P O S T E D B Y A L B E R T
Joe Sector, an environmental activist, wants to develop an advocacy strategy for the upcoming presidential election season. He longs to engage other activists in an extended discussion of the candidates and their views; tactics for engaging the media; and other election season issues. Unfortunately, the next conference for environmental activists is months away.
Joe goes online to his favorite blogs, listservs, message boards, and networking sites in search of wisdom, but the results are less than satisfactory. Here are just some of the challenges he faces:
1. Light’s on but nobody’s home Joe submits a question to a listserv here, a message board there, but can’t depend on getting a timely answer (or any answer at all). Sometimes it takes days to get a response. In any event, Joe wants something that feels more like a real discussion.
2. The wrong people at the right time Joe has to contend with the usual trolls, flamers, and ninnies who throw discussions off-topic. He visits various chat rooms and networking sites for activists, but, as is often the case, few people are present and contributing, and the best minds and moderators are absent.
3. Drive-by commenting Joe finds a few warm bodies willing to engage in a discussion of the upcoming election, but they keep straying off-topic. Because nobody really “owns” the discussion, it gets sidetracked easily.
4. A million vases for a thousand flowers Nancy, a communications wizard, likes to hang out at Omidyar.net, but Mary, a master strategist, would never darken Omidyar’s cyber-door. She much prefers Change.org. And so it goes. Joe has to visit twenty sites to have a prayer of finding the best wisdom on the upcoming election.
What’s a wired, networked, discussion-starved social activist to do?
Coming up: The problem with the Internet, part 2