Monday, 15 October 2007

Blog Action Day 2007 - aligning the blogosphere around a single cause, Green issues

In 1989 the UK Green Party mobilised 15% of the electorate (2 million voters) to vote for them in the European Parliament elections. This was the biggest single issue protest vote in UK history, but it would surprise me if anything like this happened again.

The internet has given people a variety of ways to express opinions and I believe this is one of the reasons why voter turnout in UK elections has declined over the last decade. The two way nature of the Web 2.0 era has meant that consumers don’t have to sit and wait for an election before they can have a say. Whilst people could write angry letters in the past or take direct action, electronic communications have made it much easier to voice opinions. Crucially digital channels have made it easier for people to congregate around a specific cause or issue.

E-petitions through the Downing Street website have been effectively used to force politicians to re-appraise policy (note I am thinking of the anti-road pricing petition rather than the ‘Spandau Ballet ‘Gold’ for the national anthem petition’). It is now quick and easy to email your MP and feedback can be given quickly through forums or sites like Webcameron. It is now also straight forward to link up with like minded individuals now - you don’t have to visit Greenham Common to find others with similar viewpoints. With opportunities like this it is not surprising that fewer people seem to be laying down in front of bulldozers or living in tents at Heathrow – 3 hours chained to a computer can be a lot more effective than 3 hours chained to a tree!

To prove my theory I have had a look on Facebook at Green groups. Whilst there are over 500 groups with ‘Green’ in the title, few of these seem to be related to climate action. ‘Fans Of Green Day’, ‘Wear Green’, ‘Green Bay Packers’, ‘Addicted to Green Tea’, and ‘Anthony Green is a Beast’ were some of my favourites, but not really what I was after.

Refining the search to ‘Global Warming’ or ‘Climate Change’ produced ‘500+ Groups’ and these are more typically on message. The sheer volume of people signed up for these groups sends out a strong message and even if they are not green activists, it implies that members would think more highly of a brand or politician if they were to introduce green considerations into their thinking.

Facebook groups will become more prominent (and influential) as Facebook starts to make them available to Search Engine spiders. In the past manufacturers and politicians have been able to ignore green thinking, however new technology has meant that they have to be more careful. The network of Blogs, Facebook groups and personal websites has meant that controversial decisions / mistakes are highlighted quickly and spread over a wide area. It seems that Web 2.0 is proving more effective at holding companies and politicians to account than the ballot box.

The more people who post green-related content, the more likely it is that green issues will stay on the agenda. Today's 'Blog Action Day' aims to capitalise on the idea that the internet can mobilise around a single cause by encouraging bloggers all over the world to post something today to push Green issues and the dangers that environmental damage pose to the future of the World. Individual blogs can't change the world, however having a co-ordinated Blog Action Day means that blogs across the world can be aligned around a single cause / topic - 1+1+1+1 etc can give rise to a powerful online presence - something that will be noticed and something that could change agendas.

Interesting to see how many participate and if you have a blog - join in! http://blogactionday.org

UPDATE: In all 20,603 registered bloggers took the plunge for Blog Action Day 2007 , producing 23,327 blog posts (according to Google Blog Search) with 19 of Technorati's top 100 blogs participating. More info on the main Blog Action Day site here. A great success and it's coming back next year!

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2 comments:

HStrang said...

Nick,

Another point of note - when people's cash is affected - THEN they will pay closer attention to green living. Cash and life vs. death tend to motivate people to action.

Retail and fashion is having to make some major changes due to massive cash loss because of global warming. Check out my post on Retail Design Diva: http://retaildesigndiva.blogs.com

Cheers!
Heather

Nick Burcher said...

Good point! I think people like the idea of being green but also like the idea of saving money. When these 2 combine then it really works.

Toyota advertise the Prius on a number of different levels in London. They play on the environmentally friendly attributes but also push the fact that it is cheaper because it has better fuel economy, significantly reduced road tax, congestion charge exemption etc.

Is the popularity of the product due to design, green credentials, lower running cost or a combination of all 3?