A Virtual March Towards South Korea

Something interesting is happening right now, technologies related to the internet are playing very nicely with each other. These friends (e-mail, flash, blogs, jpeg, rss, mp3 among many others) are making distance and time irrelevant when communicating across the world.

I experienced this convergence with Greenpeace today. Someone had invited me to the No Whaling Group Photo Pool from flickr. Curious I went to the group to see what it was about. This was what I learned “This group is dedicated to all those who participate, or want to participate to the No Whaling Virtual March on June 19 2005. The Virtual March web site is here: http://whales.greenpeace.org/ At the flash site for the virtual march I learned how I could participate in something that others around the world were making a small commitment to. In four simple steps I could be seen where the decision of whether whaling would be allowed to happen in South Korea.

Those steps:
1. select your slogan in both Korean and English (1. Korean government, please no whaling, 2. Come back whales, 3. Korean government choose whales, not whaling, 4. Do not kill whales, 5. No whaling and 6. Save whales)
2. print it out
3. take a picture
4. send it and participate

Each of those steps while incredibly simple, contain a lot to think about.

STEP ONE: There’s a huge eclectic audience that wants choice on the message they can send. Each has their own motivation for why they want to participate, six choices gives enough variety while not seeming to overwhelm them with choice.

STEP TWO: By each individual prints their own sign the cost is pennies. If one group where to print the thousands of signs and distribute them, the cost would not make it practical to do.

STEP THREE: Document the message with a camera, probably digital. A very fast method of capturing the movement. The printed signs become a very powerful commentary when seen through the different face through many countries. This is where flickr comes into action. The photo pool allows participants and observers to see what’s going on. There’s also a message board that allows for easy communication.

STEP FOUR: The goal is to have those collected images displayed digitally through a projector on buildings around South Korea where the the meetings will take place to decide whether it will allow further whaling. The scale, the number of different images, and visual action surrounding the wall will create a compelling message.

Whether those actions will influence the actual decision is hard to say. What is interesting is that through electronic distribution, awareness for a cause spread through many people incredibly inexpensively, and got people involved with action.

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