Steve Walker

Some less or more well-organised thoughts

A very brief history of the cyberpicket

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During the 1990s the International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers’ Unions (ICEM) began ‘cybercampaigning’ use of the web, with the byeline ‘To picket, just click it!’. Essentially, this was a form of corporate campaigning which parodied the sites of companies like Contintental and Bridgestone Firestone who were in dispute with unions representing their workforce, and more generally against the then widespread non-payment of wages in Russia. The campaign web sites included links to the companies’ web sites and to those of their suppliers, retailers and major customers . Visitors to the campaign web sites were encouraged to send protest emails to various companies in these networks (see To Picket Just Click It!, a working paper I wrote a while agot for more).

Roll on ten years, and things and ‘cyberpicketing’ has taken on a whole new meaning. A couple of weeks ago I joined the picket of IBM in Italy organised by Union Network International (UNI) in Second Life. It was imaginitively organised, and had something of the feel of a genuine demonstration.

UNI Picket of IBM in Second Life

This wasn’t actually the first spillover of a 3D online world: while exploring Active Worlds, a precusor to Second Life, in preparation for a lecture in 2003, I stumbled across a virtual firefighters’ picket presumably established during the national dispute in the UK in 2002.
Active Worlds firefighters’ picket line

Steve

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Written by Steve

October 20, 2007 at 3:12 pm

Posted in campaign, unions

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