The world is changing. Whether we like it or not, such facts are inevitable. For the activist community, this poses a particular challenge. In order to continue their work and do so effectively, activists need to be able to adapt with the times and use new techniques as they become available. One of the most important things they can do is to learn how to integrate technology into their campaigns.
There are a large number of programmes and techniques at hand than can make modern activism more efficient and effective than ever before. So just what exactly should activists be looking into? Below are a few examples of technology that can be put to good use. For this article, we will examine how it can help activists of all kinds in organising their campaigns.
Social media is probably the easiest way for activist organisations to integrate technology into their future activities. When it comes to technology, social media is easily the most versatile tool for activists regardless of their area of focus. Facebook has an estimated 1.8 billion daily users while Twitter has an estimated 313 million. In other words, these two platforms alone offer an audience larger than any other before it which activists can use to easily spread their message.
Social media is also a great way of organising since, again, it allows for large groups to communicate easily and the instant nature of social media means that any sudden changes can be quickly relayed to all involved.
More importantly, social media allows activists to communicate directly with members of the local communities. This can help play a massive role in eliminating the “Us” and “Them” mentality that can occur between activists and the communities with whom they work. This allows for activists to integrate better with the communities they are helping and thus makes organisation a lot easier for both parties.
During the course of their duties, activist organisations often find themselves in situations where the personal privacy of the communities with whom they work put at risk. Thankfully, there is an abundance of programmes and apps out there that can help activists in this regard. The most famous of these is the Tor Browser, a tool for masking your computer’s IP address by bouncing it around a number of proxy servers and thus allowing users to browse the web anonymously. The Tor Project (creators of the browser) also produces an application for Android and Apple devices, called Orbot, which does the same thing on mobile phones
It doesn’t stop there. There are a number of anonymous chat services, encryption tools, and other apps that can ensure the privacy of activists and communities is well protected. By ensuring their work remains private, activists are able to organise without worrying about being compromised.
Money makes the world go around. If an organisation hopes to be successful, it is going to need it in some amount or another. Once again, technology can be a useful solution. One of the latest trends to hit the internet is that of crowd-funding. While the process of raising money through public donations is nothing new, the internet has made the process incredibly easy. Websites like Kickstarter and GoFundMe allow users to create a page for their particular project and then ask others to donate money to fund it. The use of internet crowdfunding allows activist organisations a perfect tool for donation drives, one that is both cost-effective and potentially far-reaching.
The rise of the internet has provided activists with an unimaginable wealth of new tools and techniques to help them achieve their goals. If they wish to be successful in the 21st Century, they must learn how to use these tools as soon as possible.
By Matthew Field, who is an intern at Afesis-corplan and a final year student at Rhode’s University. He is currently studying towards a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Politics & International Studies and Philosophy.