Saturday, July 19, 2014

Take Back the 'Net



I often make references here to “digital utopians,” the folks of the ‘90s who kept telling us the internet would set our minds and news media free from the constraints and censorship imposed by corporate ownership. We could all be our own newspaper, TV and radio outlets. Always implicit, and sometimes embarrassingly explicit, in the online utopian screeds of that decade was the hope or assumption that nastiness like racism and sexism were ideological impositions on workers and that, once free of corporate media, we’d be free of that, too. Nice sentiment.

I still hear folks defending this position that racism and sexism will “wither away” once we own our own, online, media: they remind me that corporate control of the media really hasn’t disappeared, it has just evolved so as to acquire a significant hold over digital media, along with broadcast outlets, newspapers and the rest of the traditional media, and that all we have to do is push back online and we can bring about the digital millennium. It turns out they’re wrong. The (not so) new media is as bad a place to be as the old. Perhaps worse, in that the bad things that used to happen slowly, in print and at a distance, can now take place instantly and in our homes, on our phones.

For a few years now I’ve been babbling here about the need for unions to make more and better use of the new media. I’ve often pointed to the labour movement’s internal barriers to that. But, to my shame, I’ve not spent any time at all looking at some of the many ways in which the new media can be used as a platform for targetting groups in a way that old media never could.

I’ll touch on other targeted groups in future columns, but, in a belated salute to International Women’s Day, let’s take a peek at what women face. It ain’t pretty. In fact it’s so ugly I had trouble finding examples fit to print without censoring them to the point of uselessness. To illustrate the problem, check the CBC News post, “Sexist tweets aimed at female politicians captured on blog (http://tinyurl.com/aaxzezl). At lot more productive, and less prone to offend to the point where you just want to avert your eyes, are conversations about the problem taking place here and there between women online, a great example being the Facebook group “Feministas of Canada.” Check out, as well, Huffington Post blogger Soraya Chemaly’s recent commentary, “Online Threats Against Women Aren't Trivial and Don’t Happen in a Vacuum.”
“Sexist commentary – the jokes, the asides, the slights, the tweets – is hostile,” she writes, “but it’s just the very surface of what we’re dealing with. This isn’t about being ‘offended,’ it’s about feeling marginalized as a result of hate and disdain.” More than a few explicitly feminist online publications have been tackling the silencing of women. Jezebel’s editor Jessica Coen did in “When There’s So Much Bullshit Online, You Forget How to Feel” (http://tinyurl.com/bvltk5p).
Amanda Marcote responded in Slate, in “Online Misogyny: Can’t Ignore it, Can’t Not Ignore It” (http://tinyurl.com/754t8yo).

And just in case you doubted that online misogyny transcends borders and class, read the piece by Jane Fae in The New Statesmen, called “Misogyny, intimidation, silencing – the realities of online bullying.” It’s about the hostile online reaction women politicians face in the UK when expressing an opinion about pretty much anything, including the weather.

What’s most distressing is the inescapable conclusion a few minutes reading leaves you with: whether it comes in the form of a threat of physical violence (sometimes accompanied by a reference that implies the sender knows where you live or work); or “joke” polls about which celebrities deserve to die; or supposedly moderated groups and discussion forums that ignore complaints about abusive comments, the internet is not a safe or comfortable place for women trying to organize.

And I do mean “organize” in the broadest sense. Want to attract some nasty boys? Watch what happens when a woman trys to use Facebook or Twitter to get women friends together for a pub night or a bus trip. Fake something completely innocuous, with no explicit political content. Just make it clear it’s a women-only event, and watch the abuse fly your way.

I appealed on Facebook for anecdotes about the nasty side of online organizing, and one of the women who responded did exactly that, and the most striking thing about the nasty boy’s reaction was the absolute casualness of it. As astounding as what she described was, it wasn’t directed at me and so I can only imagine what it’s like to be on the receiving end.

