Oct 12

3D: New Environment for Internet Activism

The new environment is evolved from 2D internet to 3D internet, as a result of development in computer games, computer hardware and increased broadband connection, is called as “virtual world ” which can be defined as a “synchronous, persistent, network of people, represented by avatars, facilitated by computers.” (Bell, 2008). As understood from the definition, “This environment frequently exists 24/7 and persists even when users are not within it. These worlds can have realistic representations of buildings and rooms and earth-like terrain with natural vegetation, animals, or animated objects” (Robbins & Butler, 2009)

The virtual world platform creates an opportunity to import real world activism to virtual world platforms. The first example was the action by the Second Life Liberation Army. The Second Life Liberation Army is a virtual group protesting the lack of democratic decision making in the running of Second Life because the users where creating all the content but have no rights regarding the direction the space takes (second life is managed by corporate entity Linden Labs – lindenlab.com).

The Second Life Liberation Army’s first second life “inworld” action was at virtual store of American Apparel store chain. The US clothing chain had previously opened the virtual store to sell virtual clothes that can be worn my Second avatars. During protests, several number of Second Life Liberation Army volunteers entered the American Apparel store and prevented avatars from making purchases. This led American Apparel and other corporate entities that were the target of SLLA attacks are closing their operations and moving out of Second Life.[1]

Here we can say that SLLA is asking for social change as a result, it could match with the description of Crosley (2002)  as a social movement

[1] http://slla.blogspot.se/ I could find this infro here but forbes link was not accessible at this blog post, yet it depicts an example of virtual world protests


Oct 12

What is Social movement ?

There are several movements on new media but we have to define what is social movement? In order to prevent either supplying a simple definition or a more complex, broad definition, Crossley (2002) did not offer any form of definition to the concept of social movements, instead, he adopted a more open approach of defining some common social groups and comparing their shared properties to see what make them social movements. Crossley admits that social movements are “collective ventures” but at the same time raise the question: “what makes a venture count as collective”? (Crossley, 2002, p.1&2).
To analytically examine movements, Crossley takes in to consideration of the definitions of four (4) sociologically notorious theorists, namely Blumer, Eyerman & Jamison, Tarrow, Della Porta & Diani. Blumer(1969: 99) taught that social movements could be viewed as collective enterprises seeking to establish a new order of life; having their foundation in a condition of unrest and deriving their motive power from wishes and hopes for a new system of life but are embarked into the dissatisfaction of the current form of life. (Crossley, 2002, p.3). Here it is very important to re-emphasize that as Crossley also agrees with and quoted from  Blumer, Crossley distinguish social movements from forms of collective action that are result of immediate reactions  due to collective discontent such as “panics or mass hysteria” and that are not aiming to rebuilt social life in order to  dig to the root of the problem and change the system. We can give several examples as reaction from social media crowd: such as anger to a new president election or new government but does not end up with real opposition group against the government. Anger of basketball fans at facebook groups or at twitter channel due to match. We can call these as collective online actions but these are not social movement until they seek a social change and become a social activity that seeks to have a “new form of life”

Even though, it can be said that the collective action of any group of social actors and the result they produce (whether through protests or dialogue, whether it is online or on the streets) must affect society at large or get reaction of wide audience of the society in order to qualify as a social movement, I would argue with this and also consider that, a group even that has little impact on the society, if continuously and collectively show reaction or resistance or aim to change the system and form of life should be accepted as social movement. For example, gay & lesbian movement, even though some countries could not get collective action, is indeed a social movement.

Oct 12

Internet has constructed new media

Media technology has transformed last century and before we talk about media activism, we think it is important to go back and discuss on knowledge of the development of media during last two decades. Last 2 decades shows us the dramatic changes in media and the way people engage with media. These changes are especially seen after the fall of Berlin Wall in 1989 and resulted in alteration of media in the world (Hemmer & Tufte).

First, new media technologies have been developing in such a way that have resulted in lowering cost of broadcasting. Currently, it is almost relatively no cost to have an online newspaper and online radio or online YouTube channel or even to create a Opensim open source based virtual world or to create avatar in SecondLife to spread to word to the virtual world residents. Second, new media tools removed barriers to produce content. Third, new technology increased the number of media organizations and media mediums: newspapers, radio stations, televisions, and internet (also we need to count online newspapers, online radios, online tvs here). Finally, new technologies provided a new type of interaction with the source of media, content providers as well as readers. Thus, because of new media has become more popular among people, we strongly believe that internet has constructed a new type of media.