in Beta release). Another route to aggregating actions would be to develop a microformat for web actions (see also my proposal for a Prisoner of Conscience Microformat).

The broader debate about whether it's tools or people who are transformational segued in to another of the presentations at the RSA, when Bronwyn Kunhardt quoted Heidegger: "The social character of man is determined by his use of technology". An old pal of mine called Jeremy Weate wrote an excellent paper on this subject called Imaginalysis - or the Technologies of Place. Pointing out that "Heidegger claims τεκνε (techne) most fundamentally refers to ‘disclosure’ or ‘unconcealment’" he asserts that this understanding of technology implies that its meaning is forever contested. Since "the imagination is the conduit or schema by means of which what shows up in the world acquires meaning and significance" we are able to re-imagine the meaning of technologies, rather than seeing them only as the devices of the dominant order. Seems to me this is a tendency at work in all socially-conscious hacktivism (see also eCampaigning for Internet Freedom).

eCampaigning for Internet Freedom

Those of us using the internet in campaigns to change some social or environmental policy call ourselves ecampaigners. But ecampaigning is based on internet freedoms which are under serious and increasing threat. Whether the dimension of freedom is technical, such as the end-to-end principle, or legal, such as the absence of state blog regulation, we can't assume it'll continue to exist. And web 2.0 (a.k.a. the social web) could accelerate the dangers to internet freedoms. It's possible that ecampaigning will become completely neutered, so that we won't be able to anything controversial, we won't be able reach half the world's population, and in any case people won't want to get involved.

privacy invasion

One of the most serious threats is privacy invasion. There's a reason why Google acquired YouTube for $1.65 billion - they want to learn all about our habits so they can target more effective advertising at us. Yahoo (proud owner of Flickr and Delicious) says it wants social networks to define its business - they don't just want to know about us, they also want to know about our friends. The National Security Agency in the USA has set its sights on the datamining of social networking websites for intelligence gathering. With the advent of web 2.0 we are seeing the emergence of the panoptic gaze of web 2.0 and infrastructures of dataveillance. As well as violating our individual privacy the web-enabled data aggregation can lead to “social sorting†beyond the consumer realm, allowing authorities to reinforce social differences and enact discrimination. (Ironically, this is a dark reflection of audience segmenting, which is a key technique for effective ecampaigning).

filtering

Many ecampaigners assume that the internet is still a global space, but it's actually in danger of becoming a set of censored national enclosures. Back in 2002 only 3 countries regularly filtered & blocked content (China, Iran & Saudi Arabia), but according to the Open Net Initiative it's now up to 25, and the scope of the blocking is growing, as in the recent blockings of YouTube. (The human rights impact of YouTube will be the subject of a future post here). States and corporations are inseparable partners in the business of internet filtering - as Alexandra Samuel says

In the digital era, the infrastructure for policy enforcement is often digital - and the creators of that infrastructure are generally private companies. That makes state security inseparable from corporate security; the ability to enforce policy compliance extends only to the extent that your technology is hack-proof. This creates a complicated relationship of policy interdependence among countries: consider, for example, the fact that China's firewalls - the infrastructure for its information controls, and the target of much hacktivism - run on routers from US-based Cisco.

This profitable partnership to fence off the internet leads to a kind of real-time revisionism and has received justifiable condemnation .

censorship

Many people were shocked to learn of the censorship and imprisonment of Egyptian blogger Karim Amer who was sentenced to four years in prison for defaming both the president and Islam. This unfortunate blogger wasn't a hardcore human rights activist - his blog also includes film reviews and other personal minutae. He was, however, outspoken and even offensive - which he has every right to be under international law. His jailing may prove the general point that when social media seems to be making a social difference, repression will surely follow. And in the participative spaces of web 2.0, censorship can come in many forms. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights might value free expression but the same thing can't be said of YouTube's Terms of Service, which leaves content vulnerable to vague allegations of being 'objectionable' or 'inappropriate'. What becomes of freedom of expression in the pseudo-public spaces of the online monopolies?

