Digital Activism versus Traditional Activism

Molotowcocktail geht bei Rostocker Demonstrati...

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One may suspect that a lot of confusion might be avoided in debates such as those listed at the bottom if those participating in the debates chose to compare like with like. Digital activism is a communication activity. Digital activism is really about spreading messages, consciousness raising, and other communication activities. Its counterpart in “traditional activism” would consist of activities such as posting flyers, making posters, producing newsletters, circulating petitions, giving radio interviews, community television, speeches and petitions…not street protests, sit ins, blockades, pelting stones and Molotov cocktails, getting beaten and arrested by the police. (Perhaps the two might be confused because of the number of “digital activists” in the Middle East who have been imprisoned and beaten for their online information campaigns.) Hacking and other forms of cyber warfare might be the digital counterpart of street protests, but this is not considered in the debates linked to below.

Also left out of the debates is any focused discussion on why “activism” is being separated out from other oppositional activities, such as armed revolution, only to lament that activism (usually represented as the classic street protest) often fails to produce the changes sought (just like digital activism, which for some reason is more readily likened to slacktivism). Yes, it is very easy to merely click “like” in Facebook; likewise, it is just as easy to merely wear a button or patch on one’s jacket. It is difficult to understand why signing a paper petition is less “slacktivist” than signing an electronic petition.

At some point, when we get past the intellectual cul-de-sacs brought on by technological faddism, we might have a discussion that is just focused on activism, less obsessed with the medium or having to apologize for using electronic media.

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Free Blogger Ali Abdulemam

Protest the crackdown against dissent in Bahrain, and the imprisonment and torture of human rights defenders and web activists—support the Free Ali Abdulemam campaign:

“To say ‘I want complete democracy now’ is not good for anyone. Throwing open the political process too abruptly will only leave Islamists running the show.” – Sheik Mohammed Bin Ateyatalla Al-Khalifa, president of the Royal Court and a powerful member of the kingdom’s royal family.

Bahrain is a dictatorship ruled by an ethnic and religious minority, that has toyed with some liberalization, and now moved back to smashing any opposition.

According to Mohamed ElGohary on Global Voices: Advocacy Ali Abdulemam, a leading Bahraini blogger and Global Voices Advocacy author, was arrested on 05 September 2010 by the Bahraini authorities for allegedly spreading “false news” on the portal, “one of the most popular pro-democracy outlets in Bahrain, amidst the worst sectarian crackdown by the government in years, and accusations of a supposed ‘terror network’ involving several political and human rights activists.”

Bahrain’s ruling regime has accused opposition activists of a “terror campaign” (Al Jazeera: “Bahrain dissidents face charges,” 05 September 2010; BBC: “Bahrain accuses Shia activists of ‘terror campaign’” 04 September 2010). The accusation, given that the majority of the nation is Shia, that the opposition is somehow allied with Iran and doing its bidding, seeking to overthrow the regime by force and engaging in “propaganda.” Human rights activists imprisoned by the regime have allegedly suffered torture. The Bahrain Center for Human Rights is also reporting that the state has cracked down on dozens of websites. In a country where the local media self-censors, and reporters from Al Jazeera are banned, these sites are the only sources of alternative news and information. The BCHR has issued the following demands:

Thus, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights demands the following from the Bahraini government:

  • To lift the ban and blockage against all public affairs, cultural, social, legal, political and religious websites.
  • The withdrawal of all actions that would restrict freedom of opinion and expression, or prevent the transmission of information.
  • To commit to its international obligations and respect all forms of freedom of expression as enshrined in international conventions and treaties.
  • To amend the Press Law No. 47 of 2002 and make it in line with international standards of human rights.


See also:

See Ali Abdulemam’s blog:

If you are a blogger and value freedom of expression and the right to dissent, post your support for Ali Abdulemam on your blog. It could be as simple as just posting the YouTube video above, and a link to

For more background, read “The Internet in Bahrain: breaking the monopoly of information,” by Fahad Desmukh, who is a Karachi-based journalist and former Bahraini blogger.

