It is the time of year when we celebrate the heroes: the advocates and activists who came to the forefront in social media for social change. 2008 was a time of awe for the volunteer individuals who go above and beyond online for their cause.
New Media Activist
“New Media Art” is a term now accepted in the art world and gaining rampant adoption. One of its champions is gaming professional Dr. Mary Flanagan who is also a professor in Digital Humanities at Dartmouth College. Dr. Flanagan has also established another milestone, Tiltfactor, which is a center at the college that focuses on social change and the gaming industry. She has coined the term “Activist Game Design.”
Tiltfactor is scholarship in cultural change colliding with the latest in animation technology, and its effects are necessary. Their goals have many aims with successful line of games that introduce girls to technology and teach them how to code. Other games focus on diversity, literacy and building a sense of community. They actively promote social change as a focus to other gamers as well.
Sofie Reed is known as musician in Colorado, but online she is the voice behind eight dolphins. She is the personality and driving force behind the wildly successful fundraising program “Adopt a Dolphin” for the Wild Dolphin Foundation. Each dolphin that the Wild Dolphin Foundation monitors in the ocean has its own social profile and supporters are updated on the life of the dolphin as an education tool. The profiles work wonders because they are in first person thanks to Sophie, who is brilliantly educated in conservation issues.
Most importantly, she has personality which drives traffic towards the program to adopt the dolphins with a donation. Day and night, Sophie is sending “Dolphin Kisses” to each dolphin’s adopted parents and managing the community of ocean conservation supporters.
On January 6th 2010, Twitter users were introduced by David Armano of Critcal Mass to Daniela. Daniela was a mother of three who had fled an abusive husband and was staying with David’s family. David leveraged his Twitter community to raise the funds to help her find an apartment and a better life in Chicago. Due in part to David’s knowledge of microblogging technique, the Twitter community kicked in like champions, passing on the message of hope throughout the site, and donations poured in.
From the first “tweet” from David pointing towards a blog post on his blog Logic + Emotion that explained Daniela’s story until midnight that night, over $16,000 was raised. For those donating and watching the tally, there was a beauty to see an online community give a woman and her family a safe and fresh start.
Adoption of Social Media by an Activist
@starfocus on Twitter is Danielle Brigida of the National Wildlife Federation. Danielle also helps run the NWF Twitter and admits to an adiction to the platform, but what she does not admit to is a quick adoption of its value. Being a professional of creating online momentum and campaigns for the NWF, this may be of no surprise- but where she goes above and beyond is her personal @starfocus profile.
Through her personal profile that she has on her own time, she has created a community of 2,500 followers. It is here that she lets it all hang out about the life of a wildlife advocate with an engaging, intelligent and humorous touch. It is a “behind the scenes” and we have a knowledgeable person in love with a cause, not a cause itself. Danielle has created an advancement that will improve cause advocacy.