Saturday, June 24, 2006

Alaa is Free!

Alaa was freed on Thursday! (Read the details here.) This is wonderful news. My question: what effect did our online activism have? If they did have an effect how have we spread our knowledge to other activists can mount similar campaigns?

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Activist Blogging Memes

Jon Garfunkel at Civilities has raised the question of how to keep point-and-click activists interested in an activist campaign over the longterm. One method we've developed recently is the counter blog badge that updates itself every 24 hours to show how many days a political prisoner has been detained. The badge will be a constant reminder to the blogger and his readers of the detained activst's plight. Jon has also suggested badges that incorporate a ribbon of RSS feed at the bottom that would scroll the latest news of the detainee's case.

This is great when you only have one or two campaigns, but what if you have 300? Bloggers can't be expected to put dozens of badges on their blogs. We need to develop methods of participation that can be worked into posts as well. This is why I am suggesting the creation of activist blog memes.

A meme is a small piece of self-replicating information, such as advertising jingle, that is spread from person to person and remains virtually unchanged. In the blogosphere, a meme is often a question or series of questions that are circulated among blogger (such as a "meme of 4" which asks a replicator to list 4 jobs they've had, 4 favorite places, etc.) Memes are popular because they demand creativity within a narrowly defined parameter, and thus involve mental effort but are still easy to accomplish.

Ethan Zuckerman noted in his blog that the googlebomb for Alaa was a form of meme, in that it asked people to use a particular text to link to a particular website, but still asked people to be creative in how they did this linking. Although the googlebomb failed, it was successful as a meme in that it engaged bloggers in activism who might otherwise not have seen themselves as activists. It made activism fresh, fun, and personal. I hope that other activism blog memes will be developed in the future. They would facilitate the spread of activist campaigns in the blogosphere.

categories: digital activism_, google-bombing for Alaa_

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