If you could give 130 digital campaigners and emerging mobilization pros from every part of the world a single “must read” book or article to read to deepen their knowledge and expand their horizons of participatory, net-centric, people-powered campaigning, what would it be?
We scanned our bookmarks. We talked to colleagues, friends and other practitioners, and here’s what we winnowed the list down to. What’s missing? What’s here that shouldn’t be? Please add your notes in the comments so that we can keep improving and updating the list.
In the meantime, this is what many of our staff and colleagues will be reading as they make their way to Italy this weekend for our third Digital Mobilisation Skillshare.
Pro tip: You can download the entire package as an ebook and send it to your device of choice; just jump to the end for links.
What is Web 2.0 | Tim O’Reilly
RELEVANCE: How do we leverage growing web platforms to achieve campaign objectives faster or more efficiently? How can we design campaigns as platforms for networked action vs campaigns as broadcast information?
In this seminal essay, O’Reilly coins and articulates the idea of “Web 2.0,” a buzz term that is often now thrown around so loosely that it has lost its original meaning. The core concept is the “Web as platform.” … This concept is made manifest in, for example, the way Wikipedia harnesses user-generated content; or, the way Netflix harnesses user ratings to recommend other movies to its audience. O’Reilly discusses how the Web can be used to take advantage of the sprawling, constantly growing digital world to accomplish larger goals, in business, social organizing and beyond. (As summarized by Nicco Mele.)
RELEVANCE: Effective campaign storytelling empowers and inspires people in ways unique to most current marketing approaches.
Jonah Sachs traces the history of the growing field of marketing products in ways that make us better people and the world a better place. This is an excerpt from Sach’s excellent book, Story Wars.
The Engagement Pyramid: Six Levels of Connecting People and Social Change | Gideon Rosenblatt
RELEVANCE: What does it look like to “engage” people — how do we cultivate, observe, and measure it?
“The most effective social change organizations understand how to wield their portfolio of engagement tactics in Zen-like fashion; knowing just what kind of touch is called for to influence the outcomes of a particular decision. They also know how to meet people where they are at, and craft their calls to action appropriately so as to match the specific level of interest and commitment from each person they ask. These organizations also tend to have good processes for stewarding people toward ever higher levels of engagement in their mission.”
Engagement Organizing: The culture and technology of building power | Matt Price & Jon Stahl
RELEVANCE: The behaviors and practices of organizations that value people power
“We are in the midst of a historic shift from one era of social change advocacy to another. A world of expert-driven, direct mail oriented organizations is giving way to nimble, data-driven, learning organizations that place relationship building and mobilization of supporters at the heart of their work.”
The Anatomy of People-Powered Campaigns | Mobilisation Lab
RELEVANCE: Four criteria for planning or evaluating effective mobilisation efforts
Every campaign starts with a strong vision of where we want to go. Exceptional campaigns do more than tell a compelling story. They value every individual’s unique potential to achieve something greater than they ever could on their own, and they build collective power in the process. These campaigns give people the information they need to inspire others and react quickly to changing times, to avoid obstacles and seize opportunities. Campaigners need a mix of these four ingredients to build successful people-powered campaigns.
The Secret of Scale | Peter Murray
RELEVANCE: Investing in exceptional supporter/member experiences can drive massive growth.
Peter Murray looks at powerful civic organizations in the U.S. like the National Rifle Association (NRA), the American Association of Retired People (AARP), and megachurches to figure out how they build deeply engaged membership with strong financial support to ultimately advance their issues and achieve policy outcomes at scales far greater than “issue organizing” groups like Greenpeace or Amnesty International. Issue orgs rarely grow past a few hundred thousands members and face great challenges while large civic organizations provide tangible benefits, programs, and services (“functional organizing”) to attract members and build a loyal financial base.
We, the Web Kids | Piotr Czerski
RELEVANCE: Millenials and digital natives experience the world differently; how well do our campaigns meet their needs?
“The Web to us is not a technology which we had to learn and which we managed to get a grip of. The Web is a process, happening continuously and continuously transforming before our eyes; with us and through us.”
350 Global Day of Action: A New Bright Line for Digital Organizing | Michael Silberman
RELEVANCE: How internet-era, network-centric organizatons function and bridge online/offline.
How did a small group of recent university graduates organise 5,245 simultaneous actions in 181 countries to create what CNN called “the biggest day of political action in history”? This story goes behind the scenes to surface the combined online and on-ground organizing and networking tactics that made this event possible.
The Future of Civil Disobedience Online | Molly Sauter
RELEVANCE: What could online non-violent direct action (NVDA) or digital activism look like in our campaigns?
Familiar political tools like petitions, fundraisers, mass letter-writing, call-in campaigns now have online equivalents. But what about protest tactics like street marches, picket lines, sit-ins, and occupations? Where is the room on the internet for civil disobedience?
Institutions vs. Collaboration (VIDEO) | Clay Shirky
RELEVANCE: The internet enables individuals to work together in unprecedented ways to solve big problems; how can we design campaigns that facilitate mass collaboration?
In this TED talk, Clay Shirky shows how closed groups and companies will give way to looser networks where small contributors have big roles and fluid cooperation replaces rigid planning.
RELEVANCE: “Big data” is just a buzzword but testing and optimisation practices can generate big results in our campaigns.
This story takes a deep dive into how President Obama’s campaign used big data to rally individual voters.
“Third-Order” Engagement | Gideon Rosenblatt
RELEVANCE: How do we inspire individuals to take a campaign/mission into their own hands.
“Third-order engagement enrolls customers and partners in connecting your organization to additional customers and partners. Third-order engagement is not just the responsibility of the marketing and other outward-facing teams. It requires a fundamental rethink of the organization – and how its processes for creating value can be opened up to people outside the organization.”