Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Lolcats and Digital Activism

There’s a really neat, if long, post on WorldChanging about the relationship between cute pictures of cats and digital activism.
The Cliff Notes version:
1. The original internet (Web 1.0, back when it was pure Geekland) was invented to allow physicists to share research papers.
2. The current internet (Web 2.0, Myspaceland, Facebookland, Onlineshoppingland, like we all use) was invented to allow people to share cute pictures of cats.
3. Many of the tools people use to post cute pictures of cats (and their grandkids, and their friends drunk at a party, you get the picture) can be used by activists in oppressed countries to spread the Good Word and fight Injustice and generally be the anonymous crusaders for Freedom that we know and love.
4. Oppressive governments want to oppress these activists, and take away their means of disseminating information.
5. Joe and Jane Average may not know about the Revolution, or care, but if, all of the sudden, you take away the means to post cute pictures of their cats online, they will be seriously PISSED!!!11! and may, in fact, join the revolution because, suddenly, they are feeling personally oppressed.
6. In the interested of not pissing off Joe and Jane Average, the Oppressive Government, whose power relies in part on the Average Family accepting the status quo, is forced to do a half-assed job of censoring the dissident web content.
7. Ergo, real Activists get away with more than they would otherwise, and Joe and Jane Average, in order to better post cute pictures of their cats in places that they otherwise may not be allowed to post said cat pictures, learn some of the tools of the Activists, in order to get around the system better, thus preparing them to be miniActivists, or blossom into full blown Activists, when they start feeling the oppression.
8. Freedom of Speech, and the accompanying Positive Change, forces its way up like grass through a crack in the sidewalk. Dissidents become like dandelions, albeit less tasty in an Organic Salad, and ideally, big, Oppressive Governments come crumbling down like great big...crumbly things.
9. All men become brothers, we learn to get along, and even those of us who aren’t really Cat People come to appreciate the usefulness of cute pictures of cats.
10. It’s a lot more complicated, in real life, people get shot, imprisoned, or post pictures of their cats that, really, aren’t all that cute, but you get the idea.

Can’t stop the signal.


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