Where is the Grassroots in Online Activism?

Is Online Activism

  • Visiting Websites to read news and commentary like Z Magazine, Independent Media, or The Guardian?
  • Donating Money?
  • Subscribing to an Email List?
  • Responding to Action Alerts?

    Where is the grassroots participation in these projects? Indymedia is the only place with a significant level of mass participation, and even there very few people actually write news stories to say nothing of taking pictures or uploading audio or video. When many people start participating, Indymedia gets overloaded with material that most people don't want to read, and you need to start moderating content.

    Online Activism as it exists now is a poor counterpart to real activism. Online activism has failed to achieve its potential by remaining a tool of a small elitist group of activists and staff of non-profit activistish organizations.

    The reason for this is that nobody is putting resources into building grassroots tools. Large non-profits have money and are creating tools for themselves. For instance, online fundraising is very popular - because it's very profitable (or "non-profitable").

    The power in social movements lies in mass public participation. So far online activism has failed to achieve a sufficient level of participation. The current tools that exist serve largely to get the agenda of national non-profits across to a sympathetic constituency.

    In addition, the current tools don't reach people deep enough. You cannot build strong social movements on online donations, news, and action alerts. You need people to learn skills like how to start a group, facilitation, campaign strategy, working with the media, fundraising, anti-oppression, research, and more. Nobody is trying to push these skills. You need people to join campaigns, protest, attend conferences, and generally get networked.

    That's the goal for this website. CampusActivism.org is trying to go beyond traditional online activism. We want mass participation. We want thousands of people to devote their lives to social change. We want to empower people to achieve their goals, and to put the power into the hands of local groups. We want to build solidarity between groups. We want you to write your ideas down, create a leaflet, essay, or poster and share it. We want you to organize a conference. We want you to start a campaign.

    We want to make it easy for you, yes you, to participate in Online Activism.

    How are we doing?

  • Two Easy Methods

    Empowering people by giving them the skills to create websites or to create an email list are two good methods for increasing participation in online activism. Though they aren't that innovative.