Digital activism - to inform and inspire

In a recent interview by the Guardian UK, CEO of 2020 Social, Gaurav Mishra argues that there are two main paradigms of digital activism: empowering people with information and engaging with inspiration.

Mishra lists Freedom Fone as a good example of a simple-to-use technology which empowers disadvantaged communities mainly in Africa and Asia, with access to basic information and with a voice to tell their stories firsthand.

Mishra states that the second paradigm, works with privileged online communities, based mainly in affluent North America and Europe. For these folk, it is not a lack of information access but rather a “crisis of caring” and the goal of this paradigm is to inspire action. 

The article concludes that we are limited at looking at the world through either lens and that we can benefit from a cross pollination of both paradigms.

Mishra goes on to state that “researchers have found support for the 1:9:90 rule in many different contexts. The 1:9:90 rule says that 90% of all users are consumers, 9% of all users are curators and only 1% of the users are creators” of content. We have encountered similar trends with Freedom Fone. For instance, for one of the current services, only 1% of the callers have taken advantage of the leave-a-message service to contribute feedback and participate in a two way dialogue, despite high call volumes into the service. This indicates one of the difficulties of shifting between paradigms and not only informing but also inspiring action. 

Perhaps Freedom Fone can better engage with the inspiration paradigm by encouraging compelling content which promotes meaningful conversation, collaboration and participation. This may lead to increased co-creation and collective action of the open source software and user communities. Organisations like Freedom Fone could also benefit from improving collective intelligence by aggregating collective actions effectively and building stronger recommendation systems – such as case studies, best usage scenarios – as Google does by ranking pages according to user viewings.

What do you think organisations like Freedom Fone could do to support both paradigms? Leave us a comment with your views.  

For the full articles, see and