I don’t really focus on information technology, but seeing as this involves use of digital images I thought it worth posting. So, here is a short video brought to my attention by the excellent Osocio. It is a promo by The Tactical Tech Collective on how rights activists are using the internet for activism. The full length film will be released at the Front Line Club in London in December. Worth looking out for.
Although we have come a long way since online activism consisted of sending an email to the Prime Minister of some country doing bad stuff, we should not get too dazzled by the tech. As one of the activists says in the video ‘basically we are using new tools to do old fashioned activism.’ Some of the tech makes it easier to reach more people, and for them to take action. Some allows us to do stuff we couldn’t do before (e.g sat images). Yet much of the principles are the same – witness and petition style activism. Not necessarily a bad thing, but as things become easier and sparkly I wonder if we get a bit lazy in our thinking – a bit like moving from a film to digital camera, where we get a bit trigger happy?
I constantly come across activism sites and actions that appear to be generating tiny responses, and using tactics that are dubious given their targets. It is not that one tool or tactic is necessarily better than the other, but that we use what is appropriate in order to have impact. Obvious, I know. But still we have poor use of photographs lacking mechanisms for action, videos with no audience, celebrity endorsement drowning out local voices etc. With so much activism taking place on-line and so much content being produced I am often stunned by where to look next and why people aren’t giving their work more thought? And believe me, I have time to look at a LOT of stuff – I am on a one year sabbatical given over to researching this. Thankfully the picture is not all bad, in fact it is rather inspiring, its just that the good stuff is in the minority at the moment. I guess this is inevitable as people grapple with these new toys – again, like learning to use your first digital camera, and realising that in the end it will make you a better photographer.
But with so much to look at and get involved in I wonder whether the good stuff will rise quickly enough to the top? I have this image in my head that this so-called digital revolution is like the Big Bang. It has produced trillions of bits flying around in space that will gradually gravitate into useful groupings and linkages. There will still be trillions of bits being produced but the useful stuff will be more easily accessible and we will be able to find quicker routes to it.
Even when we begin to use the new media with more skill and greater impact we will still need to improve our coordination to make sure the best quality ideas, images and video get used. Strategy, content and coalitions will all still be key.