As I write this, I am flipping back and forth to my twitter feed, where I am monitoring tweets about the Occupy protests that are happening here in Chicago. I cannot help but think whether the protests would have happened without the help of information and communications technologies (ICTs). I would hypothesize (safely) that Internet technologies such as email and web pages probably helped the movement bring more people out in the streets. More important, they probably fundamentally changed the way the protests happened, allowing activists to transmit tactics, share stories of success and struggles, and support Occupy protests happening elsewhere. ICTs change mobilization and protest quantitatively (bringing out more people) and qualitatively (fundamentally changing the forms of activism and protest). In their important new book, Digitally Enabled Social Change: Activism in the Internet Age, Jennifer Earl and Katrina Kimport describe the former as “supersize effects” and the latter as “theory 2.0 effects.” Supersize effects theories argue that ICTs reduce mobilization costs, allowing activists to mobilize more people. Theory 2.0 argues that leveraged correctly, ICTs change how activism is and can be done in fundamental ways.
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