Digital tree-sitting: environmental protest when media is everywhereThe ConversationThe Observer Tree is a useful barometer for how the relationship between environmental activism and media has evolved over the past two decades.
An interesting movement is happening in the world. A recent post from The Next Web pointed out that a new activism or ‘Geektivism’, a movement led by techies to save the world by using technology, is blooming. This is, however, not a new phenomenon. Since 2009, Random Hacks of Kindness (RHoK), a series of hackathons aiming to make the world a better place have been solving humanitarian problems, which are identified by stakeholders such as Amnesty International and the Red Cross, by using technology.
By now, most nonprofits have likely been bombarded with suggestions to hop on the Pinterest craze. So what's it all about, and which organizations can you learn from that have already harnessed the trend?
The SOPA blackout protest last week was an unprecedented event. Its massive success surprised even the activists who spurred the protest. So does this mean that we are entering the much-heralded era of Internet-powered citizen democracy?
The hacktivist collective Anonymous is in the middle of a huge revenge spree after the Feds shut down popular filesharing site Megaupload today. But they're using an evil new tactic that tricks people into helping their attack if they click an innocuous link.
The Department of Justice, MPAA and Universal Music websites have all been taken down in the past hour as part of Operation Megaupload, which is shaping up to be the biggest Anonymous campaign in months.
In a talk given at Stanford Law School on Tuesday, Harvard Professor of Law and Computer Science Jonathan Zittrain expressed concern both over the Internet being too consolidated and controlled, as well as concern about security issues highlighted by “hacktivism” in 2011.
Young women have been at the forefront of the revolutionary uprisings that have toppled regimes in Egypt, Tunisia, and Yemen along with the more protracted struggles in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and Syria. They were among the Twitterati and citizen journalists who became leading news sources—the protesters who took to the streets and the cybersphere to demand their entrenched leaders step down, and the citizens who paid the ultimate price, being beaten to death and murdered in those regimes’ desperate attempts to cling to power.
The cute cat theory of digital activism is a theory concerning Internet activism, Web censorship, and "cute cats" (a term used for any low-value, but popular online activity) developed by Ethan Zuckerman in 2008. It posits that most people are not interested in activism; instead, they want to use the web for mundane activities, including surfing for pornography and lolcats ("cute cats"). The tools that they develop for that, however, are very useful to social movement activists, who often lack resources to develop dedicated tools themselves, but instead, use the tools developed by others (such as Facebook, Flickr, Blogger, Twitter, and similar platforms), even though such tools were not originally intended for activism. This, in turn, makes the activists more immune to reprisals by governments than if they were using a dedicated activism platform, because shutting down a popular public platform provokes a much larger public outcry than shutting down an obscure one used only by a small group of activists.
On Thursday, Twitter announced that it would begin to selectively block tweets on a country by country basis. The decision prompted an immediate outcry from free speech advocates as well as a more measured response from scholars of social media, several of whom praised Twitter’s relative transparency while noting that it has no choice but to comply with the regulations of individual governments.
One of the most passionate defenders of Twitter’s new policy is Zeynep Tufekci, who described it as an “excellent policy which will be helpful to free-speech advocates”. Tufekci sees Twitter’s selective censorship as an improvement over the broad censorship practiced by other internet companies, in which content deemed offensive by one is deleted for all. Under the new guidelines, a tweet deemed inappropriate by the leaders of a particular country will only be censored within that country. To the rest of the world, it will be labeled as “blocked”, a development she describes as “excellent” because it renders state attempts to suppress speech transparent.
In the aftermath of last week's stunning reversal for SOPA and PIPA, supporters are already planning to try again. But in failing to recognize who really stopped them, and why, they're dooming themselves to more failure.
In the summer of 2011, London erupted in flames. Now, it's not the first time the city has burned; it's had a rich history of conflagration within its walls and revolt in its urban sprawl. But this time it was different: the source of the unrest echoed the sounds of virtual revolutions around the globe -- inequality, incomprehension, inefficacy -- yet like the people on the streets of Tehran and Cairo, the Londoners who chose to riot also chose to leave an incredibly rich trail of information in their wakes. By using social media to organize and report, to promote and to publicize, they gave curious academics and other interested parties a trove of pickings that can be analyzed for impressive insights.