#p2 and prioritizing diversity: background reading for Thursday’s tweeting

#p2 tweeting* Thursday April 30

7-8PM Pacific/10-11PM Eastern
Draft agenda and discussion here
Please join us!

#p2 logoTwitter is an opportunity to engage with communities currently marginalized by the “progressive blogosphere”

— Tracy Viselli and Jon Pincus, The #p2 Hashtag and Strategies for Progressives on Twitter on The Exception

#p2 is a resource for progressives who prioritize diversity and empowerment

— #p2’s wiki and Twitter profile

Because #p2 (aka “progressives 2.0”) is the closest thing to a broad communication mechanism for progressives on Twitter so far, I’m not sure how many people realize that the primary focus is on diversity. So here’s some background reading about #p2 for Thursday’s tweeting  on how progressives can organize more effectively on Twitter.

Let’s start with a question that I think doesn’t get asked enough.

Do progressives care about diversity?

A few weeks ago, a large corporation with an unhealthy amount of market dominance changed its online search so that information for LGBTQs, feminists, people with disabilities, and other marginalized people no longer appeared. You’d think that progressives would be all over it. Yeah, everybody’s busy … but most of the action for #amazonfail was on Twitter and blogs, so it took almost no time to help. How many progressives who weren’t members of the affected communities got involved, or even paid attention?

This follows on the heels of progressives’ obliviousness to Join the Impact. Last November, as JTI got over 150,000 people in the streets in ten days for marriage equality (another cause progressives support), there was virtually no coverage in the “progressive blogosphere”. Since then, I’ve seen very little discussion — at the Politics Online conference, for example, progressives and conservatives almost completely ignored it.

Or consider this tweet from Sunday’s #fem2 Twittercast laying the groundwork for Equal Pay Day:

@GloPan asks: where are the dudes?

Yeah really. And sure enough on Tuesday, while the #fairpay hashtag was hopping, only 15 or so of guys helped out.** For that matter, well-known progressives were almost completely absent. The same dynamic occurred in the “progressive blogosphere”, where the big blogs studiously ignored it.

Notice a pattern here?

The same dynamics occur in a lot of other dimensions of oppression: class, race, age, geography, language … the list goes on. How often do most progressives think about — let alone do anything about — accessibility or bilingual issues? Access to knowledge and technology?

A lot of progressives say they care about diversity … but don’t act like they mean it.

Why it matters

This is a huge problem for progressives for several reasons. Most obviously, these are all causes that fit in squarely with progressive values. By failing to act as good allies, progressives weaken their cause and expose their intellectual inconsistency And if progressives don’t actively helping feminists, people of color, people without computers (etc.) why should they help progressives on other priorities?

And there’s so much learning to be done. On Twitter, for example, conservatives have out-organized progressives … which makes it all the more critical to apply techniques like #fem2’s effective conferences and Twittercasts, #dayofsilence’s and #rword’s outreach-to-Twitterati, or #amazonfail’s attracting coverage and building community. Elsewhere, Join the Impact has similarly set the bar for wiki-based activism; Get FISA Right on my.barackobama.com; the DREAM Activists for a networked blogging campaign. Alas, most progressives don’t bother to pay attention — which makes learning very difficult.

There are even bigger opportunities. In The Difference, Scott Page shows the advantages of cognitive diversity. On Twitter, in Cognitive evolution and revolution: #polc09 and a #diversityfail, I illustrated how Twitter hashtags can enable effective collaboration by marginalized groups.***  In a political environment where the vast majority of youth, blacks, Latinos and Latinas, LGBTQs, migrant rights activists, and feminists oppose conservative policies, this potentially creates a huge advantage for progressives …

If they prioritize diversity.

Which we have on #p2, And the results are great. The quality of conversation is high (especially if you filter out cross-posts to #tcot****) and the range of topics and people is very diverse. We’ve spawned technology like Chris Meserole’s TweetLeft. Our Ask the President activism was very successful. People consistently tell me that our Twitter overview page is useful — including its mention of Accessible Twitter. We appear to have the only list of progressive hashtags out there. And so on. Scott Page is right: diverse groups outperform.

Of course #p2 is only one piece of the puzzle on Twitter, and Twitter’s only one part of the online world. Still, there’s a lot to build on here.

Hopefully #p2 can serve as a catalyst and proof point to get more of the progressive community to start acting like diversity matters. Or even better, prioritize it.


* Twitter-based meeting … like a Twitter chat, but with an agenda and action items

** kudos to @jespi55 @joegerstandt @davidhodgson @rootwork @adrielhampton @matttbastard @adamsargant @KansasJackass @TheFakeJoeBiden @GottaBook @Stardragonca @SFCityAttorney @_kbm and @BrettBrownell

*** Julie Germany’s Avoiding the old white man syndrome followup has some broader discussion of this dynamic as it relates to Social Media Women of Color and Women Who Tech

**** a lot of which are trolling, by progressives as well as conservatives