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eActivism.org Attempts to Circulate Digital Petitions

By LaNMaN2000 in Culture
Tue Sep 19, 2000 at 02:16:02 AM EST
Tags: Freedom (all tags)

I have set up a list of digital petitions for review at eActivism.org. The perl scripts that manage the petitions are pretty rudimentary and, in order to be effective, we will probably need to use binding digital signatures as an authentication mechanism and tighten up security on the site. Since the site is still in an early stage of development, and the necessary modifications far beyond my area of expertise, think of this story as a call to action.

I selected issues that have come up on Slashdot, Kuro5hin, and Technocrat.net and wrote a brief introduction and a petition for each. In addition, I compiled a list of relevant sources that would allow an uninformed reader to educate himself about the issues presented. However, I am wondering whether online activism is a lost cause.

While I have seen numerous sites succeed in uniting a community around individual issues (i.e. Napster, DeCSS, etc.), nobody has been able to educate users about other similar issues and create a center for online activism. Slashdot simply posts story after story about DMCA abuses, domain name trademark disputes, etc. but does not provide a forum where users can actually take action about the issues they present. My goal is to unify the disparate nerd-activism sites under a single open-source framework, so that visitors who are concerned about one issue can have that issue act as a gateway that introduces them to a greater ideology.

Unfortunately, though, the site is currently a failure. In almost a month of operation, none of the petitions have received more than 75 signatures, worldwide, and without digital signitures, there is no way of verifying the identity of the few people that have signed them. However, the site needs more than a single crafty perl programmer.

I have considered partnering with single-issue sites, or offering to host them free of charge, but that would not acheive the objective of having a single unifying framework for the issues to be presented in. There is only one possibility that seems like it could work.

On Slashdot, there was one individual who gave away the root password to his site to see whether the community could collaboratively develop the site into something more than he could. Needless to say, the site was cracked into oblivion in less than 24 hours. I was wondering whether there is any way of "open sourcing" the website that would allow for delegation of responsibilities (one perl programmer, one HTML designer, one news hound, etc.) and community collaboration without opening the gates and putting a "sucker" sign on my back. I'm thinking along the lines of SourceForge for websites--a system that coordinated development of an entire project instead of just a single piece of software.

Basically, I'm looking for people to help me with the site, as well as a trust management system that will allow me to ensure that I do not open the doors to crackers. If you would like to help out with the project, please post to this thread and I will contact you.


Voxel dot net
o Managed Hosting
o VoxCAST Content Delivery
o Raw Infrastructure


Would You Sign A Petition About...
o DeCSS? 6%
o DMCA? 0%
o UCITA? 0%
o Student Rights? 4%
o Two of the Above? 11%
o Three of the Above? 20%
o All of the Above? 55%

Votes: 109
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Slashdot
o Technocrat
o Kuro5hin
o eActivism. org
o Slashdot [2]
o Kuro5hin [2]
o Technocrat .net
o Also by LaNMaN2000

Display: Sort:
eActivism.org Attempts to Circulate Digital Petitions | 21 comments (15 topical, 6 editorial, 0 hidden)
Heh. (1.66 / 9) (#1)
by Anonymous Hero on Mon Sep 18, 2000 at 10:18:47 PM EST

Giving away a root password on Slashdot? That guy deserved to be cracked.

Real Link (3.25 / 4) (#3)
by LaNMaN2000 on Mon Sep 18, 2000 at 10:27:55 PM EST

Sorry, I left out a quote mark by mistake. The link to eActivism.org is Eactivism.org

Lenny Grover -- link-spamming to make Google give me my name back!
Since when... (3.25 / 8) (#6)
by GandalfGreyhame on Mon Sep 18, 2000 at 11:03:49 PM EST

... has Kuro5hin become a help-wanted board? If this was something unique - such as, help the french farmers who have been abducted by aliens and raised by VCs in Calif. website, that'd be one thing, but it just seems like another EFF / civil liberties union type page to me. We've already got those.


Since when... (3.75 / 4) (#14)
by bigbird on Tue Sep 19, 2000 at 02:00:32 AM EST

...did Kuro5hin fit any defined pigeon-hole?

I get depressed every time a well-meaning (but clueless) friend sends me an e-mail petition for a cause which I actually support. Given that digital signatures now have some legal force in the US, an electronic petition using digital signatures would have a real impact - you could readily demonstrate to your local congresscritter that yes, a large number of people do care about these issues, that they are real, unique individuals, and they might make a difference in the next election. While I have not researched whether an idea similar to the proposed eActivism site has been done before, I will be watching this site with interest (it is bookmarked already).
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. Rom 1:16
[ Parent ]
Re: Since when... (3.00 / 4) (#16)
by b!X on Tue Sep 19, 2000 at 02:21:36 AM EST

Digital sigs having legal weight doesn't mean squat. Only if/when they become commonly used by people will using digital sigs work.

What's needed is a site that collects sigs (with real world identity info, like it or not) via the Internet, but then delivers paper petitions to the recipients.

[ Parent ]
Memo on Online Petitions (3.40 / 5) (#8)
by b!X on Mon Sep 18, 2000 at 11:48:08 PM EST

For what it's worth, as a result of the arrival of eActivism.org I wrote <a href="http://www.geekforce.org/redressing.html">this memo on the use of the Internet for petition efforts.

