Blogging and Photo-Sharing for Activists

Quite a few charities and NGO’s, for example Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace, have recognised that using blogs can help them to get their message across to a new audience.

One of the problems that ordinary websites have is that they often times can’t reach an audience wider than the people who already know about their organisation and agree with their aims already. In other words, many websites simply preach to the converted. Blogging might offer a useful route around this particular problem.

Most blogging platforms offer RSS feeds as standard. These feeds can, and often are, picked up by users of social bookmarking sites such as de.lic.ious or Technocrati. Bloggers can also use services such as Ping-o-Matic to alert users of a whole range of blog content aggretators to new content. Because of social bookmarking and blog aggregators, blog content can be distributed to a much wider audience, almost automatically, than the content of a traditional (ie. non-blog) website.

So what next? The other day I started to wonder whether there might be a way to use flickr, myspace, and other photo sharing sites to promote the causes of activists. On flickr, my favourite, users uploading photos assign tags describing the subject of the photo. For example:

I’ve noticed that some of these photos have actually been posted by individual campaigners and I think this, like blogs, could be a useful way for campaigning organisations and activists to promote their cause to a wider audience. Not everyone looking for photos of manatees, for example, will know that this large creature, sometimes confused as a mermaid by early European sailors sailing up the Gulf Coast of Florida, is currently being endangered by the increasing numbers of recreational boaters in the area. They might just think it’s a big beautiful creature, or have heard about manatees but don’t know what they look like. By posting photos on a photo sharing site, then linking back to a campaign blog or website, activists might be able to reach a wider audience. You could also post your photos copyright free, or with a url watermarked on them, so that others could distribute your photos to an even wider audience than you could alone (this is a tactic that some media organisations, record companies, etc have done with fan sites).

Have you, or a campaigning organisation you work for, tried this? Please post a link and any thoughts you have in the comments box below.


  1. Maybe not exactly what you are looking for, but I started a Flickr group aimed at understanding the perception the Flickr users have of an organisation like Greenpeace.
    It’s very, very new, so the direction of the group might change, trying to include more “greenpeace-like” picts. Feedback is welcome tho :)

  2. Hi Gillo. That’s exactly the type of thing I was thinking! ;-) How’s it going? Are users finding the photos? Are people coming back to your site via the link on Flickr? I’d be interested to hear more.

  3. Hey there, Robin!
    Photo sharing for activists is a great idea. I was just thinking about this a few weeks ago while at a “World Can’t Wait” protest here in San Francisco (protesting the Bush administration and the war). So many people were taking photos and filming the protest from all angles. I just thought how awesome it would be if people could share their photos from the same events, add to their collections, make montages, set it to music or voice-over, that kind of thing.
    Have you heard of the following site?
    I recently experimented with making my own photo montage using their free trial. All relatively easy without all the frustrating software downloads.
    Let me know what you think of that site if you have some time.

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