Growing from Netroots

By Tim Hardy

The internet is a world-changing technology with the same potential to reinforce the grip of repressive regimes as it has to liberate the oppressed and to build strong civil societies worldwide. Its radical potential is undermined by private ownership. It is eroded by the structures of social networking  platforms that value distraction and escape over engagement and reinforce consumerism’s insatiable hunger for novelty at all times. Yet the potential remains.

Last year I deleted all of my personal blogs and social media accounts after close to a decade of participating online because of serious doubts about the value of internet engagement.

Following the first netroots uk event, I decided that this had been a mistake.

The UK is in turmoil as an ideologically motivated, Conservative-led government uses a financial crisis caused by the richest members of society as cover to launch an assault on the poorest and reverse decades of progress towards a more egalitarian society.

However imperfect, any tools that can help prevent this must be embraced. We need to mobilise people in the face of lacklustre resistance from nominally progressive politicians. We need a channel for our voices to counter the dominance of commercial media organisations that are only too happy to promote government narratives.

In spite off my continued reservations,  I’ve created beyondclicktivism primarily to address the following questions:

* What can we do online that is uniquely progressive so that if others emulate us they are forced to engage in a debate whose terms are determined by us?

* How do we get people climbing the ladder of engagement, moving from Facebook “Likes” to actual concrete action?

*  How do we integrate progressive use of social media with non-political use of social media? (eg if we tweet 40 times a day we alienate non-political tweeters by flooding their feeds so end up alienating people we might wish to influence through our poor online etiquette.)

And finally:

* How can we build tools that can also be used to call politicians to account and stop the next Blair or Clegg from flying in the face of the principles of their parties and shamelessly tearing up their pledges to the electorate?

I hope together, through feedback, comment and debate, we can attempt to find answers to these questions.