Using the Net to organize (cont.)

More thought on the Using the Net to organize post.

Reading the comments to that post aptly demonstrates the power and reach of the Net. Comments came from Australia, Puerto Rico, and England, as well as the US.

Not only can the Net bring you and your group to the world, it brings the world to you and your local issues.

Excerpts from the comments

From a Puerto Rican activist who mobilized to get the US Navy out of Vieques.

For issues and organizations that are far away from the centers of world power the Web is a great tool. Not only for getting information out that the mainstream world media will not touch but also for organizing people from our area who are now dispersed throughout the world. People can check in and find others in their area who are willing to picket or write letters to the local editors to get the struggle publicity.

Indeed, activists planetwide mobilized successfully on Vieques, and the Net played a major role in spreading the message. But, as always, the real organizing and struggle took place outside of the Net. That’s the crucial point. The Net can bring people to you and get your message to them, but it’s not where the organizing is done.

Andy Newman in England says

One of the myths to dispel is that blogging and internet publishing are an alternative to activism, because the best blogs and web-sites are by people who are well connected and involved. My experience is that in my own small home town people have approached me to get involved based upon reading what we are doing on the web.

Precisely. The Net is a great recruiting tool. And I can usually tell a activist website done by those whose activism is only on the web. They tend to either be pessimistic or naive about what it takes to create change. Real life activists are way more optimistic – and seasoned. They’re involved with it everyday and see the results of their actions.

Dave Riley in Australia weighs in.

Here in Australia the question of r e a c h is very important. The urban centres are condensed on the seaboard and in between is the tyranny of distance that makes democracy very expensive.

What we are finding is that nothing substitutes for meetings either for organising or for ‘touching base’ as it were. There’s no shortcut to the tried and true stuff the left has always relied on.

I suspect that a lot of what we can look forward to has much to do with harnessing the potential of RSS primarily because it can aggregate so many key elements together that our culture of debate, activity, reach out, propaganda, agitation, etc is generated with â┚¬â€ and do that much more consciously as an accessible and clearly articulated pole of attraction. That that pole is located in cyberspace doesn’t really matter so much because it functions as a gateway to the whole shebang which is located, after all, off line.

Lefti on the News

One subject you haven’t raised here is the question of geographical reach. ANSWER, for example (or any other group) only exists in a handful of places. Someone in Podunk, Iowa has no access to any such groups in person, and is never going to be handed a flyer. But the opportunity for them to listen to forums that you (and others) place on the web as mp3s/podcasts (as well as read articles, sign petitions, etc.) is a tremendously valuable way to get them involved as much as they can in their isolated small town. Then, who knows, maybe they’ll organize their own group and the left will spread geographically as well as numerically. Not to mention helping out financially.

This article on business podcasting, Look for Q1, 2007 to be podcast heaven, details why a coming convergence of technology should make podcasting huge. If it’ll be huge for business, it can be huge for the left too. Audio and video podcasts, which are spread by blogs and RSS, can convey a group’s message everywhere. Here at Polizeros, some of our podcasts (which were posted elsewhere too) have been downloaded thousands of times. That’s a lot of reach.