Ali Abdulemam has been imprisoned for political reasons before, as this report from the Wall Street Journal from 11 May 2005 explains—see “After High Hopes, Democracy Project In Bahrain Falters — Gulf Kingdom Reverses Course As Calls for Change Swell; Lessons for the Middle East — A Web Site Rallies Opposition.” Abdulemam is a member of the al-Wifaq Islamic Society, Bahrain’s largest opposition movement. The U.S., unsurprisingly, has been equivocal about supporting democratization in Bahrain, even while touting it for Iraq:

“For the U.S., Bahrain presents a quandary. Construction crews are building new facilities at the headquarters of the Fifth Fleet near the capital Manama. The Pentagon is pressing for port dredging that would allow U.S. aircraft carriers to dock, not just anchor off the coast.

“But even as the Bush administration cheers the idea of democratization here, some U.S. officials privately share the royal family’s concern that Islamists might hijack the political process. They also worry that Iran might expand its influence over a key strategic stronghold.”

The George W. Bush administration had declared Bahrain “an important example of a nation making the transition to democracy.” In 2002, the U.S. gave it the official status of a “major non-North Atlantic Treaty Organization ally” and started negotiating a bilateral free-trade agreement, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Related Links:

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Recent Resources on the Haystack Fiasco and Internet Freedom

Technology fetishes and imaginary revolutions — Haystack and the hype” on War in Context, provides us with a good overview of the hype surrounding Haystack as a way of supporting Iranian dissidents, and the level of support and applause it attracted from the U.S. government and mainstream media. The article also contains a review of its spectacular failure and the profoundly unethical nature of this anti-censorship experiment. Beyond that, the article also raises questions about trust, risk and expertise:

“As technological expertise has become progressively more specialized, the gap between user knowledge and producer knowledge becomes increasingly wider — to a point where for the vast majority of people, every piece of technology upon which we depend operates in ways utterly beyond our understanding.

“Whereas the ability to understand how things work once formed many strands of common knowledge, we now share common ignorance. We pursue knowledge down much narrower tracks and on this basis repeatedly make naive assumptions about expertise whose quality we are unqualified to assess.”

For more on the Haystack fiasco, see:

  • The Great Internet Freedom Bluff of Digital Imperialism: Thoughts on Cyber Diplomacy, Cargo Cult Digital Activism… and Haystack,” at Cultural Bytes— “Projects like Haystack reveal so much more about our own fears of the world. But the bottom line is that Haystack was blown out of proportion from the very beginning for something that it wasn’t. The Haystack Affair, however, is not an isolated incident; it is a continuation of projects coming from Westerners who place their own narratives on people and situations they really don’t fully understand….” A great post for its useful notes on “digital imperialism;”
  • A great article from Jillian C. York, “Haystack and Media Irresponsibility” : “What I don’t think has been raised loudly enough is an objection to the manner in which the media handled the nascent tool….” –her dissection of the ample flaws and gullibility of the media is methodical, comprehensive, and appropriately devastating. Her conclusions? “I certainly blame Heap and his partners–for making outlandish claims about their product without it ever being subjected to an independent security review, and for all of the media whoring they’ve done over the past year. But I also firmly place blame on the media, which elevated the status of a person who, at best was just trying to help, and a tool which very well could have been a great thing, to the level of a kid genius and his silver bullet, without so much as a call to circumvention experts;”
  • Evgeny Morozov, “Were Haystack’s Iranian testers at risk?” at Foreign Policy; “Haystack is the Internet’s equivalent of the Bay of Pigs Invasion. It is the epitome of everything that is wrong with Washington’s push to promote Internet Freedom without thinking through the consequences and risks involved…” – and this interesting quote from a member of the Censorship Research Center that is behind Haystack, relating U.S. foreign policy to software production, revealing a public-private cyberactivism industry: “I know that circumvention tool projects, commercial or non-profit, are by in large dependent on the government funding. The government funding is highly policy driven. If Iran’ss nuclear issue is on the top of the news, this translates to various sorts of ‘democracy funds’ and some of those funds end up in the hand of circumvention community. There is pretty much no other easy way of funding these projects for their service to countries like Iran.”
  • Evgeny Morozov, “The Great Internet Freedom Fraud: How Haystack endangered the Iranian dissidents it was supposed to protect,” at Slate; “It’s not surprising that the discourse about America in Iran would be infected by conspiracy theories. But this is what happens when you make an unthinking push to liberate the world one tweet and one Google search at a time. Buzzwords like ‘21st-century statecraft’ and ‘Internet freedom’ sound good in PowerPoint presentations, but the State Department can’t just snap its fingers and fix everything for Iranians by creating a free Internet. The reality is that ‘digital diplomacy’ requires just as much oversight and consideration as any other kind of diplomacy;”
  • Evgeny Morozov, “One Week Inside the Haystack,” at Foreign Policy;
  • Cryptography, Iran and America—Worse than useless: An American government attempt to help Iranian dissidents backfires,” at The Economist;
  • Needles in a Haystack: A 20-something named Austin Heap has found the perfect disguise for dissidents in their cyberwar against the world’s dictators,” at Newsweek, containing (among other items worthy of note) a simple yet often missed admission: “democratizing technologies were supposed to lead to democracy. They didn’t. Only later did people realize that the technology was just a tool; what mattered was how it was used” ;

(Heap once declared: “Don’t piss off hackers who will have their way with you. A mischievous kid will show you how the Internet works.” YAWN. Here’s a ZA memo to the self-empowered, tech-addicted, twenty-something gurus who slay dragons on World of Warcraft and say “game on” to real world opponents: um, n00b, you just got pwned.)

Internet Freedom?

Sami Ben Gharbia authored an extensive article, receiving a lot of positive commentary, titled “The Internet Freedom Fallacy and Arab Digital Activism.” This is a must read. The focus of his article is “grassroots digital activism in the Arab world and the risks of what seems to be an inevitable collusion with U.S foreign policy and interests.” He is especially concerned about the “Internet Freedom” mantra emanating from the U.S. State Department, and how Arab digital activism could become coopted and thus defeated as an adjunct of U.S. foreign policy. He notes that “none of the most successful digital activism campaigns and initiatives that have marked this field with innovative and creative approaches in dealing with sensitive topics have been funded by any of the Western governments, institutions, or donors.” Of especial importance is the article’s spotlight on the revolving door between social media corporations and the U.S. government, and U.S. State Department funded research at Harvard that we might call “Internet Terrain Mapping.” Is the U.S. interested in “internet freedom,” or is it just interested in such freedom when it comes to Iran and China?

Gharbia notes in this vein the ideology behind the anti-censorship software:

“While Haystack and Freegate are the kind of ‘ideological circumvention tools’ openly targeting specific countries, mainly China and Iran (like many NGOs that have been created in the West since the 2009 post-election protest), it’s overwhelming clear that other circumvention tools providers and promoters, who claim to address Internet filtering globally, have their attention drawn towards almost the same countries. Sesawe, that presents itself as ‘a global alliance dedicated to bringing the benefits of uncensored access to information to Internet users around the world,’ has followed its counterparts’ pattern in giving a preferential attention to Iran and China in disregard with what’s going on in other countries ‘where Sesawe matters.’ Psiphon, the award winning anti-censorship technology, is giving much attention in the form of tweets to Iran and China too and has been promoting Psiphon proxy nodes via Twitter.”

He summarizes, “there are many other reasons to be skeptical about the prospects of the US involvement in support of Internet freedom under authoritarian regimes that can cause a huge damage to that same freedom, thereby achieving the opposite results than the ‘well-intentioned’ and proclaimed ones.” He examines the work of several U.S. think tanks and U.S. funded “dissident” projects, and calls for Middle East activists to remain independent and apart from such efforts.

“Internet Freedom,” we might note, is rich in hypocrisy when mouthed by U.S. officials, given the fact that the U.S. itself engages in Web censorship, with at least 60 websites on the U.S. SDN list that have been shut down. The U.S.’ persistent jamming of the Taleban’s English-language website—lest we might, as supposedly independent and free citizens, learn something—shows how Internet freedom is anathema to U.S. strategic interests, even if it means keeping its own citizens uninformed and in the dark.

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The Anthropology of Hackers

The Anthropology of Hackers” is an article in The Atlantic by Gabriella Coleman (anthropologist in media, culture, and communication at NYU), where she essentially takes us through the content and thinking behind her course on hackers, week by week. It is perhaps the only time I have seen a course syllabus turned into an interesting article.

Coleman provides some notes on her treatment of the concept, “hackers”:

A “hacker” is a technologist with a love for computing and a “hack” is a clever technical solution arrived through a non-obvious means….Hackers tend to value a set of liberal principles: freedom, privacy, and access; they tend to adore computers; some gain unauthorized access to technologies, though the degree of illegality greatly varies (and much, even most of hacking, by the definition I set above, is actually legal). But once one confronts hacking empirically, some similarities melt into a sea of differences; some of these distinctions are subtle, while others are profound enough to warrant thinking about hacking in terms of genres or genealogies of hacking — and we compare and contrast various of these genealogies…such as free and open source software hacking and the hacker underground.