Usually I end a rant like this with a prescription for a solution. I don’t know what to say, except: Do in cyberspace what has worked out here in meatspace. Find or build safe spaces and work outwards from there. I’d end by saying how depressed my little investigation made me, but there are a bunch of sisters working through and around this shit, so really it’s more a matter for constructive anger than depression.

WEBHEAD BITS AND BYTES
Trying to wean your union off Microsoft/Apple corporate software? Here’s a useful checklist on getting there from The New Internationalist, called “10 Steps to Software Freedom” (http://tinyurl.com/c9dwqo3).

If you’re the webhead for your small website-less local union and see the advantages of having a union domain for your activist’s e-mail addresses, go here for some simple instructions for setting it up: http://tinyurl.com/yhu9lad.

Not yet signed-on to Alex White’s e-mail list? Here’s another reason to do so. See “Five Essential Elements of Startegy for Unions to Win,” at: http://tinyurl.com/bug644g.

ASK WHAT PEOPLE WANT
When LabourStart’s Twitter feeds first got up and running, we were posting one item per hour 24 hours a day to the global feed, and one per hour, 12 hours a day, to the Canadian English and French feeds. (Note to newbie readers: I’m LabourStart’s senior Canadian correspondent.) A couple of weeks in we surveyed our followers for all those accounts. The results were interesting in that the global feed’s followers were clear: cut it back to eight per day, evenly spaced. The Canadians, however, were equally clear: stay at one per hour.

Surveys like this are worth doing for all your social media accounts. After complaining and seeing no change, I’ve unliked a couple of Canadian union pages on Facebook just because their updates were flooding my newsfeed, making it hard to find anything not from them. Did they really think I wanted something from them every 20 minutes? Worse, most of what they were throwing at me didn’t originate with them but instead was something they were just passing along,  often from a source I had already “liked” or followed.

Speaking of asking people what they want, building global solidarity at the rank-and-file level is why LabourStart tries to organize a conference somewhere in the world each year. To test the waters for another conference in Canada, we ran a short survey to gauge interest. So, it looks like we’ll be in the Vancouver area in 2014. But, most interesting were the responses to a couple of throw-away questions that were added. Almost 80 per cent of respondents either didn’t know if their union was engaged in international work, or knew it wasn’t. And these were Canadian trade unionists with enough of an interest in international solidarity actions to be on our mailing list.  If anyone would know, you’d think they would, but they often didn’t.

When was the last time your union used an online survey, or even a smartphone app, to systematically survey its members about what they think of their union and what it does, and what they know and don’t know about it – and then educate and maybe organize  them in the process?  I suspect not in a long while, if ever. Online, such things can be done a lot more frequently than was possible when we needed to rely on polling firms to do the work.

Union Solidarity International (British union Unite’s international arm) has made available a nice piece of video on the uses to which Brazilian unions are putting social media. See http://tinyurl.com/coz7wo2. Watch, listen and envy. Then emulate.

Twitter Tips and Tweetfests



I’ve harped on (and on) before about the lack of interactivity in unions’ use of so-called new media. Readers have responded in two ways, saying either, “It takes resources we don’t have to manage it all;” or, “What do you mean! We respond to every email we get.”

Everyone, from local union recording secretaries to national union communications directors, will understand the first excuse. But the second one is based on a misunderstanding of what “interactivity” means. In a trade union, being interactive doesn’t mean one person having a conversation, one at a time, with different people – especially when that one person is a union official and the others are rank-and-filers. Being interactive, in an organizing sense, means having a collective conversation more akin to a union meeting. Ideally, we should be able to hear and weigh the opinions of others, make a collective decision, and then leave the conversation knowing where we’re going. And then begin to organize more effectively towards our goal.

