activism at large

It seems quizzicle that anyone not familiar with the concept of virtual activism readily argues that ‘virtual’ can be traced to 1 degree of separation from ‘physical’, while those who claim to be ‘experts’ in the field are quick to agree and continue making the distinction nonetheless.

One bold method from in a oft-cited article uses “process tracing” to draw a line from dot to dot to dot in order to establish causal relationships, where each dot is an actor or event, starting from NGOs and ending with international negotiations (Betsill and Corell, 2001). Imagine, howeve, the complexity of this trace:

Out of an idyllic blue sky dotted with birds and butterflies come warplanes that carpet-bomb the Smurfs’ forest village, killing Smurfette, leaving Baby Smurf wailing in distress and sending Papa Smurf and the others bolting for cover.

The scene from a bizarre commercial featuring Belgium’s lovable blue-skinned cartoon characters is so upsetting it can only be shown after 9 p.m. to avoid scaring children.

Yet it is part of a UNICEF ad campaign on Belgian television meant to highlight the plight of ex-child soldiers in Africa.

“It’s working. We are getting a lot of reactions, and people are logging on to our Web site,” said Philippe Henon, a spokesman for the Belgian office of the U.N. children’s agency.

. . .

“We get reactions from all over the place,” he said. “People are shocked and want to know the reasons behind this cartoon image.”

The goal UNICEF has with this campaign is to attract donations for its program to aid children in war-torn areas. Imagine the diffiuculty – but also, the real possibility – of doing research that draws from NGO representatives, policy makers, and all stripes of media to show how influence is caused by specific actors. But, what is physical and what is virtual is a secondary matter, an issue of semantics. It does, however, make for promising – if disturbing – advantages in activism. See below:

papa smurf!

2 Responses to “activism at large”

  1. mtl3p says:

    here’s another version of virtual activism. and it’s the reason I’ve been looking for help from the urbs/geo experts.