by Mary Joyce (updated)
What can digital technology actually do for activists? The response to this question usually comes in the form of a long list of tools or a recounting of several case studies. But what if we looked at these tools and cases in the aggregate and focused on the similarities? Could we condense all the uses of digital technology into a few key functions?
This is what scholars and trainers have been trying to do recently and its a question that I’m quite interested in. Here is a list a what I think are the best functional typologies and then I’d be interested to hear what you think of them.
1) Mobilising and Coordinating
2) Documenting and Visualizing
3) Informing and Communicating
4) Bypassing and Accessing
1) Accessing and Discovering Information
2) Disseminating Information and Reporting from the Streets
3) Coordinating and Making Decisions
4) Building Solidarity and a Sense of Collective Identity
1) Conversation starters like blogs, YouTube, and Twitter
2) Collaboration tools including wikis and Google Groups
3) Network builders like social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter
The fourth is mine.
It is still a work in progress:
1) Record: To encoding of information into a digital format.
2) Reveal: To publish or otherwise disseminate information.
3) Protect: To limit access to information
4) Process: To refine raw information into more useful form by grouping it or connecting it to other information
5) Co-Create: To collaborate in order to generate a online or offline product.
6) Aggregate: To bring together information, resources, or people.
These four sources are written by authors, focusing on different niches of digital technology for different intended audiences, yet the challenge is clear: How to you distill hundreds of cases and dozens of tools into a handful of functions that are both exhaustive and mutually exclusive in that they encompass all relevant phenomena while having minimal internal overlap? The goal of creating a list of functions which fulfills the divergent goals of brevity and breadth is not easy.
So, what do you think? Is any of them perfect? How might they be re-mixed?
Images: drcorneilus, Mykl Roventine, AugustaGALiving, boklm / Flickr