Sunday, July 2, 2017

Food for Thought: #Nuclearban's Network Character

Global Connectivity


I have written quite a bit encouraging people to be interested in the network aspect of our joint peace promotion endeavors - particularly as it relates to a truly global peace activism community.

I continue to believe that there is a great leap forward that is available to us if we devote more attention to the network character of what we are doing.

It is so close, we can practically taste it. The current work on a global nuclear weapons ban treaty -- particularly connected via social media and #nuclearban hashtag -- brings these network dimensions tangibly close.

In the course of any one individual's activism efforts, they inevitably bump up against the realization that each of us -- even the most prolific, even the most creative -- is limited. But there truly is power in the network: a strong network just keeps getting bigger and stronger and more effective, even as individual nodes (er, people) wax and wane.

What should this realization lead us to do?

Here are three recommendations:


(1) Laboratory Approach

I believe there is a lot that could be learned by putting some of the recent activity (e.g. with respect to #nuclearban) under a microscope.

Activists may not be inclined to sift through several weeks or months of social media communication, but there are lots of talented people who could contribute to this. Data mining and #peacetech are growing areas of interest.

There are existing apps, such as Bluenod, that can be used to take a first stab at this. And there is readily-available data on the major social media platforms -- there for the analyzing by anyone comfortable using a little code. (See Matthew A. Russell, Mining the Social Web: Data Mining Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, GitHub, and More)



#nuclearban Twitter community on Bluenod



(2) Actionable Research Output

Just about every activist and activist organization engages in social media communication. Most organizations (and even some individuals) have an explicit plan to "up their social media game." Some even have staff devoting substantial amounts of their time to just doing social media campaigns.

It seems reasonable that the laboratory approach suggested in (1) above have as a near-term objective communicating its discoveries to organizations (and individuals) that have a real commitment to using them to become more effective.

That naturally points to the desirability of starting the conversation as soon as possible. If people digging into the true face of the social web-driven global peace community know what activist organizations are already observing and conjecturing, and what they wish they know and what they hope they will someday be able to accomplish, they can be that much more alert in their researches.

For instance, in my very limited experience in this area, it seems to me that the evolving global nature of network raises the question for every activist organization, "How much of our effort should be directed at communicating with people who are already part of our audience? How much to people we are not currently reaching? How do we decide the amount of resources to spend on various approaches? How do we gauge return on investment?" In other words, should we be thinking Montana? or Mongolia?


Mongolia: lots of #nuclear ban supporters
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(3) Expand the Conversation

As someone who not-so-long ago moved to the Bay Area I'm having an epiphany . . . .

The technology and social media tools we are using today were, in many cases, conceived by people who are profoundly interested in how these (or next stage) applications can help society be better.

Evan Williams
For instance, this article made me think, "Here's someone who's spending his days asking the same questions I am asking!": "'The Internet Is Broken': @ev Is Trying to Salvage It." "'I thought once everybody could speak freely and exchange information and ideas, the world is automatically going to be a better place,' Evan Williams says. 'I was wrong about that.'" By the way, Williams created Blogger (on which this blog is published), was one of the founders of Twitter, and has a new project called Medium.

People like Ev Williams may or may not identify themselves as "peace activists," but they and we share some major concerns, and they have enormous resources to contribute.

Resolved: I will meet some new people . . . and have some conversations . . . even if I have to (gulp) leave the East Bay to do it!


The #nuclearban effort on the ground is surging ahead. Now is the perfect time to explore the network character of #nuclearban -- a little measurement and analysis, a little actionable research output, and some scintillating conversation.


To be continued . . . .


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