I write about digital strategies and communications — and their intersection with culture, politics, journalism and social activism.


Curated Activism Links

I bookmark a lot of articles, posts, video clips and infographics about web activism. Although I tweet the links regularly, in the future I will do some ad hoc curation and provide links to the most interesting (defined solely subjectively) here at The Intangibles.

For this week, in reverse chronological order:

A piece in the New York Times . . . about Change.org, a platform for organizing social change, raises a question I talked about in my presentation to NXNEi this year:

In fact, the growth of Change.org — and other online social activism groups like Avaaz.org and Signon.org, a service created by the founders of MoveOn.org — goes to the heart of a longstanding debate among activists and researchers: How powerful is online activism?

My comment . . . As I said in a presentation I gave to NXNEi conference a few weeks ago, don't ever underestimate where even the 'easisest' form of social activism can go in the hands of a smart organizer.

From the folks at TNW . . . come some examples of how people pissed off at the Murdoch phone hacking scandal took their displeasure to the social "streets", including a Twitter campaign at Follow the Money which automated the act of individuals sending tweets about companies who advertise on News of the World and 160,000 or so messages opposing the BSkyB takeover by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation sent to the British government.

My comment . . . even simple campaigns provide evidence public displeasure and we all know who are most concerned about ideas trending in the demos: media and politicians.

This comment from Lee Rainie, director of Pew’s Internet & American Life Project . . . (in a story at Miller -McCune captures better than I could a personal belief that:

The theory and potential threats that the use of social media were thought to be bringing to politics — pulling people away from real friendships, pulling them away from their communities, distracting them, pulling people into cocooned spaces where they’re not encountering different views — all of that is not sustained in the work that we’ve done.

My comment . . . the kids are going to be alright.


Google+ is - Well - a Plus

Boy do social web natives draw the knives quickly when it comes to Google and Facebook. Google+ hasn't even launched yet but the judgments have come in short order. Right off the bat I want to ask the question Could we be sacrificing reflection, analysis and context simply for speed? But that's for another post.

Right now I think we should be willing to forget 'Wave' and 'Buzz' and give a little credit to Google for - perhaps - starting to get at least part of this social network thing right.   

Not having been invited into the Google+ corona I am for the moment on the outside looking in. But here's a few unbiased and admittedly speculative observations about Google+ based on a tour of the demo.

Google+ 'Circles' will allow you to share specific information with selected groups of people. For organizations which slice and dice their stakeholders into categories in order to tailor communications, this could be a way of structuring a social network to spark conversation and cement relationships. Natalie Bourre, founder of Marketing 4 Health Inc., points out that pharmaceutical companies for example, under the severest restrictions for direct to consumer and direct to patient, might create 'circles' of patients within closed networks. And, I would add, these social circles can take advantage of the user generation, visual, linking and speed elements not usually associated with online patient communities.

As I understand it from this Mashable article, Google+ 'Sparks' is "a recommendation engine for finding interesting content . . . a collection of articles, videos, photos and other content grouped by interest."  Whenever I hear the concept "recommendation engine" I think of promoted tweets and Facebook ads and their ability to target people and interests.

And then there is the group and video chat functions which could take the Facebook wall to a new level allowing people to self-organize online imaged group personal conversation. Companies could use the functions for stakeholder or community meetings, and activists for planning and organizing group education, proselytizing and action.

One final comment . . . sure, it will take a hell of lot to unseat Facebook as the king of social networks. But that doesn't mean that a new social platform from the mighty Google can't make a useful, important (and yes profitable) contribution to the socialization of relationships, marketing and group dynamics.