Today is Blog Action Day, an annual event started in 2007 that brings together bloggers from different countries, interests and languages to blog about one important global topic on the same day. This year’s chosen theme is “The Power of We.” “The Power of We is a celebration of people working together to make a positive difference in the world, either for their own communities or for people they will never meet half way around the world.”
Blog Action Day (and particularly this year’s theme) is an excellent demonstration of prescience of the visionaries whose writings we have been reading a New Media Faculty Seminar here at UC Berkeley. Writing decades before the dawn of the Internet, Facebook, Twitter, etc., Jorge Borges, Vannevar Bush, Douglas Engelbart and Marshall McLuhan foresaw the use of technology as a means to understand and address the complexity of human existence – complexity as it is and as it geometrically increases. Though differing in their vision of specific aspects and operations, each understood technology in highly social and interactive terms with Borges and McLuhan in particular hinting at their global dimensions.
Blog Action Day generates a global outpouring of commentary and on-line discussion around a common theme – something of text-based Life in a Day montage of experiences and opinion. Blog Action Day’s website, Twitter and other social sharing sites provide the paths and trails predicted by Borges, Bush and Engelbart to connect one element to another. It’s exhilarating to watch it happen before one’s eyes over 24 hours.
The 2012 theme, The Power of We, elicits and invites a global constellation of activist communities (understood in the broadest sense) to share their distinct struggles and triumphs in using joint action to bring about change. It is an inclusive call, one that goes out to traditional as well as newer communities as they connect, convene, consider, advocate, mobilize, organize, move and make change. Until recently the former have done so relying on the relatively low-tech tools of personal contact, meetings, voice, print and analogue broadcast while the latter’s existence is tied to the very existence of digital media and the internet. In theory the tent is large with plenty of room for both traditional and new. And, thanks to the work of groups such as Kabissa (an organization on whose board of directors I am honored to serve), the former are adopting many of the new digital skills.
But not all and not with equal efficacy. To find their way to the Blog Action Day tent many will be relying on their more digitally endowed brothers and sisters, their stories told by others than themselves. The paths and trails that connect their stories to the global narrative risk the constraints and contortions induced by customs posts and immigration checks as they pass through foreign territory, albeit of benign intent. As we celebrate the sacrifices and accomplishments of those making it into Blog Action Day’s tent, we should keep in mind the many more who didn’t make it and dedicate ourselves to not only bringing them in but to ensuring that the voice they all speak in is genuinely their own. Let’s all get behind the work of Kabissa and its peers to straighten the paths and open the borders!