The Info-Activism Camp - February 19th - 25th 2009 India
“Tactical Tech’s ethos is that nobody knows everything, and everybody knows something. It’s a beautiful philosophy, but it plays out pragmatically, as well. How else do you get so many people to huddle around laptops showing each other around a new CMS?.” Melissa Gira Grant, St. James Infirmary
The camp was an intensive seven day hands-on workshop that brought together 130 advocates at a retreat style venue in Bangalore, India between 19th-25th February. Its aim was to enable advocates to creatively implement digital advocacy tactics by connecting them with others facing similar challenges, showcasing examples of successful tactics, helping them find the right solutions to meet their needs and giving them the hard-skills to implement ideas.
Participants: The participants were selected by an expert advisory group from over 250 applications. They came from 35 countries, mainly Africa, Latin America, Middle East, and Asia, with a 50% ratio of women. A mixture of rights advocates were invited, all of whom applied with a specific project to implement and had used some kind of technology tactic within their campaigns before. Participants worked on a wide range of advocacy issues mainly human rights, but there were also several core clusters: Women's Rights, LGBT Rights, HIV/AIDS, Sex Worker Health and Rights as well as pro-democracy activists from Zimbabwe and Burma.
The Info-Activism camp achieved its goals successfully, it:
- Showcased the best examples of advocates using technology to strengthen their advocacy and provided a needs-based range of hands-on skill learning. These sessions were lead by a core of 30 experienced digital advocates who acting as facilitators, offered an average of 40 sessions per day.
- Provided advocates with the tools, techniques and know-how necessary to implement 'Info-Activism' tactics.
- Enabled rights advocates to understand the risks and vulnerabilities of working with digital technologies, running 35 digital security and privacy sessions.
- Brought together rights advocates with technologists, designers and tech-activists to share ideas, skills and expertise, creating an informal network of 'Info-Activists'.
- Created a catalyst for new instances of info-activism and the creative application of technology within advocacy.
- Established an approach to teaching advocates about digital advocacy and testing out a format for an annual Info-activism camp and handbook, style of agenda and curricula and facilitation pool.
From Sokari's blog, backlooks.org: "A week has passed since we all de camped and said our emotional but uplifting goodbyes with promises to keep connected. Normally I would take many of those promises with a pinch of salt but in this case I suspect many informal networks and groups will be borne out of the friendships and solidarities that were built over the 11 days (including 4 days of pre-camp facilitator sessions). Such was the careful planning that even here TTC had thought ahead by providing a board with everyone’s name, location and affiliation. Envelopes and colour coded string meant we could connect to each other and leave personal messages to those we wanted to particularly stay in touch with."
Agenda: The Agenda covered a wide range of topics clustered within the following themes: digital advocacy strategy planning; information acquisition, analysis and evaluation; visualisation and storytelling (including information design and geo-mapping); outreach and engaging audiences (including micro-blogging, social networking and video); using mobile phones for advocacy; digital security and privacy; using digital tools to increase and sustain participation; regional and global co-operation and collaboration.
Some of the initial reviews of the Info-Activism camp:
“The day offered insights and examples of how effectively geo-mapping can be in raising awareness in real time of on-going atrocities, raise public awareness of specific incidents in their neighbourhoods, document abuses for others to see across the world. The opportunities were limitless. By the end of the day, I had managed to map my journey around the camp in pictures and learn how to turn something which looked like a child's drawing into a map of the camp with pictures displaying each point of interest.” Harpinder A Collacott, Meningitis Research Foundation
“Info-activism has become very important and has been used to some extent by a few of the Tibetan NGOs... We in exile need to realise the importance of the Internet and other modes of communication (mobile and wireless). All these can help us to enable us to spread the words of our cause of a Free Tibet through non-violent methods.” Phuntsok Dorjee, Tibetan Children's Village
We also partnered with the Alternative Law Forum who provided legal advice, the Center for Internet and Society who provided strategy advice, and Mahiti who provided technical and infrastructure advice.
If you want to learn more about the camp,please go to the camp site