· Mission · Directors and Staff · Advisory Board · Faculty Affiliates · Center Fellows · Collaborations · Contact Us · Make a Gift · Sponsors
· Undergraduate Research · Working Papers and Publications · Interdisciplinary Ph.D. · What's the Economy for, Anyway?
· Northwest Social Forum· The Jury and Democracy Project · The Digital Election: 2004 · WTO History Project · 2002 Election Web Archive · Comparative Perspectives
· MacArthur Digital Media & Learning Project· Becoming Citizens · Citizen Roundtable· Student Voices · Resources
· Culture Jamming · Issue Campaigns
· Democracy and Internet Technology · Middle Media · Seattle Political Information Network
· About the Project· Global Voices Interviews · Current Research · Citizen Information Channels · Global Scholars and Practioners
· News & Events · Past Conferences




Self-Organizing Networks and Coalitions

Websites powered with innovative social software are helping advocacy groups online to connect, creating new and powerful networks and coalitions. Features of self-organizing websites allow users to collectively grow the site by adding their organization to the site’s coalition and by adding content to the site such as articles, calendars of events, and online petitions. Some sites facilitate volunteer matching, allowing organizations and volunteers to find each other by entering in criteria such as area of advocacy, skills, and location. Other sites let engaged citizens select customized content to receive via email. By fostering collaborative online activist communities such sites facilitate relationships between users and give them opportunities for a deeper involvement in the site (contributing rather than merely consuming) and, by extension, the movement to which it pertains.

Self Organizing Activist Sites

A coalition of over 35,000 nonprofit and community organizations in 165 countries, Idealist.org allows visitors to search or browse by organization name, location or mission. If an organization is not yet listed, visitors to the site can add it. Individuals can use Idealist to define what information they would like to receive by email from among the job openings, volunteer opportunities, internships, events, and resources posted on the site by organizations all over the world. Visitors can also design their perfect volunteer opportunity for themselves by setting up Volunteer Profiles. These Profiles can then be searched by organizations in Idealist. The site also allows visitors to find people around the world who share their interests, goals and ideas. Organizations can post job openings, volunteer opportunities, events, internships, campaigns, and resources and can find volunteers that want to work with you by looking through the Volunteer Profiles created by individuals on the site.

eActivist.org invites non-profit organizations to post actions to the site.

The Petition Site (a partner on the eActivist.org site)
Anyone can create a petition which will be "live" for collecting signatures immediately after it is created.

Stop the War Coalition
A coalition of trade unions, civil liberties organizations, anti-racism groups, women’s groups, peace groups, community organizations, gay and lesbian groups, student organizations, religious groups, environmental groups and other organizations that united in opposition to the U.S.-led war on Iraq.

United for Peace and Justice
Like the Stop the War Coalition, the United for Peace and Justice web site permits groups to fill out a form, adding their organization to the coalition web site. United for Peace and Justice is a coalition of more than 650 local and national groups throughout the United States who have joined together to oppose the U.S. government's policy of permanent warfare and empire-building.

The Kubatana Trust of Zimbabwe aims to strengthen the use of internet strategies by Zimbabwean NGOs and civil society. Kubatana is working to make human rights and civic education information accessible to the general public from a centralised, electronic source.
Goals of the Kubatana project include developing an e-activism page for on-line campaigns and linking existing Zimbabwean NGO and civil society web sites to the portal. Visitors to the site can complete an online form, giving detailed info about your organization for posting to the Kubatana.net site.

Articles on Self-Organizing on the Web and Social Software

The Augmented Social Network: Building Identity and Trust into the Next-Generation Internet: A Link Tank Report by Ken Jordan, Jan Hauser, and Steven Foster
Could the next generation of online communications strengthen civil society by better connecting people to others with whom they share affinities, so they can more effectively exchange information and self-organize? Could such a system help to revitalize democracy in the 21st century?

Self-Organizing Sites by Alam Hisham

Hollering Into Cyberspace by Allie Gottlieb

Web Antidote for Political Apathy by Leander Kahney
In October the BBC plans to release a website designed to help Britons organize and run grassroots political campaigns. The site, dubbed iCan, is designed to help citizens investigate issues that concern them, find others who share those concerns and provide advice and tools for organizing and engaging in the political process. Creators of the site say that the idea is to provide a loosely structured set of tools to make it easy for ordinary citizens to run their own activist campaigns on the Net, and hope that television coverage of emerging campaigns on the site will form a feedback loop -- political activism becomes a subject for the news, which in turn generates more political activism, and so on.

A Revolution for Revolt by Alistair Alexander
Using…its website, the central office of the Stop the War Coalition communicates with a rapidly growing network of local groups that provide much of the movement's organisation. Those local groups communicate with their members and the wider movement through their own mailing lists, group text messages and local websites. The groups also run their own press campaigns with local media…meetings draw people from every ethnic background, class, age and political persuasion, who you could hardly imagine meeting in any other circumstance…The reason people get involved is not for online discussions, but for offline protest such as Saturday's march. The internet simply makes that process more accessible to people who would not normally get involved in politics…The web has allowed Stop the War to connect with people in a way politicians have failed to do. The much hyped age of online politics has finally arrived.

Dispatch from Britain by Maria Margaronis
On the first day of the invasion, spontaneous protests sprang up across [Britain] in response to the Stop the War Coalition's call for a walkout from work, school or college. In Leeds, protesters closed the main motorway; in Manchester several thousand young people shut down the city center. Civil servants left government offices, including the deputy prime minister's. Thousands of schoolchildren walked out of class under their teachers' noses, roaring and chanting, sitting in the streets. The young are back in politics with a vengeance, high on that heady mix of joy at their own rebellion and horror at the war. Saturday's demonstration in London surprised even the organizers: More than 200,000 people marched to Hyde Park with whistles, horns and drums, making a most un-British racket. Girls in hijab walked with girls in crop tops, peace slogans lipsticked on their faces.

BBC to Launch Citizen Activism Site by Howard Rheingold

Writing the Web by Al Williams
Self-organizing sites let users create content. For example, Wiki lets any user edit or post pages. This practice is in stark contrast to the usual Web model, in which the Web is regarded as a one-way medium, and like television, you have a group of broadcasters providing content to an audience.

Are You Ready for Social Software? By Stowe Boyd
Social software supports the desire of individuals to be pulled into groups to achieve goals. Social software allows us to create new social groupings and then new sorts of social conventions arise. Social software works bottom-up. Over time, more sophisticated social software will exploit second and third order information from such affiliations — friends of friends; digital reputation based on level of interaction, rating schemes and the like. Social software reflects the "juice" that arises from people's personal interactions. It's not about control, it's about co-evolution: people in personal contact, interacting towards their own ends, influencing each other. But there isn't a single clearly defined project, per se. It's a sprawling, tentacled world, where social dealings are inductive, going from the individual, to a group, to many groups and, finally, to the universe.

Sites Addressing Social Software Issues

Social Software Alliance
SSA was formed to assist, support and defend the creation of social software standards and practices.

Organizers’ Collaborative
Our staff and volunteers have scoured the Internet and located over 280 links relevant to computers and social change organizing.

Could the next generation of online communications strengthen civil society by better connecting people to others with whom they share affinities, so they can more effectively exchange information and self-organize? Could such a system help to revitalize democracy in the 21st century?