Introducing rabble's Activist Toolkit

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Greater consciousness and sense of community is emerging via the Internet, as we know.

As technology changes the way we collaborate, organize, and socialize, it is affording like-minded individuals opportunities to connect, share resources, and trade tips.

Through digital means, activists can unite and launch social change movements in a free and global space. Around the world, progressive activists are taking advantage of this to organize online and offline. On the streets of Cairo and Minsk, in municipalities across Europe and North America, the civic actions of activist bloggers and Internet revolutionaries lead social change movements, influence government policy-making, and shape current events.

The Activist Toolkit is rabble.ca's response to the changes taking place.

Our wiki-style Toolkit aims to be a space for activist collaboration. Home to a wealth of encyclopedic resources, the content is organized according to "tooltype" -- each unique in its contribution to the Toolkit.

• How-To Guides allow advocates to share valuable organizational skills. The guides afford practical tips and step-by-step instructions on a range of activist techniques, from launching an online petition to hosting a screening.

• "Software Tools" highlight and provide reviews of the latest technology accessible to activists. The growing list encompasses an array of technological devices, including crisis mapping and censorship circumvention software, as well as tools promoting government accountability and transparency.

• "Media Commons" also offers free visual media that is available for reuse, remixing, and sharing.

• "On This Day" tools detail significant events and milestones throughout social justice history.

• rabblepedia serves as a Wikipedia-like information source, featuring articles written from a progressive point of view. Articles include definitions and descriptions of activism-related people, groups, and issues.

• "Workshop Outlines" hosts seminar templates on various topics. Contributors are encouraged to upload their own workshop presentations for sharing.

As rabble.ca's Activist Toolkit intern, I have spent the last several months populating this repository. The organization and classification of this activist gear has been no small feat, and remains a challenging task. While working to expand the Toolkit to its present state, my search for interesting tools, social change organizations, and progressive individuals has yielded intriguing results.

It was through my conversations with local activists and progressively minded friends, who so willingly lent their expertise and expressed their enthusiasm to connect with like-minded individuals, that the creation of a space for activist collaboration was confirmed as necessary. Today, an array of free and open-source tools are available online and there is an abundance of people who use them.

However, without a forum for dialogue, activists will not be able to realize the full potential of online tools. The Activist Toolkit provides users with a necessary sphere for discussion and debate.

As my time at rabble.ca draws to a close, and the Activist Toolkit development continues, I hope to see the space mature into a magnet for advocates. While still in beta form, obstacles and setbacks are anticipated in the expansion ahead. Nevertheless, the Toolkit's potential as a go-to site for activist empowerment and inspiration is clear. Looking forward, I eagerly await contributor comments, tool reviews, and user feedback. Interaction and engagement will only serve to improve the Activist Toolkit.

Elements of the Toolkit focus on basic activist education. However, I believe the site's wiki-style nature will attract advocates of all stripes. A product of collaborative writing and contribution, the Toolkit will help to foster a community of sharing. Furthermore, continual updates and ongoing innovation in the Toolkit space will entice advocates to return.

While allowing experienced activists to impart their expertise onto an emerging class of advocates, veterans will also be exposed to the latest technological tools. As a result, new skill sets will be adopted, new techniques will be ingrained, and new support networks will be forged. Technology presents the potential to make advocacy campaigns more efficient and effective. Complimenting this, the Activist Toolkit's forum for shared education and inspiration will increase the likelihood of advocate mobilization, and improve the outcome of social change campaigns.

To the naysayers, neo-luddites, and skeptics, I acknowledge your concerns; online activism is no substitute for offline social action. The question of whether the Internet will change political landscapes, however, has a simple answer. Whether the incorporation of technology into advocacy campaigns helps gather evidence, orchestrate a public exposé of injustice, or rally like-minded people, digital tools make inspiring action and effecting change more possible. Like rabble.ca, the Activist Toolkit draws on the real energy and power of the Internet -- passionate, engaged human beings.

To see rabble.ca Activist Toolkit, please click here.  Note: To "edit" a page, readers need to sign in as a beta tester by emailing . Any reader logged into rabble can make comments or discuss the Activist Toolkit.

Paula Millar interned with rabble.ca and oversaw the compilation of rabble's Activist Toolkit.

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