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Home » Activists, Flash Causes, Politics

Post-Obama Organizing? It's Already in the Streets

By Tom Watson on November 19, 2008One Comment

Understandably, there’s been a lot of discussion in the last two weeks about the future of the powerful Obama Internet operation. Does the vast, empowered constituency serve as a virtual public advocacy campaign for Obama policy initiatives? Does it work toward the mid-terms in 2010? Re-election in 2012?

Or does it inspire a “flash cause” that puts tens of thousands of people into the streets in outraged protest less than two weeks after the election in what is a clear sign that what the Obama campaign unleashed in online organizing is just the start.

Based on the incredible success of JointheImpact.com, which channeled anger over California’s passage of the anti-gay Proposition 8 into an instant same-sex marriage advocacy organization that put the old line gay rights groups to shame, we’re voting for the latter.

Built on the WetPaint platform, using Twitter and other social networks, and boasting local organizing groups in every state, JointheImpact generated massive media attention and built itself into an action-oriented campaign that brought tens of thousands of people to mass rallies. The group combined a strong political message at the top with the tools other participants needed to organize themselves.

Here’s how Reuters covered the story:

Amy Balliett, 26, used her lunch break last Friday to start a website — www.jointheimpact.com — to call for coordinated action across the United States this weekend.

In a few days, more than 1 million people have visited her site and dozens of marches and meetings are now planned for 1:30 p.m. EST (1830 GMT) on Saturday.

By the evening jointheimpact.com was created, it was visited 10,000 times. By Sunday, there were 50,000 visits per hour and the computer running the site crashed. It has moved computers twice since in an effort to keep up.

“Why do we have to wait for someone to step up and say let’s do a protest?” Balliett remembered thinking after her friend, Willow Witte, posted a blog about California. “Over email we decided to do it.”

Now that’s online organizing. Genie. Bottle. Not gonna happen.

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One Comment »

  • Karin says:

    Online organizing has been happening for twenty years and is on an upward climb. As a participant in the rally in San Diego on Saturday, I was amazed at how my local community pulled together. We were 20 to 25 thousand depending on whose numbers you believe.

    Let’s keep the pressure on!

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