Why Digital Activism Needs its Own Strategic Knowledge

As the first post on this site I thought it might be useful do answer that pressing question: why does the Meta-Activism Project exist? Why does the field of digital activism need a body of strategic knowledge? Digital activism the practice of using digital technology for political and social change has shown promise around the world, yet great successes have been lacking. Even the most dramatic examples, such as the post-election mobilizations in Iran and Moldova, failed to yield a clear positive result for activists.

The problem, however, lies not with individual activists, but rather with the lack of knowledge resources available to them. Unlike other fields of social change, such as non-violent civil resistance, which has a 3-pillar theory of political transformation, or community organizing, whose practice of power mapping has been in use for decades, there is no body of strategic knowledge unique to the field of digital activism.

With no body of strategy to fall back on, activists and advocates must rely on tactical knowledge (a given tool achieving a given strategic goal in a given context), which changes with every new social media application and case study, or on the pre-digital strategies just discussed. These pre-digital strategies do not accurately represent the radically different communications reality of the digitally networked world, while tactical knowledge is highly contextual and even positive results are difficult to replicate. Without accurate frameworks to guide their actions, digital activists are at a distinct disadvantage, forced to make due with outdated strategies and an endless rise and fall of new social media applications.

The goal of the Meta-Activism Project (MAP) is to build the field of digital activism by creating human and informational infrastructure to catalyze the creation of strategic knowledge. MAP is a convener, instigator, and synthesizer, identifying the most effective interventions to build knowledge and then bringing together key thought leaders to achieve them.

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