07 June 2007

August Challenge Announcement

While there were obvious reasons for delaying the announcement of the May Challenge until it was about to be underway, there is every reason to give you plenty of time to prepare for the August Challenge...

The August Challenge will center around YouTube videos. YouTube is perhaps the fastest growing and among the most influential websites in the entire internet. Countless videos are watched by millions daily, and the best among them become sensations that travel the globe and change minds.

Your challenge for August is to make a YouTube video. There are but two requirements: that you (1) advocate peace in Iraq and (2) make some reference or mention of One Million Blogs for Peace. (You may mention other websites as well, or aspects of the peace movement, and of course give yourself the credit for creating the video!)

For the competition part of the challenge, videos cannot be posted on YouTube until August 1st. The winners will be determined by those who have the most views at the end of the day on August 30th. You may make multiple videos - as many as you want!

This should give you ample time - nearly two months - to come up with a subject, plot, and to create your YouTube video. And you need not think just in terms of traditional videos. Some of the most persuasive videos on YouTube have been made with still images and a song in the background. Or even just one stagnant image and a person's voice. Or a humble $15 webcam.

Be creative, be passionate, and express your views about the situation in Iraq. Inspire the masses!

Feel free to post questions or comments, especially if you need help with designing videos or other technical issues.

In the meantime, while you're working on that, I am trying to come up with more ideas for Virtual Rallies, taking into account the perspectives some of you have expressed in response to this week's Tuesday Topic. Stay tuned for announcements about those.

As always, please keep ideas for such rallies or other actions coming so we can make the best use of our ever-growing movement!

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18 April 2007

First Month - 86.18% Increase!

We have reached the end of the first month of One Million Blogs for Peace. We grew from 217 blogs to 404 blogs in that time, an increase of 86.18%.

This monthly rate of growth sets us on a pace to reach 376,395 blogs by the end of one year. While that number is short of our goal of 1,000,000, it would still be a very impressive number and represent a tremendous outpouring of support for peace in Iraq.

Maintaining that pace, however, may get harder as the movement gets larger, so it is imperative that everyone do all they can to spread the word and get people signed up and on board. This will be the focus of May's challenge, which will be announced soon.

Some have commented that they would like to see OMBFP be more active in doing things rather than building numbers in the movement. I see the role of OMBFP to be to do both: to grow the movement towards one million while being active in trying to accomplish things. However, it makes the most sense to focus on growth at the early stages because of the exponential nature of growth, and then work on accomplishing things once a wider audience is participating. As such, most of the rallies and challenges will continue to focus on building the base for the near future, and then give way to more action-oriented opportunities once the base is built.

Please continue to send your comments, feedback, and especially suggestions for how we can build this movement. I will be out of town for the next few days after tonight, so the list will not be updated until early next week, but please keep signing up and getting involved! (This will also be my last trip away for quite a while, so I appreciate your patience during this time.)

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11 April 2007

Virtual Rally #2

Virtual Rally #2
Site:  digg.com
Goal:  Elevate OMBFP to front page of digg.com.
Mission:  Spread word about OMBFP to a wide audience.
Participant Actions:
(1) Register as a member of digg.com (11-15 April 2007)
(2) "Digg" OMBFP article to be linked (Monday, 16 April 2007)
[link available Monday]

We're shooting for a Monday morning effort to catch the week on the upswing and hopefully ride the momentum all week long.

Also, OMBFP merchandise will be available this weekend on CafePress.com. Stay tuned for details! Thanks to the Guerrilla Blogger for a reminder to get going on this.

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05 April 2007

Thank You Everyone!

I would like to personally thank everyone for their tremendous outpouring of support for and participation in Virtual Rally #1!

We received 76 diggs in less than 24 hours.

By any prior estimation or anticipation of the way that Digg works, this would have been well more than enough to catapult our article to the front page. Unfortunately, despite its wide influence and credibility, Digg.com is also well-known for its lack of transparency and consistency in how stories get selected for the front page.

Several stories in our topic category made it to the front page with 60 diggs. Others made it with fewer, and at least one made it with 70.

Most baffling of all, the OMBFP article was not even given its full 24 hours. I checked it this morning with at least half an hour left in the 24 hours, and it had been taken down from the Upcoming Stories.

While we didn't meet this first goal, I think we can look at this as a trial run for the Virtual Rallies. We clearly came extremely close, and whether we were kept off the front page by pro-war people "burying" our story, Digg's unpredictable algorithm, or just bad luck, our ability to conduct these united demonstrations of support will only get better in the future. So we can make adjustments and move forward, and the movement is constantly gaining supporters all the while!

