Sunday, 16 October 2011

Tahrir Square London

Map showing tweeting coming from Saint Paul's in London
Where a Occupy London tent city has create Tahrir Square London

Inspired by Tahrir Square and Madrid protest movement a tent city has formed in front of Saint Paul's Cathedral in London. Some of the activists have called the square Tahrir Square London. The use of the name Tahrir Square shows how global Web 3.0 technology has made today's political movements. One of the major projects of starting the new tent city was to fix the generator so the media center can start live streaming of events.  Connection to the global Internet is an essential part of a political event today.

Tweeting from the event is now a major part of such events. But actually tweets can be positive and negative.  Though the emerging organizers are happy to have a redundant agile system of communication and self organizing, they are also concerned about the potential of rumors and impostors lying about events.

The key lesson for London this weekend is something we learned in our study of Madrid protest use of the web:  the current political movements are not coming from the Internet.  They are using the Internet and they are exploiting the ability to exist in a global context the Internet gives them, but they are struggling to move past the passive obsessive nature of much Internet consumption to create a more engaged social interaction.

This effort to create a more engaged social stance certainly takes much from the Internet.  But it also needs to work through features within the current Internet culture which can be negative for political engagement.  These include a tendency to replace action for the web based simulation of action (tweeting about it and not doing anything), the web's consumerism, and the webs tendency to breakdown cynical flame wars that go nowhere.

In London, as in Madrid and Egypt before, the challenge is learning to make the new mobile Internet a tool and not let it steal the show.   

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