July 2008

Towards a rebirth of freedom: activism on social networks, part 1 (DRAFT)

Get FISA Right logo

DRAFT!

Revised version posted at Pam’s House Blend and (under a different title, and minus the introduction ) Open Left.

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Gender, race, age, and power in online discussions, chapter n +1 (DRAFT)

DRAFT! Still under revision!

First draft July 26; substantial revisions August 2.

Originally written as a three-part conclusion to

Gender, race, age, and power in online discussions, chapter n

Introduction

The “mutual guest-blogging” project I’ve been leading on OpenLeft has been taking place in the context of a surprising amount of coverage of diversity issues in the blogosphere in the mainstream media recently. Articles like Amy Alexander’s The Color Line Online: Minority Bloggers Fight Inequality in The Nation and Karen Jesella’s Blogging’s Glass Ceiling in the New York Times (nicely analyzed by PhysioProf in Teh Laydeez Are So Cute When They Try To Blog on Feministe) are the highest-profile treatments I’ve seen of this topic since Jose Antonio Vargas’ A Diversity of Opinion, if not of Opinionators in the Washington Post a year ago.

It’s also come up in a broader context in stories like Jose’s Liberal Bloggers Brace for Victory in the Washington Post, and Kirsten Powers’ Net-roots Ninnies: Dem’s Left Dum Bam Slams in the New York Post.* As Kirsten, who’s also a Fox News reporter, says:

Newsflash to the netroots and the media (which seems perpetually confused on this issue): The netroots are not the base of the Democratic Party.

Overwhelmingly white, male and highly educated, they’re a loud anomaly in a party that’s wholly dependent on the votes of African Americans, women and working-class whites.

Not everybody sees it that way. Chris Bowers’ OpenLeft post The Myth Of The Non-Diverse Netroots, for example, presents a different perspective.  (See Is netroots non-diversity a myth?, as well as my responses in Chris’ thread, for my opinion.)   In the aftermath of the nastiness with race and gender we’ve seen so far this election year, with the McCain campaign and New Yorker throwing gasoline on the fire on the race and gender front and a lot of Democrats doing their best to get equally nasty about the age dimension, it’s certainly a good discussion to be having.

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Get FISA Right: “Don’t let our Constitution die” (DRAFT)

DRAFT! Please see the revised version on OpenLeft.

Get FISA Right logo“We’ve got more than a million volunteers on my.barackobama.com. They’ve planned more than 70,000 offline events through the system, made millions of phone calls from home, and formed thousands of grassroots advocacy groups, including one you might have heard about recently.”

— Barack Obama, Netroots Nation video

Hey! That’s us! 🙂

There’s a lot of energy in the Get FISA Right group these days. The getFISAright.net website is the best jumping-off place to find out what’s going on, and the Strategy page on the wiki gives a big-picture overview. It’s all interesting, it’s all timely … and I’m going to ignore most of it in this post and focus on the “Don’t let our Constitution die” video.

A day or two before the July 9 Senate vote, some folks from LA-based startup SaysMe.tv approached us with an intriguing suggestion: would we be interested in working with them to get ads about FISA on cable TV? SaysMe’s community-funded ad model, where people can pay for a single placement of ads in various markets, seems a great match for our grassroots style. And the timing’s perfect — it’s a great chance to spread the word that while we’ve lost a battle, the fight to roll back government surveillance and restore the rule of law isn’t over yet.

The video came together remarkably quickly; we revised the script collaboratively on the wiki and message board and email and IM, getting input from over 20 people. Cognitive diversity in action: we had lawyers, journalists, techies, ad execs, marketing people, a professional comedian, and plenty of “just plain folks”, and virtually every piece of input was valuable.

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Mutual guest blogging: intermission and discussion

Second draft, posted on OpenLeft with a different poll.

the version on OpenLeft continues to evolve

please link and comment there rather than here.

Originally posted July 17; revised July 18-19.

