Learn to Be a Better Activist During the SOPA Blackouts
Jan 15, 2012 Clay Johnson

See the Lessons We Learned

On January 18th, the plan for some sites is to go dark in protest for SOPA/PIPA. The blackout is important -- it raises awareness and helps people get motivated to act on this bill -- and while it's on its last legs, I think the important thing in the long term isn't the particular defeat of this bill, but rather: how do we make Congress listen to citizens better.

Now part of that is stuff you've heard before: better advocacy, transparency reforms, even campaign finance and money-in-politics solutions. But another part of that isn't so familiar: getting acquainted with how Congress works, and upping our own expertise to become better advocates. So in honor of the blackouts on the 18th, I'm holding a "Better Activism Day" with my friends at O'Reilly and PopVox. -- a livestream of experts, most of the day, who will talk about how to improve your power in Washington from people who've been successful at moving it. It's time we started getting some of the inside-the-beltway expertise outside of Washington.

Here's the tentative agenda so far (all times are Eastern):

  • Intro by Clay Johnson: 15 Minutes (10-10:15)
  • Understanding "Theory of Change" (Lola Elfman - Change.org) (45 Minutes) (10:15-11:00)
  • How A Bill Becomes a Law: Speaker Ernesto Falcon (1 hr.) (11:00-12:00)
  • The Outside Game: Media and Persuasion Tactics Karl Frisch(12:00-1:00)
  • How to Watch What Congress Does - Jeremy Carbaugh - Sunlight Foundation (1:00-2:00)
  • I am a Lobbyist, Ask Me Anything (Andrew Shore - Jochum Shore & Trossevin) (1 hr.)(2:00-3:00)
  • I Used to Answer the Phones at a Congressional Office - Ask Me Anything (1 hr.) (3:00-4:30)
  • Delivering Effective Messages To Congress - Marci Harris (4:30-5:30)
  • Closing: 6:30-7

I'm doing this because whether or not SOPA passes, one of the most dangerous problems we have in America is the disconnect between how people think Congress works, and how Congress actually works. The best way to prevent things like SOPA from happening is to make online activists smart. And I hope that if you find the program I'm setting up to be useful to you, then you'll consider buying a copy of my book, though that's certainly not required for admission.

I'm still ironing out the details, so if you have anything you want to add, or anybody here in DC you'd like to see, please let me know. Mark your calendars -- it will be streamed starting at 10am on the 18th on informationdiet.com/live (which isn't quite live yet), and of course you can have the embeds to put on your own websites as well.

Information Diet © 2011 Clay Johnson