Some unions are making great use of both old technology and new media, testing the limits of new media and using tools that members already have. Unifor, for one, seems to breaking new ground on a large scale, with 80,000 members calling in to its telephone town-hall meetings. The same open-organizing approach, applied to their online communications, is also making a bit of a splash, including a monthly Twitter question-and-answer with the union’s president.

Here’s the text of an email I recently received from Unifor communications officer Katie Arnup:

Social media activists and tweeps, this is for you: Unifor President Jerry Dias will be holding his monthly Twitter Q&A TODAY from 6-7 p.m. ET/ 3-4 p.m. PT. All you have to do is send a question to @JerryPDias during this time and Jerry will be sure to answer. Easy-peasy. Also, please be sure to RT some of the promo tweets from @UnifortheUnion.

There are some small but important details to note in this email. The language, for one thing. The message is directed at a specific audience, and constructed for the twitterverse. (My granddaughters get this: the new-to-me term “tweeps” is old hat to them. In fact, this column almost didn’t get finished when I suddenly realized that my granddaughters are about the same age as the Unifor rep who sent the email.). And the sender asks the tweeps to retweet (“RT”) messages, making the often-forgotten pitch to pass information on to others. Why doesn’t everyone do this, you ask? Because many still see communications as a one-way, hierarchical relationship between a sender and a consumer.

What’s behind this is worth speculating about. (I’d interview Unifor staff and activists about their social media tactics and logistics, but, as I write this, the union has just applied to Ontario’s labour board to become the bargaining agent for more than 6,500 workers at three Toyota plants. I suspect they are all busy. Besides, speculating is more fun.) The message was directed at Unifor members and supporters who use Twitter to communicate – and to organize. That means someone at Unifor is building a database of tweeps. (“Tweeps,” in case you haven’t figured it out yet, are peeps who tweet.). Or, they have identified tweeps amongst the folks on the union’s general mailing list. (So, how is your members/supporters/tweeps database coming along?)

All this, leading up to the main event: a social media bearpit, with the national president of the country’s largest (mostly) private sector union in an online free-for-all. Everybody and anybody with a Twitter account could watch and participate, and they did.

A session like this may not be identical to a meeting out in meatspace, but it’s pretty close. And, in some ways, it’s superior to the town-hall phone call, despite the latter’s impressive (to say the least) numbers. Calls take longer, and may make more sense when you’re making an announcement and then taking questions from a small proportion of those on the call. A tweetfest (have I coined a term?) of your union’s tweeps scoops a wider audience and builds your union’s presence online, with less mediation and filtering possible (a good thing).

Tweetfests (has it caught-on yet?) have a different and evolving audience. The old saw about Twitter being for politicians and journalists is less true than it used to be. Studies of Twitter’s user base seem to agree, more or less, that Twitter is riding the smartphone wave, meaning the average age of users is dropping. If you’re looking to connect with younger workers, whether they’re members or not, this is good to know.

The best thing about this tactic is that, unlike town-hall calls, it’s free, which means it can done more frequently, and by local unions as well as the larger, better-heeled bits of your union. If your membership is relatively small, tweetfests may not make sense. Does a local union with 100 members, 20 of whom are on Twitter, need to do this? It’s doubtful, although, if those 100 members are scattered all over the place and hardly ever able to get together for meetings in meatspace, a tweetfest might be useful. Just don’t get so enthused about talking to your tweeps that you forget about the other 80 members.

Don’t forget, this is a great way for non-members to connect with the union. And not just nationally, as with Dias’ tweetfest, but also on a much smaller scale. Your local union represents education workers heading towards a strike? A tweetfest might be one of several ways in which you could get your message out to student and parents. It would beat, or, at least, supplement, having to walk your leaflets all over town. Unlike a TV advert, a tweetfest would  allow you to interact with supporters and opponents, alike, as well as, and most importantly, the undecided.

One final benefit of tweetfests: the move from communicating with your target group and organizing them to taking action can be relatively seamless, compared to the effort required during mass calls, or even at meetings. All you need to do is end your tweetfest by asking your tweeps to tweet or retweet (say that three times, quickly) something, to someone, about something connected to the tweetfest’s subject.

