How the Right-Wing Attacked the “Dirty, Unwashed Hippies” of #FloodWallStreet and #PeoplesClimate

Countless journalists and social theorists have postulated a link between Twitter and democracy, ever since Bouzazi sparked the flame which burned him to death while igniting a wave of protest which quickly engulfed the Middle East in early 2011. Revolutions obviously aren’t new, they have occured throughout the course of human history, but never has the contagion been as quick as 2011, with movements spreading across populations in months, sometimes even a couple of days. Theorists like Lotad, Boyd, and others explored the information flows of these short-form messages networked to the twitterverse via mentions and hashtags, and hyperlinked to a multitude of other locations on the world Wide Web. They examine who was tweeting with the #tunisia and #egypt hashtags as the revolution spread, and demonstrate how these messages and articles flowed throughout the world in minutes.

This spread of communication across long distances can certainly have a positive effect on democracy. individuals have the ability to seek a dizzying range of information quicker than ever before, as decentralized Web 2.0 technologies facilitate the bottom-up production of information with a much lower participation cost. A television studio, millions of dollars, and a contract with a cable network are no longer required for producing content which has the ability to go viral and spread through global networks. As Castells wrote in “Networks of Outrage and Hope”, virtual social networks facilitate spaces of autonomy which are “largely beyond the control of governments and corporations that had monopolized the channels of communication as the foundation of their power, throughout history.” The increased ability of marginalized populations to communicate instantly, with only an Internet connection can subvert governments, as state control of media discourse becomes much more difficult to maintain. Social movements which used to be suppressed by the state-controlled media now have participants chanting ‘the Whole World is Watching’. We live in a global village, and social networks such as Twitter cam be seen as facilitating a new global democracy, beyond the traditional structures of state and corporate media.

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Tweeting From the Barricades: The People’s Climate March and Twitter

When the C train slowed to a halt at Fulton Street station on last Sunday morning, I saw an assortment of anti-Tar Sands and anti-Keystone XL signs. As I boarded the train, I quickly realized that almost each passenger on the quick ride uptown with me were also heading to Central Park West, to protest against the climate inaction of the past twenty-five years. Seeing floods of protesters walking onto the train as we ventured uptown confirmed what I suspected, that the People’s Climate March would be larger than any protest I’ve been to in my whole life. When getting off at 72nd Street around thirty minutes later, the conductor said ‘have a good day at the march, make it count’ over the intercom. This wasn’t anything resembling a normal New York City demonstration. Concerned citizens from all over the United States were in Manhattan and it wasn’t for an over-hyped award show or fashion week. The people were here to save the climate.

At over 310,000 people, the People’s Climate March was the largest protest in the Big Apple since the Democratic National Convention in 2004. It was also touted as the largest climate protest in history, achieving the goal set by 350.org, Avaaz, and hundreds of other participating organizations. Even with established groups bankrolling the outreach for the event, including advertisements on ten percent of the subways in New York City in the weeks leading up to the march, the historic day came together from the ground up, via decentralized hubs which featured listservs, weekly conference calls, and frequent planning meetings. While thousands of people were lining up next to Central Park, thousands more were following the event on social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr.

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#NMOS14 – How Ferguson Became a Nationwide Movement

The small city of Ferguson, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis, has been all over the news ever since Darren Wilson fired six shots into Michael Brown, leaving the seventeen year old lying face down on the pavement in broad daylight. Residents gathered at the site of a the incident soon after, and the protests, riots, and looting have been playing out ever since, with protesters on the streets since August 9th. For the first couple of days, the news unfolded primarily on Twitter, through vines posted by St. Louis alderman, @antoniofrench  and others who live tweeted information, pictures, and video from the scene. The local media also covered the events early on, including Fox 2 Now (KTVI) who had a live feed as well as frequent Twitter updates.

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Twitter and the National Fight For 15 Convention

Last week, I posted an analysis of the media coverage of the Fight For 15 convention, which I compiled using the Google News aggregator. With the exception of the New York Times article by Steven Greenfield, all of the information and quotes of each article originated from two Associated Press articles,one previewing the event, and the other providing a recap. This was a sign that very few mainstream media outlets actually covered the event directly.

To supplement these findings, I have also analyzed the top tweets of the #FightFor15 hashtag which correspond to the events that took place in Elmhurst, Illinois on the weekend of July 26th and 27th.

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Documenting Resistance: Striving for a Living Biography of the Climate Movement

 I think that when organizing successful movements, especially for an issue as urgent as climate change, there is one golden question which is the key to mobilizing large segments of the population:

How do you spread your message to people who aren’t currently engaged in your movement?

How do you reach the segments of the population who didn’t sign the Keystone XL petition, the passive public who are waiting for Obama and other world leaders to make the decisions that will prevent this crisis of our human species? How do you shift the paradigm so that instead of people asking ‘What are the environmental groups and government organizations doing?’ they will be asking ‘What can I do to contribute?’

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Reflections from the People’s Climate March Planning Meeting

Two weeks ago, after coming across the meeting invite, I imagined a large auditorium filled with organizers raising their hands in the hopes of expressing their opinion about how the People’s Climate March should be organized. My first perception was that one speaker, or multiple individuals at a table, would be on a raised stage in front of the crowd, calling on people to participate and weighing each suggestion. However, after walking through the front door of the Tishman Auditorium, recognizing the inside from my time as a New School student, someone handed me a packet which included the plan for the upcoming meeting. I soon realized that my initial thoughts were completely incorrect. Even though I had been participating in networked social movements since September 17th, 2011, I applied an old frame of thinking to the new formation of social movements.

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Likes, Replies, and Event Invites: Facebook and the $15 Minimum Wage Movement

So far, my exploration into groups like 15 Now, Fight For 15, Fast Food Forward, and the multitude of others which compose the $15 Minimum Wage movement, has been focused on the content of tweets and the composition of users who tweet with popular movement hashtags. While Twitter is a network which rapidly facilitates the creation of weak ties which are more useful for spreading information, as studied by Granovetter in “The Strength of Weak Ties”, Facebook is also an important medium which can’t be ignored in the study of new networked social movements.

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