Aug 25, 2009

Preeliminary survey results of ICT use by social movements in Pittsburgh - update

A month ago I released the preliminary results with ~10% response rate and promised that I'll release new results when we cross magical numbers of ~20% and (target) ~30%. Now we are midway at ~20% and hence I'd like to update you the new insights gained from the survey.

Before I go into the numbers, first, an interesting observation that comes from some interviews / phone conversations I recently had with some of the respondents. Many do not consider their organization a part of a "social movement" - yet at the same time they are happy to be listed as a group for "social justice and change" on TMC website. This shows that there is an interesting difference between academic (ivory tower...) definition of what a social movement is, and what an average person (activist...) thinks of it. Plus, from the academic perspective, there is the problem of blurry boundaries - some organizations may be seen as not part of the movement itself, but rather, of the allied "movement community", which can be best understood as the attitude "we are not activists, but we broadly support them". And since in real life it is often difficult to distinguish where the movement stops and the community begins, it is understandable that my survey will reach both spectrums - which I think is fine, as community organizations are no less important (if less showcased) than the movement ones. So if you are not sure if your organization is part of the movement, you can rest assured that as long as you are fine with being listed on TMC list, you are part of the larger community that I am interested in :)

Now, back to business. With the response rate doubling, what has changed?
* a few newer organizations have replied (out of 19 respondents, 3 are in the "our organization is 2 years or younger group", and 16 are in "our organization is 5 years or older group")
* as for areas of focus, environment (9 respondents), health (7) and community and social services (7) are still among the most popular, but have been joined by education (7) and human rights (7).
* so what's unimportant? Culture (4), intellectual property / free culture (6), Internet / network neutrality / digital divide (6) and religion (4) were all selected but ranked only in the third tier ("Least important" - but still important enough to be ranked as third), and
economy / promoting business / labor / trade and commerce (6) is in the middle tier
* ~75% of organizations indicate they have non-members (supporters) who participate in their organization activities, about half have non-members who recruit others for the organization
* at this point, for every new innovative technology I suggest (from blogs through video-sharing sites, wikis to Twitter) there are respondents who indicate their organization finds it useful for something.

For the results to be considered reliable for academic research, a responce ratio of 30% is needed (which translates in ~10 more people taking the survey). Hopefully, in about a month, I'll be able to report that the local survey is done, and move on to my second stage - the international survey.

It is my hope that once the results are fully analyzed, you'll be able to look at what your peers are doing, and thus find some helpful solutions and strategies to benefit your organization.

Thanks to all that took the survey, and to those that will take it - a few minutes of your time greatly contributes to our understanding of how organizations desiring social change are using the tools of the Digital Age.

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