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“In the midst of difficulty lies opportunity.”
- Albert Einstein
These were the words of Albert Einstein from not so long ago and I believe that as a part of the environmental movement we are living in difficult times. In the face, of climate change and a host of other environmental problems brought by our combined unsustainable lifestyles I believe that we are at a tipping point where real and lasting action should be taken now more than ever.
Keeping that in mind, I also believe that it is in these difficult time that we are given that grand opportunity to save the world, especially with the advent of what we have come to call as - New Media.
What is new media?
I’m pretty sure that most of you guys as all my other peers in Greenpeace and in other groups are asking: “What is new media in the first place?”
The people who are smarter than me who choose to make their wisdom manifest in the internet via our favorite reference site Wikipedia has defined new media as this:
“New media is a term meant to encompass the emergence of digital, computerized, or networked information and communication technologies in the later part of the 20th century.”
Moreover it could be said that most of the technologies that are described as "new media" are in short digital, often having characteristics of being editable, networkable (as in easy to share).
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Interactivity is the word
What strikes me most as to what new media has to offer in general is the fact that it is interactive. When I say interactive is that in a sense if we would contrast it to what we call as ‘old media’ (that is print, radio and television), new media offers the capacity to facilitate user-to-user interactivity and interactivity between user and information.
Which means that any individual with the right technology can now produce his or her online media and include images, text, and sound about whatever he or she chooses, therefore shifting the model of mass communication (one to many), and radically shapes the ways we interact and communicate with one another (many to many).
New media @ Greenpeace
So how does this factor in with our work at Greenpeace?
Earlier we’ve talked about how opportunity lies in difficulty and is precisely why Greenpeace is now utilizing the opportunity of extending its work online now in the face of the greatest ecological threats that we are facing in this day and age. Especially, since we are an organization that has always championed the power of individuals to effect change, cyberactivism then is a natural extension of Greenpeace's campaign work.
As technology brought about with the advent of new media also opened up opportunities for activists ranging from big international NGOs (like Greenpeace) to grassroots activists to use electronic communication technologies such as e-mail, the World Wide Web, blogs, social networks and podcasts for various forms of activism that enables faster communications, delivery of local information to a large audience, which in turn makes the job of cause-related fundraising, volunteer organizing, community building, lobbying, and public mobilization easier than it was in the past.
Greenpeace cyberactivism in a nutshell
Here at Greenpeace the strands of work in online activism can be broken down in four strands of work that we will be are doing now.
Outreach and participation. This is our way of helping people to engage more fully in civil society by giving them information, which is what we do in our website where we host almost all available information based on our campaign and scientific research data, which we allow people to access via our website’s home and more specifically Press Centre which is our one-stop resource for all the materials that we are distributing to the public.
By saying participation as an organization we offer people with the option to speak out their minds and give feedback and opinions to decision-makers.
Bearing witness via people's media. I’m pretty sure that all of you are already familiar with our core values which includes
|Greenpeace co-founder Robert 'Bob' Hunte
‘bearing witness’ so in a sense if we are to speak of bearing witness via people’s media it is using the multimedia capacity of new media to create content and to report using blogs, (picture Greenpeace co-founder Bob Hunter blogging their voyage to Amchitka ;)), Twitter and/or images and videos via Flickr, Youtube, and MMS.
Coordinating and mobilizing. This is the virtual equivalent of our work with public campaigning work wherein we use mailinglists, social networks, online forums and mobile phones to organize meetings, to put out calls to action and/or to communicate in emergencies or coordinate sponateous direct actions.
|This direct communication is an example of how our online activists are mobilized to take an offline action against the proposed Bataan Nuclear Power Plant, as most of the participants come from our supporters and cyberactivists.
Fundraising. As an extension of our work to empower people who are passionate about the environment we find the fact of our organization’s financial independence as an empowering message to encourage people to take action by putting their financial resources to groups like Greenpeace who believe that they have a stake in the struggle of saving the environment. So in order to continue in our work we are utilizing new media to raise money for Greenpeace through online donation gateways and other likeminded fundraising ventures.
As we end this session I am always faced with this question: ‘does cyberactivism work?’
It is with this thought in mind that I leave you guys with some words of wisdom from Brian Fitzgerald who has been a pillar of our online work here at Greenpeace: