Thursday, September 20, 2007

"Solitarity"

On the September 19th edition of the Colbert Report, "The Word" segment of the program focused on online activism. On ComedyCentral.com, this segment was described with the teaser:
Make Stephen proud, young people - wage protests from the polite ditsance of your computer."
Reflecting on the tasering of a University of Florida student at John Kerry's town hall meeting on September 17th, Stephen expressed his horror at the lack of audience response at this event. He blamed the reaction of students on the way which this wired generation (which I am - I guess - a constituent) approaches social activism. Citing the protest strategies of the 1960s, Stephen questioned whether linking was as effective in-person protests.

What I love about the Colbert Report (and Daily Show, too) is the way in which popular culture analysis of happens. Hitting on a major issue of debate - whether or not online forms of activism are effective. And while Colbert's take is a little harsh (and hilarious), he echoes the point that I, and many interviewees, made in my thesis: Online activism provides great networking opportunities, but needs to go hand in hand with in-person activism.

Of course, how online and offline activism work together is still being determined. And whoever figures out the magic strategy for success - well, that individual is going to answer the questions that many activists, organizations, and non-profits, and movements are asking as they work to develop effective communications strategies.


Please note that as my M.A. thesis project is complete, the George Washington University is no longer overseeing research conducted in conjunction with this blog (effective June 2007 to present). The Informed Consent Materials created while this blog was under GWU's IRB oversight are still available for your information and the principles outlined in them are still being used as a general guide for my continued work.