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World-View Overview

(updated Autumn 2017)

'The Overview', Part 2 –
  1970s: In the beginning was the computer, and it belonged to "them"

'press any key' image In Britain, at least, if you were an environmental or peace campaigner in the early 1980s then your life revolved around meeting rooms, messy banding machines, fly-posting and giving out leaflets on cold damp streets. Research involved endless hours spent in libraries, or worse still council offices where the staff tried to be as unfriendly as possible. Even organising protests began to be more difficult as the post-Miner's Strike/post-Beanfield policing and public order legislation began to bite down on our freedom to organise.

However, for the technically enlightened "few" campaigning might involve a few other distractions too, such as building and running pirate radio stations – but nothing really 'geeky' because it didn't have much application in the world of British pressure politics in the 1980s.

To put it quite simply, the 'organic' campaign groups of the 1980s still laboured under the model which had evolved out of the 1960s – and that model did not prize 'technology' as a means to work. It valued skills and knowledge, and the applications to which those could be directed, but the idea of 'grassroots' action was predominantly small, limited and local. National campaign groups were (and still are) essentially elitist groups who could only relate to grassroots campaigns in terms of a hierarchical, 'command'-style structure.

Of course, all that was about to be turned on its head…

Next page: Part 3, 1980s: 'Then came micro-computers and the Internet, 'and we looked upon the email and saw it was good...'' »»

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