Meetings are an addictive, highly self-indulgent activity that corporations and other organizations habitually engage in only because they cannot masturbate.
Occupy is kinda like that, too.
“Facebook activism succeeds not by motivating people to make a real sacrifice but by motivating them to do the things that people do when they are not motivated enough to make a real sacrifice. We are a long way from the lunch counters of Greensboro.”
Malcolm Gladwell, from Small Change: Why the revolution will not be tweeted
The more I thought about this article, the more puzzling it became: it is as if Gladwell had no experience or memory of earlier forms of networked applications, like Gopher and Usenet. Sure, there are people who will look at those applications/protocols and react like I’m talking about the time before the wheel was invented - and that’s unfair. But the larger point that Gladwell misses is that social networking systems have one function while collaborative software (also referred to as groupware, workgroup support systems or simply group support systems) is the tool that people need to use to organize themselves to become effective. This isn’t a point that Gladwell missed alone - many progressive activists miss this too; I can’t find Net Roots explicitly promoting a workshop on implementing collaborative software - something I believe is necessary and needs to be elevated.
Effective political activism is run as an enterprise. Effective activists treat their objective like a job. Goals are set and managed inside of a project management paradigm. Reviews of programs, tactics and accomplishments of previous time periods are conducted to analyze failures and find ways to improve processes. In more pedestrian language, you look at how you failed and screwed up to see how you can avoid those mistakes in future endeavors. Effective activism isn’t as fun, takes more time and intention than it does to plant or harvest corn in Farmville. If it sounds like a job, that’s because it is. If a person is paid to be an activist, they are more likely to work at it as a political or social conservative because the right-wing is getting dump trucks full of money to hire people to be activists; the center-to-left have to accept that they need to work as hard without the same kind of remuneration. The center-to-left needs to recognize that something like Microsoft Outlook or Lotus Notes will have to replace MySpace or Facebook on their screens, at least part of the time, if they are going to put their money where their ideals are.