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    July 18, 2008

    Getting the whole world to sit in on your cause...

    This week while on a very long train ride from DC to see a client's co-vendor up in Connecticut, I was reading my favorite magazine-The Economist-when I came across an article about bloggers, authoritarian governments, and the game of cat and mouse they play with each other. Whether or not I agree with The Economist's point of view, I can always count on the writers to tell me about something new, innovative, and fascinating, and in this article they did it again! Now maybe to everyone else on the web this is old news, but did you know that:

    "In November 2007 Tunisia blocked access to the popular video-sharing sites YouTube and DailyMotion, which both carried material about Tunisian political prisoners. It was not for the first time, and many other countries have blocked access to such sites, either to protect public morals, or to spare politicians’ blushes. What was unusual this time was the response. Tunisian activists and their allies organised a “digital sit-in”, linking dozens of videos about civil liberties to the image of the presidential palace in Google Earth. That turned a low-key human-rights story into a fashionable global campaign."

    Ok, so I think this is an absolutely fabulous idea! Genius. It uses old-school activism concepts like sit-ins and mixed in new age digital powerhouses like Google Earth to create a truly global, digital movement.  The problem with an old school sit-in, is you had to get people to actually go somewhere, take time out etc, you really got the most committed people to participate. The web has amplified the potential power of the sit-in million of times. I can be sitting at home eating dinner and pressuring the Tanzanian president at the same time. For a Gen Yers like me who never has any time to do anything and is doing 15 things at the same time, the ability to participate in something without having to totally commit to it is the perfect combination. I am not totally removed from the action by being an anonymous "wallet" and handing all the action over to someone else, but I also have stuff to do other than say, making the president of Tanzania feel bad, so I can feel good and do good and do all the other things I've got going on, like blogging...

    Now, other than in this article, I have never heard of anyone else being this clever. I've certainly signed lots of e-petitions, "passed" stuff on to a "friend", but this is idea just has so many potential applications for so many organizations my head is spinning. Imagine if we all digitally sat in on Darfur? Or the entire world "hot spotted" North Korea? Or, if we all linked to say Myanmar to bring attention to the need for aid and relief for survivors of the cyclone?

    The amazing thing about the web is the opportunity it has allowed for people to be creative in so many ways. I certainly continue to be amazed by it.

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