Online Activism

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Notre Dame Living Wage - Online Petition

I created a website for the Campus Labor Action Project which is working to get a Living Wage for Notre Dame staff.

It's a tricky balance, but I think we'd prefer to have people sign our petition only if they have a connection to Notre Dame (alumni, staff, faculty, spouse, parent, etc).

We have a committee of currently around 7 alumni (mostly who graduated in the past 4 years, but we're doing outreach to other decades). Our strategy is to build a large base of alumni supporters (hopefully 500-1500 people). Getting people to sign the online petition is the first step.

Philly Activist Tech - First Meeting is a Success!

The first meeting of the Philadelphia Activist Tech Group was a success. We had 13 people! Instead of having long meetings, it looks like we're going to focus on projects. So people will propose and join projects, and we'll skip the meetings for the sake of meetings.

We'll probably organize workshops ranging from "this is how to use email to do activism" or "how to be virus/spy-ware free", to more advanced topics like "Intro to Google Maps API".

Also we might organize the occasional social event, and connect people who have questions with people who have answers.

If you want to find out about our activities, then Subscribe to our low-traffic email list.

Philadelphia - Activists and Technology Meetup

I am starting a Philadelphia group for liberals, progressives and radicals who are using Internet technology, particularly the web, to promote social change. We can share ideas, share code, help each other test and debug, get our projects to share data, explore emerging technologies, and perhaps collaborate on new projects.

We could meet once or month or however often people want.

Personally, I

Building Progressive Infrastructure

For longterm social change you need a long term strategy. Sure you need to fight the short-term battles (otherwise people suffer and die), but hopefully the left can scrape together some support for longterm institutions.

One example of such a program would be a database of skills and trainers. We need to convince all of the existing social change training organizations (Training for Change, Midwest Academy, AFL-CIO's trainers, ACORN, various socialist groups, etc) to publish their materials under the Creative Commons License. These materials should be available in large chunks (as books) and broken down into smaller chunks (chapters or exercises), and available online for free (PDF an HTML) - or in printed form for a charge.

Pushing Power to the Edges Or to a New Elite?

Evolve Foundation recently came out with a paper on online activism called Pushing Power to the Edges with only barely mentioning Race, Class, or Gender.

Online activism might manage to mobilize millions of middle class white people, led by upper-middle class men who push the Mobilize Button. But is that pushing power to the edges?

I'm reminded of the Zapatistas who are common example of how the Internet can be used by a grassroots group that otherwise wouldn't have much power to acquire international fame and support. But wait a minute! Pratically every communique I read (and
I read many of them out load on a college radio show) was written by Subcomandante Marcos. Because he had more privilege that other people in the movement he became a media idol. We ended up reading poetic stories about rainbows, bridges, sea shells, Don Quixote, Alice in Wonderland, and parrots instead of about the conditions of people in the villages who were the most oppressed.

Taking Friendster and MySpace Down - Building a Noncommercial Alternative

MySpace was recently purchased as part of a $550 million deal. I think part of its value lies in trying to build profiles of people so that corporations can sell them products and target online advertizing.

We need a noncommercial/free/open social network that won't sell out to corporations and that will end the need of having to maintain a profile on seperate commercial networks so as to stay in touch with friends.

I believe I have a good idea to make it work. The technical aspects of creating a friendster or myspace is relatively easy. A good programmer or team could crank it out in a year or so. The trick is publicizing it.

Mapping US Military Casualties

Someone made a map that shows US Military Casualties from the Iraq war.

Hopefully someone will be inspired to create a map of Iraqi civilian casualties. You could use data from Iraq Body Count, and the Geonames database to convert Iraqi cities into longitudes and latitudes.

Mapping the Workers Rights Consortium - Member Schools

I did a map of the Schools that belong to the Workers Rights Consortium - an anti-sweatshop monitoring/accountability organization that was created by anti-sweatshop activists, the majority of whom were students.

I used the data from the WRC Affiliate Schools page, which I combined with my existing data for school locations.

Hope to come up with more activist uses of mapping. Days of Action for instance.

The geographical distribution is typical of privileged white middle to upper-middle class student activism.

Experimenting with Google Maps

I am playing around with the Google Maps API. You can see a list of
Activism Groups in PA

All of the Activism Groups

Other states work too. Unfortunately the point-loading is rather slow, but I used the Faster Loading Hack which really helped.

The API is cool.


Advocacy Dev II

I went to Advocacy Dev II - a conference for activist software developers. Read about it on the Wiki link.

It was good. High energy and good networking with perhaps 60-70(?) people.

I spent most of my time on the database track - talking about how to create standards for nonprofits to share their data (between organizations or even within the same organization), and to create one or more good nonprofit databases (note: Groundspring has stopped working on Ebase - the leading nonprofit database). CivicCRM is one good canidate for becoming this database. Unfortunately, developing standards is hard because you have to convince a critical mass of people to make it useful.

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