The videos from the debate are up now, including my own aesthetically-challenged home-recorded contribution.
I thought the discussion was quite encouraging, partially because the cyber-optimism vs. cyber-pessimism polemic that seems to generate so much heat but relatively little light was largely absent, and partially because this absence did not equate a dearth of self-criticism and meaningful disagreement amongst these practitioners and observers of internet-assisted activism.
There are dozens of valuable nuggets scattered throughout the videos, from Naomi McAuliffe from Amnesty talking about how the organization has used Shell’s own social media marketing strategy against them to raise some pertinent questions about their business practices, over Eric Lee from Labourstart.org discussing how a company had left one union he had worked with flat-footed when it actually responded to an email-writing campaign by sending back a rebuttal it took the union weeks to respond to, and to basically every one of the speakers underlining the basic point that digital tools are precisely that—tools.
Tools are integral to what we do, and shape what we can do and how easily, and encourage us to see the world and our place in it in certain ways. They are important, worthy of careful attention, and each should be considered in its own terms—not all uses of technology equals inconsequential “clicktivism”, nor does the use of this or that new app or gadget magically propel one towards the promised land, and all effective acts of technologically augmented activism have to start from the first principles of activism—what do you want to achieve, who do hope to mobilize, what can you—together—do to change the world?