Web 2.0 blogging Tools for Activists
Web. 2.0 describes a new set of tools that can help you organize your online Social networking (Blogging) activities. These new tools have left most of us in the dust, wondering what the blogosphere is, let alone how it might help us. Imagine, if you were a carpenter or a plumber and you only had two basic tools to handle all of your different work needs!
The first major online tools to appear were email and then web browsing. There is a huge number of programs that all give us their version of how to do email or browse. But no matter what brand of tool we use, email and web browsing still only represents two basic tools.
The online WWW world or Web 1.0 consisted of links to content like documents, images, or programs located on websites that we found via Yahoo, google or by referral. Over time the volume and complexity of the web has become a online jungle of information overload.
Starting officially in 2004 attempts to organize the online jungle into something more usable has been given the label of Web 2.0. Most of these new tools have been built around the explosive world of blogs. Simply put, a blog is website that has been designed to make it easy for anyone to publish content. The Blogosphere is an immense online community built around 70 million blogs and growing. The act of blogging or social networking, citizen journalism, or online activism are all terms describing this huge movement.
The Web 2.0 big picture is in a major flux, but this is no reason not to get involved! If you took the same attitude about the World Wide Web in 1994, look at what you would have missed! W2.0 personalizes the Web for you, by sharing (socializing) online resources! If you are reading this because you want to get involved but have a very limited amount of time, here's where you can find your own niche!
Getting up to speed!
The new tools include online sharing of bookmarks, images, video, news or other content. To the right --> you will see links to video presentations and wikipedia references to some of the most important new tools. Spend some time looking at these links!
We've tradionally relied on our computer's desktop to organize the tools (software programs) we regularly use. These new tools lie almost exclusively online within your web browser. But Windows, Linux and the Mac desktops have all been far behind with what has been happening with Web 2.0.
Just as you use your desktop to organize the most important tool you should consider creating is an Online desktop, or toolbox to organize or store your most important Web 2.0 tools in. Netvibesw and Technoratiw represent the two most important versions of online desktops.
The act of sharing bookmarks with a larger community (social bookmarking) is the first major step in Web 2.0 that you should start. It is extremely easy to do, and has a large set of benefits that to you and others in your community. Please check out the del.icio.us bookmarks video to the right.
Check out the Web 2.0 tools to the right!
A Full spectrum web 2.0 social networking vision
Below is a short overview of the tools that we should becoming familiar with. Moving from plain text, to a full spectrum of multimedia tools give us the potential to present text, images, sound and video online. The integration of these tools is described briefly below:
Current hardware platforms are in red
online media & netoworking campaigns myspace
> wordpress > joomla
Wiki blogs: online coordination blogs (meetings, strategy etc)> wetpaint > wikimedia
social bookmarking: del.cio.us > digg (single sites) > onlywire.com (multi-communities)
social podcasts: radio4all > online news broadcasting (podcast) networks
video netmeetings: skype >
social photo networks: flickr > socialite (mulitmedia via cell phone)
social video network: youtube > Urth > (unified text-phot-video-podcasting)
This is my own vision, but imagine. If I've not lost you in laying out the above vision, The first modern sense of using these tools, would be to create a wiki news story page, that is static, similar to any wikipedia definition page, but is built around a format of current news stories, background information and ongoing strategic resources. Dropping the links, tags and background resources is currently being done by better newsjournals to a certain extent. Could an extended community of activists do the same? There are dozens of stories that build up around a larger story or issue, for example, the recent attempt by Rocky Flats workers to get compensation. The story has been running for years, popping up with new twists and turns. The story isn't just a story, but an issue that is part of a larger issue.
The corporate media doesn't cover stories in the sense of how I'm describing it above, yet this is exactly how it should be done. Attempts by the media to summarize an issue with a few soundbytes leaves anyone interested in the dark both historically, but also in terms of reversing the horserace mentality that is used to push issues towards some kind of result.
Start your own person Blog!
Use your own blog to share your resources!
The blog is a web based database program that is structured to help organize online forums or communities. It comes in a variety of designs, all of which are setup to publish or discuss anything under the sun online. Well run blogs, have played a major role in the recent elections, as well as being used as an organizing tool to pressure the corporate media. It can be used as a family scrapbook, post your favorite pictures, news stories or as a diverse political community working together, on hundreds of blogs, all linked together. There are now over 80 million blogs being used as online communities. Some of the most influential liberal blogs like The Daily Kos or The Democratic Underground are monitored by a huge community and are major players within the democratic party and progressive circles. For an online definition of blogs go here.
The most popular growth of the blogosphere is with Rupert Murdock's Myspace.com where the fastest growing segment of bloggers have organized themselves into online friends-networks. The blogosphere is at its essence a way for online users to organize themselves into interactive communities, whether the community be for a few people or millions! Blogs are designed to simplify the process of organizing and publishing content of any kind. Probably the most important role blogs have played recently, is as a networking base to counter the mainstream media's corporate agenda.