Time for a tweet tip, and a tweet tiff with my tweeps. (There. It’s out of my system. I’ll stop now. Is there such a thing as alliterative-compulsive disorder?) One of the things I take a turn at while wearing my LabourStart hat is managing some of our Twitter feeds. I use Hootsuite to manage a few accounts and load the tweets each morning. Hootsuite is an alternative to better-known services like Tweetdeck. Hootsuite’s free version has pretty much all the features a local union communicator would need, and lets you manage up to five social media accounts on a variety of platforms – not just Twitter, but Facebook and the others, too. It’s web-based, which means I can set the French and English Canadian union news feeds to tweet stories from LabourStart once an hour (in English) and once every two hours (in French). Then I shut down my computer and go off to work, while Hootsuite makes it look like I’m busy tweeting and posting all day (which can cause some interesting misunderstandings. . .).

Loading up Hootsuite for the day with labour news should take only 30 minutes or so; something you can do over toast and coffee. But it often takes longer because of the way most unions put their online news together, with little apparent thought about the 140-character limit to tweets. Sometimes it’s hard not to conclude that some unions are trying to make it impossible for their online news to get tweeted.

Look at a story on your union’s website. Copy the title, and add a compressed URL. If there isn’t space left for a hashtag or two, you’re going to miss the boat, unless you’re also using a Twitter feed to push a more tweet-friendly version of the title and URL. Look at your tweets. Did you leave enough space for them to be retweeted without losing their meaning? Small things may drive us crazy, but shorter titles and tweets will allow your messages to get out to more of your tweeps.

Mail Chgimps and Changing Walmart



A couple of IWDs ago I used my Webwork column to look at the distressingly negative experiences many women have online, including being flamed or otherwise harassed. And how those experiences might negatively affect women’s receptiveness to their unions’ online organizing efforts. In other words, I was looking at the gendered division of the internet.
A recent article in The Pacific Standard, “Why Women Aren’t Welcome on the Internet,” by Amanda Hess, describes the “noxious online commentary” the journalist gets in response to her columns. That article, along with a bunch more I was able to Google-up (79,400,000, give or take), did have one slightly (but not counter-balancing) positive aspect, though it’s one you have to work hard to find: email is best when it comes to avoiding what you don’t want to see or read. Unlike most social media platforms, like Facebook and Twitter, email gives the recipient a measure of control over what she is exposed to. You may be forced to read the subject line, but that’s all, giving you a lot more control over what you see in comparison to what you’re forced to witness with Facebook and company. So, yet another argument in support of email as the killer app for online organizing. You can read the story here: http://tinyurl.com/l9joyfr.
MAIL CHIMP
Chances are that anyone who manages online actions for their union already knows that email is the most effective online communications tool available, and they likely use a service like Mail Chimp or other software with similar features.
LabourStart tested one of the newer features of Mail Chimp, called “A/B Testing,” and we’re now using it with almost every mailing. The feature allows you to test different subject lines in your messages and then compare the rates at which recipients open messages. In one example, we did two mailings, each with a different subject-line message, about Firefox OS for Activists, the latest book in LabourStart’s series covering a mix of global solidarity topics and things techish. The subject might have seemed arcane (an open source, free operating system for smartphones) and the book has a somewhat nerdish title. Nonetheless, the email with the subject line saying “Firefox OS for activists – now available in Canada” had an open rate of 6.3 per cent within 60 minutes of the mailing. The email with the heading “Smartphones, tablets and Canadian unions” was opened by only 5.0 per cent of the target group. The difference between them was significant. On a Canadian mailing list of more than 12,000, it meant another 156 people opened the message. On our entire mailing list, it meant almost 2,000 more people opened the message. 
Being a mildly obsessive-compulsive type, not to mention a beery Marxist, I look for qualitative results from quantitative analyses. But, so far, no rules about subject line content are appearing in my tea leaves (okay, beer bubbles). Subject-line-response results are almost never predictable, which is why it’s important to test them. But the difference you’ll see is substantial enough to warrant using this feature, if you have it.
MAKING CHANGE AT WALMART
The good folks at Making Change at Walmart, and OUR Walmart, in the U.S., have their work cut out for them in taking on the world’s largest – well, largest everything. Their resources, even with the backing of UFCW (United Food and Commercial Workers), will never come close to what Walmart can spend on crushing organizing efforts in its stores and warehouses. Of course, that’s what is making the campaign grow, and what’s having the most impact on the corporation are the strikes – by unorganized workers, no less. (Think about that the next time you’re tempted to crow about our Canadian labour laws.) And organizing those strikes, and other meatspace actions, was made a lot easier for organizers by their judicious use of social media.
They used “Causes” on Facebook and created events there, too. They created websites to describe actions and how to organize for them; how to safely, and legally, conduct the strikes. Tweets were tweeted. Flickr was deployed on the day of a strike, as was Instagram. The result? One thousand five hundred actions (think about that for just a second) at 1,500 (think about it again, a little longer this time) Walmart locations resulted. Simultaneously. On the biggest day of the year for retail in the U.S.

