How online social networking and media are changing organizing, activism, and socializing

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How online social networking and media are changing organizing, activism, and socializing

A couple of weeks ago, I went to a screening of "Us Now" in Toronto - the North American premiere.  (It was made in the UK.)  It's a documentary about how social networking sites and online tools are changing the way we relate to each other and organize for change for the better in our society.  It was a really inspiring film, and Don Tapscott spoke afterwards.

I went as a representative for (we co-sponsored the event) and a group from TVO did video interviews with a bunch of us from various organizations to talk about how online technology is changing society.

The result is a 6 minute video with interviews of a bunch of us, and clips from the film.  Just thought I'd post it here in case people are interested.

I highly recommend the movie, too, by the way.  Volunteer Toronto is trying to organize another screening of it here in Toronto - I'll post details if and when we get something firmed up.


Late to the Web Party

Wayne MacPhail's piece ties into the online social networking/media scene, but from the angle of mainstream journalism's late entry into the arena.  Essentially, he's saying that TV/Print journalists who are moving into the online media scene due to corporate cutbacks and layoffs are having some difficulty in grasping the notion that they have to develop credibility in the field with an entirely new audience that has grown accustomed during the past 10 years or more to expecting far more insightful and poignant political commentary of events than the usual scripted work that was their bread and butter in the mainstream.  Is it really about the late comer aspect, or does it have more to do with where they are coming over from, the corporate spin media, where credibility vanished long ago?  

TV and radio were once thought of as useful mediums to facilitate changing the way people relate to each other.  The good news is that in the long run, there is every reason to believe that things will be different this time around.

Star Spangled C...

Nice video, Michelle! do you know when this is gonna air?

A few weeks back I was in Washington for this forum on how the Obama campaign used social media to recruit volunteers, raise money, get out the vote, etc. Amazing possibilities these days.

George Victor


"A few weeks back I was in Washington for this forum on how the Obama campaign used social media to recruit volunteers, raise money, get out the vote, etc. Amazing possibilities these days."


Just got us a new leader of the Ontaio New Democrats who believes in the medium.

Who organized your Washington forum?


SSC: I'm not sure when or if it will air on TV.  I wasn't familiar with this group before that evening, and I'm not sure whether they actually put this stuff on TVO or if it's solely an online thing that TVO is sponsoring.

That sounds like an amazing forum.  There are a lot of people studying the Obama campaign and the way they used social media.  It's huge.  Judy Rebick also talks about this in her new book, Transforming Power. 

Speaking of which...right now I'm working on last-minute details for her Toronto book launch on Thursday (two days from now).  (rabble's sponsoring the Toronto one.)  She's also going to be doing book launches in other cities - Ottawa tonight, and Montreal, Halifax, Fredericton, Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver, and Victoria in the next few weeks.  More details here:

Slumberjack, I think that the answer to your question is: both.  And they're completely entwined.  That is, that the reason mainstream journalists are having difficulty developing cred in the online world is both because they came late, and because those who get their news online are hip to MSM spin and wary of it.

The reason MSM has come late to the online media scene is because they're resistant to media democracy, where media is not just a "journalists talking/writing at viewers" thing, but a real conversation and participatory experience for everyone.  They have been resistant to the citizen journalism aspect because citizen journalists are competition, and we're standing the whole fiction of MSM being objective, "real" journalists on its head.

So, when they jump so late into the online media scene, those of us to whom citizen journalism and media democracy (that is, everyone participating in a meaningful way with the news and events and people around us by creating our own media) is important are wary of the MSM because they have a fundamentally different outlook on journalism and media than we do. 

Star Spangled C...

George Victor wrote:

Who organized your Washington forum?

It was the School of Political Management at GW. Very interesting. They really did amazing stuff. A friend in Toronto was saying that they went to an event at UofT a few weeks back where this woman from Toronto who worked in the social media team for Obama's campaign gave a really interesting presentation. This woman's name is something Harfoush, I believe, if people are interested. I'm sure she'll be speaking again and I know she's writing a book on the experience.


Fake Social Media

It's recently been revealed that the U.S. government contracted HBGary Federal for the development of software which could create multiple fake social media profiles to manipulate and sway public opinion on controversial issues by promoting propaganda. It could also be used as surveillance to find public opinions with points of view the powers-that-be didn't like. It could then potentially have their "fake" people run smear campaigns against those "real" people.

The 6th Contracting Squadron at MacDill Air Force Base sought the development of Persona Management Software which could be used for creating and managing fake profiles on social media sites to distort the truth and make it appear as if there was a generally accepted agreement on controversial issues.

wage zombie

Clay Shirky was a keynote speaker at Drupalcon Chicago this year, and he talked about online collaboration.  Those interested in organizing online may enjoy his talk.  He talked about a women's group organizing in India, content contributors, spam, user reputation/karma, building communities online, user owned online communities, moving beyond traditional media information flows, and other topics.


With new technology permeating every aspect of our daily lives, it is important to recognize the impact it has on society. Acclaimed author, consultant, teacher, and Internet visionary Clay Shirky has devoted his career toward exploring the social and economic influences of technology.

Shirky is the author of several books, including “Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations” and the recently- published “Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age”. Shirky’s work has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and Wired, among others.

The video can be watched here:

The first 12 minutes are focussed on some of the conference details, after which point the keynote starts.  The talk itself is about 40 minutes and then there are about 15 minutes of questions.