copyright

Another threat to internet freedoms is the aggressive expansion of copyright and so-called Intellectual Property Rights (IPR). Although these issues are beyond the ken of many traditional rights organisations they can have a direct impact on ecampaigning. Corporates have already responded aggressively to the use of their logos in online campaigns, although happily there have been robust defences by organisations like Greenpeace. Web sites can also be subject to take-downs through legislation such as the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, which can become a form of legalised harassment and disruption against campaigning web sites. In the future, the Digital Rights Management technology that'll be built in to the very heart of our hardware could be spying on the fact that we've been watching a certain campaigning video on our PC. All this flies in the face of the traditional protections that copyright offered to parody and fair comment, let alone the concept that mixing and mashing is the emergent free speech of our times .

net neutrality

And finally, but perhaps fundamentally, we've all grown used to the idea that bloggers can compete with the CNN for the internet audience, and there are many examples where this has led to some kind of media or social impact. This won't be the case on Internet 2, the 'next-generation' high-speed internet which is specced out as a tightly controlled and locked-down environment, removing any of the bugs/features that gave the internet its freedom.

why should we campaign for Internet Freedom?

It's very worrying that most ecampaigners are ignoring these threats to the environment that they depend on. Of course, they're all busy doing online campaigns for the core mission of their organizations, whether it's environmental, human rights or whatever. But key techniques like blogging, social networking and global campaigning are already being impacted by reductions in internet freedoms, and this is reason enough for ecampaigners as a profession to be collectively involved in campaigning against those threats. But there's a deeper imperative as well, arising from the nature of the information society, which is the fact that the internet itself is becoming an actor in many of these core missions. For example, the internet is not just a tool for communicating about human rights, it is itself a terrain for human rights struggle. Many development organizations see access to the internet and open knowledge as a key element of economic & social development. And, as Rolf Kleef pointed out, even environmental agendas may interpenetrate the internet via the Aarhus convention (which grants the public rights regarding access to information and public participation and access to justice in environmental matters). But many established organisations don't yet get it, and the danger is they'll only realise when it's too late.

on what basis should we campaign?

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the legal frameworks drawn from it provide a plethora of policy tools to defend internet freedoms, ranging from Article 19's right to seek, receive and impart information freely, to Article 12's defence of privacy and even Article 20's right to freedom of assembly. Most governments are already signed up to the UDHR and (more or less) to the international treaties that flow from it. On the copyright side we can pursue the openings of Creative Commons and the work done at WIPO by organisations such as CPTech (for example the right for developing countries to manufacture local versions of AIDS drugs)

who should campaign?

In my humble opinion, all ecampaigners and the NGOs they work for should contribute to a broad coalition campaign to preserve internet freedoms. It is not safe to assume that the battle can be left to the usual suspects, whether that's digital freedom groups such as the EFF or traditional human rights organizations (whose grasp of digital issues can be pretty weak), because the issues are too broad for any one organisation to cover. In the UK it would be logical to look to existing coalitions such as the Global New Media Group, which emerged from the new media campaigning of Make Poverty History. An alternative hub could be something like the Open Rights Group , which is committed to defending civil liberties in the digital
world and was itself born out of a kind of ecampaign (a pledge on MySociety's Pledgebank). Whatever form the campaign takes it can take advantage of the way the internet itself supports emergent foms of collaborative innovation.

how should we campaign?

Almost all ecampaigning is some kind of advocacy - pressuring someone like a government official or corporate CEO to make a decision or change a decision. For sure, we need active campaigning for internet freedom, so we need to follow the tried and test methods of developing an influencing strategy & identifying target audiences. But there's also the really interesting possibility of using hacktivism, in the form of the policy circumvention defined in Hacktivism & The Future of Political Participation :

Policy circumvention is here defined as legal noncompliance that: a) is a strategic political response to a specific policy, law, regulation or court decision b) focuses on nullifying the effect of a policy, law, regulation, or court decision, and c) creates some non-excludable benefits (though there may be additional, excludable benefits of non-compliance).

