In the often misunderstood world of digital activism, 2011 will be remembered as a landmark year. Historic revolutions, turbulent aftermaths, fierce debates and misunderstood claims were rampant. While the digital activism idea space was abuzz with cyber-utopians and constant rebuttals from cyber-pessimists, few conversations focused on understanding the evolving field itself. Looking back at the year in blog posts on the Meta-Activism Project, there were a few that stood out for me in understanding the idea of digital activism.
An application is not fundamentally a liberation or repression technology, it depends on how it is used.
Using observations from the social movement theory, this post spells out four requirements to classify a technology as a liberation technology – it must transmit political information; be accessible to a large segment of the population; allow for effective utilization and protection of privacy.
This post showcased author Mary Joyce’s very interesting observation about the nature of induction and deduction in the current digital activism scenario and whether the application of theories built from a much earlier context would now be relevant. The author concludes in favor of inductive reasoning, a path that many commentators in the field don’t yet prefer.
Focusing on a fantastic talk by Ethan Zuckerman of Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society and co-founder of Global Voices, this post spoke of the tunnel vision that digital activism is often plagued by. Individual case studies don’t constitute an entire field. The existence of false dichotomies results in missing the big picture.
Overall, this was a great year for digital activism and reading literature that provides more clarity about its core meaning gives hope for a far better 2012!