Decoding Digital Activism: Book Launch And Discussion

Decoding Digital Activism: Book Launch And Discussion

Book Launch @ No-Space, July 20, 7:30 pm

With Mary Joyce, Katharine Brodock , Brannon Cullum, Sem DeVillart, Dave Karpf, Dan Schulz, Brian Waniewski

We know more and more about digital activism with each new example of online “people power”, yet we understand very little about the fundamentals. We have been asking the same questions about digital activism’s effect on political power around the world, yet we remained locked in the same debates between optimists and pessimists, each armed with their own anecdotes.  How can activists, practitioners, and citizens move the discourse of digital activism forward?
This event will be a participatory discussion led by Mary Joyce, co-founder of the site and editor of Digital Activism Decoded, and contributors Katharine Brodock , Brannon Cullum, Sem DeVillart, Dave Karpf, Dan Schulz, and Brian Waniewski.

Citizens around the world are using digital technologies to push for social and political change. Yet, while stories have been published, discussed, extolled, and derided, the underlying mechanics of digital activism are little understood. This new field, its dynamics, practices, misconceptions, and possible futures are presented together for the first time in Digital Activism Decoded.

The book begins with a section on Contexts, addressing not only the technology of network infrastructure, devices, and applications, but also the social, economic, and political environment in which digital activism occurs. An analysis of Practices follows, not in the usual format of case study analysis, but by presenting different ways of thinking about these practices. The section begins with a chapter on pre-digital social movement theory, while a second chapter takes the digital perspective of web ecology. Both constructive and destructive activism practices are discussed. The final section on Effects seeks to address the range of opinions on digital activism’s value. While optimists see the great potential for citizen empowerment, pessimists believe that the empowerment of forces of repression is equally likely. Skeptics view both askance and do not believe digital activism makes much difference at all.

The following contributors will be present for the book launch/discussion on Tuesday.  The chapters they authored are listed in parentheses.

Katharine Brodock (Economic and Social Factors: The Digital (Activism) Divide) is a new media marketing specialist and founder of the marketing strategy firm Other Side Group. She holds an MBA from the Goizueta Business School of Emory University, an MA in international relations from The Fletcher School of Tufts University, and two BAs—one in history and the other in political science from the University of Rochester. She now works with new media to develop marketing strategies that best fit into a digital world. She is in the Strategy Group for the Meta-Activism Project, is the managing director of the Girls in Tech Boston Chapter, works with the Boston World Partnership, and is involved in a variety of research projects on the topic of using digital tools for political, societal, or cultural influence.

Brannon Cullum (Devices: The Power of Mobile Phones) is a recent graduate of Georgetown University’s Master’s program in communication, culture, and technology. Her master’s thesis is entitled “The  Transformative Power of Mobile Technologies: Efforts to Harness the Poverty-Reducing Potential of ICTs by Engaging Local Stakeholders in Least Developed Countries.” She holds a bachelor’s degree in American studies from Stanford University. Prior to entering graduate school, Brannon taught global studies and English in Texas.

Sem Devillart (The Future of Advocacy in a Networked Age) is cofounder and managing partner of PopularOperations, a firm dedicated to the practice and application of futurism in the commercial and social development sectors. 224 Digital Activism Decoded Sem has pursued her passion for trend analysis and future forecasting around the world at organizations like Studio Edelkoort, Faith Popcorn’s BrainReserve, and the BBC. A few years ago, she moved from London to New York to concentrate on developing methods to track, quantify, and map cultural change as a basis for business strategy. Sem studied art history, sociology, comparative religion, and design in Tübingen (Germany) and Milan. She is a faculty member of the branding program at the School of Visual Arts in New York City.

Mary Joyce (Preface: The Problem with Digital Activism / Introduction: How to Think About Digital Activism / Conclusion: Building the Future of Digital Activism / Editor) is a pioneer in the field of digital activism and travels the world training, speaking, and consulting on the topic. She is the founder of the Meta-Activism Project, which seeks to develop a new body of activism knowledge that recognizes the radically different communications infrastructure of the digitally networked world. She is also the cofounder of DigiActive, an organization that helps grassroots activists around the world use digital technology more effectively. In 2008, Mary was chosen to act as new media operations manager for the campaign of Pres. Barack Obama.

Dave Karpf (Measuring the Success of Digital Campaigns) is a postdoctoral research associate at Brown University’s Taubman Center for Public Policy, having completed his doctorate in political science at the University of Pennsylvania in 2009.  He is the author of multiple academic articles on the emergence of netroots political associations in the United States. Prior to entering academia, Dave served as national director of the Sierra Student Coalition, the student-run arm of the Sierra Club. Beginning in 2004, he served on the Sierra Club’s national board of directors. His research can be found online at Schultz (Applications: Picking the Right One in a Transient World) was awarded his undergraduate degree in information systems by Carnegie Mellon University in 2009. In 2007, he was selected to be a grantee in the Knight News Challenge to blog on the PBS IdeaLab about Connecting People, Content, and Community, where he explored the potential of digital technology as a community catalyst. As a member of DigiActive, Dan authored “A DigiActive Introduction to Facebook Activism” and took the role of lead editor for “A DigiActive Guide to Twitter.” Both handbooks 228 Digital Activism Decoded are available on the DigiActive site. Next fall he will begin graduate studies at MIT’s Media Lab.

Brian Waniewski (also The Future of Advocacy in a Networked Age) is cofounder and managing partner of Popular Operations, a firm dedicated to the practice and application of futurism in the commercial and socialdevelopment sectors. Throughout his career, Brian has pursued his passion for beauty, harmony, and communication in academic, corporate, and nonprofit settings around the world. Before starting Popular Operations, he worked at Faith Popcorn’s BrainReserve in New York, where he led the development and launch of a new product line to deliver cultural intelligence to Fortune 100 clients, including PepsiCo, Unilever, and Johnson & Johnson. He also directed The Monday Campaigns, a nonprofit public health project in association with the Johns Hopkins University. Brian studied history and English literature in the United States and Germany.


July 20, 2010


Want to keep up with Not An Alternative?