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Keyboard activism >> real world activism

April 19 2010 | DIY Activism, Jim's Blog,
by Jim

DIY (do it yourself) isn't anything new. I've written about it a few times on this blog because I love when an idea moves to a distributed ownership model. Further, one could argue that this idea isn't new at all and that all activism has had a strong sense of do it yourself since day one.

Still... something different IS happening.

The proliferation of self-publishing applications when taken alongside the exponential growth of personal/social networks is going well--well beyond the almost old-school worlds of Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare.

This morning I cruised through some blogs on my reader and found... monle. It's hard to believe it exists... it's a "mobile non-linear (sound) editor for the iPhone." This isn't your older brother's Flickr account. This is a full-on audio editing tool that enables you to record a serious song while riding to work on the subway (or anywhere else).

So what does this have to do with Surfrider?

Surfrider's mission is "... the protection and enjoyment of oceans, waves and beaches..." and our primary approach to that is via grassroots activism. As the statement to the right says, we like anything that enables that mission to scale.

The world is shifting.
More and more power is shifting to the hands, and keyboards, of people that want to engage on behalf of our oceans, waves and beaches. There is more and more capability for people to do that... wherever they are.

Another example is ArmchairRevolutionary
, a site that's in the Beta phase of their launch. They seek to "shape the future, by playing a game." Genius. This reminds me of the work all of us do every time we decipher a captcha and, in the process, help digitize books.

ArmchairRevolutionary's angle is to make activism fun. Make it a game. Think of it as the BBC meets Halo meets Kiva. Below is a screen grab of my account.

Does this replace face-to-face volunteerism?

Of course not.

Does it expand the opportunities for people to plug into volunteerism and activism?


What excites me is NOT the latest, greatest way to appear trendy. That's a herring. Software and the Internet have always been about changing the game, scaling ideas, not being trendy.

To think of why this matters, think of the umbrella reason Surfrider exists... protection and enjoyment of oceans, waves and beaches. Our primary approach to that mission is by engaging people in the mission, that is, finding ways to connect people with our oceans, waves and beaches, and then helping them move from an awareness position to an engaged position.

I'll end this entry by pointing to three Surfrider apps on the iPhone:

What: Surfrider blog aggregator on your phone
Name: Surfrider
Description: One app that aggregates our 8 largest blogs, our video channels and the main Twitter feed

What: Rise Above Plastics activist tool on your phone
Name: Be Extra! (then choose Surfrider)
Description: Photograph discarded/littered single-use plastic trash

What: Water waste tool on your phone
Be Extra! (then choose Surfrider)
Description: Take a picture of someone wasting water

These are NOT a substitute for on-the-ground activism. These are extensions of on-the-ground activism.

Think of these as lightweight, low-friction asks for people to get involved. These are onramps to activism. For the next level up, go to our chapters page and find a local chapter to get involved with.


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