Re: Memo on Online Petitions (2.33 / 3) (#10)
by b!X on Mon Sep 18, 2000 at 11:49:24 PM EST

Um, ok. That link was fine when I previewed the post, but showed up fuckered when the post actually went live. What's up with that?

[ Parent ]
Fascist line-wrap mode (1.00 / 1) (#12)
by kmself on Tue Sep 19, 2000 at 12:48:16 AM EST

...though I thought that was a bug Rusty fixed a long time back. Maybe he decided he wanted to fix it again.

Karsten M. Self
SCO -- backgrounder on Caldera/SCO vs IBM
Support the EFF!!
There is no K5 cabal.
[ Parent ]

editthispage.com (2.00 / 3) (#9)
by joeyo on Mon Sep 18, 2000 at 11:48:12 PM EST


See the link above for an example of what's currently being done with collaboration. I don't think the engine they are using is quite robust enough for what you are looking to do, it comes close.

"Give me enough variables to work with, and I can probably do away with the notion of human free will." -- demi

digital content political action committee (4.00 / 3) (#13)
by wildmage on Tue Sep 19, 2000 at 01:22:33 AM EST

All I can say is thank god K5 is back.

Good to find other people who are trying to make a mark in the activism field.

A fellow by the name of Oliver Willis has been working on setting up a Political Action Committee for Digital Content rights. Its very far in its youth, but its a good start. We have the ears of a good deal of influential people (I would hope).

Oliver has a website and a mailing list. This would be the kind of group you want to be strongly associated or even merged with.

I'll plug this article on the mailing list.

Jacob Everist

Jacob Everist
Memoirs of a Mad Scientist
Near-Earth Asteroid Mining

shopping cart of petitions (3.00 / 3) (#17)
by wildmage on Tue Sep 19, 2000 at 02:59:57 AM EST

An immediate suggestion I can give is to have a way to check all the petitions I want to sign and then press the "Submit" button to do them all at once. This is the digital age right? Why should I have to sign my name more than I have to.

Of course, is this legal? :)

Jacob Everist
Memoirs of a Mad Scientist
Near-Earth Asteroid Mining

Scorecard.org? (3.66 / 3) (#18)
by puppet10 on Tue Sep 19, 2000 at 03:08:20 AM EST

You may want to take a look a scorecard.org (an ArsDigita powered site on enviromental issues). I'm thinking that this format with a "How the gov't and corps are taking away rights you thought you had" with coherent explainations of each of the issues, how to get a hold of your particular polititians, and fax, email, or write them with form letters to send or be able to modify available on the site along with information on pending legislation and passed legislation on these issues on a state by state and federal level.

However any of these sites needs a critical mass of people before it can be effective, but it has to be a good gathering place before enough people will get together and your site is certainly a first step.

One thing as a first step that should be added to the current site could be a place to discuss the issues to decide collectively what each petition should say or at feedback for suggestions/problems with parts of the language used in the petition. The feedback can be ignored but at least you'll find out if there is one particular part that a lot of people have problems with.

Well I think I've rambled on enough, and its good to have Kuro5hin back.

Cool (3.50 / 2) (#19)
by Matrix on Tue Sep 19, 2000 at 07:48:29 AM EST

I just read through the DMCA petition, and that has to be one of the most concise, best-written summaries of the major issues that I've ever seen. There's a few slight mistakes in the petition itself that you might want to look into correcting, but otherwise its good. Too bad I don't live in the States, or I'd sign it... But I don't think that Congress is really going to care what some Canadian thinks of their copyright laws. (Even though those laws have been successfully applied to a couple of Canadians by US companies, IIRC)

This question's been asked elsewheres, but does anyone know of any groups outside of the United States that are doing something like this? I know the US is leading this particular case, but I also know that other countries (*cough* Canada *cough*) tend to lead where the US follows. Perhaps even some kind of international effort to petition governments about this? After all, the reason Congress cites for creating the DMCA is the WIPO treaty (IIRC?) and didn't quite a few countries sign that?

"...Pulling together is the aim of despotism and tyranny. Free men pull in all kinds of directions. It's the only way to make progress."
- Lord Vetinari, pg 312 of the Truth, a Discworld novel by Terry Pratchett

Government movements in this direction (3.00 / 1) (#20)
by aphrael on Tue Sep 19, 2000 at 02:50:51 PM EST

For a month or so late this spring, there was a movement afoot to impeach the Insurance Commissioner in California (as a result fo a scandal too detailed, and bizarre, to explain here); the impeachment drive stopped when the insurance commissioner abruptly resigned.

When collecting signatures for the impeachment petition, the people running the effort put *copies of the petition* on the net which you could print out, sign, and mail in --- the first time i'd ever seen that done in a state election effort. The petitioners had to get special permission from the state to do it, too.

I have a problem with eActivism (none / 0) (#21)
by The Baptist Death Ray on Tue Sep 19, 2000 at 04:49:15 PM EST

The problem I have with sites like eActivism is that they equate activism with signing a petition.

Signing a petition does nothing. It takes no time, and it means nothing to people, especially if it's in electronic format.

Real activism takes more than adding your sig to a document. I don't mean to disparage the site itself, but all I hear about are their petitions.I see from their site that they also have a boycott, which is a good start, and essays and a forum. But there's more to activism than that, and I think that's why they're not finding the success they'd like to have.

The Baptist Death Ray
"The urge to destroy is a creative urge."
- M. Bakunin

eActivism.org Attempts to Circulate Digital Petitions | 21 comments (15 topical, 6 editorial, 0 hidden)
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