Track in real time.
Analysis of the Madison meme space on twitter shows continued high activity, with a number of people expressing the desire to travel to Madison to show support.
The numbers for Madison may be elevated by 700 protesters reported to show up in favor of the cuts. We are seeing these heavily funded one day protests as a common feature against the spreading wave of global protests. Long extended protests by thousands of people in Egypt, Libya, Bahrain and Yemen are routinely countered by single say events organized in support of the government.
This confirms reports of thousand if not 10,000 of protesters have just finished another day of large protest. That is was mostly opposed to plans to cut collective bargaining rights from public sector unions.
We are reading a great deal of frustration expressed by Madison protesters on twitter to the small amount of press coverage they believe they are getting in more traditional media. To be fair this period can not be described as a slow news period, and CNN may feel that events in the Middle East are more important.
This was retweeted over 100 times
One post expressed a growing idea to redress this gap in TV news attention: bring trucks in to Madison to take part in the protests. It is unlikely the trucks would get close to the Capitol building, but seeing that more and more people on twitter are calling for this strategy it will be interesting to see if this happens.
Micheal Moore's speech Sunday in Madison was a major hit with twitter followers, with Moore's tweet being heavily retweeted
Retweets, in the context of a political protests, are highly significant. When they express an opinion they form a kind of voting for a position. We see heavy retweeting in all major protest areas of certain positions. This retweeting is, in our view, a form of agile rapid voting and consensus building.
So comparing the protests in places like Bahrain and Egypt to Madison we have drawn these conclusions.
- In a strange inversion of normal global influence, American demonstrators in Madison are taking inspiration and tactics from Arab pro-democracy demonstrators in Egypt and the greater Middle East.
- Tweeting patterns in American protests are bit different, Middle Eastern protests are preceded by massive bursts of tweets in areas they support, while Madison we see tweet bursts during the protests. This is likely because American protesters can assemble and plan openly, while in Arab nations twitter is used as a planning and motivation tool. In America twitter is being used more for publicity, though planning and calls for contributions still take place.
- In all protests twitter is a way to conduct rapid forums to put out ideas and expressions and allow active and observers to vote by retweeting posts they like. In a hashtag group this causes the most voted for ideas to rise to the top of the twitter list and get the most influence. We see this as a form of consensus formation.
- In all cases twitter, along with YouTube and Facebook, are seen as ways to get around biased reporting in the national media.
- Though events are often de-centralized leaders remain important. All demonstrations require high profile people to rally and inspire the crowd. Traditional forms of organization are not being replaced by cyber-organizing. We are still examining how traditional political forms of organization and new Web 3.0 and Web 2.0 methods may be working together.
It will be interesting to see if Moore plays the same role Gonem played in Cairo. Will keep tracking.
We are also seeing a new emerging global icon for the movement, which may play the same role as the peace sign made popular by Bertrand Russel originally for the anti-nuclear movement but adopted by the Hippie and anti-war movements in the 1960 and 1970s. The icon is the Uncot icon:
We have seen uncut icons in UK, France, Holland, Ireland and the US. The image seems to be gaining ground. Though its name may be a bit of a problem. Typing uncut in Google with search safety turned off returns a mass or porn. With search safety turned on return a lot of music information. The meme be a bit to crowded to spread effectively via search engines, but it is being passed about and shared on Social Networks. Again showing the value of Web 2.0 technology to use Social Graphs to cut through the nose of search engines