Viewing entries tagged
Wilson Wong

Her Name was Trixie - Why We're Asking for #DogMeatPlease

Her Name was Trixie - Why We're Asking for #DogMeatPlease

By Wilson Wong

I grew up in Malaysia, and, unlike most of my cousins, I didn't grow up in a family filled with many siblings. I only really had one big sister. Her name was Trixie.

Trixie was a large, powerful German Shepherd. I call her my big sister because she was my big sister. She saw herself as every bit a guardian to me as did my parents. My mother still recalls proudly the one time my grandmother was babysitting me (both of my parents were out at that time): my grandmother decided that she wanted to take me on a walk, so she picked me up and moved towards the door. Trixie immediately tensed up, started circling Grandma, and growled whenever she took a step too close to the door.

To Trixie, my grandmother was effectively a stranger— a stranger who was taking her baby brother away. So she did what any big sister would do.

Like many people, my memories of my early childhood days are fuzzy at best. However, one memory always stuck out vibrantly: the day Trixie died. It was Labor Day in Malaysia— all of the vets were closed, and despite my mother's best efforts, she couldn't save her. Trixie died in my mother's arms, and I watched my mother sob into Trixie's neck until her body went stiff. It was a confusing day for me, seeing death for the first time, but I understood enough to know how much my mom so deeply loved Trixie, and what a big loss to my family her death meant.

Ever since, my mother loved all dogs of all kinds. She often preferred the company of dogs to humans— “At least you always know exactly where you stand with dogs,” she’d say. When we moved to Dubai, my mother (and I, occasionally) volunteered at a dog shelter for almost a decade.  She worked hard to nurse back to life dogs who had been left to die in deserts, to regain trust in dogs who had every reason to distrust humans, and to find new homes for dogs who have only known at best apathy, and at worse violence.

It may come as a rude shock, then, that my mother had eaten dog in her childhood. A large fraction of my family did.

This explains why this month's action theme, #DogMeatPlease, is particularly dear to me. For forever, I've watched as the West fumed at people just like me in the East for killing the wrong kinds of animals, all while the West not only kills an unfathomable number of animals but also leads the way in designing quicker, more efficient ways of killing and dismembering the “right kinds” of animals.

So this month, we take it back. This month, we disrupt Western establishments serving the “right kinds” of animals, by asking for the “wrong kinds.” This month, we ask for #DogMeatPlease.

Let's expose the hypocrisy in being outraged at the murder of lions like Cecil and the dogs at Yulin, while being completely indifferent to the murder of countless cows, pigs, chickens and fish.

PS: My mom is now a vegan, and has been for several years.

Tech Tools for the Modern Activist

Tech Tools for the Modern Activist

By Wilson Wong

 

Activists today have yet another front to fight on– the Internet. Massive multinational corporations have long recognised this, and have ranks of engineers and PR staff for this very reason. We may not have this, but we have the truth, and with a lot of passion and cleverly designed tools leveraged strategically, we can become a real force for effective organising.

Below are a few of the lesser-known web tools I regularly use to increase the time I spend challenging oppression rather than my email service. Know of any other tools that I should have mentioned? Message me and I may include them in another blog post.

RSS Reader – Feedly

What is it good for? Easily keeping track of topics you specify, finding potential protest opportunities, and finding media coverage of your actions.

What is an RSS Reader? Imagine you’re at a party, and there’s a giant fountain spewing thousands of Skittles. Since the green ones are clearly the best – you just wish there was a magical way you can filter out only the green ones and then automatically fill your own personal bowl.

If that Skittle fountain was the Internet, then that magical filter is called an RSS Reader. An RSS Reader constantly scans the Internet for news articles, posts and pages for whatever keywords you tell it to. It digests all of this information and presents it in a summarised format to you via a dashboard.

Feedly is one program of many that are RSS Readers, and one I prefer personally. See here for other highly rated RSS Readers.