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Articles on Wikileaks

This is a list of all of the articles about Wikileaks, or using Wikileaks data, that I have written to date:

  1. On Al Jazeera: 17 September 2010, الهجوم على ويكيليكس.. هل من مخرج؟
  2. On Al Jazeera: 08 August 2010: نواقص في تسريبات ويكيليكس
  3. On CounterPunch: 11 August 2010: Unhinged at the US State Department and Pentagon: A War on Wikileaks? – also republished on Mathaba — also translated into Spanish, appearing on Spain’s Rebelión, “¿Guerra contra Wikileaks? Desquiciados en el Departamento de Estado y el Pentágono;” and the latter became the basis for this article in the Venezuelan newspaper, Correo del Orinoco, “EEUU amenaza a los soldados que busquen consultar los documentos – El Pentágono pretende callar a Wikileaks.”
  4. On CounterPunch: 02 August 2010: Reason for Celebration, Cause for Concern: The Wikileaks Afghan War Diary — reprinted by Alternet as “7 Reasons Why We Should Celebrate Wikileaks, and 8 Reasons It’s Not the Panacea Some Are Calling It: The release of thousands of documents from the failed war in Afghanistan is a major milestone that should be celebrated. But it also opens up questions about Wikileaks.”
  5. In the Conflicts Around Wikileaks, Is Julian Assange Really the Problem? Zero Anthropology, 04 September 2010.
  6. Don’t Hide Behind the Women: What is Relevant in the Story About Julian Assange and the Rape Accusation? Zero Anthropology, 24 August 2010.
  7. The Pentagon’s Letter to Wikileaks. Zero Anthropology, 19 August 2010.
  8. Wikileaks: Bradley Manning, Sweden as Safe Haven, and Pentagon Propaganda. Zero Anthropology, 18 August 2010.
  9. Heroism in Doubt: Canadian War Mythology Takes a Hit from Wikileaks. Zero Anthropology, 12 August 2010.
  10. Diary Dig: Searching the Wikileaks Afghan War Diary Made Easy. Zero Anthropology, 04 August 2010.
  11. Visual Intelligence: IED Attacks from Wikileaks’ Afghan War Diary. Zero Anthropology, 03 August 2010.
  12. Continued: Debating the Pros and Cons of Wikileaks’ Afghan War Diary. Zero Anthropology, 02 August 2010.
  13. Revealing the Human Terrain System in Wikileaks’ Afghan War Diary. Zero Anthropology, 01 August 2010.
  14. Human Terrain System in Wikileaks’ Afghan War Diary: Searching for Evidence of the Positive. Zero Anthropology, 31 July 2010.
  15. Wikileaks’ Afghan War Diary: Problems to Note, More to Come on Human Terrain Teams. Zero Anthropology, 28 July 2010.
  16. Human Terrain Teams in Wikileaks’ Afghan War Diary: Raw Data. Zero Anthropology, 27 July 2010.
  17. Collateral Murder: U.S. Soldiers Killing Civilians in Cold Blood. Zero Anthropology, 05 April 2010.

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Interviewed Today on Al Jazeera: Social Media, Soft Power, and American Empire

Al Jazeera Arabic invited me to participate in its hour-long program, In Depth (19 April 2010; 3:00-4:00pm EST), and I was happy to do so via satellite earlier this evening. One of the main topics that I was asked to speak about concerned the use of social networking sites (and I focused mostly on Twitter) for the purposes of both surveillance of citizens at home and for exercising state power abroad.

The host of the program made specific reference to what he called my “famous article” on the so-called “Twitter revolution” in Iran (see: America’s Iranian Twitter Revolution), which was this site’s most read article for 2009, the English version exceeding 18,000 readers at last count. Al Jazeera’s Arabic channel had itself translated the article into Arabic and posted it on its site last year (see: ثورة تويتر.. أحلام أميركا في إيران) and others translated it into Farsi and posted it on an Iranian website (see: جوگيری اينترنتي/ انقلاب تويتري). The article also led to my being interviewed by Egypt’s Amira Howeidy for Al-Ahram Weekly, later reproduced in Lebanon’s As-Safir newspaper. The article has since been translated by others in Spanish and posted on Cuba Debate. In the end, I have no idea how many times it has been read, or where it has been read the most.