We’re now at the midpoint of our first, more-leisurely-than-anticipated mutual guest blogging series. Thanks to Melissa, Sara, Pam, and rikyrah for their time, energy, and extraordinary posts. In retrospect, our original plan of getting all the posts on OpenLeft and the mutual posts on the guest bloggers’ blogs all in one week was a little over-ambitious. Oh well, live and learn.

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Get FISA Right: Paging Clay Shirky


Wow, what a weekend. Friday, the Get FISA Right campaign was on CNN a couple of times (including a brief clip by me on American Morning that also got picked up internationally and a great discussion of Obama & Get FISA Right Activism by Ari Melber on CNN headline news where he challenged the left/right media narrative) and in TIME magazine. “That’s mainstream media, right?” I kept asking people; everybody reassured me the answer is yes. Over the weekend Laura Flanders talked with me and Ari on Radio Nation; and I heard we were discussed on Meet the Press today. Wow. Or did I say that already?

The overall situation is still what I described in my OpenLeft diary on Friday: now what? I’ve got my opinions of course; so do others. The discussion process over the next few weeks as we decide should be really interesting. See the Vision of the future thread on the discussion board for more, including my summary of the discussion so far and current thinking — and add your thoughts in as well.

There’s lots of other great stuff on the discussion boards, including planning for an organized attempt to influence the platform, meetups, and other activism ideas that may or may not pan out. There’s also a thread about the discussion of the direction of the email list, and that’s where Clay Shirky comes in. If you haven’t read his essay A group is its own worst enemy, now would be a very good time.

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Get FISA Right: A night of Facebook action

It’s been a wild few days with the Get FISA Right activism campaign. Our bare-bones media room is the best place to get a quick summary of all the stuff going on; here are a few hightlights: over 22,000 members in the myBO group, and 1700+ on Facebook; we delivered our response and our asks to Obama’s Senate office today (and of course have emailed them as well); and much much more.

We’ve gotten tons of coverage, including an article featuring me by Sarah Lai Stirland on Wired’s Threat Level blog, a call to action and video by Daniel Ellsberg on antiwar.com, and an article by Ari Melber in The Nation that puts this in the context of net movements in general. Will it be enough?

With the vote tomorrow, it’s time for a final push. Announcing: a night of Facebook action

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It’s the Fourth of July, and we’re fighting for our civil liberties

Originally sent to the Senator Obama – Please, No Telecom Immunity and Get FISA Right mailing list.

I certainly don’t mean to trivialize the situation. There’s a huge amount at stake and the anger, frustration, and disappointment so many of us (including me) feel comes through in every post. Realistically, the odds are still against us.

Still. We have a chance. We’re in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and in a conversation with Barack and his aides. Like the vast majority of us who have weighed in so far, I wasn’t particularly thrilled with the content of his response, and I wish it had come out earlier in the day, but even so … we’re managing to get our voice heard. We’re not out of it yet.

We could turn the tide; and even if not, at the very least we’ve succeeded in getting our message out. There are a lot of people in this country who care about civil liberties, and we are getting very tired of telecom donations being put ahead of the rule of law.

It’s the Fourth of July, and we’re fighting for our civil liberties. How cool is that?

jon

To celebrate Independence Day, the Get FISA Right wiki is currently featuring fireworks. I heart wikis.

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The first thing to do: set up a wiki

I remember hearing Zack Rosen of CivicSpace starting his talk about the team that put together the Katrina people finder by saying “one of the first things we did was set up a wiki” and it really struck a chord.

As an effort like Senator Obama – Please, No Telecom Immunity and Get FISA Right gets up and going, there’s a huge amount of information flying by in email (I think it peaked at well over 50 messages/hour), and new people constantly joining who need to get up to speed. Collecting information on a web site makes everybody more effective … and doing it on a wiki means that lots of people can contribute, not just me.

I had just started looking at Seattle-based Wetpaint* for another project, and it seemed like a good match for this: decent site templates, an easy-to-use editor, and the ability to put discussion threads on each page. So I figured it was worth trying.

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