Ideas for the online revolution.

Classism in the Student Movement

I recently wrote up some research that I did in 2000 looking at how national student groups (USAS, YDS, SPAN, MDE) have more chapters in elite universities. I used the US and News World Report rankings for universities. For instance, USAS had 11 times more groups in the top quartile of schools than in the bottom quartile. It's just a short note - about a page long.

The most active groups (as evidenced in USAS by the inequality in the schools that had sit-ins which was greater than that of its membership), and probably the organizational leadership as well are even more stratified in terms of class.

Sharing a Database - Ideas Regarding Standards for Developers

I'm working hard on creating a system to share an online activism database between as many websites as want to join in (it's looking like a beta will come out in January - email me if you want to help test it!).

So far, as one of the very few individuals involved in sharing activist data and putting it online, I've been deciding on my own what information to track. With sharing it gets fun because people will have different ideas on what we should be tracking.

I see several options.

1. We can require that everyone tracks the same data. The reason to do this would be to avoid having incomplete data. For instance, if you were tracking student activists and some websites didn't ask for graduation dates - you'd run into trouble. I learned in sociology, doing linear regressions, that missing data is messy.

Comments

I turned anonymous comments off, because of all the spam comments (from people who want to generate links to their websites).

Dare to Struggle, Dare to Win (A Game): A Civilization Scenario for the US/Canadian Student Movement

This is a feasible idea that would be a lot of fun, but I don't have enough time or motivation to implement. I'd help if someone wanted to work on it.

Civilization III (Conquests version) provides a gaming platform which can be extensively modified to create realistic scenarios. You can recreate the fantasy world of Middle Earth, Star Trek, or the rise and fall of the Roman Empire. Or you could create a game where different national student activist groups struggle for organizational supremacy!

I say this having been a member of one organization which challenged another organization to a mud-wrestling competition that was to be held at a big national conference.

Blogging and Internet Activism - the Patriarchy Remains In Tack

Ten years ago when I was studying computer science in college, our program was perhaps 80% men. Since then, I believe significantly more women have entered computer science and the computer field in general.

As an activist, I've learned that men hold disproportionate power in pretty much every progressive organization and probably hold a majority of the power in perhaps 80-90% of organizations that aren't explicity focussed on feminist issues. At least in the student movement, perhaps more so at the national and regional level (ex. at conferences) this gets a significant amount of attention. Not enough that things become magically ok, but at least it gets talked about.

2004 Election Anomalies

Firstly, I would argue that the election was corrupt from the start - as you cannot hold fair elections in a society with such high levels of inequality (class, race, gender, sexual orientation, etc).

But since most people buy into the US electoral system - it is fascinating to observe all of its shortcomings.

CNN exit polls had Kerry winning by about 2.5% (if I recall correctly), whereas he officially lost by 3%. Here is a Research Paper on how likely that difference was to occur.

There is also another paper, more statistics-heavy in nature, that estimates that

Towards a Google PageRank 7

Sometime within the next two years, I hope this website will get a Google PageRank of 7 for its homepage. Of course, by that time it might not matter or Google might alter its ranking system.

This website currently gets a 6. But what kind of 6? 6 is pretty broad, considering Google uses a logarithmic scale. A high "6" could be up to ten times better than a low "6". What makes it more interested is how website traffic increases exponentially at a certain stage in the rankings. Eg when your site is ranked #40 for a term you get about zero traffic, whereas if you are in the top 5 sites you can do really well. So if nudging your site from a 6 to 6.5, increases your ranking from #40 to #10, your search engine traffic will increase by ten fold or more (for that term).

Activist Websites: Do we rank?

I believe that this website is "on to something". I think it's going to be incredibly successful and rank amongst the top (english speaking) activist websites.

Sometimes it's good to check-in and compare this ambition to reality.

October 2004 - we got 88,000 unique visiters, and 123,000 visits (excluding search engine robots). This statistic comes from Awstats (a free log analyzer).

Idealist.org claims 729,000 visits in the last month. This number should be compared to our 123,000 figure. So we get about 1/6 of the traffic they get.

Zmag.org claims roughly half a million visitors per month. This compares to our 88,000 figure - so again we're getting around 1/6 of the action.

False Political Polarization: What Happenned to Honesty on the Left?

The left has fallen for the trap. Everybody in the media is saying that the US is at an unpredecented level (in recent history) of political polarization, and we're buying in.

This polarization is especially comical because it is between two of the most similar candidates in recent history. While their temperaments differ, in terms of actual policy there is very little difference between Kerry and Bush.

The Democrats and Republicans rely upon false polarization to mobilize people to vote. They cannot afford to differ on serious issues, less they offend their corporate backers. That's how issues like Stem Cell research become more important than racism (or sexism, or heterosexism, or the environment, or...). The media buys into this polarization because it is also corporate and because it needs to create the illusion of a critical election.

Questions for Electoral Activists

If the candidate you are working/advocating/voting for wins the election now, how often will you end up opposing their policies (either ideologically or directly through campaigns)?

Do you feel that debating whether progressives should vote for Kerry, Nader, Greens, other, not voting, is distracting you from your other activist work? What effect is it having upon your relations with other progressive organizations?

How have progressives in other countries built progressive parties? What can we learn from them?

What examples can we learn from attempts to create progressive parties in the US? (eg read Democracy Unbound) And what can we learn from them?

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