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The Machine is US... Movement Organizer Inspiration

A little outrage for Thomas L. Friedman

First...I often like what THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN writes... but today....where does this guy get off pushing on netnatives gen for not having enough outrage or courage? You looked at the advertising that qualifies for news lately? In his latest "Generation Q" (obviously a lame test balloon for a term in a new book.) He stabs us organizers in the back...no face. He wants outrage. I got some outrage for you Friedman...Psssst just popped open a can of it...

If I see one more hippie trash talk modern activists because we are not out in the street getting high and smoking reefer at the daily lovein ...i am really going to go nuts. Huge numbers of the baby boom and bomb generation (there is a term for your book) of (which Friedman is a card carrying member) continues to set up these false divisions of on-land and online organizing... I will go nuts.

He writes it, candidates think it, old policy wonks let it permeate their strategy and funders ...(gotta save that for another day...don't get me started...)

What world is he in as he wrote "Generation Q" ? When was the last time a bunch of luddites accomplished ANYTHING in modern American politics? Without strong media/communications/technical leadership fueling the change, the campaign might as well be playing in a closet. We are not building a physical structure. We are creating social change. We are fighting a battle of public opinion and fighting for public interest. Many people work those opinions out online. They build and test courage standing in front of the internet and announcing who they are.

Did you walk/drive past any protest today? Oh wait did you take a brochure from a 20something in the street? Would you? Who were they? What were they protesting about today? (wish you had the answer in an email? How are you going to find out who it was? read the paper or google for it? If is is not online do you have a snowballs chance in hell of helping them right now do you? )

It is this kind of irresponsible know-nothing rant (in the NYT of all places) that makes it so much harder to get support for the best leaders, infrastructure and logistics systems needed for change he often wants. Organizing online and offline are now integrated not easily in a technical sense but in a real and personal sense. It might be as simple as skype call among the organizers, listserves, or blogs and google docs. It might even range up to online donations, text messaging, youtube, picking music and distributed volunteer management. Almost every good organizer uses some online tools and technology. You have to start to click in your carbon strategy. Not as a click to a congress that ignores you but clicks to other peers to get stuff done, to organize.

None of the change we want is going to happen without both elements.... Friedman just doesn't see it. He doesn't get it cause he is not really on any activist email lists or the organizer of a campaign. Reporters are usually at the tailpipe of the change machine. They are leaked and spinned. They are cultivated by change makers. They are tools for Scooter Libby or the locel PTA. They are most often seen as a part news machine to be used as part of an organizing strategy. (Not the great outraged reporters that dig the great stories that drive change (many even at NYT) like secret prisons, secret flights, wiretapping,etc.)

I am thinking a just a few examples where online organizing is and was changing the world and TF was out of the loop. The online world was organizing the largest street protest : Friedman pushing for fines.big fences and plugging his book... OR 23 year old organizing peace movement online : TF advocates getting Tony Blair as a Dem candidate ny Times gives 911-peace no coverage.

Does it surprise me? No. He is a busy guy. He is often a brilliant guy. BUT WHY THE HELL IS HE ATTACKING AND DISSING something he knows little about? It is as if he just wanted to slam the kids on the keyboards. Or say how great it was that the civil rights fight had to be fought with physical courage against dogs, water cannons and bricks?

I would bet dollars to donuts that the students even in this article he writes connected to work on AIDS and in El Salvador because of online coordination. Most of the vigils and marches (peace, immigration, jenna 6, IMF) are organized online and moved off-line. It is totally irresponsible to paint either/or scenarios. Leaders that are not online are not a part of culture. Leaders that are only online are not a part of culture. ...To create change doesn't take just outrage. It takes leadership, strategy, communications and people. (and those netnatives hangout -- yes "hangout" live, breathe, find entertainment, game, date, build friendships and converse...online)

I often feel like Tom Friedman views of the world so it fits his up narrative (book revision?). When he riffs on this nonsense in the NYT, he makes getting support for real work harder. One more old hippy in charge of a social change movement can hide their failures blaming the younger generations for their failures. Yeah ...nice. If only we should be more like it was in the 60's, 70's and 80's ...maybe we should step slowly away from our keyboards and let mass media build our distribution channels?

We did that. It left us in a war, with huge deficits and almost no political infrastructure in place to solve the really big problems that the bomb,boom generation is leaving in their wake.

I don't doubt that groups can get people to the streets. Look at GOTV. but for what end? DOes a million people stop ...war (no tried that) handgun violence (no tired that) climate destruction (no tried that)... What gets attention? Netroots kicking in 27 million dollars to campaigns, flooding out 7 million phone calls and X other activites.

TF ,,,,not everyone works at the NYT and can broadcast a story about drowning polar bear to 9 million people. It takes hard work to develop a reliable distribution channel. We need communication lines for for day to day organizing and hell raising. It is a logistical nightmare to coordinate 10 people much less 100,000 or 3 million. The only way change is going to happen at the scale and tempo we need is if online and offline are married. We build the coordination capacity email by email, social network by social network, with each new friendook. We also do it with street event by street event and meetup .

Additionally, I don't agree with Friedman's view of the world. People are standing under the guns and showing courage....where did they get that resolve? Where did they organize? Where did they find a community to talk to that says you are right...keep fighting... I'll tell you ... it was online. Why don't you know about them? Well they don't get media coverage. They don't have enough online strategiest and infrastucture to move thier message and story in a world overloaded with news-er-tainment.

Where did the peace movement start? 9/13 Eli organized 500,000 people...to start to end a war. Where did the progressives get reorganized and find a backbone in the face of total republican control... ? Where are the people who are not connected to anything online (no online petitions, no online donations, no online email and other coordination doing anything???? .....when was the last time the Amish drove a national movement.

Quite frankly, lots of stuff shows that to this younger hellraising generation putting an issue on their myspace or facebook is as public of a commitment as showing up at one of Friedman's hippie love ins. Hey I know the folks arrested at the convention, I know the protester. They are driven and coordinated with online and offline strategy married together.

Don't get me started man ...it is this kind of lazy "look at my daughters friends" ....critique of modern organizing that I fight with every old hippy. ANd now they can just quote the NYT as part of thier armor.

world is flat,Thomas L. Friedman clueless on the revolution of flat organizing. Connect the dots Tom.

but hey you asked for outrage ( Here is a little outrage online and onland ... FUh2)