Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Generation Q? Hardly.

In his "Generation Q" op-ed, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman asserted that young activists today are a little "too quiet, too online" for their own good, and that clicks of a mouse cannot rival the vitality of an in-person movement. But what if young activists could combine the in-your-face nature of an offline campaign, with the internet's ability to spread their message to millions?

The Harvard Right to Serve Tour is using YouTube to do just that. As part of the the Tour, openly gay Harvard University students are visiting military recruitment centers across the Eastern Seaboard, trying to enlist – and uploading video footage of each encounter onto YouTube.

"We're trying to show the country the discriminatory practices that are in place, under 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'," says lead campaign organizer and Harvard Divinity School student Jake Reitan. But in addition to that, the campaign is also demonstrating the power of what can happen when activists mix traditional tactics like sit-ins, sign-waving, and submitting to arrest, with new media methods like YouTube to amplify their cause.

Mr. Friedman: we hope you’re taking notice.


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