I just want to thank everyone who has commented in the past couple days. I’ve been heartbroken about Sally’s death, but I pushed through to tell some other stories, and to write a rambling post about something that had been on my mind for a while. And the responses, to both, have been really encouraging, motivating, uplifting. I have really benefited from the interactions, which pushed my thoughts out of the loop they’d been stuck in and I’ve also gotten a few book recommendations that I want to share. For anyone who was interested in or engaged in the previous post, on using our personal strengths, I think that both these recommendations will add quite a bit.
Lenn recommended Marketing Social Change by Alan R. Andreasen, which I ordered a used copy of since my library doesn’t have it. It looks very interesting, and likely will be pertinent to the general question of being effective. Book Summary:
This important book offers a revolutionary approach to solving a range of social problems–drug use, smoking, unsafe sex, and overpopulation–by applying marketing techniques and concepts to change behavior. For example, it shows that at-risk teenagers are consumers who decide whether or not to “buy” safe sex practices. This successful approach is based on Alan R. Andreasen’s more than twenty years of experience in consulting, teaching, and research with social marketing programs around the world.
Andreasen shows that effective social change starts with a thorough understanding of the needs, wants, and perceptions of the target consumer–who has ultimate control over the outcomes. The book offers a detailed explanation of how to design a step-by-step program that will move the customer from ignorance and indifference to action and ultimately maintenance of that action. Marketing Social Change offers a wealth of information for developing an effective social marketing plan.
It is easy to see how this is applicable to our activism.
Colin recommended a video that talks about protest culture. It is about 50 minutes long, and I watched it this evening. I found it very interesting and definitely worth watching. While it could be considered something of a tangent, it definitely helped me see a bigger picture, different patterns. The summary of the video:
Clay Shirky joined an intimate group at the Berkman Center for a deep dive discussion on one chapter of his new book, Here Comes Everybody, which deals with protest culture — ad hoc vs institutional, and what it means.
I was very interested in what Clay Shirky had to say, so I put myself on the waiting list for his book at the library. Book summary:
A revelatory examination of how the wildfirelike spread of new forms of social interaction enabled by technology is changing the way humans form groups and exist within them, with profound long-term economic and social effects-for good and for illA handful of kite hobbyists scattered around the world find each other online and collaborate on the most radical improvement in kite design in decades. A midwestern professor of Middle Eastern history starts a blog after 9/11 that becomes essential reading for journalists covering the Iraq war. Activists use the Internet and e-mail to bring offensive comments made by Trent Lott and Don Imus to a wide public and hound them from their positions. A few people find that a world-class online encyclopedia created entirely by volunteers and open for editing by anyone, a wiki, is not an impractical idea. Jihadi groups trade inspiration and instruction and showcase terrorist atrocities to the world, entirely online. A wide group of unrelated people swarms to a Web site about the theft of a cell phone and ultimately goads the New York City police to take action, leading to the culprit’s arrest.
With accelerating velocity, our age’s new technologies of social networking are evolving, and evolving us, into new groups doing new things in new ways, and old and new groups alike doing the old things better and more easily. You don’t have to have a MySpace page to know that the times they are a changin’. Hierarchical structures that exist to manage the work of groups are seeing their raisons d’tre swiftly eroded by the rising technological tide. Business models are being destroyed, transformed, born at dizzying speeds, and the larger social impact is profound.
One of the culture’s wisest observers of the transformational power of the new forms of tech-enabled social interaction is Clay Shirky, and Here Comes Everybody is his marvelous reckoning with the ramifications of all this on what we do and who we are. Like Lawrence Lessig on the effect of new technology on regimes of cultural creation, Shirky’s assessment of the impact of new technology on the nature and use of groups is marvelously broad minded, lucid, and penetrating; it integrates the views of a number of other thinkers across a broad range of disciplines with his own pioneering work to provide a holistic framework for understanding the opportunities and the threats to the existing order that these new, spontaneous networks of social interaction represent. Wikinomics, yes, but also wikigovernment, wikiculture, wikievery imaginable interest group, including the far from savory. A revolution in social organization has commenced, and Clay Shirky is its brilliant chronicler.
One lightbulb for me during this process of coming to my own mental dead end and then hearing what other people thought about this topic, I realized that for all the thought I’ve put into being an animal rights activist, for all the discussions I’ve heard and sometimes participated in about “the movement”, I really didn’t have a deep knowledge of movements in general. When discussing the AR movement, things get political, fast. I know it isn’t unique to AR, it’s something all movements deal with.
And I just can’t find the interest in that aspect, though I was left with a nagging feeling that I needed to put some thought into my role, even though I didn’t feel that what I needed to think about was in the same line of thought that most of the discussions I read or had got stuck on. What Clay Shirky and the commenters here had to say was much more interesting to me, and certainly far more relevant.
So thanks again to everyone. I now have some more paths to follow as I think about this issue!
Right, the giant eye and nose. Tempest, my cat, loves to pose, and I love to take her picture. Add in some photoshop classes and a lab class where the point was to play with our pics and the techniques we learned, and a giant Tempest eye and nose pic is the natural result! I have it as a background at work, and I’m pretty sure it both fascinates and freaks out my coworkers.