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Mobilize, organize – but also scrutinize

Statues in Oklahoma... investigating

Statues in Oklahoma... investigating Ed Schipul under a Creative Commons Licence

There are different kinds of activism, different reasons for deciding one day to step back from our daily routine to try and make a change. Those reasons influence the strategy that we choose for our actions.

For some, activism arises from the disappointment with how things are. We try to fix things. Sometimes we are not allowed to fix them and we need to fight and resist injustice or bureaucracy. In fact, activism is often driven toward an open confrontation with the authorities, when there is no other way than rebelling against the entire system.

For others, activism may come as an act of solidarity, done in the name of others to pursue a fight already started. We may then mobilize, organize, collaborate and produce...

But whatever the circumstances, effective activism is always defined by the question: ‘Why?’ Why are things the way they are? Why don’t others care about things we care about? Why do we see the same problems recurring every time? Why?

Embracing the ‘why’ is the starting point to investigating the answer.

Investigating is seldom what we originally intended to do but it is often what we end up doing. It is hard to imagine effective activism without investigation being embedded from the beginning.

In a world where the powerful, and those whose actions affect our lives, rely on the lack of transparency of institutions and private companies, investigation becomes the necessary step to allow activists to understand the meaning and implication of their fight.

At Tactical Tech we have begun a film project called Exposing the Invisible. It is a series of short films examining some of the most inspiring investigative cases, those that go further than traditional journalistic investigations. We look closely at collaborations between hackers, artists and activists and at their imaginative cutting edge methods. We know that too many wrongdoings are left unreported and we think that the citizens implicated are the ones who can expose those cases best.

Exposing the Invisible is also a comprehensive website that contains extensive interviews with the investigators featured in the films.It regularly updates resources that you can use for your own investigations.

The first episode, Our Currency is Information, has just been launched. It introduces the work of a team of investigators, led by Romanian reporter Paul Radu, investigating organized crime. The film takes you to the heart of Radu’s investigations, where the power of criminals, corporations and governments overlap in chilling cases. Watch the first episode here.

With Exposing the Invisible, we hope to inspire you by telling you the stories of those we have met and who have blown our minds. We hope that you will get in touch with us after viewing the film to let us know what you thought of it and the issues it raises, and also to share with us the stories, methods, tools and tactics that you are using.

Tactical Tech has been promoting other new ideas by showcasing the work of people who have managed to gain influence on matters vital for them and their communities. You can check out our gallery of information activism here.

But, while revolutions are made with enthusiasm and new solutions able to solve old problems, these by themselves are not enough to guarantee success. We also know that technology is neutral and that the same tool that can help you gather crowds to a protest could also be the one informing on you.

At Tactical Tech, part of our work is figuring out how to protect ourselves from the pitfalls of surfing the internet ocean, full of corporate data sharks and gigantic governmental squids. We promote the tools that can increase the privacy and security of activists in our Security-in-a-Box toolkit. We know that staying secure is also about being ahead of the game so we reacted quickly to the news about PRISM by creating a guide to secure alternatives.

This is our mission – to work with activists to get the most out of the digital world – and how to do it safely.

All our resources and many others can be found on Exposing the Invisible.

Go investigate! We give you the tools and you give us the ideas…

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