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Online Organizing

Here comes everybody? Well, almost. As more people get their hands on the tools of communication and collaboration, it's become ridiculously easy to form a group and agitate around any case. But for all the multiplying ways that we're discovering to network and connect, online organizing still takes knowledge and practice. Giant e-groups like MoveOn.org, with its millions of email members, are constantly honing their approach. Online political hubs like DailyKos.com, Reddit.com, Change.org and Freedom Connector don't self-organize magically; smart network weavers tend to those gardens of activity, taking care to moderate conversations and filter (some) behavior, to ensure that a real community of purpose takes hold. Here at techPresident, we're constantly covering the many ways that savvy online organizers go about their work.

4 Things to Watch For With ActionNetwork.org, The New Online Organizing Platform

BY David Karpf | Friday, September 13 2013

2011 Wisconsin budget protests (Photo by Justin Ormont)

Online organizing is much more than e-petitions. It’s easy to forget that sometimes, because petitions have been (small-d) democratized for such a long time – you can go to Change.org, SignOn.org, petitiononline.com, or any number of other options. Online tools for more complex tasks (list management, event management, group coordination, etc) are harder to find, and often come with exclusive, hefty price tags attached. Yesterday’s launch of ActionNetwork.org represents a promising move towards putting advanced online organizing tools in the hands of many more people…so long as they are progressives. David Karpf, an expert in online politics and the author of The MoveOn Effect, gives us his take. Read More

WeGov

Can Social Software Change the World? Loomio Just Might

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, February 18 2013

The Loomio mascot

After nearly fifty years of development and roughly twenty years of mass adoption, the Internet hasn't created many truly useful tools for groups. We may live in the age of "ridiculously easy group formation," but if you've spent any time as part of a group, you know that all the most popular internet tools --email, list-servs, blogs, chats, and wikis --basically suck at group coordination. None of these tools are built to make it easy for large groups to make decisions together. But a new upstart from New Zealand called Loomio, born in the fertile ashes of the Occupy movement, may have cracked the code. Read More

What Advocacy Campaigns Can Learn From the 2012 Presidential Race

BY Shayna Englin | Friday, November 16 2012

Shayna Englin is chief advocacy officer for Fission Strategy. She spoke last June at Personal Democracy Forum on "The Advocacy Gap." In this "Backchannel" piece, she highlights three key take-aways for advocacy organizations from the 2012 presidential campaigns.

BackChannel an ongoing series of guest posts from practitioners and close observers at the intersection of technology and politics that, taken in aggregate, form a running conversation about the future of campaigns and government.

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In Defense of Change at Change.org

BY Micah L. Sifry | Thursday, October 25 2012

Photo Felix Burton/Wikimedia Commons

Ever since the news broke on the Huffington Post and the Campaign for America's Future (CAF) blog that Change.org, the fast-growing online petition and campaign site, was altering its operating model to become a more open platform, I've been amazed and dismayed by the reaction of many self-styled progressives. On a daily basis, Change.org continues to help ordinary people do things like beat back greedy corporations, confront brutality, and defeat discrimination, while enabling large organizations with broadly similar goals pay for the privilege of reaching lots of those ordinary people too. But the reaction of these self-styled progressives to Change's changes is important. It suggests that the word progressive itself may no longer have much useful meaning, or that in the new context of networked hyper-democracy, it has to be redefined. Read More

Attentive.ly, a Tool to Mine Your Supporters' Minds, Just Launched

BY Miranda Neubauer | Wednesday, September 26 2012

Advocacy groups and poitical campaigns are a key audience of a new tool that aims to help groups or companies connect their e-mail lists with social media discussion.

The new company, Attentive.ly, was co-founded by Cheryl Contee and Roz Lemieux of Fission Strategy, who both have many years of experience working for political and advocacy organizations.

Even as social media has become an increasingly important communication tool, many advocacy organizations have had a difficult time justifying spending money on it, Lemieux said in an interview.