Many activist communities have yet to understand or take advantage of the blogosphere. For example, the anti-nuclear community has yet to start any kind of online use of blogs. For example, Greenpeace has an online, blog, just as Amory Lovins does. However, both of these important environmental groups are using their blog to produce news content. They also have Myspace blogs where the built in structure of Myspace allows you to quickly create an extended community of other groups, friends or allies.
Meanwhile the nuclear industry has developed an extensive network of blogs, being led by the Nuclear Energy Institute. Their paid blogging team can be seen promoting nuclear power online across the country. In the recent attempt to open California up to new nuclear development, California republican Chuck De Vore used an online blog that was crosslinked directly to a conservative Orange County Newspaper, to promote his bill, which failed in mid April 2007.
Whether you want to create your own online scrapbook for your own poetry, artwork, music, photography, writings, opinions, or interesting links you want to share with friends or the world, putting it on a blog is easy to do. Really easy! This presentation will help you take the steps to use blogs as an online organizing resource. For this purpose, I urge you to consider starting your own blog. You don't have to, but having your own blog when entering the blogosphere is kind of like going to school with a notebook to take notes home from school.
Setting up a blog can take as little as a couple of minutes and can be done for free. All you need is a valid email address to set up a blog at blogger.com, Myspace.com, or the Democratic Underground. Go to one of the above links and follow their online instructions. Each of the above online blogging services is easy to do. Starting a blog for yourself, whether it is for a hobby or to become involved in a online community. If you are a beginner and not very computer savy, I suggest you start with Myspace.
Or, rather than starting your own blog, can get involved in any of the larger national blogs like the Daily Grist, or Kos... Whether you want to setup your own blog or become an active member of other blogs, doing so as an activist means learning how to network with others who are also using the blogosphere.
When you start looking around you will start to notice blogrolls at each blog you go to, or on Myspace, you will see friend's networks, where little icons or images are grouped that link you to other online blogs. This blogroll, or friend's network is the most important part the blogosphere. The blogroll is how extended communities start to find and link to each other.
If you are reading this to help expand your group or your own online activist skills. Then please, consider starting a blog. You can spend a few minutes or an weekend afternoon learning how to organize it. There are other several other free online places where you can set up blogs like wordpress.com, but I suggest you start with Myspace as it is easy to start. It is a bit trickier to add things like themes and figure out how to configure, but once you get the hang of it, it has the most potential to reach out to others due to its size. (The primary downside to Myspace is all the advertising you have to suffer through). All you need to do is go to their site, and follow their graphical directions. If you don't like your results you can just as easily close down your blog. It can take as little as two or three minutes to set up the blog. Yes, that's it. Just go do it, or move onto the other critical steps in working with the blogosphere.
Note, part of the goal of this presentation is to get antinuclear activists, or any other group that has yet to understand the blogosphere to start using this important new resource. There has been a recent number of attacks upon blogs. Most are concerned about the potential dangers to individuals by criminals, or even concerns that the online public is splintering into tiny groups that are no longer connected to reality. These are certainly real issues that will evolve as this new way to form online communities evolves. Please, don't let these issues stop you from getting involved!
startup notes: Myspace, as mentioned is very easy to
start. However, learning how to configure it to do fancy backgrounds, video
etc. can take a bit of time. Don't worry about more advanced work! You can
work out many of the more interesting configuration at your own leisure. Here
are some of the key features in order of importance that you will want to
develop for your myspace blog.
If you want to do more online research about the blogosphere, here is a good starting list of links to go to.
Using your browser as an RSS (Really Simple Syndication) Reader is an important new internet resource that allows you to read online news services, blogs, google news or yahoo groups just as you do your email. The bad news is that we are all overwhelmed with the volume of news we receive. The good news is that RSS readers makes it far more efficient to quickly review your favorite news sources for stories you do want to see. Digging through an online website like the NY Times, or the SF Chronicle can be a pain. Below is an image of how RSS feeds simply a website's content to allow you to quickly review its content.
Setting up your own RSS reader
There are many free downloadable RSS readers that you can get and install online. These packages have advanced options similar to your email client software like Outlook Express, Eudora or other email software. However, to simplify the proccess of getting started, I urge you to use the built in RSS reader that comes with the latest version of the Mozilla Firefox web browser software. If you don't currently use Firefox, you can download a copy of it from http://www.mozilla.com Firefox is an open source software package, which allows independent programmers to add or change the program to benefit the public or their own private use. Simply download Firefox from the above site and install it. If the below graphic guide to adding an RSS reader is too daunting for you, an alternative is to switch to another browser called Flock, which is also based on the Mozilla Firefox browser software. Flock has been designed to automatically read RSS news formats. You can download it from flock.com