In this class we delved into the work of Clay Shirky (Here Comes Everybody) and Ori Brafman and Rod Beckstrom (The Starfish and the Spider), and looked at the rise of “starfish” organizations that are taking advantage of the Internet’s affordances. We closed the class with a discussion of Mark Pesce’s work on “hyperpolitics” and “hyperempowerment.”
In this class, we studied the work of Beth Kanter and Allison Fine, using their book The Networked Nonprofit, as well as David Weinberger’s chapter in the Cluetrain Manifesto on how hyperlinks subvert hierarchy. In addition we looked at Ivan Boothe’s writings on the evolution of the Genocide Intervention Network as an example of a networked nonprofit in action.
–Business, non-profit, campaign: does the “fortress” apply across all three?
–Surfrider Foundation, Twestival, charity:water, Genocide Intervention Network — What do these have in common?
In this class, we discussed work by Michael Wesch and David Weinberger. Each offers an argument about how two-way, read/write culture may challenge authority. In Wesch’s view, a new participant-driven culture of sharing may be developing. In Weinberger’s, the old seeming stability of facts is now up for question, as linking makes knowledge more fluid.
Here’s the class audio (which includes Weinberger’s comments) and my notes.
Here are the slides.
And here’s the audio file alone for download.
In this class, we discussed the arguments made by David Weinberger and Doc Searls in the Cluetrain Manifesto and Yochai Benkler in The Wealth of Networks, on how networked media is changing the public conversation and the relationship between the people and the powerful. We also delved into some of the data showing just how many Americans are participating in politics online, not just as passive consumers of information but active creators and sharers, and how that is disrupting the status quo.
Last Thursday, the Shorenstein Center put on a fascinating panel discussion about the implications of the online mobilization that crested last January 18 with millions of people and thousands of websites expressing their opposition to proposed legislation to combat online privacy. I spoke, along with my colleagues Susan Crawford and Nicco Mele, and we were joined by Elaine Kamarck of the Institute of Politics, and Alexis Ohanian, the co-founder of Reddit.com. Alex Jones, Shorenstein’s director, moderated.
Here’s the Livestream feed of the webcast, in case you missed it.
Here are my slides.
And here are my notes that went with the slides.
The early opposition to SOPA and PIPA was all pretty conventional: Tech companies and internet experts wrote letters to Members of Congress explaining their concerns and they took out ads in places like the NY Times.
But on November 16, Tumblr, a blogging platform with millions of users, did something unprecedented.
They interrupted their users, by sticking a block of text in their dashboards, and asked them to call their Members of Congress to express their concerns about SOPA on the day of a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee.
They could have lost a lot of users. Instead, they generated 87,000 phone calls to the House, in one day.
That same day, Firefox and Reddit also drew black lines on their websites to protest.
And Kickstarter posted an anti-SOPA video on its company blog, with a post from its founders.
These actions set in motion conversations all over the web, and as it became clear that Congress was not interested in holding serious hearings on the bills but seemed intent to pushing them through soon after the Christmas recess, concerns mounted.
People started getting creative, mashing up data and releasing tools that enabled web users to inform themselves about where different actors stood in the fight.
[show anti-SOPA Chrome extension]
[show Stop SOPA widget]
[show SOPA Opera}
On Wikipedia, one of the most important sites to get involved, there was an extensive community debate about what to do.
First Jimmy Wales posted, on December 10, a request for comment titled "SOPA and a strike." He noted that in Italian, the Wikipeida community there had briefly blanked out the site to protest a law that would have infringed on their editorial independence and the Parliament quickly changed its mind. He asked for a community straw poll, just to gauge if a more serious and formal process was warranted. About 500 people commented over the next four days, with roughly 90% in favor.
In mid-January, the Wikipedia community took up several options, and over the course of 3 days, 1800 Wikipedians joined in. Ultimately the "blackout" of the English Wikipedia got the strongest support.
[170 pages of screenshots would be needed to show the whole dialogue to you]
It’s worth noting that the Wikimedia Foundation, which had just finished a massive fundraising drive that netted it $20 million from one million donors around the world, had urged a less drastic blackout just in the US.
This also wasn’t a complete blackout, and emergency access to the site was included as part of the plan.
Wikimedia’s executive director Sue Gardner explained the decision in a blog post, saying, “I have increasingly begun to think of Wikipedia’s public voice, and the goodwill people have for Wikipedia, as a resource that wants to be used for the benefit of the public. Readers trust Wikipedia because they know that despite its faults, Wikipedia’s heart is in the right place. It’s not aiming to monetize their eyeballs or make them believe some particular thing, or sell them a product. Wikipedia has no hidden agenda: it just wants to be helpful.”
“My hope is that when Wikipedia shuts down on January 18, people will understand that we’re doing it for our readers. We support everyone’s right to freedom of thought and freedom of expression. We think everyone should have access to educational material on a wide range of subjects, even if they can’t pay for it. We believe in a free and open Internet where information can be shared without impediment. We believe that new proposed laws like SOPA –and PIPA, and other similar laws under discussion inside and outside the United States– don’t advance the interests of the general public.”
Of course, lots of other sites joined in, including
Twitpic (a free picture sharing site)
WordPress.org (a free blogging platform with millions of users)
The Drudge Report
What Google Did:
7 million emails generated
What Wikipedia Did:
162 million page views
8 million use its tool to look up their Members’ contact info
What Firefox did:
30 million saw their call to action
360,000 emails generated.
Grassroots coalitions on the left and right both had an impact
plus people on the street
Congress shifted…from 80-31 in favor before, to 101-65 opposed afterwards.
In this class we explored the contours of American political participation in the decades before the Internet arrived, with a focus on the period from 1960-2000. Our guides were Theda Skocpol, Dana Fisher and Yochai Benkler, whose work, respectively, offer a clear view of the workings of membership organizations, individual activism and political media in the era of top-down broadcast politics.
The audio for the class is here.
The slides are here.
If you want to download the audio file alone, here it is: Feb 8 class audio.