Ken Larsen's web site - Why having a website is a huge asset to a political activist

      

As a political activist, I find that having my own website is a huge asset.  Some issues are enormously complicated, and a website can greatly simplify getting your message out. 

 

To properly tell a complicated story, you need a multiplicity of approaches:

  1. Use your website to document the details of your ideas via a combination of text, pictures, memes, and video. 

  2. Reach out to your audience via posts to social media (Facebook, Twitter, email).  Each of your posts should contain a link to a page on your website that contains the details.

  3. Have face-to-face meetings.  It has been learned that face-to-face communication is 55% body language, 38% tone-of-voice, and only 7% actual-words-spoken. Face-to-face communications uses the whole 100%.  Computer-to-computer mostly uses just 7% of the spectrum.

  4. Collect feedback and update your website accordingly. 

 

This table best illustrates:

 

Tool Positives Negatives
email
  • Everyone uses it.
  • People get inundated with emails.  Unless your message is extremely brief, it likely will get ignored.
  • Attachments are seldom welcome, because they clog one's email box.
  • Typos can't be corrected once you press the send key.
Facebook
  • Almost everyone uses it.
  • If you post something and later discover that you made an error, you can edit your post or delete it.
  • If one of your Facebook friends starts posting objectionable things, you can delete that person from your friends list.
  • Facebook uses real people's names [... or at least they try to] as ids.
  • Your message gets lost easily.  After a day or so, it gets buried under an avalanche of cat videos and other drivel.
  • Facebook makes it difficult to share information on other media.  If you want to download a video and excerpt a piece of it, that can't be done easily.
Forums
  • Comprised of people interested in the same issues.
  • Drivel and time can drown out your message.
  • Not organized by subject.
  • Seldom are real names used as ids. 
Meetings
  • Talking to someone face-to-face is far more likely to win their approval than any technology. 
  • You're talking with real people ... not some possible fake id on social media.

If you're talking to people who are unfamiliar with your cause, focus on the top of your pyramid [see website, below].

  • Very time consuming.
  • Limited audience.
  • To be successful, you need to be a good public speaker.  It takes work to become one.
Newspaper  
  • Fewer and fewer people are reading newspapers.  They mostly get their news via the internet.
  • Chapel Hill no longer has a newspaper.
  • Too time consuming to read.
  • Is not realtime.
  • Costly.
  • Too many advertisements.
Phone  
  • Very time consuming.  You can only reach one person at a time, and they may hang up on you or not answer.
  • For details, direct the listener to your website, but that can be cumbersome if your website has a long URL.
Signs Great way to draw attention to a cause.  I first learned about DOLRT (Durham Orange Light Rail project) when driving on Farrington Road and seeing a sign that said "Say no to Light Rail."   

Ideally, your sign should display your website's address.
  • Costs about $ 8 each.
  • You may need many.
  • Timeconsuming to place and later remove.
Twitter

[I don't use Twitter, so my knowledge of it is limited.]

  • Large audience
  • "Tweets" are limited to 280 characters, so the content has little depth.
  • Possible fake ids.
  • Lots of drivel.
website
  • A huge advantage is that you can organize your website any way you want.  You control what goes where and how long it remains visible to viewers.  I strive to organize my website "pyramid style" [my term].  The top tier pages are short and summary in nature.  They are the "top of the pyramid".  Secondary and tertiary pages give details ... which sometimes can be very long.  These sections are the lower levels of the pyramid.
  • Easy to reference via email, Facebook post, etc.
  • No advertising [unless you want it]
  • You can correct your material after you've sent out a link.
  • People can't comment on your material unless you have a blog section.  To me, that's an asset, because it keeps your adversaries at bay.  I don't want to spend my time responding to posts by others.  Doing so would drain a lot of my time.
  • I paid $ 280 for 100 gB of website space and 3 years of hosting service.  My web space is only 9% full despite countless videos that I've stored on it.  $ 280 was a bargain.
  • Anyone in the world can read what you post.  People don't have to subscribe to it.
  • Your website may motivate people to change without you even being aware.  A person on the other side of the globe may find your website, like something they find on it, and then modify their own behavior.  Because of this phenomena, you should be cautious about you say.  The whole world might be listening. 
  • If you're not a tech geek, you may have to hire someone to build and maintain your website [$50/hour and up].  That would be costly.  I'm an MIT graduate who has spent my entire adult life programming computers.  This includes 20 years of web publishing.  Maintaining my own website is easy for me.  I can make updates quickly, and it doesn't me anything. 
  • You have no control over who reads your website unless you make it password protected ... which would be a hassle plus it would severely limit your audience.
  • Unless you spend a lot time and/or money, your website likely will not draw a large audience. 
YouTube
  • Everyone uses it.
  • Easy to reference via email, Facebook post, etc.
  • Advertising.  I hate having to spend time looking at an advertisement before I can see a video.
  • There is no way to connect videos hierarchically.  You need a website to do that.

 

Summary

 

If you want to be a successful political activist, you must have a website and you must keep it current.  Too many activists don't understand that ... as in this cartoon:

 

 

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