In 1990 the way the world communicated changed dramatically when the World Wide Web made its debut changing the way computers talk to each other. The result of that groundbreaking technology was that people could also communicate ideas, images, media, and information to each other with great speed and through long distances at the touch if a keyboard. The culture of the future had built its foundation on the culture of the past taking the Internet to places never imagined while using it for purposes to fit modern times. As a famous Starship Captain once said, “To boldly go where no man has gone before”(James T. Kirk). That place is now digital activism, and hacktivisim.
It has been approximately 47 years since the Civil Rights Act of 167 since the savage beatings bestowed upon protestors with water house, imprisonment, and even attacks by dogs. In today’s society activist have taken to a new form of protest born from Internet called Digital Activism and Hacktivism. Digital activism is a way to use the networking power of the Internet to protest. In the early days of the Internet this phenomenon would not have been possible. As technology grew and Web 2.0 transformed the Web, architects began to build new platforms for information sharing and displaying information. Activist saw this as an opportunity. While the tools were made in the idea of sharing pictures, such as pictures of cats mentioned in the web blog “The Cute Cat Theory of Digital Activism”, activist saw it as a way to network. “Activism is a stronger test – if activists are using your tools, it’s a pretty good indication that your tools are useful and usable”(Ethan Zuckerman). Activist could use these online tools to protest injustice by gathering support from others who would have not normally been available. In many ways this a familiar and yet new approach to activism. The Civil Rights movement used the medium of television to reach the world. This form of activism however does not require physical presence, or the possibility of physical injury to be involved. It is forward in thinking and progressive in style as the sits in’s protest of old now take place via the Web. It was through this new age of activism that Alaa Abdel was able to blog about his imprisonment form prison through his wife. Abdel was able to draw national attention through his wife’s blogs attracting the like of CNN and Al Jazeera. These same techniques have also been used here in the United States through Twitter platforms such #bringbackourgirls to bring awareness about the kidnapped girls in Nigeria.
Digital Activism has also taken another form in China with Human-Flesh search engines. This form of digital activism like mentioned above is based upon a network of people wired through the Internet. The difference is that the Human-Flesh search engine works as a vigilante style of justice looking to hunt those who have violated the moral code of the public and punish them. Much like the Hackers of Hacktivism. This group of talented individuals also see themselves as keepers of a moral code. That code being that information should not be horded and not to trust authority and promote decentralization. Hacktivism is the application of information technologies to political action. Their code may not apply to all people but for the select few that call themselves hackers, it is their creed. In the article WikiLeaks and the Hacktivist Culture, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is thought of to be great man amongst hackers but yet a threat to government. Hacktivist have found ways to expose secrets of corporations such as Sony to show the world what really transpires behind closed doors. Hacktivist have also exposed corrupt government officials and have criticized the Church of Scientology for its censorship. Do you agree with the exposing of secrets information to public or believe that some things should remain secret? How do you feel about the vigilante style Human Search-Engine? Does it cause more harm than good? And finally, do you think digital activism would have had worked for the Civil Rights Movement? Would there have been less violence and could Dr. King lead his troops from the safety of a computer screen?