Dispatch 01/02: Gvts hacking activists, tech + activism = digital democracy

In collaboration with Mobilisation Lab, here is a recent roundup of grassroots-powered movement news from around the world. To receive the Mobilisation Lab Dispatch directly each week, please sign up here. If you have ideas for reports that should be in future Dispatches, please contact me here.

“Hacking activists has become common practice for governments around the world,” affirm the authors of an Amnesty International roundup of recent cases in which governments covertly private communications of human rights organizations.

Can civic engagement technologies reshape a democracy? Taiwan’s Sunflower movement is perhaps best known globally for its large public demonstrations. But our latest MobLab article looks at what may be a bigger, longer-lasting story: activists and technologists have partnered to scale digital tools and give people greater access to (and influence in) government decision making and policy.

Myanmar’s new and rapidly growing smartphone culture provided a team of designers and developers a chance to study how people new to mobile and social networks use them to get work done, track politics and even share five-legged cow photos. Craig Mod’s story in The Atlantic is a worthwhile read for those interested in how digital is being used in emerging economies.

Want to build movements? Go with your gut. A person’s moral foundations of right and wrong shape intuition, guiding “gut reactions” and influencing how people respond to calls for action. Brian Martin provides campaigners with an useful read on human behavior.

A growing network reframes civil rights campaigns. In ten years, civil rights advocacy network Color of Change has grown to count over 1.3 million members. Supporters, known for their savvy application of the organisation’s mobilisation strategies, are helping reshape how Americans, and the media, talk and think about issues of race writes Corey Binns in a Stanford Social Innovation Review “Field Report.”

January Revolution rises on Twitter. In Egypt, recent government attempts to demonize its 2011 people-powered revolution have sparked a grassroots Twitter-based campaign to identify with the January Revolution and to decry the civil liberties that have disappeared since.

Interactive map shines light on Ethiopian conflict. Over 100 ethnic Oromo, mostly activists and students, have recently been killed in Ethiopia. Many charge this comes in response to protests of government plans to expand the capital of Addis Ababa. An interactive map identifies those killed during what has been called Ethiopia’s invisible crisis.

Taking on rising corruption, Chileans launched a supermarket boycott campaign accusing three big grocery chains of collusion. Online organising has played a key role in what appears to be a sign that the public is increasingly mobilised in response to a growing number of corruption scandals.

Kairos Fellows 2016The first class of Kairos Fellows has been announced and already started their six month on-the-job training program. We’re anxious to see what these already accomplished activists do with the program’s peer support, training and partner organization mentors.


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