Rather than waiting for a bad law to be changed, policy circumvention routes around it - a tactic that goes back to the original nature of the internet!

hacktivism

A good example of hacktivism in practice is the Citizen Lab's Psiphon tool. Psiphon is a censorship circumvention solution that allows users to access blocked sites in countries where the Internet is censored. A really nice aspect of Psiphon is the social side of the tool - rather than being a public tool it operates through networks of trust between people in censored and un-censored locations, which also makes it difficult for the authorities to detect or block. Another exemplar of hacktivism is The Onion Router a.k.a. Tor which provides a network of virtual tunnels that allows people and groups to improve their privacy and security on the Internet. Tools like these act directly to negate the threats of filtering, censorship and privacy invasion. Note that policy circumvention is not the same as law-breaking; in fact, using these tools enables people to directly enact their rights under international law. Moreover, research suggests that policy circumvention is an additional pressure for policy change because it undermines the credibility of the policies themselves. It may be that policy circumvention and hacktivism will have a bigger part to play in all the ecampaigning of the future. To quote Alexandra Samuel again:

in an information economy, policy circumvention will be an expanding sphere of political activity. The domains that are most vulnerable to policy circumvention are domains that are dependent on information: information distribution, and information control. In an information age, more and more economic and social activity unfolds in these domains. That means that more and more of the state's activity, and its policy responsibilities, will unfold in domains that are vulnerable to policy circumvention by hacktivists.

Certainly there are people like Ron Deibert of the Psiphon project who are focusing on the need to develop this field of work to “ensure that protecting freedom of speech online is embedded within the research agendaâ€. Perhaps the need to defend internet freedoms gives ecampaigners an urgent incentive to pioneer this new form of campaigning.

Drupal and the Dot Org Boom

The news that Amnesty Seeks a Drupal/CiviCRM Vendor signals a move in to open source that should benefit Amnesty and have a wider impact for NGOs and the open source movement. I started advocating for open source at Amnesty's International Secretariat more than two years ago, but anyone who has been a change agent within a large organisation will know that it's a big challenge to get a strategic commitment to FOSS (Free and Open-Source Software). Of course it helps if a like-minded organisation has already taken the plunge, and we got a lot of support from Andrew H. and Romilly G. who had already steered Oxfam's adoption of Plone. This made the case that serious NGOs were adopting enterprise-ready open source and also, through Oxfam's participation in the Plone Foundation, showed that a large NGO can be an active member of an open source community.

The best way to keep pace with the rate that web tools evolve is to be part of a community of innovation. So I was excited by the buzz of community activity around Drupal at the Netsquared 2006 conference, where I could see an emergent sweet spot for web activism at the confluence of FOSS developers and social activists. A stream of developments confirms this trend, from CitizenSpeak's free email advocacy service for grassroots organizations to the fact that Drupal is a leading contender as the platform for development of the WITNESS video hub (a human rights portal).

For me, the increasing adoption of open source tools for real-world impact validates several years of commitment to bringing together FOSS & NGO communities. This work has been inspired by organisations like Aspiration in the USA and the Tactical Technology Collective here in Europe. In the UK we formed a small collective of volunteers which organised the Social Source events in 2004 and 2005, and it's great to see how many of the participants have made important contributions to the common DNA of open source and social change.

One of those groups was Mute Magazine, who became early UK adopters of CiviCRM. and full credit should be given to the CiviCRM community for the way their software has risen to enterprise level. When I looked at it 12 months ago it was hard to see it competing against off-the-shelf CRM solutions by ASP providers like Kintera, Convio and so forth. But such is the pace of development that it is now a credible solution, especially if your criteria include internationalisation and the potential to interface with mobile channels, both of which should be important for international NGOs who want to engage constituencies in the global south.

I think there's an underlying dynamic at work here that goes deeper than the pragmatics of ecampaigning, and I like Juha Huuskonen's notion of the Dot Org Boom "referring to the same development as Web 2.0 but from a different perspective. Dot Org Boom is proposing that the current wave of development is heading to non-profit direction,something that Web 2.0 promoters would probably not want to agree with". Propagated through the PixelACHE festival the notion of the Dot Org Boom is actually a non-web idea, drawn from a study of social entrepreneurs from around the world and focusing on the activities of Ashoka Foundation, but Juha says

Our version of Dot Org Boom consisted of independent media, open source community and NGOs. Considering the fact that all these three areas share the same basic principles - open, non-profit activities based on volunteer contributions and grassroot organisations - it's striking how little collaboration there has been between these areas. The tactical media/indymedia/activist networks used to be very different from the sourceforge/slashdot/geek camp and the NGOs were mostly left out of the loop, happily using their Microsoft tools. What I find essential in the Dot Org Boom is that these three components - open content, open tools, open organisation models - are starting to find each other. Web 2.0 people would like to ignore the organisation component of this transformation.