Read More

Using "Big Listening" and "Distributed Campaigning," Upwell Seeks a Sea-Change in Ocean Organizing

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, September 25 2012

Social mentions of "Shark Week" from 2010-present, courtesy Upwell

In this article, we're going to look at Upwell, a nonprofit that describes itself as "a data-driven social media PR agency" with just one client, the ocean, and just one goal: more people talking about the ocean. What it's doing with "big listening" and "distributed campaigning" is pioneering a new kind of online political organizing. Read More

What Effective Political Advocacy and Eating Your Vegetables Have in Common

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Thursday, September 20 2012

Shayna Englin speaking at Personal Democracy Forum 2012 in June. Englin argues there is an "advocacy gap." Photo: Esty Stein/PDM

A newly released research report has found empirical and anecdotal evidence of a deep gulf between what congressional staffers need from the advocacy community in order to shape policy and what the advocacy community actually does.

The report, "The Advocacy Gap: Research for Better Advocacy," from Englin Consulting, Fission Strategy and Lincoln Park Strategies, surveyed staffers on Capitol Hill and what they said are effective forms of contact and input, and then surveyed 4,000 members of advocacy organizations who had signed up to take action on behalf of those causes or organizations. The researchers asked those people, who they call activists, what they think effective action is, and what they do in practice. It turns out that taking effective political action is a bit like diet and exercise: The activists understand what the most effective actions to take are, but tend to take the easiest, least effective forms of action, like sending messages through their advocacy organization rather than showing up in person at their member of Congress' office or at a town hall meeting.

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With "RePurpose," AFL-CIO Invites Supporters to Join in Playing Politics

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Tuesday, September 18 2012

Political organizing may soon start looking like a frequent flyer redemption program.

Workers' Voice, the Super PAC of the AFL-CIO, pulled the wraps off of its high-tech organizing model on Tuesday, which it has named rePurpose. The idea is to use points to better reward campaign volunteers — but rather than those points earning t-shirts or buttons, organizers say, they go towards a stake in how the PAC actually spends its resources.

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You Gotta Have Friends: New Study Shows Facebook Can Get Out the Vote

BY Micah L. Sifry | Wednesday, September 12 2012

Photo by Micah L. Sifry, 2008

A new study by researchers led by U.C. San Diego that is being published tomorrow in the journal Nature offers detailed evidence that a non-partisan get-out-the-vote reminder on Facebook can also increase voter turnout--especially if they come with evidence that your real friends are also voting. Read More

Website Yes, Legal Status, No: "No Papers, No Fear" Hopes to Build a Movement for Undocumented Immigrants

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Friday, August 31 2012

One of the riders of the Undocubus facing down a policeman. Photo courtesy of No Papers, No Fear

Under President Obama, 1.4 million people have been deported as of July, according to figures from Homeland Security's Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Obama has said that his administration is focused on deporting criminals and "dangerous" illegal immigrants. Obama also announced a new policy in June that defers deportation proceedings against undocumented immigrants who are under 31, came here before the age of 16, who have lived in the United States for at least five years, are in school (or have a certificate proving that they had a high school education) and don't have a criminal record. But even for those immigrants who arrived here while they were still children, the policy is a reprieve, not a pardon. Seizing on a wave of public support that seemed to begin to crest last year, when former Washington Post and Huffington Post journalist Jose Antonio Vargas announced that he was not in this country legally, immigrants without legal status here are using the Internet to assert an American identity anyway, and that the problem lies not with them but with United States policy on immigration and citizenship. Read More

From TXTMob to Twitter: How an Activist Tool Took Over the Conventions

BY Micah L. Sifry | Saturday, August 25 2012

The journo-political industrial complex is headed for the national party conventions this weekend, with more than 15,000 journalists along with thousands more Republican delegates, activists, party operatives and outside ... Read More

PEJ on Obama and Romney's Use of the Web: Highly Controlled and Weakly Engaged

BY Micah L. Sifry | Wednesday, August 15 2012

The Project for Excellence in Journalism (PEJ), an arm of the Pew Research Center directed by Tom Rosenstiel, has a new report out on "How the Presidential Candidates Use the Web and Social Media." Let me save you some time, in case you just don't have the stamina for a 33-page report on the two campaigns' use of their website blogs, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube and the level of social media response that usage generated over a two week period in early June: Their use of these tools is highly controlled and generating a relatively weak response. Read More

Was Darcy Burner's Primary Loss a Sign of a Declining Netroots?

