Updated: May 15, 2019
Would Jesus have committed electronic civil disobedience? That’s the question that came to my mind today as I was digging around in information activism.
An information activist or info-activist is someone who believes information should be accessible to the public. Institutions, governments and private companies use the lack of transparency as a defense to conceal wrongdoings. Information activists vigorously probe and investigate these matters in order to expose the truth. Ultimately, the information activist, by uncovering and revealing this information, aims to spark more vigorous reflection and dialogue about issues, hold institutions, governments and companies accountable for their actions, and affect positive change. This is an area where techies and geeks are leading the charge. In an era of unprecedented access to information, investigating is no longer restricted to the spheres of a few journalists working for major publications.
There are a few things you should check out to understand information activism more fully. WikiLeaks is an international, non-profit, journalistic organization, which publishes secret information, news leaks, and classified media from anonymous sources. This WikiLeaks documentary produced by Anonymous is very useful in gaining inside into information activism and the people devoted to it.
Non-profit organization, Tactical Technology Collective, is an international agency dedicated to the use of information in activism. They have started working on a series of documentaries, Exposing the Invisible, which explores the work and tools of information activists. The documentaries shows activists, artists, and hackers (electronic civil disobedience) collaborating to expose what they care about. Exposing the Invisible is also a website that gathers resources activists can use to pursue their own investigations. Another useful website to check out is informationactivism.org, which is also a project of Tactical Tech, and includes a documentary entitled 10 Tactics for Turning Information into Activism, and a Info-Activism How-To Guide.
It would be false to equate information activism solely with prominent whistle-blowers we are familiar with such as Edward Snowden, or organized efforts of information activism such as Anonymous and Wikileaks. There’s a role each of us can play as information activists, and I hope the above links and information is useful.
I have been writing a lot about inner anarchy these days. Inner anarchy involves turning away from false beliefs, mindsets, narratives and ideologies that are programmed into our heads through societal institutions and influences such as religion, education, government, mass media, and popular culture. Infected with these false notions, human beings go out into the world and create societal systems and structures that operate upon and perpetuate these lies, which are the source of division, hatred, greed, injustice, oppression and suffering. Once we turn away from these lies inside ourselves, we find that we can no longer tolerate them in our world because they are a grave violation of our higher awareness and what we know deep inside is real and true.
I have written before about Jesus being an inner anarchist, and published the book Inner Anarchy about this. Jesus was not a passive-ist; he actively challenged, confronted, opposed, subverted, undermined, and sought to abolish the false ideologies of his day and the religious and political powers that were spreading them. Had there been the technological means to do so, there’s no reason to believe that Jesus was not have been an information activist, exposing the lies and bankruptcy of those systems. Jesus challenged people to find their own power and authority within themselves.
The systems, structures, institutions and hierarchies that operate with false beliefs, mindsets, narratives and ideologies are banking on people either being ignorant or apathetic. This is why information activism is so important – it breaks through our ignorance and apathy by exposing the lies and corresponding corruption, injustice and oppression it causes. It opens are eyes and makes us mad. Malcolm X said, “Usually when people are sad, they don’t do anything. They just cry over their condition. But when they get angry, they bring about a change.”