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Online_Social_Movements_Notes - Social Movements 2.0 By...

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Social Movements 2.0 By Brendan Smith , Tim Costello & Jeremy Brecher January 15, 2009 What's New and What's Not Social networking is not new and not about technology. It's not about MySpace, Facebook or YouTube; instead it's about what all of us do every day: kindle and expand networks of friends, family, co-workers, etc. In the political context it's about finding and building communities of interest, linking common struggles and acting collectively. Facebook and other online social networking tools are just a new way for people engage in this age-old activity. But at the same time, the online universe is not simply another place for people to congregate, circulate a petition, debate politics or mail out a newsletter. Nor is it simply a new technology like cable television--merely bringing more channels into the home. Instead, the web is increasingly looking like the invention of the printing press, which radically changed the lives of even those who could not read, by spurring the Protestant reformation and scientific revolution. During the past several years, the Internet has evolved from its first generation as a static information portal (e.g. websites) to what is now referred to as Web 2.0, marked by the explosion of user-generated and interactive content. According to Clay Shirky , author of Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing without Organizations and one of the best 1
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communications revolution promises to be the "largest increase in human expressive capability in history." There are five reasons why this revolutionary electronic space is especially relevant to the future of the global social movements: 1. Group Formation : New social networking tools, ranging from Facebook and Twitter to e-mail and listservs, make forming groups--and hopefully social movements--much easier. Every time organizers knock on doors, hold a community meeting or organize a protest the primary goal is to entice individuals into group activity ; they hope to transform isolated actors with little social power into a powerful collective force for social change. The problem is that group formation has always been very hard to do . What is new about tools like Facebook is that they make more varieties of group formation possible. Now, totally on their own, millions of people are finding others who care about the same things they do, whether it be around oyster farming, workplace complaints or radical politics. What the web has revealed is that there were thousands of these latent groups that for hundreds of years were never able to form, because it was too difficult for people to identify others with similar interests and too difficult for them to efficiently communicate when they did. So now even the most transient and marginalized sectors in society can potentially form support and sharing networks . Thousands from the homeless community, for example, have gathered online to share their stories and swap survival strategies, often posting from public libraries. 2
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Online_Social_Movements_Notes - Social Movements 2.0 By...

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