Last year I proposed an experiment on OpenLeft that involved “mutual guest-blogging“: four great bloggers who didn’t usually hang out there making front-page posts, and in return the OpenLeft front-pagers posting on the other blogs. The idea was to expose bloggers, readers, and commenters to new perspectives, and hopefully build some connections that could lead to potential alliances. It didn’t all work out exactly that way, but the underlying idea is a good one, and I think this could be a useful technique for the change.org/MySpace Ideas for Change in America competition.
A quick recap on the competition: second-round voting is January 5 to 15, and the goal is to finish in the top 10 overall. Along with email and social network, blogs were one of the most effective forms of promotion in the first round; in the second round, bloggers (as well as non-profits) can sign up as “supporters” of an idea so their influence is likely to be even larger.
My idea, Get FISA Right, repeal the PATRIOT Act, and restore our civil liberties has a decent shot (it finished #10 in the first round despite virtually no exposure in the blogosphere), and we’re going to be doing a lot to promote it. (Discussion here — please join in!) Both for Get FISA Right in particular and the civil liberties advocacy community as a whole, this is a great opportunity to reach out to a much more diverse audience than usual. And the same’s true for any of the other ideas — many of which (for example Pass the DREAM Act Now!, End the Global Gag Rule The Family Union Foundation for Obama, Stop NAIS! ) involve situations where privacy and civil liberties issues are critical.
At this point, temporarily suspend disbelief and assume that each of the ideas has one or more widely-read blogs behind it. Right now that’s true for some ideas but not others (Get FISA Right, for example, only launched its blog yesterday so readership is basically zero) and so this is something we’ll come back to later. For now though please make the leap of faith — it’ll make it simpler to understand the benefits.
If that were the case, it would be a great opportunity for mutual guest-blogging. Somebody from Get FISA Right posts on the DREAM Act blog — ideally this would be somebody who supports both ideas, speaking for themselves pesonally rather than on behalf of Get FISA Right. Similarly a DREAM Activist posts on Get FISA Right’s blog.
Both of these posts are likely to reach new audiences for the idea — and give activists of both ideas new perspectives. Not to put too fine a point on it, but the active voices in Get FISA Right (like the US civil liberties community in general) are largely white and largely older — the names and faces in the comment thread on change.org and the photos in President Obama, please get FISA right paint a vivid picture. There’s a lot of potential cross-fertizalization here. And while it’s hard to imagine Get FISA Right as an organization deciding to endorse any of these ideas (too far away from our current focus), a lot of Get FISA Right members might well be supportive; so it’s a great chance for DREAM Act to get new supporters as well.
Repeat that for any of the other ideas and Get FISA Right — or for that matter, any pair of ideas. Most of the time there are very obvious significant benefits to both sides for cross-posting. So it seems worth trying to get something going.
Now back to the challenge that a lot of these groups don’t have blogs with broad readership. In that case, the benefits potentially wind up very asymmetric. Another interesting possibility would be to arrange “guest hosting” for blogs from broader readership … for example, asking Firedoglake and Hullabaloo (who have been among the most active voices on FISA) to host some posts on our behalf. This seems to fit in well with where change.org is going with their as-yet-undefined blog “sponsors”. A complementary approach would be for guest posts on the blogs on change.org … in the first round, I posted on the Criminal Justice blog; this time it would be great for somebody from Get FISA Right to post on Immigration and Women’s Rights etc. instead. And I’m sure here are other options as well …
So while there are a lot of details to be determined, it seems to me this could work very effectively.