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Thursday, August 9 2012

As Cyndi Lauper once sang: "Money changes everything."

That's something that everyone can agree on in American politics, but that's about the extent of the agreement. The question is whether the trend in self-financing wealthy candidates and Super PACs is dampening the enthusiasm of the American left this election cycle. Some look at the failure of netroots favorite Darcy Burner's recent bid for Washington State's 1st Congressional District as an example of all that is wrong in political races, and others — those who were involved — say that the circumstances in that particular race were unique, and that larger lessons about the health of the netroots organizing model can't be extracted from the experience.

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Online Organizing 2.0: How Change.org Found Its Groove (and Moved to the Center of Online Politics)

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, May 15 2012

Change.org.

For Personal Democracy Plus subscribers: How did Change.org, a political startup founded in 2007, finally find its groove? And what does its sudden emergence at the center of online politics mean for the future of advocacy? Read More

#StopKony: The Simple Viral Demand That Sparked a Broad Debate

BY Nick Judd | Wednesday, March 7 2012

Every part of a viral marketing campaign targeted at raising pressure on the U.S. and other governments to work towards the capture of Lord's Resistance Army leader Joseph Kony, called "Kony 2012," is fascinating. (Some supporters also invented the hashtag #stopkony, hence the headline.) The campaign intends to pressure specific American elected officials, using the newfound power of networked public opinion to spur more action. Last year, President Barack Obama ordered 100 military advisors to help the Ugandan military remove Kony. But the campaign's scale and the narrow focus of the advocacy in its centerpiece, a free 30-minute web video with high production values, raised a laundry list of questions about its sponsor organization, their exact goals and their mission. Read More

Amid Social-Media-Fueled Furor, AOL Pulls Ads from Limbaugh's Radio Show

BY Miranda Neubauer | Monday, March 5 2012

AOL has become the eighth company to pull its advertising from Rush Limbaugh's radio show over his remarks directed to a Georgetown University Law Student over her testimony to Congress in support of coverage of contraception. As with the companies that previously announced removal of their support, AOL has been under pressure through critical social media reactions, and announced its decision using that medium as well. Read More

With Pinterest and Twitter, Activists are Out to Punish Komen

BY Nick Judd | Friday, February 3 2012

Susan G. Komen for the Cure's decision Friday to reverse a rules change that would have cut off further funding to Planned Parenthood may not be enough to stem the outpouring of anger against the breast cancer research charity. Komen's grantmaking rules no longer oblige it to issue no new grants to Planned Parenthood, but online activists are hoping to channel continued anger at what they say is the politicization of women's health issues into a sustained campaign. Read More

Seven Lessons from SOPA/PIPA/Megaupload and Four Proposals on Where We Go From Here

BY Yochai Benkler | Wednesday, January 25 2012

Yochai Benkler photo by Joichi Ito, CC-BY 2.0

A guest post from Yochai Benkler, who writes: "On Wednesday, January 18, 2012, a new model of politics succeeded in bringing to a halt legislation that had been pushed by some of the most powerful industry lobbies in Washington, which began its life with broad bi-partisan support in both chambers of Congress. The political calculus seems to have changed drastically this week, and we need to understand how to exploit and harness the changing winds to expand and lock in this initial victory." Read More

The Ron Paul Paradox

BY Micah L. Sifry | Wednesday, December 21 2011

With poll numbers putting Ron Paul in the lead in Iowa very close to the first Republican caucus, the lens of national attention will put the congressman from Texas in sharp focus. We know his campaign, much more disciplined now than it was in 2008, is preparing for what's to come. But how will his famously zealous online supporters handle the scrutiny of their chosen candidate? Read More

How to Listen to Your Online Members: Debating the MoveOn Way

BY Micah L. Sifry | Friday, March 26 2010

If you're a typical online political activist, you probably are on a fair number of email lists, a member of a number of advocacy organizations, and maybe send dues to a few. But how often do you get asked by any of them ... Read More

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