How Google Docs Became a Key Tool for Social Justice

Word processors are bland and boring. But lately, Google Docs and Sheets have been transforming the way we organize.

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Apr 25 2017, 7:00pm

There's not much about a word processor that's "inspiring" or "motivating," especially a Google Doc. Which makes it strange that something as bland as an online text editor is becoming a key tool for social justice and political activists, and that Google Docs and Sheets have begun going viral in their own right.

Virality was far from the minds of former congressional staffers Ezra Levin and his wife, Leah Greenberg, this past Thanksgiving, as they discussed the election with a mutual friend in a hometown bar. They realized they knew something special—what actually works (and what doesn't) when it comes to getting a representative's attention—and the idea to create a Google Doc demystifying the way congressional offices work was born. They spent the next three weeks inviting some 36 other former congressional staffers and Washingtonians to contribute to and edit a doc, which was then finalized and closed to public edits.

"I don't know if it's a generational thing, but Google Docs seemed like the best place to do this, because it's the best for collaboration," said Sarah Dohl, a co-author and spokesperson for the document and political activism group that resulted, called Indivisible. "I don't think there was much of a question that this is where this thing would start."

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