If you’re not at least a bit slack-jawed at this point, turn in your membership card.

It gets better. The strike organizers did what too few unions would, or can, do: they created a mediated, but pretty free-wheeling, online space where the workers themselves could speak about their fears and needs, and why they were or were not participating in the Black Friday actions. Even better, much of the online organizing in preparation for the strikes was done by crowd-sourced online leadership that organically defined the campaign. Typically, a number of workers would find a Making Change website or Facebook page or group. They’d start to talk directly, rather than through Making Change’s facilities. That talking became self-organizing, and the self-organizing took control of the strike in a location. The pattern was repeated, over and over.
I’ll spare you my crowing about how the Walmart campaign was able to take people from cyberspace to meatspace in order to take effective action. But what’s striking is how closely their tactics parallel those of Leadnow.ca. It works.
Take a peek here at a nice summary of what Making Change folks are prepared to make public:
http://tinyurl.com/pfd222h.
DON’T DISS THE BOSS ON FACEBOOK
Just a reminder: Facebook ain’t Vegas and what happens on Facebook doesn’t stay on Facebook. Not only can it migrate out to meatspace, but it can bite you on the arse when it arrives. A worker in Corner Brook, Newfoundland, took to Facebook after she was almost killed or seriously injured by lax safety precautions at a paper mill, to complain about how slow management was in responding to her complaint. Clearly angered by her manager, she posted a rather heated opinion of him, and a few others. A 13-year employee, she was fired, and her discharge was upheld at arbitration. See the story here: http://tinyurl.com/m5xefum.
UNITED NURSES OF ALBERTA
Download the United Nurses of Alberta (UNA) iPhone App and you’ll get breaking news, collective agreements, leadership messages and a whole bunch more. UNA members can search collective agreements for keywords, make notes, and highlight important sections for future reference. Fab! See it here: http://tinyurl.com/kz6443l.

