Online Activism

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Activism Network - Software Release

After about ten months of work, I'm proud to release the Activism
Network software client!

Activism Network
You can see two examples or download it.

Basically this takes the software that has been running on for three years, and lets you install in on your
own website. Doing so, we can create a network of a hundred websites
sharing activism data!!!

Website owners can customize what data they receive from the network.

This is an early (alpha?) release that I'm hoping to use to generate
interest and feedback. Particularly I need some ideas about what kind of

Software is Political

I posted this recently to the Civicspace community email list:

Communication is gendered.

Men dominate, interrupt, don't listen, take other people's ideas and make
them look like their own, distort what other people say, when they do
listen they listen to other men, speak with more authority, talk more, and
talk longer.

If you create a regular online means for communication (ex.
discussion forum, blog, email list), if you don't do anything, most
of the time it will be dominated by men. This choice is political
because by doing nothing you are supporting sexism. When you and File Release

The League of Pissed off Voters has just released the
latest version of their software

I feel that is it closer to Friendster or MySpace in its approach than Campus Activism / Activism Network is. By this I mean that it focusses more on the individual, whereas I put a lot of emphasis on events, resources, groups, and issues.

Indyvoter is definitely very creative and is developing new ideas that might be useful. I think they might benefit from a lot of user testing (every project, including this software, needs more user testing), to sort out which ideas are most useful and also to work on their site's usability.

Advocacy Developers Conference II - July 11-13, San Francisco

I hope to attend and meet people. Yay networking!

Aspiration is pleased to host AdvocacyDev II. The second in a series of events that began with the first Advocacy Dev gathering in June 2004, Advocacy Dev II will convene organizers and activists using free and open
source (F/OSS) online advocacy tools, and developers and designers
building those tools.

Activism Network

Activism Network
An early test version of the Activism Network client (and I guess server too).

Note it's going to be faster than the production version, because is running on the same webserver as

Activism Network - Internationalization

Currently the Activism Network software will only work well for users in Canada and the US (or other countries that are really really small).

The major limitation that is stopping its productive use in English-speaking countries is that I'd need national databases of zip/postal codes that would include a longitude and latitude.

For instance, I would love to expand this software to work in the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, and perhaps the Phillipines (note: the Phillipines has one of the highest rates of use, however it also might require bilingual support) - however I need to get postal code databases for these countries. Ideally I'd like to get free databases, but if they can be obtained for a small cost (<$100) then I might be willing to do it, especially if one or more activists in those countries expressed interest in using the software.

Activism Network - Another Progress Report

I've decided that I need to stop "crying wolf" by trying to estimate when I will have a piece of software done because I have constantly missed my own deadlines by embarassing amounts. But on the other hand, I should practice creating deadlines so that in the future I will be able to make accurate predictions.

Here goes! I'm going to predict that I'll release an alpha client for the Activism Network by June 15. This is aimed at website developers who want to help me customize/improve/test it, and to generate excitement within the CivicSpace community. Then a beta/production worthy release will follow in a month or so (depends on whether I take a badly needed vacation, and whether I start working more on creating a board of directors, found an official organization, and fundraising.).

Doubts about Public Provision of Philadelphia Wireless Access

The city of Philadelphia is trying to become the first major US city with public-provided wireless access.

Here are a few possible shortcomings

  • It isn't free. Most people forget this. In fact it will probably cost about as much as wired internet, except for low-income people who will hopefully get a price break (of 50%).
  • Nobody has done a similar project so it is likely to cost several times more than expected.
  • If we wait a couple years, the project cost will dramatically decrease each year, we'll be able to better estimate how much it would cost, and get more bandwidth.
  • The city is trying to appeal to businesses - to be hip for conventions and appeal to the middle class techies. It doesn't really care about providing computer skills and access to low income people.
  • 1, 2, 3, Many Friendsters - At Least Until the Mergers Start

    There are already probably a dozen social-networking tools like Friendster. I don't know exactly how many because I haven't tried doing an exhaustive search for them.

    These sites range in focus from dating, to frienship, to business networking, and back to dating.

    On the political side, has a friendster-like network of a million liberal people which promotes engagement in political action (action alerts, and online discussion). The League of Pissed Off Voters ( has a very ambitious plan to also create a political friendster-like community - particularily to engage young people in electoral activism, but also for other reasons too (which aren't entirely clear to me). Indyvoter's plans are much further advanced then their current site - which isn't being used that much.

    A Collaborative Organizing Guide

    People who want to change the world need advice on the most effective way to do this.

    Generally books that try to give you most of what you need to do activism are called "Organizing Guides" or "Activism Handbooks".

    In my mind, the two leading organizing guides are that by the War Resister's League and Midwest Academy's one. SEAC also has a good guide.

    However, none of these guides come close to providing the level of detail that would reflect the variety of experiences of thousands of social movement activists. I think the solution is to develop a new online collaboratively written set of resources that would be sorted and edited to provide a level of quality worthy of a good Organizing Guide.

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