Another in a series on social web militancy . . .
Avaaz has been receiving a lot of attention as a platform for organizing social and political activism. Naturally, as with activist Facebook pages, questions are raised and doubts expressed about its value in actually moving people to do something other than click support or defiance.
In The Guardian, Patrick Kingsley asks the question whether Avaaz is a midwife of activism or just another way for people to feel good while letting others take transformative action,
So clicktivism – as Avaaz's brand of online activism is sometimes known – is easy. So easy, in fact, that it often gets a bad press. Cynics argue that signing an online petition, like joining a Facebook group, takes mere seconds, achieves little, and doesn't encourage clicktivists to engage properly with the issues concerned . . . But Avaaz begs to differ. It argues that its work has both greatly engaged the public, and had comprehensive effects that extend far beyond cyberspace.
My Comment . . . Avaaz often works simply because its campaigns are meticulously organized to provide people with a means of moving to action, even if the action is just a bit of street theatre.
Not all advocacy is of the let's-oppose-anything-corporate/mainstream variety. Politicians in steadily incrasing numbers are using social web tools to move consitutents to get behind an idea, policy or candidate.
The title of a USA Today article may be a breathless 'Congress quick to adopt social media tools' (adoption rates have hardly been 'quick'), but it attests to the ease with which social tools can be used for moving ideas forward. It reports on a study out of the Congressional Management Foundation which concludes that "Congessional staff feel the benefits of using social media outweigh the risks."
In the same vein, Zachary Sniderman in Mashable also offers this:
"Social media, and particularly Twitter, have become a type of soapbox in America, on which many politicians are able to speak directly to their constituents."
My Comment . . . If Twitter is considered a useful soapbox for the fulminations of politicians, hoping to arouse constituents, then there is no reason to think it can't serve the same purpose for social activists.