Please let me know of suggestions you have for both (1) improving the conducting of Virtual Rallies and (2) sites you think would be good for the staging of future Virtual Rallies. I already have a major suggestion for myself, which is to e-mail the whole list earlier rather than just the people who signed up as specific participants in this Rally! My haste to avoid sending many mass e-mails to the list seems misplaced, and the massive outpouring that came from the e-mail to the whole list (once I did send it, about halfway through the Rally) clearly indicated that most of you wanted to participate and were looking for a reminder.

I anticipate we will probably try something through Digg again, despite its fickle nature, especially since so many of us now have registered accounts there! However, I am very interested in branching out to other similar sites where a strong, committed showing can make an impact. Let me know what ideas you have and we can build this movement together!

Thank you all again for your efforts over the last 24 hours.

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21 March 2007

Update Frequency

I just wanted to post a note about how often the list of blogs will be updated, since 22 blogs have signed up in the last 12 hours or so, since the last update.

I will be aiming to update the overall list roughly every 24 hours. This may not always be possible and is not a guarantee, but that is the goal. It may end up closer to 36 or 48, especially once the volume starts getting higher.

The regional lists will be posted shortly, but may not be updated as frequently, as it takes some time to sort those out.

Updates will tend to be made in the evenings, Pacific time, since that's when I have the most time to spend on them.

I have been enjoying reading your Tuesday Topic responses, both in the comments and on your blogs! Keep up the great work and keep an eye out for similar weekly or one-time projects that may be coming soon...

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18 March 2007

Confidence in War Slipping

I credit a lot of the peace activism surrounding the anniversary of the war for the news reported in this article:
Poll: confidence in Iraq war down sharply (CNN)

In 25 hours, One Million Blogs for Peace will officially join the fray.

Speaking of which, I have been asked by some why the start date is the 20th of March, rather than the traditionally observed anniversary of the 19th.

The answer is symbolism. The first shots were fired in the early morning hours of the 20th of March in Iraq. War was then declared in the United States on the night of the 19th. So while those who declared war were doing so during their 19th, the war actually started (where it was being fought) on the 20th.

The point here is that Iraq and its people are the victims of this war. The timelines for Americans and the America-centric perspective of the war matter less to me than the reality on the ground in Iraq. That's where the blood has been spilled, where the foreign combatants have been killing, and where a civilization and a society is being decimated for profit.

You may have many disparate reasons for supporting the end to this war, and I heartily welcome them all. But my main reason, and thus my focus, is for the victims in Iraq.

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02 March 2007

Why Separate Countries in OMBFP?

I have received some negative feedback regarding the decision to create separate categories for blogs based on the base country of an individual's blog. I wanted to offer my explanation for this decision and hopefully demonstrate why people of any country should sign up...

There are two main purposes to the One Million Blogs for Peace project as I see it. One is to change hearts and minds, to help convince people that it's time to end the Iraq War. Another key purpose is to demonstrate a wide base of support for this perspective and to demonstrate the strength of the movement against the Iraq War.

Keeping a separate count is important for both of these purposes.

In changing hearts and minds, it is important to recognize that the focal point of the change needs to occur in countries currently prosecuting the war. Countries that never entered (or have withdrawn from) the war are already convinced that the Iraq War is not in their interest, and probably predominantly believe that it is a bad idea. Even if there are some supporters of the War in these nations, they are not impacting the war or contributing to its prosecution, so it is less important to change their mind.

Similarly, the demonstration of a wide base of support is more vital in countries currently involved in the war. We have to be prepared to defend this project in the face of skeptics and critics, especially in the United States (where almost all of the troops are actually from). If the bulk of the project is from countries who are not involved in the war, or if the count from all the nations is fully integrated, this leaves the project wide-open to dismissal. Where is the significance in a citizenry whose government never supported the war being in favor of other governments withdrawing from the war? I personally believe there is value in this sentiment, but clearly it does not carry quite the same weight as opposition from within a country currently fighting in Iraq.

Thus, I have decided to keep separate counts, and to classify those in already non-combatant countries as "Support Blogs". Perhaps I should find a more inclusive term and revise some of the project's front page to clarify this distinction.

I want to be very clear that Support Blogs from non-combatant countries will be able to participate in this project and contribute to One Million Blogs for Peace. After all, readership tends to cross borders given the wide accessibility of the internet. I still feel it is important to make the distinction, however, to fully demonstrate how much opposition to the war there is within countries currently involved.

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