Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Digital advocacy making impact

Joining a Facebook group may mean more than you think. Digital advocacy, whether in the form of Facebook groups, twitter or blogs, is beginning to carry weight in Canada and across the world.

"It's very much still the beginning of the curve for digital advocacy and digital democratic participation in Canada," said digital public affairs strategist Mark Blevis. Blevis referenced the Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament Facebook group, now at more than 220, 000 members, as an example of growing digital advocacy.

Blevis added that while, now, "face-time" is more effective in causing governmental change, online advocacy is rapidly gaining currency and will eventually be on par with strategies like letter-writing.

According to Internet scholar Michael Geist, digital advocacy is effective for ten reasons, which he discussed at a Google event in 2008:
  1. Organizing power
  2. Online and offline (arranging offline advocacy online)
  3. Mainstream media (getting coverage)
  4. Educates
  5. Action (lets people know what they can do)
  6. Speed
  7. Digital tools (overcoming web surveillance)
  8. Localized (local branches of large groups)
  9. Government 2.0 (e.g. e-petitions)
  10. General purpose sites (greater usage, harder to block)
In his Toronto Star column, Geist cites successful examples of digital advocacy in Canada thus far, including the Facebook group against changing laws for young drivers and his own Fair Copyright for Canada group. Both groups were able to prompt government action.

"It's exciting to see how this is all evolving," said Blevis.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for including me in your research and post, Michelle. I'm glad that you're helping to raise awareness about the role digital advocacy can play in shaping our community and country.

    It was great speaking with you.