Say you suspect the president of your country is using the Presidential airplane to go shopping and sightseeing in Paris instead of for official state purposes. Or say your government has blocked YouTube because too many videos showing police brutality have been uploaded there. Or suppose you spent years using Freedom of Information laws to request access to government data and now you have thousands of pages of a complex budget in front of you. What can you do with this information? How can you turn information into action?
Here's a good place to start: 10 tactics for turning information to action - a 50-minute film by the Tactical Technology Collective that showcases some of the most successful tactics and strategies for using information to create change. The video highlights the experiences of activists from around the world that are using video, photos, SMS text-messaging, blogging and campaigning on platforms like Google Maps, Google Earth, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, and blip.
Last night my colleague Sam Gregory (who is featured in the film and also serves on Tactical Tech's board) and I attended a screening of 10 tactics organized by the Open Society Institute in New York City. After the screening, a panel led by Sam and two inspiring contributors to the film - Melissa Gira Grant and Tessa Lewin - gave way to an interesting discussion with questions about measuring success in info-activism and addressing the ethics of online media. Here's the trailer for the film:
For me, it's always inspiring to see how far a bit of creativity goes: the Tunisian activists who tracked images of the Presidential plane at different international airports to prove it was being used for personal travel (see tactic 3); the feminist activists from the Women and Memory Forum in Egypt who are rewriting traditional Arabic fairytales and folklore to challenge prevalent representations of women in popular culture (see tactic 1); the Slovakian activists from the Fair Play Alliance that created an online database to track how the government spends its money and find conflicts of interests between officials and the contracts awarded (see tactic 3).
The information presented in 10 tactics is simple, effective, and easy to understand - it also comes accompanied by a set of 10 cards that summarize each tactic and provide additional tips and case studies. Later this month, the cards and videos will be available in eleven languages on the 10 tactics website. To learn more and start using the tactics in your own work, you can download the cards, attend an upcoming screening (or organize your own), and even translate the video into your own language.
Also, if you're not already familiar with them, I highly recommend the other Tactical Tech toolkits:
* Message in-a-box: tips on creating campaign blogs, websites, videos, podcasts, and more
* Mobiles in-a-box: how to design and implement a mobile advocacy strategy
* Security in-a-box: learn how to identify potential digital security risks in your advocacy work
* Visualising Information for Advocacy: tips on translating complex data to simple visual messages
* Maps for Advocacy: incorporate mapping into your campaigning
* Quick 'n' Wasy Guide to Online Advocacy: a great introduction on taking your campaigns online
Have resources of your own? Please share them in the comments field below!