 

198 Methods of Online Activism

In the run up to the eCampaigning Forum 2007 there's been some interest in how to integrate online and offline campaigning. I like the way that Alexandra Samuel draws comparisons between offline & online activism, as part of establishing her definition of hacktivism .

 

Different activist repertoires: some examples
  offline online
conventional Activism:
Voting
Electioneering
Non-violent protest marches
Boycotts
Online activism:
Online voting
Online campaign donations
Online petitions
transgressive

Civil disobedience:
Sit-ins
Barricades
Political graffiti
Wildcat strikes
Underground presses
Political theater
Sabotage

Hacktivism:
Web site defacements
Web site redirects
Denial-of-service attacks
Information theft
Site parodies
Virtual sit-ins
Virtual sabotage
Software development

What I'd really like to see is an online equivalent for Gene Sharp's amazing list of 198(!) Methods of Nonviolent Action , which was published back in 1973. (Thanks to Ian Chandler's Effective Campaigning course for pointing me to that).

I know that some won't have any online analogue, but the process of figuring that out may throw up some new ideas for online activism, and we're sure to end up with a full spectrum list of ecampaigning techniques.
So there's the challenge for the eCampaigning Forum (and beyond). If you can think of an online tactic for any of the offline ones from the list, please add them as a comment or send them directly.

THE METHODS OF NONVIOLENT ACTION

(from Gene Sharp, The Methods of Nonviolent Action, Boston 1973)

THE METHODS OF NONVIOLENT PROTEST AND PERSUASION

FORMAL STATEMENTS
1. Public speeches
2. Letters of opposition or support
3. Declarations by organizations and institutions
4. Signed public declarations
5. Declarations of indictment and intention
6. Group or mass petitions
COMMUNICATIONS WITH A WIDER AUDIENCE
7. Slogans, caricatures, and symbols
8. Banners, posters, and displayed communications
9. Leaflets, pamphlets, and books
10. Newspapers and journals
11. Records, radio, and television
12. Skywriting and earthwriting
GROUP REPRESENTATIONS
13. Deputations
14. Mock awards
15. Group lobbying
16. Picketing
17. Mock elections
SYMBOLIC PUBLIC ACTS
18. Displays of flags and symbolic colours
19. Wearing of symbols
20. Prayer and worship
21. Delivering symbolic objects
22. Protest disrobings
23. Destruction of own property
24. Symbolic lights
25. Displays of portraits
26. Paint as protest
27. New signs and names
28. Symbolic sounds
29. Symbolic reclamations
30. Rude gestures
PRESSURES ON INDIVIDUALS
31. "Haunting" officials
32. Taunting officials
33. Fraternization
34. Vigils
DRAMA AND MUSIC
35. Humourous skits and pranks
36. Performances of plays and music
37. Singing
PROCESSIONS
38. Marches
39. Parades
40. Religious processions
41. Pilgrimages
42. Motorcades
HONOURING THE DEAD
43. Political mourning
44. Mock funerals
45. Demonstrative funerals
46. Homage at burial places
PUBLIC ASSEMBLIES
47. Assemblies of protest or support
48. Protest meetings
49. Camouflaged meetings of protest
50. Teach-ins
WITHDRAWAL AND RENUNCIATION
51. Walk-outs
52. Silence
53. Renouncing honours
54. Turning one's back

THE METHODS OF SOCIAL NONCOOPERATION

OSTRACISM OF PERSONS
55. Social boycott
56. Selective social boycott
57. Lysistratic nonaction
58. Excommunication
59. Interdict
NONCOOPERATION WITH SOCIAL EVENTS, CUSTOMS, AND INSTITUTIONS
60. Suspension of social and sports activities
61. Boycott of social affairs
62. Student strike
63. Social disobedience
64. Withdrawal from social institutions
WITHDRAWAL FROM THE SOCIAL SYSTEM
65. Stay-at-home
66. Total personal noncooperation
67. "Flight" of workers
68. Sanctuary
69. Collective disappearance
70. Protest emigration (hijrat)