GOOGLE+
Much as I love and respect the work Australian union online guru Alex White, sometimes his boundless online energy just makes me feel like I want to take a nap. Or retire. Alex has an insider’s take on the resources unions can spare for just about any activity or campaign. So, until now, he’s been pushing email, Facebook and Twitter for all our campaigning needs. But, recently, he came to the conclusion that we need to add Google+ to the list.
I’ve had a Google+ account for a few years now, but I only check it maybe once a month, and even then just to connect with a Facebook-phobic friend.  (Is it a phobia when there’s good reason for the fear?) Alex’s take on the change boils down to this: “Google is taking over the digital world and integrating all its platforms such that, if you’re not active on its social media platform, it will wreak revenge when someone looks for you using its search engine.” Sigh. Unfortunately, this, like Alex, makes sense. Read it for yourself, and then have a nice long nap: http://tinyurl.com/l9jevwe.
FACEBOOK NO LONGER COOL?
There’s a countervailing bit of good news about the Bad Book (Facebook, I mean): its user demographics are changing and there are indications Facebook is headed for a downward slide in popularity, though it might take a while for the beast to die.
A study by a British social scientist suggests that Facebook use is no longer cool, now that people like me are signed up and posting news about our boring middle-aged lives. (See http://tinyurl.com/ne7dh9y.) So, the young folks are spreading themselves around a bit. They are staying on Facebook, for sure, in order to keep in touch with older family members. But they are investing more of themselves in platforms that the old folks haven’t yet discovered. Might explain why the grandkids haven’t been in touch with me for the last little while. I’ll have to remember to wig them out by dropping some references to my non-existent Instagram account. . . .

Tech Tips and Tools for Change



Katie Arnup at Unifor is the first Canadian unionist I’ve seen, to date (besides me), to use a badge on Facebook: a small logo or other graphic in the corner of a user’s photo. It’s an inexpensive way for union members to show their allegiance to and play a small but collectively important part in campaigns such as “together FAIRNESS WORKS,” launched by the Canadian Labour Congress (that’s what Katie did). TV commercials are wonderful, as are the efforts unions are making to reach their own members about the campaign. But a free little badge that sits on each union member’s Facebook profile picture declaring their allegiance would, in a small way, reach many more people. Get your union a badge and get the word out.

Another campaign I’ve been following was the one by the folks at the Professional Association of Foreign Service Officers, in their strike for better working conditions. Their under-reported but well-organized global actions against the federal Tories could serve as a model for many of us. One small downside to their campaign was yet another decision by a labour board that confirms what we should all know by now: your employer owns its email system and if you use it for unauthorized (i.e. union) purposes you might lose it, without warning. See here for details: http://tinyurl.com/pcsnnwl.

SAVE MY TEETH
Have pity on my tattered teeth: don’t use Change.org to run an online action. Every time I see a union (or any other organization I approve of) using it to put some digital pressure on an employer I wind-up grinding my teeth in frustration. Here’s why. First, though they won’t release the numbers, clearly Change.org is making a ton of money. Second, if your members sign on for one of your campaigns then Change.org has their address and will use it in ways you can’t control and in ways that are increasingly distant from Change.org’s progressive roots. Third, there are several more principled alternatives that don’t and won’t sell the use of their lists for cash. Fourth? Fourth is what should be but isn’t: a single mailing list for the labour movement that all affiliates can access, and in confidence. I guess that’s a political impossibility. But it would be by far the most effective way to mobilize workers online and we would own it; we’d be building our own capacity and not someone else’s. For a quick peek inside Change.org see: http://tinyurl.com/m7n2j87.

DUCKS & TOOLS FOR CHANGE
Tools for Change has a quick survey of some online action tools you may not have heard of. Not all are suitable for use by Canadian unions but they can serve to inspire an idea or two, perhaps. See: http://tinyurl.com/nc6a6fs.

“Tech Tips for Trade Unionists” is the title of a series of regular blog posts by Eric Lee of LabourStart. Eric is a gizmo freak and goes looking for things most of us wouldn’t try if they were offered-up on a plate, for free and with lifetime on-site support. Yet, even then, it’s kinda fun to try to imagine the poor buggers who might find a use for them: http://www.ericlee.info/blog/?cat=55

DuckDuckGo is the name of a fairly new search engine that, unlike Google (and the also-rans like Bing), doesn’t collect all kinds of info about you. There have been efforts like this in the past including one by ILO/ACTRAV (the workers education office at the International Labour Organization) that biased its results towards the interests of trade unionists. While I’m not optimistic that this will be any more successful than the previous attempts, who knows, maybe the Snowden spying disclosures are having an effect and this one will get some attention:
https://duckduckgo.com/

