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The New Activism

Oct 19, 2009

One of the many things I took away from Blogworld last week, alongside the fact that truly anyone can produce web content now, is that there is a new form of activism that is finally gaining real traction. I think many of us in the States had started to see this already with the Howard Dean campaign in 2004, but with the election of Obama and the deterioration of print media I think it is becoming more and more clear that the future of activism will be online.

As much as Twitter is beginning to become overweight with hype, it does highlight how quickly a truly appealing movement can gain traction and produce results literally within days. Don Lemon of CNN spoke at one of the Blogworld keynotes, and during that session he asked all of us there to start including the tag #beatcancer in our Twitter updates. The idea was to build up exposure of the cause and set a Guinness world record in the process. Sure, not exactly the purest aim, but awareness is awareness.

What makes the story a lot cooler is that a number of corporate and private entities picked up on this and started pledging money based on the response. In the end, what started out as a mostly benign publicity grab turned into some positive action. This is a powerful, tangible outcome from what can be a very frivolous. nonsensical medium.

This was just one of many things I saw at Blogworld, as well as talking to people who are getting some important voices heard, that has convinced me that this forum is the future. New media, whatever facet of it you subscribe to, has the ability to cross all borders and reach all corners. Our biggest need now is access for all. Too many people still do not have access to these great avenues of expression and discussion, and some of those who remain silent may have the most relevant things to say.

In my last Blogworld special, I talked about trying to do my part to address these access gaps. I don't have millions to dole out to areas with poor internet penetration, but I can keep our door open to people who have a worthy cause and want to promote it. That's what I can do.

Like we've always said, do what you can do. It may actually matter.