Cloud Campaigning. A term I came up with when struggling to get across the campaigning potential of the social web to NGOs in Central & Eastern Europe . I needed a quick image to shift the focus from the organizational website to the Oort cloud of possibilities represented by the blogosphere, the videosphere, the social networks and the game-worlds. These are the places where people already are; these are the places where campaigning can scale and touch people who wouldn't normally go near an activist website.
It's also an idea that extends the notion of cloud computing, as neatly summarised by the Guardian's Bobbie Johnson :
"The cloud, that huge bank of online power that lives somewhere and everywhere, is fast becoming the lifeblood of the internet economy. Web services let small dotcoms outsource what they're not good at - plumbing - and focus on what they really do. The result is that startups no longer need to worry about server loads, file hosting or coping with traffic: they can just stick everything in the cloud and let somebody else handle the tough stuff."
I think the social web offers the same leg up to online campaigners. No need to build a global video streaming infrastructure - someone's already done that, and anyone can use it for free! [see note 1]. Like the startups, the challenge isn't to set up infrastructure but to generate ecampaigning ideas that will benefit from web 2.0 .
Of course, cloud campaigning is an experimental art, and for most organisations it'll reinforce rather than replace the well-established principals of traditional ecampaigning . But the final message I wanted to get across in Prague was "Don't think like an NGO". In my experience, approaching the social web through the lens of the NGO limits the potential for social innovation. So the image of the cloud is also a statement about the cause; whether it's human rights or youth enterprise, the cause isn't owned by any one organization but is present across the universe of particular and individual passions that are now becoming visible across the social web.