THE METHODS OF ECONOMIC NONCOOPERATION: ECONOMIC BOYCOTTS

ACTION BY CONSUMERS
71. Consumers' boycott
72. Nonconsumption of boycotted goods
73. Policy of austerity
74. Rent withholding
75. Refusal to rent
76. National consumers' boycott
77. International consumers' boycott
ACTION BY WORKERS AND PRODUCERS
78. Workers' boycott
79. Producers' boycott
ACTION BY MIDDLEMEN
80. Suppliers' and handlers' boycott
ACTION BY OWNERS AND MANAGEMENT
81. Traders' boycott
82. Refusal to let or sell property
83. Lockout
84. Refusal of industrial assistance
85. Merchants' "general strike"
ACTION BY HOLDERS OF FINANCIAL RESOURCES
86. Withdrawal of bank deposits
87. Refusal to pay fees, dues, and assessments
88. Refusal to pay debts or interest
89. Severance of funds and credit
90. Revenue refusal
91. Refusal of a government's money
ACTION BY GOVERNMENTS
92. Domestic embargo
93. Blacklisting of traders
94. International sellers' embargo
95. International buyers' embargo
96. International trade embargo

THE METHODS OF ECONOMIC NONCOOOPERATION: THE STRIKE

SYMBOLIC STRIKES
97. Protest strike
98. Quickie walkout (lightning strike)
AGRICULTURAL STRIKES
99. Peasant strike
100. Farm workers' strike
STRIKES BY SPECIAL GROUPS
101. Refusal of impressed labour
102. Prisoners' strike
103. Craft strike
104. Professional strike

ORDINARY INDUSTRIAL STRIKES
105. Establishment strike
106. Industry strike
107. Sympathy strikeRESTRICTED STRIKES
108. Detailed strike
109. Bumper strike
110. Slowdown strike
111. Working-to-rule strike
112. Reporting "sick" (sick-in)
113. Strike by resignation
114. Limited strike
115. Selective strike
MULTI-INDUSTRY STRIKES
116. Generalised strike
117. General strike
COMBINATION OF STRIKES AND ECONOMIC CLOSURES
118. Hartal
119. Economic shutdown

THE METHODS OF POLITICAL NONCOOPERATION

REJECTION OF AUTHORITY
120. Withholding or withdrawal of allegiance
121. Refusal of public support
122. Literature and speeches advocating resistance
CITIZENS' NONCOOPERATION WITH GOVERNMENT
123. Boycott of legislative bodies
124. Boycott of elections
125. Boycott of government employment and positions
126. Boycott of government departments, agencies, and other bodies
127. Withdrawal from governmental educational institutions
128. Boycott of government-supported institutions
129. Refusal of assistance to enforcement agents
130. Removal of own signs and placemarks
131. Refusal to accept appointed officials
132. Refusal to dissolve existing institutions
CITIZENS' ALTERNATIVES TO OBEDIENCE
133. Reluctant and slow compliance
134. Nonobedience in absence of direct supervision
135. Popular nonobedience
136. Disguised disobedience
137. Refusal of an assemblage or meeting to disperse
138. Sitdown
139. Noncooperation with conscription and deportation
140. Hiding, escape, and false identities
141. Civil disobedience of "illegitimate" laws
ACTION BY GOVERNMENT PERSONNEL
142. Selective refusal of assistance by government aides
143. Blocking of lines of command and information
144. Stalling and obstruction
145. General administrative noncooperation
146. Judicial noncooperation
147. Deliberate inefficiency and selective noncooperation by enforcement agents
148. Mutiny
DOMESTIC GOVERNMENTAL ACTION
149. Quasi-legal evasions and delays
150. Noncooperation by constituent governmental units
INTERNATIONAL GOVERNMENTAL ACTION
151. Changes in diplomatic and other representation
152. Delay and cancellation of diplomatic events
153. Withholding of diplomatic recognition
154. Severance of diplomatic relations
155. Withdrawal from international organisations
156. Refusal of membership in international bodies
157. Expulsion from international organisations