As an example, with regards to DxE organising, I’ve told my RSS Reader to search for the following keywords:

  • Humane meat
  • Chipotle
  • Free range
  • Whole Foods

I’ve set it so that all of the results for these key words go into a tab I labelled “HumaneWashing” (see red arrow in image below). When this tab is selected, I get a digest of the latest articles around the Web that include those keywords:

TBD Wong 1.png

You can see I also have a tab entitled ‘Animal Rights’ and it basically contains keywords that pull out news articles covering animal rights in general. The nice thing is, you can define what and how your tabs work for you.

Slack

What is it good for? Communicating quickly and efficiently on team projects. Protest coming this weekend? Need to sort out who has signs, who can print leaflets, and agree on the plan of action? Use Slack.

What is Slack? Slack is a smartphone and PC app that is sort of the hot new thing amongst start-ups right now.  It’s been getting a lot of rave reviews for optimising the way teams communicate. Think of it as a program that has all of the search and sorting functionality of email, yet the fluidity, naturalness and ease of use of a chatting app.

There are channels that are designed to contain conversations related to a specific topic. For example, in our local Bay Area DxE chapter, we have the following channels:

  • #general – for general work related messages
  • #random – for casual non-work banter and bad jokes by Chris
  • #forum – for discussing and planning the DxE Forum
  • #protests – to suggest and organise upcoming protests
  • #DxEHouse – for all DxE House related alerts; useful for things like toilet paper shortages.

Another useful function is the ability to mention people. If the toilet paper shortage is dire and Adam is on his way home from work, I can message in the #DxEHouse channel:

“@Adam: we really need more toilet paper in the house –could grab some on the way home?”

This way, Adam gets a notification telling him that he has been mentioned. Adam (and all other Slack users) also has a tab that shows only messages in which he has been mentioned. This is great for finding only those messages that are relevant to you!

In the event you want to send a message blast to several people, you can also mention everyone in a channel or everyone on your team via @channel and @everyone, respectively.

HootSuite

What is it good for? Scheduling posts, handling, interacting and posting on both your personal and public social media accounts.

What is HootSuite? HootSuite is a social media dashboard. It allows you to quickly jump between your personal page, and any other page you may run on a variety of social media networks, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. It is good at scheduling multiple posts as well as closely tracking specific things.

The dashboard is made up of a number of vertical columns called streams. The number, type and specifics of each stream are completely up to you. As seen in the screenshot above, the streams I have include those showing general newsfeed posts, a stream to show upcoming scheduled posts on Facebook (currently empty), two streams to follow tags - one exclusively tracking the #WhatAnimalsDeserve tag on Twitter and the other to track the #DxE tag on Facebook. Streams that exclusively follow a tag like that are great for closely following a campaign you are organising or to which you are currently contributing.

For my own use, I created two different tabs (encircled above in red): one exclusively for my personal accounts, and one for the DxE accounts. As with the streams, the tabs you create (or not!) are completely up to you.

Lastly, HootSuite also offers some free analytic tools. For example, you can create reports that identify the reach and the quantity of interaction of your posts as well as identify and rank the most successful posts. However the vast majority of the analytical tools are only for paid subscribers and personally, I don’t even regularly use the free ones.

Klout

What is it good for? A useful, albeit controversial, tool to measure, track and ultimately optimise your social influence online. Also useful to schedule posts at the most effective times.

What is Klout? Klout is a website that analyses all of your social media accounts, determines how influential you are, then assigns you a score out of 100. For more specifics on how this score is calculated as well as tips on how to increase it, see here. You can probably already tell why this tool is controversial, since it literally gives you a score for how popular you are online. However, if you use your online presence to do activism and want to increase your social influence online, this could be useful.

As seen above, you can track and measure your impact over history, see which social media network is most influential (I almost exclusively use Facebook, and so almost all of my influence comes from there) and even see the performance of each individual post via their ‘Score Impact.’

One of Klout’s coolest features is the ability to see when your audience in your networks are most active – and hence schedule your posts at those times for maximal impact: