Interdisciplinary Inquiry

07/02/2012

New Social Media Site Launched for Activists

Lokashakti, a nonprofit organization based in New York City, is dedicated to promoting peace and social justice through collective nonviolent action. Lokashakti recently announced the launch of a new social media site for activists, the Lokashakti Peace & Social Justice Network. Unlike other social media, the Lokashakti Network is noncommercial and exists mainly to facilitate real-world activism, embodying the phrase, “Think globally, act locally.”  

By giving people concrete ways to get involved wherever they are, the Lokashakti Network emphasizes local activism while building a worldwide potential for coordinated, collective nonviolent action.  Reflecting the site’s international outlook, the name Lokashakti is inspired by Indian freedom fighter and Gandhian activist Vinoba Bhave.  It means "power of the people" in Hindi.

With the 2011 revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt followed by #Occupy protests in cities across the globe, social media is increasingly acknowledged as an invaluable tool for social change.  What’s missing, however, is a platform to efficiently compile and display all the opportunities to engage in activism that are dispersed so widely online.  The Lokashakti Network is designed to fill this need.  As a crowdsourced hub for collecting and amplifying the efforts of millions of people working for peace and social justice, the Lokashakti Network acts as a conduit for mobilizing dissent and building social movements around the world.

Among the top priorities at Lokashakti is helping people transition away from mere “slacktivism” to actual involvement with nearby local groups and engagement in nonviolent action.  The Lokashakti Network Map does an excellent job of easing this transition, searchable by any number of fields, and populated with local organizations uploaded by Lokashakti users.  A related tool is the Lokashakti Events Calendar, which features an extensive, crowdsourced listing of actions and events, searchable by name, date, location, hashtag, category, or sponsoring organization.  The idea is to make it as easy as possible for people to find out what’s going on near them at any given time, lowering a key barrier to entry for potential activists.

The Lokashakti Network also has much to offer those already working for peace and justice.  In addition to radically simplifying the process of learning about actions and events, activists can stay updated on organizations by joining their Network page.  With some of the most useful online collaborative tools available, members gain access to discussion boards, announcements, photo-, video-, and file-sharing, text messaging, and private group chat. These organizing features will be increased over time, especially as development begins on mobile applications and integration with other software and social media is prioritized.

With a Network page on Lokashakti, organizations can instantly increase their online presence, build and strengthen membership, and gain a larger, more diverse audience for actions and events.  Pages are search-engine friendly and benefit from being based on a large, open source content management system.  Additionally, early users will experience a distinct advantage with increased attention for any pages and events added during the initial beta phase, as more and more people begin to visit the site.

Although still in its infancy, the Lokashakti Network has already begun to house an impressive and growing collection.  The interactive map brings together over 350 organizations, with new events added to the calendar every day.  In addition, a curated educational resources section features authoritative encyclopedia articles, a multimedia library, and nearly 600 inspirational quotes related to nonviolence, peace, and social justice.

As with all social media, the more people who contribute to the site, the more useful the site becomes.  Every new user and every new crowdsourced organization or event helps build the power of the people.  With so much recent momentum generated by the intersection of social media and nonviolent movements for social change, the Lokashakti Network has the potential to help usher in a radical new era, putting into practice the words of Arundhati Roy: “The only thing worth globalizing is dissent.”

(Crossposted from the Lokashakti Netwrok website. To learn more, visit: http://www.lokashakti.org.)


Posted at 05:09 AM

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