Online Activism

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Corporations, Bin Laden, and Child Porn

Continuing the argument that the internet is a twenty-first century Pandora's box, I want to point out to a couple recent attacks. The first is as old as the hills: muddy your opponent with the indefensible and then take the moral high ground in demanding a solution. What is indefensible? Child porn and terrorism!

Online Strike Hits

Today I was checking out, a progressive media site, because I want to find some Canadians interested in implementing Activism Network software in Canada. has a huge forum with over 500,000 posts (Hopefully this link doesn't mean I'm crossing the picket line). Currently there is a volunteer moderators STRIKE going on, after one of the two (?) paid employees was fired.

So volunteers have setup an >alternative site and started a new forum on it.

Apparently some strikers are using spam against the old board, or did so originally to get the word out about the strike.

Progressive Alums

The Associated Press recently reported that the President of the Un of Richmond, William Cooper, was pressured into resigning early because he made some comments that students and alums of the school found offensive. These students and alums combined forces with the University faculty and began a full-scale campaign against Cooper--complete with a website, online petition, and anti-Cooper paraphernalia (

Reading about this campaign I was reminded of efforts by a group of Berea College students last spring. These students put together a well-organized a campaign [called “10x10” to reflect its goal of meeting 10% of BC’s energy from renewable sources by 2010] to convince the BC administration to begin placing solar panels on its buildings and to begin planning for the future procurement of renewable energy. As part of their efforts, the students scheduled individual meetings with administrators, organized an energy conservation campaign to help offset the additional initial costs of renewables, and solicited donations from BC staff, students, and faculty. While the administration eventually agreed to pay for the remainder of the solar array, and to place the array on the central “Alumni Building,” it balked at the rest of the proposal, including budgeting for future alternative energy installations and establishing an ongoing campus committee to study and implement renewable energy.

US 2008 Election, Moo, World of Warcraft, and Online Activism

I think someone could make a large sum of money and/or increase the level of democracy by creating an online game to simulate the 2008 US Election.

You'd create an online gaming environment that might be similar to the World of Warcraft.

Basic game play would have users acting as regular Americans, however their goal would be to support the political party and actors of their choice. Thus for instance, you might have people trying to persuade swing voters, raise money, engage in dirty tricks, form an interest group, work within a party, or other activities.

I think a lot of value would come from following the actual electoral calendar, but preceding major events by a couple days. For instance, you would hold an online version of every primary a couple days before they happenned in real life. You could have real debates with user-submitted questions broadcasted in real-time audio (and even video). After all the real goal of this software is that you'd be influencing the real political process, by engaging people in the political process online - it would influence their off-line actions.

Narrowcasting or Wasting Time - Whither Social Networking? is narrowcasting. We're targetting activists and potential activists with a reasonably simple interface. No fluff. Or at least that's the goal. You can judge for yourself whether the upcoming addition of Google Maps is fluff or a serious function.

By contrast, sites like MySpace/Friendster/TagWorld/etc are trying to not just fill your needs, but to create totally new needs that are generally viewed by both observers and participants as a "Big Waste of Time".

These commercial sites overload you with their music, videos, large images, slow load times, chaotic layout, advertizing - and people love it. Addmittedly the people who love it are young (there is a massive drop-off in users that starts around age 21-23) and have less responsibility and more free time on their hands than older people.

AJAX and Online Networking

I think AJAX will be widely adopted by websites and lead to fundamental changes. Basically it allows you to eliminate the need for switching from one page to another, and thus reduces the pauses due to page refreshing/reloading.

Instead of loading a page, your browser requests data from the server and uses it to react to the user requests.

Google Maps, notably its scrolling features, is the best example of this.

I've been wondering what would this look like for When displaying a list of results (from browsing or searching) you could fetch 200 rows - instead of just 20, so if the user clicked on the next page (or any of the next 10 pages) it would display the results without a significant pause. You could let the client sort things in alphabetic and reverse alphabetic order.

Not quite sure what this, but it's intriguing.

Online Activism Conference in UK

I don't think I'll go because flying to England isn't that cheap (and Europe is generally expensive), though it looks good!

There is an e-Campainging Forum from Jan 18-19 in Oxford, UK.

The event is focused on bringing together practitioners in "new
media"/"e" activism. This is the third time the event has run
and each year we try and identify more people like you who would
both benefit from coming and have things to share with others.
You can see the current participant list at:

The draft agenda is at the bottom of the page at:

Greenpeace Starts Work on an Online Activism Networking Application

Looks like (and to a lesser extent, because they don't seem to want to go the friendster/myspace route), except they're single issue. It will be interesting to see if they believe in open data or just open source. is publishing all of its data, with some privacy exceptions, via web-services. And whether anyone realizes it or not, this is currently working - see

"You can use it to start a group, share resources, publicise events, find contacts and build networks." - This sounds very close to language I've been using for a couple years.

My First Civicspace / Drupal Site

I am working on converting the existing Student Environmental Action Coalition website so that it runs on Civicspace/Drupal.

Check out the
New Version

Old Version

I still need to do some work on the SEAC logo, the color scheme, increasing the visibility of the navigation menu, and I'm going to rewrite all the forms so that they aren't so long (we had some 400+ line html pages) and to switch from using CGI to PHP for the form processing.

Some of the Advantages that I came up with for advocating this transition include:

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