Getting in Touch with the Netroots (pt.3)

Third session of the day and it’s Who’s Being Left Out of Online Organizing. This panel was all about who’s not part of all these shiny, awesome online spaces we’ve been talking about all day at Netroots. The panel’s actually still going on, but I thought I’d put out some quick observations:

-What does it mean to be left out? Left out of what? If its “the discourse” or “democracy”, then the online organizing is simply a tactic. If its only about online political spaces, maybe we’re missing the point.

-We need to meet people where they are. It’s not just a matter of whether certain populations prefer MySpace or Facebook, its whether SMS or text messages are what people actually use. We’ve seen innovative ways that certain progressive campaigns have sought to integrate things like cell phones which is used in really interesting, subtly different ways by communities of color and women.

-Someone shared an anecdote that during the past election, a certain candidate’s campaign successfully used online organizing tools only when they were targeted towards offline actions (donating money, calling someone, etc). Can we have a conversation about online advocacy that isn’t missing the essential whole of what participation and organizing means.

-Cost and access came up over and over during the panel, whether its along racial, gender, geographic or age lines. Ultimately, if we want to break open the doors of the internet to those missing from the circles of power and agency, maybe philanthropic advocacy needs to be on our radar so that work gets funded.

Pres. Bill Clinton keynoting tonight!