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March 2003
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People turn to the web (email) for News

Although many of us have been kicking around the idea that people are turning online for news a study from Pew says 89 million Americans have used the "Internet in connection with the war in Iraq."

In an interesting read "turning online" Pew lumps this number together email and traditional surfing to collect information. 56% of the 89 million are using email to share information on the story and to influence others.

PEW REPORT

This email newschannel is still in the process of developing and as such our strategies should learn to complement eveolving personal behaviors. News media outreach must be complemented with an interegrated email strategy that will help readers understand your story.

We need to develop new communicaitons "best practices" that include email distribution channels and strategies that push and defend messages with complementary email text that can be forwarded from friend-to-friend. We also need our rapid response networks to have these resources available when the opposition gets a good story we cshould use email to counter point oppoisiton stories.


My Window Sill to Global Warming

I am sick of living at the talepipe of America. (MD 2002 Air Report) Living and working along the major roads in DC has many downsides. However, I am haunted most by the fine powder of sedimentation that sits in my window sill. If I had this black powder tested I am sure I would find all the metals and pollutants that stream from the trucks and cars the drive through my neighborhood as they wind to the outer burbs. I can imagine brakes, engine parts, metals, rubber, asphalt that I see married to the gasses that clog our air unseen. Ground level ozone, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, oxides of nitrogen, and lead.

This pollution is dirty. It makes spring cleaning a task. Unfortunatly, I can not wipe it as easily from my lungs, nor the lungs of my wife and children.

Environmental Defense has initiated an online petition urging support for the Climate Stewardship Act. Environmental Defense aim is to collect one million signatures on the petition. Demand that elected officials act to stop
global warming. Sign the Petition

By signing the petition, Environmental Defense will add you to the Action Alert campaigns. ( They actually make it easy to unsubscribe too)


Create a Dialogue of Images

Digital cameras can open new channels of dialogue between environmental groups and the public.

Not everyone can write a great letter or offer wonderful prose describing their experiences. However, an increasingly large group of people are getting their hands on powerful digital cameras. Amateur photographers that are enraged or inspired by the condition of the environment can now tell their story with images.

If you offer them a channel for this outlet you could be opening new doors for the voice of activists and supporters. You will also collect some very useful content.

Photo Donation Examples:
Images of Volunteer work
Campaign to Ban Land Mines
Underwater Photos to Conservation Groups


Photo Communities:
Photo.net

Photos for Advocacy:
Campaign to Ban Land Mines


What do we really know about email?

Jon Stahl's Journal has an article about Email Newsletters Rising. Jon and the team at OneNW are on the edge of the advocates thinking about email strategy, format and applications to advocates.

At GMT we have been looking at email and "email failures". When is email no longer effective? In 2000, we thought that online collaboration tools were going to be the "killer app" for advocates. We were wrong. Email is still the advocate tool of choice. 95% of all our activism and communication chatter is email based.

However, the 5% market is an important niche. Everyone trust email. If I send you an email I assume that you get it. As more Americans are overwhelmed with email it will become a little less reliable and a little less trusted. Email is not permanent. Email is not context sensitive. Email fails (at times) because it can not handle large attachments and because it does not allow real time collaboration.

I have heard there is a good bit of focus on the format and use of email at Social Ecology, NWF, and DNC. I am also tempted to buy Jakob Neilson new work on email.


International Polling

The Pew Global Attitudes has been polling around the world and jumping on the media (Washington Post, CNN, PBS, NPR) to talk about opinion on the war and America.

The general outcome of the media that I have seen is suggesting we should reign in our foreign policy because it lacks popular support. I am not thrilled about the war but I do not want to step out on this slippery slope that following international (or domestic) polls is any way to design policy.

If global popular opinion (is there really such a thing?) supported the attack of the USSR in the 1960s would we have marched down the path of destruction? Would America have ever entered WWII? Would America give any aid to Israel or Egypt? Does world opinion support women's rights? laws against child labor? criminal rights? the right to vote? freedom of the press?

I do believe that international attention on the war presents a huge opportunity to communicate and shift policy. (If each international peace activists contacted their friends and business contacts in the states and asked them to rethink war support you could create international advocacy network but that is a different blog). I do not believe that international polling results ad value to the debate.

Who is guru is behind the international polling idea? The use of polling results in the US has not produced better policy or better politicians. It has merely taught leaders how to lie to us in ways that are least offensive. It has undermined real leadership that requires vision. The expansion of polling internationally is a bad idea.

The Pew Global Attitudes survey interviewed more than 38,000 people in 44 nations (read huge investment $$$$$) to find "Opinions about the U.S., however, are complicated and contradictory." (DUH)

I am sure that respected pollsters would have huge issues with the bias in questions that are translated into 63 languages and dialects. with the cultural sensitivity of asking people direct questions and with the nature of the questions. (How many countries allow political discourse?)

Someone should put the brakes on this trend before it waste any more money. We should all avoid taking polls and slam media that consistently relies on polling to simplify complex issues.