The Political Lessons of the Do Not Call List
In These Times on Network-Centric Advocacy Issues

Technology-Amplified Collective Action

Howard Rheingold kicks out some much needed message volume on the importance of using connectivity to turbo charge collective action. His voice adds to the handful of activists promoting new campaigns and encouraging groups to think about decentralized "wings" that are designed to exploit the connectivity of our society.

Activists should now concentrate their efforts in this last sphere—technology-amplified collective action. The above examples are just the beginning. The capabilities of media are multiplying the number of people who use their mobile phones as Internet connections and text-messaging media is growing explosively. And activists are only beginning to experiment with ways to multiply their ability to organize collective action.

Influencing elections and legislation is the sine qua non of effectiveness. In the next few years, peer-to-peer, self-organized, citizen-centric movements enabled by smart mob media will either demonstrate real political influence, be successfully contained by those whose power they threaten, or recede as a utopian myth of days gone by. What progressives know now, and what we do soon, will decide which of those scenarios unfolds

Speed counts. The activist community needs to use the window of opportunity created by the current climate to build the infrastructure for network-centric action. We need straegies that build Strong social ties, common story, shared communications channels and technologies, shared network support services (HR, legal and fundraising mechanism) and a "seeded" team of network catalysts to plot pilot campaigns. We need to "grease the skids" for citizen-centric movements enabled by smart mob media.

These networked campaigns are not magic. We just need to think of more ways to engage the non-joiners and plot campaigns that feed off the waves of interest in a society that moves too fast.