A friend of mine had been sending around emails of this research he’d done on some potential corruption. It seemed like good work that wasn’t getting its due. I asked him last summer asking how he’d feel if I posted his research on the web.
I put up and customized a $15 a year WordPress site, wrote an About page, forwarded the research emails to it, and cleaned up the formatting on the posts. That was 3 hours. I cleared it with the friend, mentioned it a few times to associates, wrote a few teaser posts, and eventually started tweeting when there was a new post. 3 months in, I designed and printed a few fliers and bought them to a meeting where I knew I could ask some journalists questions about the issue in the site.
18 posts, about five tweets , one flyer, 2 interviews, totaling about 8 hours of labor, 2 respected newspapers looked into the allegations and covered them. Boom. Story over. What changed? Journalists, legislators, and ethics officials could see all the research in one place and link to it. The site gave people the ability to link to the site and mention a catchy URL in conversation helped the word get around and made it easier to convey the fairly complex research info.
These simple tools have make it so anyone can be an effective activist without having to dedicate yourself completely to a cause for months.