25 March 2013

e-action: important but sometimes illusory?

After hosting an incredibly productive New Media Working Group session on the topic of the hidden (in plain sight) infrastructure of digital communications, I resolved to wipe out at least a few emails from my webmail inboxes in order to decrease my remote data center storage carbon footprint. Out went 300 thank-you emails for signing online petitions. 300? I always get the vague sense after contributing my online signature to a dozen different petitions every week that some clever NRA lobbyist or Fox executive is chuckling at the energy expended that could've gone into posting a single paper letter or showing up at a single protest for a cause and perhaps thereby making a greater if narrower concrete difference. There's no disputing that online action is tremendously powerful; hence the GOP's decision last week to start taking cues from the Obama campaign's online presence. But how much of the flurry of activity is keeping people at their desks under the illusion of making a difference in the world? Should I be patting myself on the back or berating myself?

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