The internet and its services are enabling effective protest: Betsy DeVos edition
When I say “enabling” effective protest, I mean only in providing a way for groups to communicate and work together. Their work, however, is still required, and it has to be more than marching in protest, which is fun—and an opportunity to meet people, make contacts, plan, identify resources and next steps, and organize and start to work. And the Internet greatly facilitates not only the quick and efficient organization of the Womens March on Washington—endless details quickly resolved, great visual symbol, terrific impact nationally and even globally. Not bad for a bunch of amateurs, but really revealing the power of a distributed approach, drawing on and pooling the expertise of many individuals: crowd-sourcing, in effect. And efficiently: nowadays good project management software abounds and many people have experience in using them: expertise from the crowd.
Now look at this story in Salon by Taylor Link:
On her first day as the head of the education department, Betsy DeVos learned that American teachers have to buy their own pencils.
In a tweet that quickly went viral, Devos shared her first moment in her new office.
Day 1 on the job is done, but we’re only getting started. Now where do I find the pencils? 🙂 pic.twitter.com/0vRKF1opE9
— Betsy DeVos (@BetsyDeVos) February 9, 2017
What was supposed to be a harmless message has now been turned against her. Hundreds — from retired teachers to concerned citizens — responded to the tweet by informing the new education secretary that many school districts lack the resources to provide enough pencils for their class.
Teachers usually buy pencils out of their own pockets. Maybe @BetsyDeVos could buy them where she bought the senators who confirmed her. https://t.co/MMtnbpoS4a
— Phyllis Bush (@qbgone) February 9, 2017
“Where are the pencils *smiley face*” meanwhile teachers all over the country have to use their own money to buy supplies for their classes.
— Bassey (@Basseyworld) February 9, 2017
The billionaire Republican donor . . .
What Twitter does:
- It is an efficient way to voice opinions.
- It is public: you can see how many others are voicing opinions.
- Your contact information is included, so if the government goes very authoritarian, they have a handy list of dissidents.
- Your contact information is included, so dissidents can identify each other and communicate directly with each other to organize.
That last thing is a bit tricky. Trolls are clever, and some will want to play a long con, joining and going along to see what’s happening and who are the nexus points.
Avoiding that would, I think, require a good procedure of personal vetting, with a multistep entry.