THE METHODS OF NONVIOLENT INTERVENTION

PSYCHOLOGICAL INTERVENTION
158. Self-exposure to the elements
159. The fast
a) Fast of moral pressure
b) Hunger strike
c) Satyagrahic fast
160. Reverse trial
161. Nonviolent harassment
PHYSICAL INTERVENTION
162. Sit-in
163. Stand-in
164. Ride-in
165. Wade-in
166. Mill-in
167. Pray-in
168. Nonviolent raids
169. Nonviolent air raids
170. Nonviolent invasion
171. Nonviolent interjection
172. Nonviolent obstruction
173. Nonviolent occupation
SOCIAL INTERVENTION
174. Establishing new social patterns
175. Overloading of facilities
176. Stall-in
177. Speak-in
178. Guerrilla theatre
179. Alternative social institutions
180. Alternative communication system
ECONOMIC INTERVENTION
181. Reverse strike
182. Stay-in strike
183. Nonviolent land seizure
184. Defiance of blockades
185. Politically motivated counterfeiting
186. Preclusive purchasing
187. Seizure of assets
188. Dumping
189. Selective patronage
190. Alternative markets
191. Alternative transportation systems
192. Alternative economic institutions
POLITICAL INTERVENTION
193. Overloading of administrative systems
194. Disclosing identities of secret agents
195. Seeking imprisonment
196. Civil disobedience of "neutral" laws
197. Work-on without collaboration
198. Dual sovereignty and parallel government

UPDATE: Mass Digging as Virtual Activism

I see from the Avaaz blog that they're calling on people to digg their Stop the Clash petition. Looks like the digging is going to have to increase by a factor of 10 to make much of an impact - but as shown by the 'gaming' articles linked to in my earlier post on Mass Digging as Virtual Activism , the best tactic may be to target the key diggers for some help.

p.s. Human Rights Watch have also added a 'digg this' link to their news articles.

chez pim and the long tail of campaigning

I had the pleasure of chatting to food blogger Pim Techamuanvivit at the recent NESTA Uploading Innovation Event. I've never read a food blog, even as one as popular as hers, but it opened my eyes to the potential of something I'll call the long tail of campaigning. Pim told me how, for one week each year, food bloggers use their blogs to raise money for a good cause. Here's the blurb for this year's campaign, which raised more than $60,000:

Every year, Food Bloggers from all over the world get together for a fundraising campaign. We call it 'Menu for Hope'. Last year, we raised $17,000 to help UNICEF.
This year, Menu for Hope III raises funds to support the UN World Food Programme, which provides hunger relief for needy people worldwide. To us Food Bloggers, food is a joy. On our blogs, we celebrate food as a delight or even an indulgence. Unfortunately, for many others who share our world do not share that privilege. For them, food is a matter of survival. This "Menu for Hope" is our small way to help.

Those active seekers of new social tactics at Netsquared have a podcast interview with Pim.
chez pimchez pim

And there's more. Pim told me about how they'd organised a Day without Food Blogs to protest against the threat to Net Neutrality. Apparently she had people writing back to her who were outraged about the possibility of a two-tier internet, and who would never have come across the issue otherwise. (That's not to say there aren't any foodies on the ACLU staff :).
There are at least two aspects i love about all this. One is the neat connection between a passion (cooking) and a political issue (world hunger). And the other is the way it connects hard political issues to people's lives in a way that makes them an aspect of our ordinary passions, not a specialisation of dour hacks or paid campaigners.
It really makes me think about the potential for the long tail of campaigning - how the internet can help to ground campaigning in everyday life, where it belongs; and not just as an exercise in scale, like the numbers game played by Make Poverty History, but as something that qualitatively touches the small & important in our lives.

