Week 2

The Scholz reading started with a bit of history about the net and how it started with just 4 university nodes as a Department of Defense project called ARPANET. Originally its intended purpose was to do complex calculations and such, but the unintended use of ARPANET was the ability to communicate with each other. In the early 90’s ARPANET was taken over by the national science foundation and soon web 2.0 was born out of this. First though a new agreed upon computer language was needed, as well as a new protocol and that became TCP/IP. The internet slowly moved toward commercialism and what used to be the internet full of individually designed websites transformed into corporate service platforms. This led to the subsequent dot com boom and crash. Though activists did recognize the participatory potential of the commercial services and this fact proved to be useful for activists. A good example of this is Salam Pax who was writing about living in Iraq in 2003 or the Facebook group “support the Monk’s protest in Burma.” Towards the end of the article Scholz brings up a good counter point to digital activism saying that it is nothing more than ‘slacktivism’  and that people participating by doing nothing but clicking a button online actually has little or no offline effect at times.

 

The Turner reading focused its attention on the emergence of the personal computer and that the generation of people who lived in the 60’s were largely involved in the computer revolution. He also says that ideas of counter culture were applied to these personalized computers. Turner talks about the contributions by Stewart Brand in making the first personal computer, as well as the program EIES. This program would allow people to have a discussion on any topic through using their computers. The guys like Stuart Brand and Steve Jobs along with the companies like Micrsoft and Apple were considered to be the return of the counter culture. He also touches on the rise of hackers and how their goals were not menacing, but rather was to share computer programs and codes.

 

There are similarties between the two readings, but Scholz is arguing more that the internet is this commercialized monster while Turner is arguing that the Internet was driven by ideas from the counter culture. I personally think Scholz’s reading is more on base, while Turner’s ideas about counter culture are not as accurate though he makes some very good points.

 

My question to the class has to do with internet activism. Has anyone been apart of an activist Facebook group and than further participated in offline activism because you were apart of the online group?

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3 Responses to Week 2

  1. taylorkdavis says:

    To answer your question about participating in online activism, this summer I worked at a start up called Crowdrise. Crowdrise is a social networking site that allows users come together and raise money for the same cause or charity while having the most fun doing it. On Crowdrise, users create a profile and then create a project to raise money for a government registered non-profit. There is a lot of integration with Facebook, twitter, and other social networking sites to spread awareness about the project. Being the Intern, my job at the end of the week was to make a spread sheet with how many hits we got on the site, how many people joined and created profiles, and of course, how much money was raised for charity.
    As it turns out, most people did raise money after creating a profile and also joined other peoples causes and helped them fundraise and spread awarness. This may be attributed to the fact all charity teams for the New York, Boston, and San Francisco Marathon required their participants running for that particular charity team to raise money on the site. However, I have done a few projects on Crowdrise to raise money for various charities I am interested in. Crowdrise is just one of the ways that help give people wanting to raise money for charity access to millions of users to help promote their cause and one of the ways the Internet can be used for betterment of society.

  2. sammoon724 says:

    I think the utility of online activism comes in the ability to gather the masses in an easily accessible way. The creation of a Facebook event or group can get thousands of people to click “attending” or “like” with only a small percentage actually physically attending. Even if only a fraction of the people clicking “attending” show up, it is still a turnout with people who were persuaded by a simple message on Facebook (which took minimal work to set up). Now imagine how difficult it would have been for a small local politician to get his/her name out to the masses without the use of social media. In the case of politics, name recognition is sometimes all it really takes to get someone to vote for you. Now, obviously this can be used in a negative way, but it still shows the effectiveness of getting information (aka some form of “activism”) out to the masses through social media.

    Sam Moon

  3. In my perspective, I believe that online activism has become extremely successful through social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Due to the easy accessibility members have to connect with others and rapid response of these sites, such technologies have enabled people to outreach on a global scale at an unprecedented rate than ever before. With communication faster than ever, activists have been able to spread details of their causes around the globe to the masses within minutes of posting.

    Although some people undermine the positive effect one social activist may have for just “liking” or “retweeting”, there mark makes a difference. The more likes and retweets one is able acquire, the more attention they are able to garner for the cause.
    Simply liking a cause or page on Facebook is publicized all over one’s account whether it is on their mini feed or home page enabling their friends who may not have been aware of the cause to see for themselves. In the past two years alone, I have seen how Facebook likes on page have rewarded charities/causes with thousands of dollar from major companies. For example, in late 2009, Chase financial services offered $1,000,000 grant for the charity/ organization with the most likes for the page. With a click of a button, this project not only helped the underserved, and touched lives everywhere, but engaged many in making sure their charity of choice wins. I found this campaign to be extremely successful for it allowed local, smaller charities to get involved as well as putting them on a larger platform that would essentially bring more attention to their mission. In addition, I thought it made it very easy for Facebook members to partake and get them involved by sending updates on who was in the lead for the top prize money. Through these continuous status updates, supporters of the charity were able to see their position and motivated them to engage their friends via to increase support for their selected charity. The response they received from the Chase Community program was so incredible that they continued with it and have made it an annual program. With such programs available on Facebook, I believe that a new generation of motivated youth to become social activists via online has developed that will continue to improve our world faster than ever before.
    – Lauren Melamed

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