In the article, “Measuring the Success of Digital Campaigns” Karpf discusses the tactical and strategic measurements of success with political activism online. Karpf argues that strategic measurements, or qualitative measurements, are better indicators, because they measure the overall quality of the activism. Karpf says, “The essence of strategy lies in answering the Ganz question: How does an activist group intend to turn ‘what they have’ into ‘what they need’ to get ‘what they want’?” (p. 164). As noted in the Ganz question, Karpf feels that it is not always about tactical measurements, or quantitative measurements, but rather about how someone, or a group of people, use their online resources to create strategic and impactful results.
Karpf uses the example of a group of online progressive activists that used mainstream media exposure and moneybombing to destroy the chances of reelection for a republican candidate as an example of good online. Although the efforts of the activists did not cause her to lose her reelection, they were able to generate enough media coverage and raise enough funds that the election results were close. Another author, Shirky, provides another example with how one man used social media to gain enough support and help to get his friend’s stolen phone back and the thief arrested.
However, as Glaisyer mentions in another article, “Political factors: Digital Activism in Closed and Open Societies” there are other factors that play into how effective digital movements will be such as how governments and policy makers outside of the government will affect these digital movements. Glaisyer shows how in some repressive countries, like China or Iran, digital movements can be used against themselves or interfered with so that they cannot reach their full potential.
Another interesting argument against the Internet and social media platforms as political activism hotbeds would be Morozov’s argument that the Internet also works against political activism, because it placates the masses by providing an escape for the oppression they receive from their governments.
With some much conflicting evidence on whether the Internet promotes, helps, hurts, decreases, or doesn’t affect political activism, I find Karpf’s argument is the best explanation since it shows how the success of political activism online depends largely on an effective strategy using your resources. Do you think that strategy is the recipe for success with online political activism or that there is something to be said by just having the support of large numbers of people?