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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Petitions and 'likes' will not win the endgame.

Should we be cutting slacktivists some slack? Kristin Ivie presents a compelling case on Social Citizens:

Ory (Okolloh, Ushahidi founder) says that there is a growing sentiment in Africa that youth are wasting too much time using technology for fun, time that could be better spent using the same technology for advocacy, human rights monitoring and development. But she says she doesn’t see that as a problem.

At first I paused, not sure I heard her correctly. She explained that she saw nothing wrong with people using social media "selfishly" because if they enjoyed it, they would become comfortable with it, and then they would be ready for action when the moment arises. When they see injustice, need to fight for their rights or the rights of others, or feel they aren't being represented by their government or media, they'll be ready.
My response in a comment:

I'm a tremendous fan of systems that honor the intention of social action, however small. And the platforms that honor intention of connection, however small.

We haven't been so great--to date--about building many platforms that can take the positive intentions of thousands of small actions and transform them into either actionable data (but look at Ushahidi!) or visible impact (go 350.org!) The winning examples of these platforms and human systems though, these fill me with hope.

We're getting better. The problem isn't the alleged slack of slacktivists in my mind. It's that we're not done yet figuring out how to build the platforms and human systems that can harness the empathy for causes into powerful action. I promise you that petitions and 'likes' will not win the endgame.

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