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Social Movements/ Digital Revolutions Conference

When: Friday, October 21, 2011, 3:00 pm to Sunday, October 23, 2011, 10:00 am
Where: Lesley University • Cambridge

Social Movements - Digital Revolutions

Digital Media Conference/Grassroots Use of Technology Conference

The Friday event will be the opening plenary, Saturday will be the main day and, depending on workshop proposals, we may have sessions on Sunday.

We are going to have a strong peace movement component to this... all with an emphasis on challenging power through activism, media, communications and global networking. I am writing an invitation the peace movement that explains the conference's value for our shared objectives.

The workshop list from 2009 is here: Some of the workshops
most relevant to the movement from back then were:

Countering Military Recruitment Using Open Source Mapping Tools
Introduction to Social Media: A Primer for Facebook and Twitter

In addition to those types of workshops, this time we will have bloggers from the Middle East joining the conversation, Suren Moodliar will be doing a workshop on the State Department's and Pentagon's Smart Power/Social Media strategy in the Global South, and we hope to have well-known opponent of US foreign policy join us from abroad. 

Sponsored by Massachusetts Global Action, Organizers' Collaborative, and Open Media Boston. -



From Cairo's Tahrir Square to Madrid's Plaza del Sol to the Wisconsin's Capitol Building grassroots social movements seem to crystallize out of invisible digital & social networks. Each movement demonstrates a distinctive efficacy and finds a unique place in national and global histories. Each one defines a moment that is also publicly constructed through interplay of traditional, often state- or corporate-controlled broadcast media and our still novel, semi-permeable, social media. Against the twin powers of state and capital, these movements may not yet have prevailed, but they are undeniably changing relationships of power and therewith, oppositional strategy.

For progressive organizers in the United States, the challenge is to weave together the particular stories of our struggles—be they in defense of rights we long thought won (collective bargaining, pensions, affirmative action, social security, due process) but that are now under threat; or in recovery of rights years ago ceded or compromised (good jobs, authorship, fairness doctrine, affordable higher education, privacy); or in pursuit of rights long sought but never achieved on a national scale (health care, green cities, mass transit, secure housing).

The emerging social-movements rising to these challenges have many actors, each with diverse skill sets and disciplinary inclinations. Their work has many moving parts - raising many questions to be answered and introducing new skills to be learned. Though global in aspiration and framing, our conference will start from the perspective of communities in the vortex of social change processes that are profoundly defined by economic location, race, gender, sexuality and place in the class struggles of our time. As such our conference traverses big-picture questions, organizing strategy and tactical choices. Reflecting the breadth of issues, workshops are being organized into three primary tracks:

1. Privacy, the Digital Self, Public Action

a. How to Protect Our Privacy?

b. How to Act in the Public Arena?

c. What Are the Regime Changes Needed to Protect Privacy?

Examples of substantive topics under this theme: Wikileaks, Facebook & other social media (including games), Second Life and other virtual worlds, FBI Spying on Activists, Privacy Toolkit; Individual, Organizational and Cloud-Based Data


2. Digital Media and Democracy

a. How Do We Positively Empower Individuals and Communities to Tell Their Own Stories?

b. What Tools Are Now Available to Empower Our Projects? How Do We Use Them?

c. Which Media Changes Impact Our Democracy? How Do We Promote or Oppose Them? How Can We Build a Better, More Democratic Media at All Levels?

Examples of substantive topics under this theme: Democratizing Public Media, Expanding Community Media, Challenging Corporate Media


3. Building Grassroots & Cultural Organizations, Networks and Movements

a. What Are the Digital Challenges to Grassroots Organizing?

b. Which Digital Solutions Actually Solve Our Problems?

c. How Have the Digital Revolutions Changed Resource Mobilization?

d. Concrete Issues and Meaningful Solutions (including housing rights, debt, health, employment, climate justice, peace and education)

Examples of substantive topics under this theme: Micro-donations, Foundations, Funding Strategy, GPS and other location-based services, Webinars, Decision & Deliberative Conversation Tech (including voting & polling), Data Sharing, Collaborative Research


Massachusetts Global Action, Open Media Boston, TecsChange, and the Organizers’ Collaborative call upon artists, activists & organizers, writers, poets, scholars, and other change makers to join in conversation: propose and organize workshops, present your papers and projects on our website, and connect with us to share your suggestions. 

Contact us via the conference website: or or send us an e-mail to

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