The program itself was excellent for its discussion and coverage of the politics, economics, and ethics of social network sites in ways that one does not normally find in North American mainstream media. For example, examining the ways that Google search results favour articles that are most flattering and supportive of Israel, which is the contrary case for searches for Muslim and Arabic resources. The other guest on the program (name to follow) related his experiences editing in Wikipedia on the topic of Jerusalem, which still says that it is the capital of Israel…even though no country on earth recognizes it as that. When he tried to alter the entry to indicate that it is contested territory, he was told by Wikipedia editors that he was being disruptive and was eventually banned. The program host and the other guest spoke at length about Israeli use of social media to push Zionist propaganda, while also highlighting who sits the boards of the various social media companies and their allegiances to Israel. This was fascinating and very enlightening.

For my part, I focused on:

  • Israeli government uses of social media such as Twitter and YouTube during the January 2009 war in Gaza;
  • the ways that commercial imperatives, and labeling certain arenas as areas of concern for “national security,” impel data mining and the ultimate elimination of everyone’s privacy on the Web;
  • the manner in which social networking sites that allow for anonymity (such as Twitter) can be used by intelligence agencies and propaganda arms of the state to seed discussions with misinformation, while using the same sites for surveillance;
  • the utility of “crowd sourcing” as a foreign policy tool;
  • the concept of “soft power” and how it relates to the projection of an ideology of U.S. domination through texts and images via social media;
  • the U.S. support for the Iranian opposition and its allocation of $50 million to support the Iranian opposition’s use of social media, plus Farsi-language broadcasting into Iran by organs of the U.S. (see Subtitle D – Victims of Iranian Censorship Act or VOICE Act, of H.R. 2647: National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010; also see, “U.S. changing focus of Iran policy,” Los Angeles Times, 09 March 2010; “Iran accuses U.S. of seeking to use Internet against it,” The Washington Post, 26 January 2010);
  • I also spoke of how entities such as Google, Twitter, and YouTube are aligned to the goals of the U.S. State Department and frequently participate in various foreign policy ventures with it (such as the Alliance of Youth Movements), in targeting governments which the U.S. opposes (more on this below, but see this for now: “Google honours Iranian women bloggers,” AFP, 11 March 2010);
  • Back to “soft power,” I alluded to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s initiatives — see “State Department on Civil Society 2.0 Initiative,” U.S. Department of State, 03 November 2009, and, “Secretary Clinton Announces ‘Civil Society 2.0’” — and attempts to create what can be called “genetically modified grassroots movements” (see: “The Fog Machine: Iran, Social Media and the Rise of Genetically Modified Grassroots Organizations,” CounterPunch, 22 June 2009, by Jack Z. Bratich). See also Hillary Clinton, “Remarks on Internet Freedom,” 21 January 2010; “Tweet About Democracy,” U.S. Department of State, 07 January 2010;
  • In particular, I emphasized for Al Jazeera viewers that they begin to familiarize themselves with the workings of the U.S. State Department’s organ, the Alliance of Youth Movements (more below), and examine how it uses social media to create groups in opposition to governments targeted by the U.S., followed by protest actions on the ground. This is conspiracy, as in factual conspiracy, and it is self-documenting.

At the end of the program, in the final minute in fact, I was asked a very large question. Luckily, thanks to my experience in Twitter, I have learned to produce sound bites (sometimes spelled bytes). Moreover, understanding that I was being simultaneously translated into Arabic (I could hear the translator speaking in my ear piece), I spoke slowly, often repeating the last few words before going forward, and keeping the overall number of words to the bare minimum. The final question I was asked by the host was whether I thought the West would be successful in dominating other societies through its use of social media. My response consisted entirely of the following points, almost verbatim now:

  • Ultimately, no;
  • Communication is not the same thing as understanding;
  • Information is not the same thing as meaning;
  • The best way to provoke a nationalist and localist backlash is for the U.S. to bombard other societies with its ideas, opinions, products, values, etc., and this has happened time and again.

This means that I am not a fan of the old “cultural imperialism” model in media studies, except as it applies to the actual economics of media dominance.

Finally, having promised three times so far to get to “more” about the Alliance of Youth Movements, I recommend to interested readers that they examine the following materials on their own:

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Notes on Shirky, Here Comes Everybody, Chs. 8, 9, 10, 11, and Epilogue


The Power of Organizing without Organizations
Clay Shirky
London: Penguin, 2008

The notes below are direct transcriptions, except for what appears in square brackets.