participative campaigning

'Help us design a direct action to save the whales' is the challenge from this interesting “Defend the whales” campaign from Greenpeace, called I-GO. Although the campaign theme is traditional the process is very different, because it is an open invitation to the public to generate the ideas for the campaign. This looks like a a major NGO trying to engage with the participative nature of the internet, and it's refreshing to see such a big organisation inviting the public to have a say instead of relying on central planning that gets pushed out to activists and volunteers. It's also a forward-looking attempt to harness the power of social networks, since people who register become part of 'a world-wide community of environmental activists' and can rate the action ideas. I think I heard about the underlying technology platform when it was being developed (codenamed 'Melt', as i remember) so it's great to see it live and with such a well designed front-end.greenpeace-igogreenpeace DIY campaign
There's an even more rock'n'roll example of participative campaigning described in detail in Yochai Benkler's book 'The Wealth of Networks' . In a section entitled Networked Information Economy Meets the Public Sphere he describes the emergence from the blogosphere of an effective grassroots campaign against a mass-media outlet (Sinclair Broadcasting) who was transmitting negative propaganda during an election campaign. As Benkler says:
Filtering and synthesis occurred through discussion, trial, and error. Multiple proposals for action surfaced, and the practice of linking allowed most anyone interested who connected to one of the nodes in the network to follow quotations and references to get a sense of the broad range of proposals. Different people could coalesce on different modes of action - 150,000 signed the petition on stopsinclair.org, while others began to work on the boycott. Setting up the mechanism was trivial, both technically and as a matter of cost - something a single committed individual could choose to do.Pointing and adoption provided the filtering, and feedback about the efficacy, again distributed through a system of cross-references, allowed for testing and accreditation of this course of action.
benkler-chartSinclair stock correlated with campaign

Benkler's blow-by-blow account is really worth a read and conveys the dynamism of self-organised direct action. I guess this is the creativity that Greenpeace wants to tap in to. Although their site says "We need your help to create an amazing campaign that accomplishes the unexpected" it's not clear if the organisation is committing itself to acting on any of the ideas. And maybe that's for the best, because the result seems to be a peer-to-peer swapping of ideas and materials via the site.

Another interesting lesson from Benkler's example is the way that certain well-connected blogs acted as key nodes:
High-visibility sites....offered transmissions hubs that disseminated information about the various efforts and provided a platform for interest-group-wide tactical discussions.

Benkler's further discussion about the connectivity of the blogosphere is nicely visualised in recent blogosphere graphs on Matthew Hurst's 'Data Mining' blog . I suspect that a campaign that's seeking well-formed action ideas would do well to target their call to action through well-connected blogs that reflect the campaign's concerns.

Copyright versus Campaigning

I caught a great presentation at the Internet Governance Forum called FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION vs. COPYRIGHT given by Dirk Voorhoof . The folk at my day job are good enough at spotting traditional censorship i.e. direct repression by governments, but one of the main things I wanted from the IGF was to sharpen up on how copyright impacts freedom of expression. Dirk's presentation hit the spot by showing how copyright is used as a tool to inhibit campaigning, by harassing groups like Greenpeace when they use something similar to a logo or brand to criticise a corporate through parody or imitation. This also seems to me a great way to get the message through to traditional campaigning NGO's that copyright is a key issue. oil logosoil logos The other great aspect of Dirk's presentation was the image he conjoured up of a titanic clash between two legal regimes, namely Intellectual Property Rights versus Human Rights. As he put it, we need to decide between "Copyright/trademark protection as a principle and freedom of expression as an exception or Freedom of expression as a principle and copyright/trademark protection as exceptions".

WDM Death Counter

Under the slogan "Don't forget the real world" the World Development Movement (WDM) have placed a large death counter in a prominent place in ‘Second Life’ . The digital counter records the number of children who have died as a result of preventable global poverty since Second Life was founded.

WDM Death Counter

WDM Death Counter

I respect the WDM for getting it together to do this. And yes, I can relate to the frustration - "don't these people realise we need to get out there and do something". But i think their Death Counter comes across as preachy, with that musty old school NGO feel, and doesn't see the positive, activist potential in the creativity that goes in to Second Life stuff. Surely there must be more creative ways to intervene there; for example, the virtual Camp Darfur which I blogged about before . Despite the controversy around Camp Darfur in Second Life, it's hard to imagine WDM's Death Counter being guarded by the Green Lantern Core . Now that the novelty of SL is starting to wear off, I think any NGO going in to SL has to offer something constructive that takes advantage of the creative and (dare i say it) playful nature of the space.

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