Disconnected Movement: Connected Personal Life
The forces of globalization, commerce and culture are destabilizing communities and smashing the boundaries of influence (political, time, geographic, scale limits). There is widespread recognition that positive change on a variety of big and small issues will need to be driven by loose networks of global and local activists connected together from global warming to the plight of trash pickers in the developing world.
Many advocates also recognize that each movement is fractured, disconnected and very difficult (if not impossible) to coordinate. Ironically, the advocates are simultaneously experiencing how a global culture, commerce, technology and mobility are influencing every aspect of their lives and connecting them to distant lands, friends, problems, family and some coworkers more easily. In very tangible ways, we are dependent on networks of transit, communications, logistics and people as never before in human history.
In each persons inbox there are photo galleries sent by friends,maybe a video clip, maybe a webcam used to connect to a parent, new stories forwarded from friends, music files, invites to social networks, events planned using evite, friends and family that have thier skype and IM address on the footer of emails, etc. etc. Almost none of these are strategic communications efforts from people in the movement.
The raw components for transforming the way to “do” organizing are on the table and staring leaders in the face but they can not figure out how to assemble them to transform their work as change makers. The smallest groups can now reach out to hundreds or thousands of people. Compelling or enraging stories can go global in an instant.
Today’s leaders should shift the way they look at the available assets “in play” on a campaign from a purely organizational-centric (my members, brand, own, control) to a more network-centric (connect, share, co-opt, lead) vision. Once leaders make this shift in perspective, the modern pieces fit together and they will understand how to use the tools of today’s culture in a new and powerful ways to create change. The moment we shift thinking from advocacy 1.0 to advocacy 2.0 we jump into planning for the transition to "Movement as Platform." Our leaders see the world changing around them daily but they have not taken the action yet to adjust organizing strategy to this new world.
There is serious need to inspire a cadre of activists, strategists, campaigners and investors to shift real resources into this new model of activism. Our best thinkers need to move horsepower into thinking about networks, how to build them, how to assess them, training on leadership in a networked world, what can networks do and how to invest in them.
We need to train a new generation of activists on how to think about fueling and harnessing network capacity as a new platform to mobilize and influence positive social change.
Borrowing examples from campaigns, culture and commerce, we need to show that advocacy in a network is going to be analogous to the value shift that occurs comparing a computer and a computer connected to the Internet or the power of a lone doctor fighting SARS vs. the same doctor connected to global health intelligence network working on SARS.
We must help our social change maker reconnect in a deliberate, structured and measured way the new structures of loose networks to create the change we need.