BOGUS TEXTING & TABLETS
Bogus text messaging can and has caused unions problems. Here’s just one example of a wave of such stories in the past six months. Hard to tell whether this is a new trend in response to increasing union reliance on texting or just a slow day in the newsroom. See: http://tinyurl.com/pqujaou. And while we’re on the subject of phones, the always spot-on Alex White blogged recently about “four things unions should know about mobile.” Fact one: according to Alex: One out of every three monthly visitors to the average large website comes exclusively on mobile platforms. “This means,” he says, “that if you don’t optimise your union’s website for mobile and tablet, you’re potentially sending away up to a third of your audience.” As yet there aren’t many unions adept at using mobile devices, even though 36 per cent of all e-mails are being opened on a mobile device of one sort or another. Read about it here: http://tinyurl.com/pd48urp.

WHAT DUFF DOES
Joel Duff at the Ontario Federation of Labour has been making a real and effective splash there and across the province since his appointment as communications director. He’s had many, but a recent, inspired effort of his made a campaign grow by making it easy to spread. Here’s the story. The OFL has been organizing support for the striking municipal workers in the Township of Bonfield. By unilaterally amending the workers terms and conditions of work, this small town declared war on the Canadian Union of Public Employees. As there’s a fear that the town’s tactic will spread (and because the workers in Bonfield could use and deserve it), the Fed has been out there mobilizing support for the workers and their union.
What Joel has been doing is using his mailing list to get boilerplate text out to a large group of hardcore trade unionists. The text he provides prior to solidarity rallies or other events can be copied and pasted into Facebook or Twitter, making it easy for activists to pass the word along – accurately. He makes it easy for the word to get out, and for the word to be accurate and not missing a crucial letter or two – something that has happened to us all. Thank you, Joel.

LabourStart is one of many global news services that let you filter by topic, and you’ll reach the following conclusion quickly by just browsing: health and education workers and migrant workers are taking it in the neck pretty much everywhere. Whether in the public or private sector, and from Albania to Zimbabwe, employers are increasingly aggressive, with many more lockouts than before, and much more use of scabs. The up side is there are also lots of stories about battles being won.
New Unionism remains a great concept, well-executed. Check this link and expand your idea of what unions are and how we should be organizing and why the current organizational lines of demarcation don’t always serve workers’ interests: http://www.newunionism.net/global_unions.htm Oh, and while you’re there, contribute to a large global conversation about why and how these things can and should change.
I haven’t talked about Flickr in a while. It was time for me to review its very useful features and the extent to which it can act as a resource even for those who never pick up a camera. But I’m not going to, at least not for a while. Because the Activestills account on Flickr says it all. Look at this and think about all the ways in which these folks are harnessing the power of all those mobile phone cameras out there. That’s all you need to know about Flickr. See

MATERIAL INCENTIVES & ACTIPEDIA
This kinda stuff seems more like marketing than organizing to me, but it’s worth noting the impact campaigns by companies like Bell and Air Canada have online when they offer material incentives of one sort or another. Is there something here we can make use of? I suspect not. Union mugs in exchange for. . . .
The Actipedia.org project aims to create a database of useful case studies we can access in the search for tactics and tech that work. On the day I wrote this there were stories of effective actions in Mexico, Australia and Tunisia. Look for useful stuff and leave your own stuff behind.
I’ve mentioned Corey Doctorow here before. Here I go again. With the holidays coming (yes, they are), if you’re looking for a book (paper or digital) for a young adult, give some thought to Doctorow’s most recent release, Pirate Cinema. Help give the budding digital revolutionary in your social circle some good ideas. Best of all, you can take a peek before you buy by downloading the entire book. If you’re like me, buy it if you love it (http://craphound.com/pc/).