Tag Archives: digital activism

How to Ignite, or Quash, a Revolution in 140 Characters or Less

On July 13th, I attended an event at the New America Foundation: How to Ignite, or Quash, a Revolution in 140 Characters or Less, which looked at the promise and limitations of technology in spreading democracy. July 13th also happened to be my birthday, and one of the most special messages I received that day came in the form of a tweet from Ghada Shahbender (@ghadasha), an Egyptian human rights activist and one of this year’s winners of the James Lawson Award.

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2011 Personal Democracy Forum

What do you get when you bring together some of the leading thinkers, activists, scholars, hackers, writers, and designers in the fields of social media, open-source and digital technology?  You get the 2011 Personal Democracy Forum.  Luckily, this year I was one of 1,000 attendees to participate in this yearly gathering to learn from and network with these brilliant minds and innovative creators.  I also had the pleasure of enjoying this conference with two of my ICNC colleagues, Nicola Barrach and Althea Middleton-Detzner.  While we were there we also got to meet up and hang out with our friends Eric Stoner, Bryan Farrell and Nathan Schneider from Waging Nonviolence, Katie Halper from Living Liberally, Matthew Slutsky from Change.org, and our friends Emily Jacobi, Mark Belinsky, and Biz Ghormley from Digital Democracy.   In addition to getting see our friends, we also saw some great presentations.  Click through to learn and see more about some of my favorite presentation from the conference.

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From Cairo2Hanoi Panel Discussion

Yesterday I participated in a panel discussion event organized by Viet Tan – an organization that engages in actions that empower the Vietnamese people. Specifically, they seek to roll back existing restrictions against two key human rights: freedom of expression and freedom of association and assembly. These enabling freedoms are the pillars for civil society (Viet Tan).

The event looked at the role of social media in the nonviolent uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt and whether or not there are any relevant connections that can be made between those who engaged in civil resistance and digital activism in Tunisia and Egypt with those who continue to struggle in Vietnam.  I had the pleasure of speaking alongside to amazing activists and organizers.  Continue reading to learn more…

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The Social Revolution

This week I gave a couple a couple talks at Rutgers University.  I was invited by Dr. Kurt Shock, who is an associate professor of sociology and global affairs at Rutgers and is one of ICNC’s academic advisors.  I first spoke in his colloquium course, where I gave a presentation titled, The Social Revolution: Digital Media, Cyber-Pragmatism, and Nonviolent Movements, which I will outline in greater detail later in this post.  The second presentation I gave was to his undergraduate class on social movements, where we looked at the role of the internet and social media in social movements more broadly.  In both presentations I used the uprising in Egypt as a case study in exploring these themes.

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Key Insights from Clay Shirky’s Book, “Cognitive Surplus”

Imagine treating the free time of the world’s educated citizenry as an aggregate, a kind of cognitive surplus…One thing that makes the current age remarkable is that we can now treat free time as a general social asset that can be harnessed for large, communally created projects, rather than as a set of individual minutes to be whiled away one person at a time.

…young populations with access to fast, interactive media are shifting their behavior away from media that presupposes pure consumption.

The social uses of our new media tools have been a big surprise, in part because the possibility of these uses wasn’t implicit in the tools themselves…the use of social technology is much less determined by the tool itself; when we use a network, the most important asset we get is access to one another.  We want to be connected to one another, a desire that the social surrogate of television deflects, but one that our use of social media actually engages.

Access to cheap, flexible tools removes many of the barriers to trying new things.  You don’t need fancy computers to harness cognitive surplus; simple phones are enough.

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The Digital Duel: Resistance and Repression in an Online World (Webinar)

This past Thursday I presented my very first webinar, The Digital Duel: Resistance and Repression in an Online World, which looked at the emerging role of digital tools, new media, and the Internet in waging nonviolent struggle across the world.  It also looked at how repressive regimes are also using these same tools to censor and clamp down on dissent and civic mobilization.

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