  • In the developed world, the experience of the average twenty-five-year-old is one of substantial overlap between online and offline friends and colleagues. The overlap is so great, in fact, that both the word and the concept of ‘cyberspace’ have fallen into disuse. The internet augments real-world social life rather than providing an alternative to it. Instead of becoming a separate cyberspace, our electronic networks are becoming deeply embedded in real life (196)
  • even in a mediated age, people crave real human contact (199)
  • one of the essential conundrums of social capital—inclusion implies exclusion (202)
  • Something is different [now]. It is easier for groups to form without social approval (205)
  • The enormous visibility and searchability of social life means that the ability for the like-minded to locate one another, and to assemble and cooperate with one another, now exists independently of social approval or disapproval (207)
  • Networked organizations are more resilient as a result of better communications tools and more flexible social structures, but this as true of terrorist networks or criminal gangs as of Wikipedians or student protesters….What are we going to do about the negative effects of freedom? (210)
  • social capital is that store of behaviors and norms in any large group that lets its members support one another (222)
  • Bonding capital is an increase in the depth of connections and trust within a relatively homogeneous group (222)
  • bridging capital is an increase in connections among relatively heterogeneous groups (222) [if the first group above is a homogeneous one, one might assume there is a grammatical issue in the second statement. Instead it might be that Shirky means that bridging capital produces a hetereogenous association of homogeneous groups]
  • The tightness of a large social network comes less from increasing the number of connections that the average member of the network can support than from increasing the number of connections that the most connected people can support (225)
  • can we say anything useful about the future social landscape? Yes, but only by switching focus from the individual tools themselves to the kinds of groups the tools are expected to support. Two of the most critical questions are ‘Does the group need to be small or large?’ and ‘Does it need to be short-lived or long-lived?’ (266)
  • no effort at creating group value can be successful without some form of governance (283)
  • One of the reasons e-mail campaigns continue, despite their near uselessness, is as a public show of force. The individual communications have been denatured, so the battle has moved to public claims of how many mails were sent, which play out in the court of public opinion, not in the halls of Congress. MoveOn, and every other organization that lobbies Congress, would be better served by a less convenient, more expensive tool, one that took real effort to use and so communicated real commitment on the part of the people writing in (287)
  • social tools don’t create new motivations so much as amplify existing ones (294)
  • The transistor and the birth control pill are quite unlike one another, but they do have one thing in common: they are both human-scale inventions that were pulled into society one person at a time, and they mattered more than giant inventions pushed along by massive and sustained effort. They changed society precisely because no one was in control of how the technology was used, or by whom (300)
  • we are going to get more groups, many more groups, than have ever existed before (303)
  • we will have to restructure society, from a strategy of prevention to one of monitoring and reaction, as a side effect of more control of media slipping into the hands of the citizens (309)
  • Despite the number of stories about collective action, though, they have one thing in common: they all rely on ‘stop energy,’ on an attempt to get some other organization or group to capitulate to the demands of the collected group (311)
  • Perhaps collective action is more focused on protesting than creating because collective action is simply harder than sharing or collaborating. This at least has a ring of truth about it—collective action is harder to get going because all the participants stand or fall together….As a result, collective action requires a much higher commitment to the group and the group’s shared goals than things like sharing of pictures or even collaborative creation of software (312)
  • we’re about to experience a revolution in collective action, and the driver of that revolution will be new legal structures that will support productive collective action (313-314)
  • What the GPL and related licenses allowed these groups to do was not simply to protest against existing structures, but to compete against them (315)
  • Governments and even companies are accustomed to being the target of protests, so as protests coordinated by social media become normal, their effectiveness will fall. A more remarkable and longer-lived change will be in the offing, though, if people are able to start using these tools to bypass government or commercial entities in favor of taking on problems directly. If this happens, it will be a far bigger challenge to the previous institutional monopolization on large-scale action than anything we have seen to date (318)
  • For us [those with ample life experience that is pre-internet], no matter how deeply we immerse ourselves in new kinds of technology, it will always have a certain provisional quality (320)
  • In times of revolution, though, the experienced among us make the opposite mistake [the opposite of thinking every new tool is revolutionary]. When a real, once-in-a-lifetime change comes along, we are at risk of regarding it as a fad (320)
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