Can We Still Learn Lessons From the Earliest Use of Internet in a Movement?
In the 1990s, an indigenous community in Mexico's Chiapas region grew into a movement and made a claim on the Mexican government that ended up significantly altering the political system. They were able to do this, in part, because they harnessed the earliest forms of the internet to engage with international networks of support. It's really the first case of a social movement capitalizing on the increased power of communications to bring in resources that it wouldn't have been able to otherwise amass.
Activists may not be hanging out on Usenet groups so much anymore, but the tactics and strategies of the Zapatistas are still worth learning from - for example, their command of visual imagery made it more likely that international audiences would connect with their cause. The other important tactic to take from this is how they tasked an infinite amount of people with writing messages related to the cause, and pushed this out on an overlapping list of different networks (an email list, a Usenet group, etc) so that "even if dozens (or even hundreds) of Zapatista authors are neutralized, there are hundreds more within the ‘swarm’ to take their place; silencing the entire group is effectively impossible." Read more about this "swarm strategy" and the Zapatistas at our case study on the movement.