WHEI - Women are the First Environment : Speaking out at Live Earth
Notes and Questions: Are you also building the capacity of the network to serve itself?

PressThink: Just the Sum of Us: James Surowiecki On What Crowds Can and Cannot Do

This is food for thought.....

Q: Do you think that crowds’ clearly eager participation in sites like NewsFutures.com, which you discuss in your book, voting for “American Idol” contestants, and the countless other ways wired first-world life has become a lively participatory democracy, can or will re-translate into a more active, in-person engagement with lower-tech forms of collective action, like voting in greater numbers, political protests, environmental activism, global crises, and labor organizing?

A: The simple answer is: I don’t know. I think that it’s clear that lots and lots of people want their opinions to be heard — and want them to, in some sense, make a difference. And I hope that that will, at the very least, translate into people voting in greater numbers, and even contributing to political campaigns in greater numbers. (It’s possible we actually saw some evidence of this in 2006.) But there is a big gap between dialing a call-in number on “American Idol” and participating in a demonstration, let alone actually doing real labor organizing. The thing about lower-tech forms of collective action is that they’re often hard, not just in the sense of being demanding in terms of time and energy, but also in the sense that they require tremendous amounts of patience and a willingness to defer immediate gratification. Unlike electing Jordin Sparks this year’s American Idol, social and political change does not happen in a few hours, or even a few months. So I’m not sure we can expect the “democracy” of the Net and of modern media to lead to an efflorescence of real-world activism. But that doesn’t mean that participatory democracy in the wired world is unimportant. We just have to be realistic about what it can accomplish


What if there is another way? I agree change is demanding in terms of time and energy. I agree that change requires patience or a willingness to defer gratification. The problem is that our applications and uses of the web don't compile small contributions of time and energy or sequence projects so that they can be done over time

...or do they www.mediavolunteer.org , wikipedia, newassignment.net. congressin30seconds.org etc..

The very edge of thinking on new online organizing is exactly focused on this issue. Change is hard. Change takes time, energy and intelligence. Build the next generation of organizing tools to aggregate time, energy and intelligence to solve very big problems by compiling more realistic contributions by people into something in aggregate that can significantly transform real-world activism.

I am not kidding. Try it. See what giving 10 minutes of skill and intelligence feels like www.mediavolunteer.org . thanks.

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