Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Occupy regroups online

The Mobile Internet makes it much harder to break a popular protest movement, but  local governments have probably become convinced that they can not win the war of images in a mobile Internet age, so they are willing to become far more oppressive and undemocratic.  

image create with clima.me mapping technology and Google
After the eviction from Zuccotti Park the Occupy movement regrouped and via the Internet a plan to reform at reform at Duarte Square at 6th and Canal, the above map show tweets collecting from that location over a few hours.

From this location the political group has been able to rapidly rebuild its communication system, to get the message out to that they would be meeting here, and to start to re-organize.  The Internet has created the Smart Crowd, that can rapidly reform in another location.  Mobile device means even grass roots political movements now have the power of communication, coordination and location management that only 10 years ago state authority would have.  

But perhaps as significant has been the destruction of the state and media's monopoly on images.  In the past protests had to hope that a journalist might take a specific image and publish it to send the right message, generally this never happened.  As we have seen in the Occupy movement protests are generally described as dirty, lazy, unorganized, and dangerous.  This was essentially how the Vietnam war movement was always depicted even as the public started to have doubts about the cost of the war.

Today it is possible for services like USStream, images on twitter and YouTube for members of protest groups from Egypt to Oakland to present the greater public with a alternative image of what they are.  

But we at the Web 3.0 Lab are concerned that this may actually be hurting protests in the US.  Traditionally powers in the United States have been able to trust that a sympathetic media and inarticulate protest movement would ensure that descent never became too popular.  With the Occupy movement protests around America and around the world are able to directly interface with people impacted by the failures of the global financial system, often in real time.  Faced with the collapse of their monopoly on news and information states may feel they need to be more repressive and violent to maintain discipline.  We suspect this is what happened in Oakland and New York.  

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