Posted by Allison Fine on September 10, 2008
Rebooting America, an anthology of essays that I co-edited with my friends from Personal Democracy Forum, was officially released this week. It’s generated lots of fun conversations about whether and how we an reinvent our American democracy using new, social media. I hope you’ll read the essays (including mine!) and consider buying a copy, too to support our “open-source” publishing model that encourages people to pay a fair vaue for our creative effort.
C’mon, take a peek!
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: personal democracy forum, Rebooting America | Comments Off
Posted by Allison Fine on July 10, 2008
As I noted in a recent post a few days ago, Sally Kohn wrote an editorial that was published in the Christian Science Monitor arguing that online activism is limited in its potential for impacting large-scale social change. I among others disagreed with her assessment. Sally responded yesterday in a thorough and thoughtful post on Daily Kos.
II am glad to see her articulate that social change encompasses both on line and on land activism. I have always believed this and most folks I know who are passionate about social change believe it as well. However, the key sentence that led me to push back against her argument is exacerbated in hers old style thinking about social change. From the editorial:
“By contrast, Internet activism is individualistic. It’s great for a sense of interconnectedness, but the Internet does not bind individuals in shared struggle the same as the face-to-face activism of the 1960s and ’70s did. It allows us to channel our individual power for good, but it stops there.”
From the new post:
“But inequality and racial injustice and corporate imperialism and other hallmarks of our modern society require dramatic, structural reforms — and while the puppet-master powers of the universe might give in to increased financial monitoring in the wake of Enron or increased carbon caps in the wake of Al Gore, let’s be honest: the fundamental built-in inequalities of capitalism and democracy as currently practiced in our country will not be resolved easily.”
Sally thinks big thoughts, that’s what makes her such an interesting person. She is passionate about trying to catalyze large scale reform, but the crux of my problem with this line of thinking; both the individualistic argument is that her entire frame for “radical change” is through a 1960s Civil Rights lens. Sally is a young person who is fluent with new technology, but limiting herself in her vision of radical change to the old organizing models that happened largely in the streets. As I mentioned, I heartily agree that change will happen online and on land. Sally only sees the on land component as mirroring what has happened before. I would challenge her to think about a new model of change; one that is being practiced and refined every day by millions of people around the country and around the world.
At the Personal Democracy Forum two weeks ago, Mark Pesce gave a brilliant keynote address on what happens when we’re all hyperconnected. Mark’s main point is that hyperconnectedness is not a continuation of the old. It is an entirely new model of how we engage with one another — and we don’t know yet what those new models will look like for systemic political change. Social change isn’t about taking old forms of protest and layering some blogs and emails atop. It’s a new way of people connecting with another, of creating scalable networks of activities with enormous capacity to share information, organize and mobilize, raise money and influence the debate in the media. By the very nature of network theory and social media, the way we connect, the way issues arise and are dealt with, will be fundamentally different in this new century. It’s time to leave the 1960s where they belong, in the history books.
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: Christian Science Monitor, Daily Kos, personal democracy forum, sally kohn | 2 Comments »
Posted by Allison Fine on June 24, 2008
Amazing set of speakers at the plenary this morning at PDF.
Doug Rushkoff, the author of Open Source Democracy, opened the session. He gave a passionate denunciation of the oxymoron of putting the ideas of “personal” and “democracy” together. Going back to the origins of the notion of the individual in the Renaissance, Rushkoff explained that the rights of the individual reduce a sense of community and inevitably to more centralized, and powerful, government.
This was reinforced in the last century era of top-down media that mythologized the idea that people as individuals are powerful and that they don’t need one another to collaborate to solve problems. We gave problem solving away to others, elected officials, broadcasters, corporations, in this model. The apex of this model is the idea of “branding.” In Rushkoff’s words, “The brand doesn’t want us engaged with one another , it wants us engaged with it.” Hmmm, fighten words for Millennials who are very engaged with and confident in the social responsibility of various brands.
Rushkoff wasn’t totally negative and said that new social media can create the conditions by which we can finally do things for one another in local, place-based communities.
The next speaker was Morley Winograd the co-author with Michael Hais of, Millennial Makeover: MySpace, YouTube and the Future of American Politics. He gave a great overview of the demographics of Millennials and their idealism. Where we diverged was that Morley is very optimistic about Millennial participation in government and public policy beyond voting. His belief is rooted in a historical perspective of civic change generations like the Greatest Generation, the Civil War generation that preceded them. I’m not as optimistic based on the data that informed the Social Citizens paper. Worth another conversation.
Finally, Larry Lessig, professor at Stanford Law School presented. If you’ve never seen Larry present, it’s a must see – like the Grand Canyon or the Taj Mahal. He gave a very persuasive presentation on the history of corruption in the US government and the grave threats to us now. I don’t have a video link for his presentation this morning, but you can the way he presents here.
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: douglas rushkoff, lawrence lessig, Millennials, personal democracy forum | 1 Comment »
Posted by Allison Fine on June 23, 2008
I am at the Personal Democracy Forum in New York City today and tomorrow.
You can see a live stream of the happenings at http://qik.com/video/111625.
We’ve seen a few fascinating presentations this morning. We saw a demo of Linkfluence, neat spirographs of communities of bloggers through links between blogs.
Jane Hamsher of FireDogLake website was a great example of how a blogger can taken an issue (hers was the Valerie Plame affair), run with it and build up a following. However, I questioned her “actions” boiling down to taking ads out in newspapers. It’s very MoveOn.org. Is that the best we can do, take online passions and take it to on land media?
Then Patrick Ruffini spoke, he’s a conservative blogger. He said, “A small networked group beats a large atomized group any day of the week.” Interesting — but I wonder when those small groups become impenetrable cliques?
Interesting stuff, more to come!
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: firedoglake, moveon.org, personal democracy forum | 4 Comments »