I have a friend who is fond of saying, “There are no accidents in good organizing.”

Across the country, we’ve seen weeks of successful public demonstrations. And that hasn’t been an accident. 

It’s been the product of hard work from community organizations, volunteers, and activists across the country. The mix of people making the uprising possible is different from place to place, but many of the tools they’re using are the same — especially Google Docs.

It’s not a surprise to see Docs, Sheets, and Slides put to good use by formal organizations. In the eight years since they were first introduced, Google Docs has become part of the basic toolkit on the campaign trail and for all kinds of organizing efforts — with Indivisible leading the way.

But there’s something striking and important in the way that Google Docs has become an information distribution channel for individual activists and disconnected citizens building community around shared urgency in 2020.

If you need a great anti-racist reading list, there’s a Google Doc for that. 

If you need a comprehensive list of the nation’s bail funds or a detailed and specific checklist for taking action, there’s a Google Doc for that too. 

I keep pouring over two massive collections of reference links: Resources for Accountability and Actions for Black Lives and the Fantasy World Master List of Resources on How to Dismantle Systemic Racism. Every time I look, I find new updates to absorb. 

Google Docs is a productivity suite. It’s engineered to let distributed teams collaborate in real time.

But it’s useful for this moment because it’s just as powerful for asynchronous work — where we process resources and share learnings on our own timelines, no matter where we are across the world. Unlike a post on social media, the information in a Google Doc persists so it can be referenced again and again.

And there’s relative value in its anonymity, too. Google Docs offer a measure of remove from trolls — and depending on permissions, freedom from comments altogether.

Every time I look at one of these docs, I glance up at the count of people — the list of anonymous badgers, foxes, and tigers — viewing the same information as I am. No matter what time of day I visit, I’m never alone. And I feel a sense of community, the recognition that we’ve all taken on a shared project.

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