December 6, 2009

Copenhagen and the New Activism

One thing we’ve debated quite a bit here at BNN is the limited effectiveness of traditional public protests and demonstrations — insofar, at least, as the resulting media pictures go. At the same time however, perhaps that limit is as much the signal of a paradigm shift, and the maturing of the internets and social media and the visual web into a limitless platform for creative mobilizing and the amplification of concerned attention.

As a recent example of this new power, the ramp up to the Copenhagen Climate Conference inspired the brilliant action in October in which the President of the Maldives brought vivid, world-wide attention to the threat of rising water levels by meeting underwater with his cabinet.

With sites such as and Greenpeace using the web and the media as a the distribution vehicle to “disseminate” protest happenings, public action, culture jams, protest advertising and guerilla theatre, I have a feeling activists — and the green movement, in particular — will look back at Copenhagen as the moment when Protest 2.0 (power to the pixels!) began its swift rise to the surface.

President Nasheed’s slideshow.

(photo: AP)

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Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

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