Have you heard of Amy Balliett? She’s a 26-year-old activist in Seattle. Following the California’s passage of Proposition 8 in November, she used social media to organize protests around the world within days. (Here’s a profile on Advocate.com).

She started after the November vote with a blog, and a couple days later added a wiki. (I heard her story this morning from Ben Elowitz, CEO of the Web site/Wiki company, WetPaint, which produced the Wiki.)

Within days she had an organization stretching around the world, with protests organized in eight countries and 300 cities, according to Elowitz. Her network reached 2 million people. Here’s the interesting thing: In almost no time, she was communicating with more people than activist groups that had been busy collecting names and e-mail addresses for the last decade.

The difference? The traditional e-mail groups control their message (at least at the start). The networked approach releases much of the control—but can gain massive reach and power in return. Those 2 million people didn’t consider it Amy Balliett’s network. It was theirs—which made it all the more powerful.

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