Friday, February 9, 2007

Projects to bring interactive net technologies (Web 2.0) to political organizing

I am discovering quite a few of these projects out there.

Idealist.org has one. So far their project is limited to local meetups and some unorganized chatter through the comments of their website. If they have got something a bit more developed, let me know.

TakingITGlobal has a very international approach and has developed a very good social networking site, as well as an online magazine, art gallery, and other great features. Members are from ALL over, and the site offers its services in a large number of languages. I haven't yet found the kinds of resources or organizing power that is the goal of these projects. But its so huge, I might have just not found it yet.

Campaigns Wikia has the beginnings of a good project, but right now, its organization is a little bit confusing - I don't really understand what exactly its trying to do.

That is also the problem for Grassroots Wikia . This one also suffers from having too few editors.

Campaigns Wikia also has a directory of related projects . There are tens of projects on the page, which means there are probably many, many more out there. I haven't looked through all of them, yet, but many sound quite interesting. Wikiocracy and MorePerfect ask users to rewrite laws. PoliticWiki and Participatory Democracy Party are political parties with Wiki platforms. The New Organizing Institute has a wiki for their mission: training progressive online organizers.

There is a beautiful variety of projects. Each project is unique, and expresses ideas and principles not found in other projects. But it is dangerous, too, because of the diffuse-ness of the field. One of the cheif virtures of Web 2.0 is that it makes it easier for the right ideas and people to connect with one another. How can this be possible when everybody has their own website, and activists are competing with each other for influence?

Maybe the best strategy is to allow projects to compete with each other. The users will decide what sites are the most useful. But we want to avoid a single monolithic website that stifles other efforts. Rather I think the blogosphere model would be most productive - a variety of sites that each display their own principles and methods for acheiving their objectives. These sites will link to each other and communicate with each other through messages, blogs and other fora. This way we'll preserve (and foster) diversity of ideas while bringing the best ideas to the front of users' attention and make it possible for users to find the sites that match their diverse interests and needs.

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