Tag Archives: rolling jubilee

Week Nine: Digital Activism & Rolling Jubilee

Sasha Costanza-Chock’s  Out of the Shadows, into the Streets! discusses the role that transmedia organizing has on activist movements. In the example of the 2006 student walkouts, Costanza-Chock notes that “rather than attribute the success of the 2006 walkouts solely to MySpace and SMS… The walkouts also functioned as part of a larger transmedia story that has been told, retold, remixed, and recirculated by movement participants across broadcast and social media platforms.” This is important to note because “many activists intentionally think about how to circulate media across platforms” and are creating these plans by discussing with others within the activist circles. This differs from clicktivism in a fundamental way, as clickticism functions with a user passively supporting an online cause without doing any physical work on the ground. Many successful digital activist movements do not just use the clicktivist model, but rather are engaging in a meaningful level both off and online.

An example of this can be seen with an offshoot of the Occupy Wall Street movement, which is called Strike Debt. Strike Debt has created an initiative called Rolling Jubilee, “that buys debt for pennies on the dollar, but instead of collecting it, abolishes it. The Debt Collective aims to build collective power to challenge the way we finance and access basic necessities such as housing, medical care and education.” This initiative is an example of the extraordinary organizing power of the Occupy movement. In regards to this, one Occupy prominent Occupy member, Drew Hornbein stated, “Occupy is, and I would argue, always has been, a networking engine. It is networking a nonhierarchical system to allow a decentralized network that allows groups with similar passions to interact and groups that don’t realize the overlap.”

Although Occupy uses many transmedia modes of communication to transmit their messages, many of the ideas that define Occupy were fleshed out in person. Thomas Gokey, one of the organizers of Rolling Jubilee, can attest to this: “It really all started because people were talking to each other in the park. This idea has been floating around activist circles for several years now.” While technology is important to disseminate activist messages, what are most important is the on-the-ground and real world work, as well as the ideas shared within these spaces. This allows for a successful activist movement to coexist in both the physical and digital world.

Works Cited

Sasha Costanza-Chock, Out of the Shadows, into the Streets!: Transmedia Organizing and the Immigrant Rights Movement

Nick Judd. “Rolling Jubilee, Occupy’s Latest Web-Enabled Institutional Hack.”