[Cross-posted from Meta-Activism.org]
Gene Sharp pioneered the study of nonviolent civil resistance. Some argue that his books were instrumental to the success of activists in a number of revolutions over the past 20 years ranging from the overthrow of Milosevic to ousting of Mubarak. Civil resistance has often been referred to as “nonviolent guerrilla warfare” and Sharp’s manual on “The Methods of Nonviolent Action,” for example, includes a list of 198 methods that activists can use to actively disrupt a repressive regime. These methods are divided into three sections: nonviolent protest and persuasion, noncooperation, and nonviolent intervention.
While Sharp’s 198 are still as relevant today as they were some 40 years ago, the technology space has changed radically. In Sharp’s “Dictionary of Power and Struggle: Language of Civil Resistance in Conflicts” published in 2012, Gene writes that “a multitude of additional methods will be invented in the future that have characteristics of the three classes of methods: nonviolent protest and persuasion, noncooperation, and nonviolent intervention.” About four years ago, I began to think about how technology could extend Sharp’s methods and possibly generate entirely new methods as well. This blog post was my first attempt at thinking this through and while it was my intention to develop the ideas further for my dissertation, my academic focus shifted somewhat.
With the PhD out of the way, my colleague Mary Joyce suggested we launch a research project to explore how Sharp’s methods can and are being extended as a result of information and communication technologies (ICTs). The time was ripe for this kind of research so we spent the past few months building a database of civil resistance methods 2.0 based on Sharp’s original list. We also consulted a number of experts in the field to help us populate this online database. We decided not to restrict the focus of this research to ICTs only–i.e., any type of technology qualifies, such as drones, for example.
This database will be an ongoing initiative and certainly a live document since we’ll be crowdsourcing further input. In laying the foundations for this database, we’ve realized once again just how important creativity is when thinking about civil resistance. Advances in technology and increasing access to technology provides fertile ground for the kind of creativity that is key to making civil resistance successful.
We invite you to contribute your creativity to this database and share the link (bit.ly/CivRes20) widely with your own networks. We’ve added some content, but there is still a long way to go. Please share any clever uses of technology that you’ve come across that have or could be applied to civil resistance by adding them.
Our goal is to provide activists with a go-to resource where they can browse through lists of technology-assisted methods to inform their own efforts. In the future, we envision taking the database a step further by considering what sequencing of said methods are most effective.
Many thanks to all iRevolution readers who have been following this blog, which turns four years old today. Thank you also for commenting, providing feedback, getting in touch and for sharing my writing! I have published over 500 blog posts to date and have relished the time and your input. To celebrate, I’ve listed below some of my favorite blog posts along with the most popular ones. Onwards!
Operation Vula: ICT versus Apartheid
GSM versus People Power in Africa
Twitter Speed to the Rescue
UN World Food Program to use UAVs
Intellipedia for Humanitarian Warning/Response?
Crimson Hexagon: Early Warning 2.0?
Tracking Genocide by Remote Sensing
Crisis Mapping Kenya’s Election Violence
Digital Resistance: Between Digital Activism & Civil Resistance
Project Cybersyn: Chile 2.0 in 1973
A Brief History of Crisis Mapping (Updated)
Threat and Risk Mapping Analysis in Sudan
Crisis Mapping and Agent Based Models
Folksomaps: Gold Standard for Community Mapping
Disaster Theory for Techies
How To Communicate Securely in Repressive Environments
What Does a Wasp Have To Do With Civil Resistance? Everything
US Calls for UN Aerial Surveillance to Detect Preparations for Attacks
Doctor Snow’s Health Map Propaganda
Promises and Pitfalls in the Spatial Prediction of Ethnic Violence
The Polymath Project & Crisis Mapping: Lessons in Collaborative Analysis
Why Dictators Love the Web or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Say So What?!
Digital Activism and the Puffy Clouds of Anecdote Heaven
The Starfish and the Spider: 8 Principles of Decentralization
Breaking News: Repressive States Use Technologies to Repress!
Haiti and the Power of Crowdsourcing
Using Massive Multiplayer Games to Turksource Crisis Information
Rethinking the UN’s Global Pulse
Wag the Dog, or How Falsifying Crowdsourced Data Can Be a Pain
Failing Gracefully in Complex Systems: A Note on Resilience
Crowdsourcing and the Veil of Ignorance: A Question of Morality?
How to Run a Successful Crowdsourcing Project
Demystifying Crowdsourcing: An Introduction to Non-Probability Sampling
On Technology and Learning, Or Why Wright Brothers Did Not Create the 747
Wanted: Hyper Local Disruption
The Crowd is Always There: A Marketplace for Crowdsourcing Crisis Response
Calling 911: What Humanitarians Can Learn from 50 Years of Crowdsourcing
How Crowdsourced Data Can Predict Crisis Impact
What is Crisis Mapping? An Update on the Field and Looking Ahead
Civil Resistance: Early Lessons Learned from Sudan’s #Jan30
Maps, Activism and Technology: Check-In’s with a Purpose
Using a Map to Bear Witness in Egypt #Jan25
How to Use Facebook if You Are a Repressive Regime
Civil Resistance Tactics Used in Egypt’s Revolution #Jan25
The Volunteers Behind the Libya Crisis Map: A True Story
Can Live Crisis Maps Help Prevent Mass Atrocities?
How To Use Technology To Counter Rumors During Crises
Mobile Banking and the Dictator’s Dilemma
Video: Changing the World, One Map at a Time
The Smart-Talk Trap in the Era of Social Media (and What to Do About It)
List of Completely Wrong Assumptions About Tech Use in Emerging Economies
On Tech and Building Resilient Societies to Mitigate the Impact of Disasters
Why Geo-Fencing Will Revolutionize Crisis Mapping
On Genghis Khan, Borneo and Galaxies
How to Crowdsource Happiness
Crowdsourcing and Crisis Mapping World War I
How to Crowdsource Crisis Response
Theorizing Ushahidi: An Academic Treatise
Democratizing ICT for Development: DIY Innovation & Open Data
Crowdsourcing Satellite Imagery Analysis for UNHCR-Somalia
Do “Liberation Technologies” Change the Balance of Power Between Repressive Regimes and Civil Society?
Beyond the Dot: Building Visual DNA for Crisis Mapping
How to Verify Crowdsourced Information from Social Media
Crowdsourcing vs Putin: “Mapping Dots is a Disease on the Map of Russia”
Why Bounded Crowdsourcing is Important for Crisis Mapping and Beyond
Amplifying Somali Voices Using SMS and a Live Map: #SomaliaSpeaks
SMS for Violence Prevention: PeaceTXT International Launches in Kenya
What do Travel Guides and Nazi Germany have to do with Crisis Mapping and Security?
Google Inc + World Bank = Empowering Citizen Cartographers?
The Use of Drones for Nonviolent Civil Resistance
Mobile Technologies, Crisis Mapping & Disaster Response
Innovation and Counter-Innovation: Digital Resistance in Russia
Truthiness as Probability: Moving Beyond the True or False Dichotomy when Verifying Social Media
#UgandaSpeaks: Al-Jazeera uses Ushahidi to Amplify Local Voices in Response to #Kony2012
Twitter, Crises and Early Detection: Why “Small Data” Still Matters
Crisis Mapping Syria: Automated Data Mining & Crowdsourced Human Intel