Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Global Activism through Cyber Media

Going back to my main point on the importance of social activism and the tool new media can have in that activism, I found an article from English Global Voices about a successful effort of the masses in Egypt coming together to combat poor living conditions by demanding the right to minimum wages.

The movement was nationwide and was propelled and unified particularly by a central website which chronicled the groups’ efforts, purpose, victories and strategies. All of this convalesced into a huge, coordinated strike on May 2nd that resulted in a court ruling fulfilling the peoples’ aims of a minimum wage compensation for all of its workers.

Contrast that with the ultimate failure of the sporadic strike efforts in The Grapes of Wrath, and you can see what impact communication in networked communities has on social movement impact. The migrants to California in the book all had a common goal of achieving a sustainable quality of life. What they lacked was the centralized communication necessary to organize and coordinate their efforts.

What drove the old farmers of the Dust Bowl era off their land was the development of the tractor – a development that forced the "exodusters" together in purpose even as it drove them from the land their lives had been grounded in before. Does this tractor signify the new media driving out those of the old media age? If so, it seems that the old media’s chance for survival rests in how well they integrate with the new. The Dust Bowl farmers were neither able to integrate into their new environment or unify in their efforts to combat its threat to their livelihood. The Egyptians did integrate in a unified effort against the threat. And collectively, their voices were heard and acknowledged. Any other effects of the old and/or new medias strike you at all in how well they enable/disable social cause?

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