I just learned that a large number of advocacy groups and tech organizations are planning a day of online protest against NSA spying for Feb. 11. The sponsors and details are at The Day We Fight Back. We’ve established that we’re willing to blog about surveillance. The reason we have “opinion” in our tagline and “commentary” in our description is because we got so much positive feedback on that post.
Before I announce support for this, though, I want to give my first impression and discuss it. Most of the big sponsors are organizations that I respect and believe to be on the right side of the issue. There are several levels of participation, which is good. You can simply sign up and post some art on your website. You can sign a petition sponsored by the Electronic Frontier Foundation and others to support an international agreement to place limits on mass surveillance. You can read the 13 Necessary and Proportionate Principles here. I haven’t read them, but those of you who know me well know I am already blocking off time to analyze the document and decide whether or not post it on Facebook and tag 50 people with it.
There is talk of grassroots lobbying:
If you’re in the US: Thousands of websites will host banners urging people to call/email Congress. Plans may change, but we intend to ask legislators to oppose the FISA Improvements Act, support theUSA Freedom Act, and enact protections for non-Americans.
If you’re not in the US: Visitors will be asked to urge appropriate targets to institute privacy protections.
So, my question to you, followers and friends, comrades and contributors is: Should I make this a priority for the next couple of weeks? Do you care about this? Are you thinking about supporting it yourself? If I write about it, will you read about it?
I need to have a discussion and spend a day going over the details before I start changing profile art and adjusting my editorial schedule. I have a few more remarks after the cut for readers who are following the strategic development of these blogs and for collaborators who are supporting me by sharing on other social media.
I will be honest. We’re in the entertainment business. We have a core audience and we’ve built it with well-turned prose about popular culture, seasoned with feminine smartassery and academic geekery. It is a delicious concoction. Our strategy has never been to build an audience rapidly by writing about controversy under provocative headlines.
Our strengths are the quality of our content, our diversity of perspectives, our openness to others, and our ability to post consistently. So far we’ve played to those strengths with the goal of making memorable impressions, developing an audience of regular visitors, and making the most of opportunities for incremental growth where we find them. I want a big audience, sure. I want it so much I can taste it. But I want to build a community even more.
I need some input on this question: If I decide to go at this HARD, will that upset the equilibrium we’ve worked so hard to establish here? I can support it elsewhere without involving this blog if I need to. Since I do not consider myself the owner of Sourcerer any longer, I have to think about this.
This day of protest is tailor-made for a Thunderclap. (If you are unfamiliar, I have a page that will catch you up.) Here’s why I say this is Thunderclap material:
- Feb. 11 is almost three weeks away.
- This is something a lot of people care about, and it provides multiple options for an appeal to take action.
- It’s a big topic. That means it will be easy to talk about without being repetitive, so we can make lots of opportunities to ask people to support the Thunderclap.
- We’ve already pulled one Thunderclap off. We learned a lot of things that will be helpful for this one, and we familiarized a lot of people with the ease and safety of Thunderclap.
I have to say, though, we can’t just take the Rolling with Kings project as a model. We’ll have to deal with a different set of obstacles, but I think if we move quickly, we will also find we have a few advantages we did not have the first time around. I’ll discuss those later if it looks like anyone is interested.
I’ll have to make sacrifices to get this done, though. Come hell or high water, I’m spending a few hours with Isildur this weekend, but after that I’ll have to put Tolkien on hiatus until mid-February and I won’t have time to read what my friends are writing about the Silmarillion. I am loathe to do that, because the Tolkien bloggers I’ve met here have shown me real collegiality, and I don’t want to yank them around.
We have enough other pop culture stuff piled up and I know enough good bloggers to keep us posting about pop culture every day for at least the next two weeks. The overall content of the blog won’t change very much, but Tolkien will be replaced by mass surveillance.
I can take a stab at this and have a reasonable chance of success, but to do it I need support. I would like to have conversations over the weekend with those of you who stuck with me to the end of this post, so that I can make an informed decision about whether or not I have what I need.
The second I feel like I have the support, I’ll start a conversation about what the Thunderclap post should link to and how we should make the appeal.
image: used without permission from thedaywefightback.org. This is politics, and they are organizers, so I have no doubt they will approve.