Organizationless Organizing

Beka Economopoulos recently posted to the IDC list, about her experience with Twitter Vote Report:

Inspired by the use of Twitter at the RNC and DNC mobilizations this year, they imagined a more scalable scenario in which the tool might function to crowd-source election reporting (and ultimately protection) efforts. Over the course of several days the idea took hold among a broader community of developers, designers and activists. In just a couple of weeks, using pbWiki, IRC chat channels, physical coding parties, a googlegroups listserv, and daily lunchtime calls, a team of volunteers were able to launch a multi-channel reporting system, a nice looking site, graphics, badges, training videos, downloadable flyers, sample outreach emails, and more.

It sounds very much like what we did with GetFISARight, and what I called at the time, “nomadic democracy“:

…organizing and participating in the Get FISA Right movement has been “ridiculously” easy. We’re using free, social software tools to connect, to think through ideas, to collaborate, all with the aim of taking the passion and energy created on Barack Obama’s website and shape it into political action.

So we’re using email and a listserv. We have a wiki from Wetpaint. We’re using Google Groups and Google Docs to create initial drafts before posting them for public review. And we’re using social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook to get the word out.

One of the goals of the GetFISARight group was to serve as a model, from which others could learn, and improve upon, in order to take advantage of the technologies available today to create political action.

What I was getting at with the term “nomadic” is the centerless-ness of these kinds of groups, how it is a really a patchwork of different sites and services that people can use to connect to each other, how action is created from a multiplicity of tools, rather than a single point — it’s no longer simply “we need a web site.” And the potential of these kinds of effort actually stems from the centerlessness of it all.

Perhaps a better term would have been “organizationless organizing,” to paraphrase the subtitle of Shirky’s “Here Comes Everybody.”

That’s really what this is. I have no idea if GetFISARight did serve as a model for the Twitter Vote Report group (I do know at least one person involved with both efforts) — it might just be that in addition to these kinds of technologies becoming “boring,” they might also now be “obvious.”

We’re getting to the point where this type of organizationless organizing is becoming second nature.


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