Skip to content
10/17/2010 / Francesca Lyn

Online Activism


After reading both articles, my first reaction is that I am sadly uninformed about Burma. I know very little about the country at all so this article is a great entry point to find more about it. I read the Wikipedia entry about it to better familiarize myself. Now, I am absolutely fascinated. I would I wonder if things would have turned out differently with the 2007 protest if all the monks were equipped with smartphones to communicate and document? Also, Aung San Suu Kyi is said to be released from house arrest in November, I wonder if the media will get free access to talking to her? Will she tweet? vs. Democracy for America

For this week’s post we were asked to find a political organization comparable to I used to be on a mailing list but am not presently active with any political group. I actually asked via facebook for my friends to come up with suggestions since a simple Google search came up with so many results. I eventually decided to research Democracy for America. Democracy for America (DFA) has more than 1 million members which is less than DFA was founded by Howard Dean in 2004.

The aesthetics of both websites are very similar. Both stick to a color scheme of red, white, and blue. They both have links to their facebook pages prominently displayed, suggesting that they are both tech-savvy and value social networking. Both websites are organized very similarly. I checked the “about” pages of each organization to see if I can identify some key differences. is an older organization than DFA. is also a family of related organizations – made up of a PAC and a nonprofit. DFA seems to be entirely a PAC.

If I were to do a study of members of DFA similar to the one done of member’s I would expect to find people with fairly liberal beliefs. I would even say that I expect some overlap between DFA and Both and DFA endorsed Barack Obama for the 2008 Presidential Election. Both seem to have varying levels of involvement you can have within the organization and both seem to champion the idea of “grassroots” organizing.

After reading all of this I have a lot of questions about political organizations such as and DFA. I wonder how different a study of members would be now that Obama is our President? Do they feel safer demonstrating?



Leave a Comment
  1. luckymaggie / Oct 17 2010 8:14 PM

    I’m not familiar with censorship in Burma but according to the article, I think it is much more strict than governmental control in China. Also, the cell phone signal can be completely blocked in given circumstance (I remembered during the Urumqi issue in 2009, the local phone and Internet were under rigorous scrutinization). Therefore, disseminating oppositional voice is very difficult in some country where freedom of speech is not actualized at all. I agree with you that “ is also a family of related organizations”. I think this website is so organized and it does provide an atmosphere of “membership”. It’s possible that the collective sense of belongingness is helpful in creating and spreading activism ideas more smoothly.

    • francescalyn / Oct 17 2010 9:13 PM

      Do you think governmental control in China is less strict just because of how much bigger it is than somewhere like Burma? I don’t think cell phone signal in China could be brought down as rapidly even if the government wanted to. Or is China more progressive?

  2. Xuerui / Oct 18 2010 10:26 PM

    It seems that DFA is a political organization leads to activism like MoveOn. I was surprised to find there was a “find members” under the “community” bulletin. But only member’s username and location is published. If clicking the member’s name, it will turn to a website with the member’s profile, like which campaign he or she is supporting. Is it trying to make members feel be accompanied if they find someone from their local place? But it is a little bit scaring to me on the privacy issue. What if they attended a campaign with sensitive issues involved and they do not want others know? It is easier to identify the person in real world with their location and zip code published.

  3. Sijia / Oct 20 2010 11:15 PM

    I like your first little paragraph. It is desperate to have no Internet access to get information or spread information. The Internet was not only limited but it was cut off by the Burmese government…It was cruel, I mean, people in extreme situation really need updating information and a platform to discuss their fears and concerns. I wonder how does activism look like in a nation free of the Internet.

  4. caseyawilson / Oct 21 2010 6:48 PM

    One thing that I think is worth considering is the role that the founders of these sites plays in the reception the sites are given. is more…grassroots, perhaps? Since, if I’m remembering correctly, it was founded by a couple that didn’t have much in the way of political clout. DFA, by comparison, was founded by Howard Dean — a very well-known political figure. Does that change how their members view their organizations? Or even how the media views them?

  5. paulacunniffe / Oct 21 2010 10:22 PM

    The website I looked at also had Facebook, Twitter and Youtube links predominantly featured on the home page. That was where all the interactive participation was, there was no comments on the website itself. I think these organizations definitely value social networking.

    I didn’t see a comments section on DFA’s website either but there was a whole section you had to be a member to enter so it may have been in there! I thought it was interesting how DFA had a whole column of endorsements – that wasn’t on the Move On home page.

  6. fanninchen / Oct 22 2010 2:26 AM

    It’s interesting that you observe the aesthetic point of view of their website design. The color, of course, is the color of national flag, somehow represent the patriotic spirit of both organization. Besides, you also brought up an interesting point that the quantity of membership in one organization might not represent the political influence of it. Because some of the members might join the organization and just watch what happened instead of participating actively online.

  7. makeyourself270 / Oct 22 2010 2:01 PM

    You say that both of the organizations’ websites seem to value grassroots movements, but I would like to know how well the resources on the DFA site facilitate the organization of grassroots activity. I found MoveOn and my own organization, PETA, to value local action, but did not provide very easy manners in which to engage locally. I was actually surprised to see how few the resources actually were on after the article we read seemed to tout them so much. Maybe I expect too much from a centralized website and should applaud their integration of social networking tools, which seem more likely to have an effective outcome on organizing grassroots movements and activities.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: