Saturday, December 31, 2011

The free speech online arms race

"They concluded by talking about how Western governments' insistence on "lawful interception" back-doors in network equipment means that all the off-the-shelf network gear is readymade for spying, so, again, the Syrian secret police and the Iranian telcoms spies don't need to order custom technology that lets them spy on their people, because an American law, CALEA, made it mandatory that this technology be included in all the gear sold in the USA."

Oh body, this is scary stuff. If the Internet is not free for people to speak their minds, then it becomes useless for anything but business transactions, which, come to think of it, is probably what Big Business wants.  There is a battle between free-speech advocates and those who don't like free speech.  I'd like to thank Tor and all those who are working on the side of free speech.

Friday, December 30, 2011

graphic of 2011 protests around the world

This is not a complete map by any means, but it is impressive how much protesting was going on this year.  And the reason is that protesting WORKS!  Not all the time, but it has certainly shown itself to be a very powerful tool for otherwise powerless groups.  ICA has shown itself around the world to be efficient and useful.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Recent articles on international protests

"Russia's prime minister has belittled the country's protest movement as lacking clear aims or leaders and rejected their demands for a review of the results of disputed parliamentary polls.
'They have no united programme, clear ways of reaching their aims - which are themselves not clear - or people who could achieve something concrete,' Vladimir Putin said in comments broadcast by state television.
Putin said the protest movement was more interested in creating instability than achieving specific aims, comparing their strategy to 'Brownian motion' - the theory on the random movement of particles."

This is a peculiar article, saying both that the protests are "leaderless" and then interviewing the "leaders."  But I find Putin's view fun; protests are illegitimate unless they have leaders.  Welcome to the 20th century.

"And everywhere, this year of mass defiance wrong-footed those who were supposed to be in the know. The experts had thought the Arabs were getting richer and were too scared of their autocrats, that the Russians were apathetic and quite liked their neo-czar, that the Indian middle class was politically disengaged, that West Europeans were too old for outrage, that Americans didn’t care about the class divide and that the Chinese comrades were too effective at suppressing dissent.
But everywhere, the conventional wisdom was turned upside down by people who turned out to be angrier than their elites had suspected, and better able to channel that dissatisfaction into mass protest and even revolution."

A nice summary about how everybody didn't see these protests coming. Except some of us.

"Eyewitness accounts and video recordings chart the role the Ultras played from the first day of the revolution. One video uploaded onto YouTube from an unknown source on 22 January, sought to reassure those intending to join the demonstrations on 25 January that they need not be scared of the police, because they would be protected by the Ultras who have experience of clashing with the police.
Since the afternoon of 25 January, Ultras groups joined the demonstrations, appearing most prominently on Qasr Al-Aini Street, then increasing their activities on 26 and 27 January throughout the neighbourhoods of Bulaq, Guiza and Shubra. The first Ultras martyr Hussein – the author does not include his full name – in Alexandra, and the next in Suez, Mohamed Makwa who died on 28 January.
The Ultras heroically defended front lines throughout different clashes, from the Battle of the Camel during the 18-day uprising, to clashes outside the Israeli Embassy in September and during the battles of Mohamed Mahmoud in November."

Have you even heard of the Ultras?  Yet they played an important part of Egypt's revolt.  It's going to take a thick book for each revolt to be accurately portrayed for history.  Many different groups came together to topple Mubarak.  The Internet helped bring them together.  But it was work on the ground that made the revolt a success.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Los Angeles considers suing Occupy LA protesters

"The Los Angeles Police Department, which raided the camp Nov. 30 and arrested nearly 300 people, spent an estimated $1.2 million on overtime pay as a result of the demonstration and subsequent sweep, Santana said in his preliminary report. The General Services Department's police force, which patrols city parks and buildings, racked up an additional $335,000 of overtime. Carlos Marroquin, a representative of Occupy L.A., called the figures 'outrageous' and argued that the city should have set aside money for special events and protests. He accused city leaders of trying to make the Occupy movement a scapegoat and described the intense police response, which involved 1,400 officers, as unnecessary."

I saw this in Denver. The police overreact to a peaceful protest by posting way too many resources, then whine that it's costing them so much to police the protest!

Apparently our Constitutional rights are too expensive, so we'll have to pay whenever we utilize them from now on.

The press still wants protests to have a leader

There were protests all across Russia over alleged fraud in recent elections that brought Putin's party back to power.  There seems to be much evidence that election fraud was rampant. Corruption has brought many protests throughout the country.

"However, one of the main problems for the opposition is that there is no single leader able to unite it, our correspondent adds."

Once again, there is no understanding of how today's protests work. There is no need for  "leader."  Is there a problem with understanding what the protest is about?  No. Is it organized, peaceful, and to the point?  Yes.  Is there a particular leader?  Not necessary.

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

I really liked this movie. I had never read the books, nor even what they were about, so the movie was fresh for me.

Just one thing struck me the next day about this movie. Lisbeth did most all the research by herself, as some amazing research prodigy.  In real life, this is not how research is done anymore. Some ad hoc group of people interested in a particular research topic find a place online to chat and pool their information. Leads are proven or rejected.  Arguments rise and disappear.  Finally, the vetted information that makes it through the many eyes and arguments are compiled, and you have a solid report on whatever subject there is.  Certainly there are people like Lisbeth with hyper research abilities.  There is usually at least one Lisbeth in each research project that springs up.  But they are a part of a group.

These ad hoc groups may not even know each other.  They may never know each other.  But they share their work online, discuss what is found, come up with results, and move on.  The only trace of the process is the results.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

China backs down after 30,000 protest


This is an important video. It shows that protests have happened frequently in China, without much result. But now, with the Internet, protesters in one community can learn about and communicate protesters in other communities. Thus, a localized uprising can become a national uprising. This changes the dynamic in favor of the protesters.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

General Assembly and bullies

"In the earlier stages of organization, one topic dominated our social media communication. Turns out, one of our organizers was an advocate for ‘diversity of tactics’ often referring to Blac Bloc tactics of both offense and defense. What was disturbing was that once those who wished to maintain the spirit of peaceful movement started questioning the role of violence and BB tactics in the context of Occupy Vancouver, a group of advocates (supporters of [X]) immediately stepped up accusing and labeling those peaceful organizers sexist and racist. Discussion with these BB tactics supporters was just impossible, for they seem to lack the sense of open mindedness any reasonable discussion requires."

I know nothing of the Occupy Vancouver group, but this article brings up a good point.  The General Assembly has a weakness in that it rewards the most outgoing and belligerent while the shy or self-conscious generally do not openly speak up.  If the contentious speakers verbally abuse the shy, then that closes the door on any input from any of them present.  If this was allowed to go on at the Vancouver GA, it is sad.  The point of the GA is that all voices are allowed to be heard, and are respected.  Otherwise you really do have "leaders" whether they claim to be or not.

At the Occupy Denver GA I attended, a drunk guy kept trying to speak. He was almost drunk enough to the point of not being able to stand.  The facilitator seemed to know the guy and went over to talk to him.  Whatever he was told, it seemed to satisfy the drunk guy and he remained quiet, while staying in the circle.  I don't think drunk people necessarily need to have a voice, but it did get me thinking of who SHOULD be able to speak. And it's everybody, including those you don't agree with. The point is that all ideas are thrown into the circle, then the group comes up with a consensus of what are good ideas and which to reject or postpone.

If some speakers are ridiculed then you may as well dump using the GA because you've already ruined it's structure.

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Portland Lap; a method for handling removal from a park

"After marching for 3-4 hours, we eventually found ourselves a block away from the park that we’d been forced out of, so we took it again. The riot police lined up and prepared to take the park again, but the attempt was called off and the police just left. They realized that they would have to go through the standard military procedure of clearing the park inch by inch, only to have us go back out into the streets and march again while they, one more time, trailed along helplessly- their entourage functioning as a part of the march, creating an even larger disruption to traffic (the marchers covered a city block, the trailing police took up another city block, effectively doubling the size of the obstruction to traffic).
In summary: when the cops come to clear the park, don’t resist. As they are preparing for their military maneuver and use of force that the Occupiers cannot reasonably be expected to resist, the occupiers should be packing up their tents and baggage and loading them into wagons, bicycles, backpacks, etc.

The police will eventually trim down their entourage because they realize that they are helpless. Eventually, work your way back to the park. Or, if the police have fenced off the park, head to another park. If the police force you out, march again and they will be forced to follow. Eventually, they will inevitably come to the conclusion that they would rather have you in a park than disrupting traffic."

I'll have to think about this a while.  It sounds like a great tool to keep in mind when the situation is ripe.  I don't think it's a tool that can be relied on completely, but it's definitely worth considering. And it worked here.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Internet in a Suitcase thwarts government shutdowns

"If he has his way, Meinrath’s project will lead to low-cost, easy-to-use wireless connections around the globe, all lashed together in mesh that can withstand the whims of dictators willing to pull the plug on the internet to quash dissent. He and a team of software engineers are developing open-source software to turn cheap wireless access points and Android smartphones into nodes on the network, which could then be used by dissidents to evade censorship and to spread low-cost connections everywhere around the world. Proponents of the plan include the U.S. State Department, which has given Meinrath a $2 million grant to develop the code."

I hope this works. And it's pretty cool to try it at OWS.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Time's Man of the Year; The Protester!,28804,2101745_2102132,00.html

"It's remarkable how much the protest vanguards share. Everywhere they are disproportionately young, middle class and educated. Almost all the protests this year began as independent affairs, without much encouragement from or endorsement by existing political parties or opposition bigwigs. All over the world, the protesters of 2011 share a belief that their countries' political systems and economies have grown dysfunctional and corrupt — sham democracies rigged to favor the rich and powerful and prevent significant change. They are fervent small-d democrats. Two decades after the final failure and abandonment of communism, they believe they're experiencing the failure of hell-bent megascaled crony hypercapitalism and pine for some third way, a new social contract."

All right!  So what do we get?  This is a good choice for a year that brought down so many dictators and totalitarian systems through peaceful protest.  If ever there was evidence of the power of protesters, this year provided it in spades.  Syria seems to be the main holdout but I really think the regime there is seen not only in Syria but around the world as illegitimate and it too will fall.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

What are leaders for anyway?

"Leaders, in other words, are necessary, but not because they are the source of social change. Rather their real function is to occupy the role that allows the rest of us to make sense of what is happening — just as Tolstoy suspected. For better and worse, telling stories is how we make sense of the world, and it's hard to tell a story without focal actors around which to center the action. But as we witness a succession of popular movements, from the Arab Spring to Occupy Wall Street, we can at least pause to appreciate the real story, which is the remarkable phenomenon of a great many ordinary individuals coming together to change the world."

That last paragraph makes the article. History is a distillation of what actually happened.  So you find some representative characters to explain what went on.  I believe that people in power really do make a difference though. Think, for example, of how the US reaction to 9/11/ would have been under Al Gore instead of George Bush.  So it does matter who is in what position of power.  But I also agree that the collective is more important.  And I am relishing OWS and the media's reaction to its leaderless methods.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Tea Party as ICA or mirage?

The problem with the 'movement' is that its members' anger gets manipulated by a small group of partisan and media elites who are essentially Republican Party operatives. This is the dirty little secret of the Tea Party; it's not really a social movement, but a cluster of elitist interest groups operating locally and nationally, which is quite lacking in participatory elements and largely driven by a top-down approach, determined and dictated by Republican partisan officials and business elites of the Koch variety.
My books on the Tea Party are devoted to exploring the failure of Tea Party chapters to systematically organize at the local and national level. In short, I find that there is very little organization under the Tea Party banner going on throughout communities across the country.  Very few people actually turn out for rallies and planning meetings, compared to the large number of people who claim to be participating in these events according to national polling data. "

I was wondering what happened to the Tea Party. It seemed that once Occupy Wall Street started, the Tea Party practically disappeared.  Both OWS and the Tea Party agree that our government is screwing us over, though they disagree on what business is doing. Still, there seemed to be enough agreement on basic issues that these movements could have joined forces to a degree.

However, the Tea Party seems to not only avoid OWS, but almost left the field altogether.  I have two friends who worked peripherally with the Tea Party. It never seemed very strong nor coordinated to me.  And they seemed to ignore the problems of corporate power in favor of blaming the government on every problem.  OWS, meanwhile, blames corporate power and the government that enables that corporate power.


One of the co-founders of the Tea Party has decided they should join forces with OWS.

How do you handle crazy people who join your action?

"Mr. Watts has been arrested six times since he came to New York for Occupy Wall Street, according to his lawyer, Martin Stolar, including his arrest on Nov. 17, when he was charged with felony assault and grand larceny after the police said he threw a AAA battery at the police and stole a deputy’s hat. In October, he was charged with resisting arrest after the police said he bragged to them that he had stolen some of the orange netting they use to contain crowds. He has four separate misdemeanor charges, Mr. Stolar said."

Brandon Watts lived in group homes and with different relatives before moving to Occupy Wall Street, according to the article. The people who knew him at OWS said he wanted confrontations with the police.

So what to do if a disturbed person joins your ranks?  It can be a difficult thing, which I have little experience dealing with.  On the one hand, you don't want a crazy person doing crazy things to spoil your action. On the other hand, how does a leaderless group decide who among them are not worthy to be in the group?  I offer no easy solution.  The decision has to be done by the group, and it's not easy.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Where do Occupiers go to the bathroom?

The restaurant serves as something of a neutral ground, where protesters and policemen are able to switch off the suspicion and hostility born of the power relationship they find themselves in when the latter are specifically charged with supervising the former. 'Suddenly,' says Wilkins, 'they're really courteous to you. They can see you're a protester; you've walked in there with a cardboard sign. But if they bump into you, they apologize.' Policemen have seen footage of protesters tossing barricades, and protesters have seen footage of policemen tossing occupiers, but none of this footage has been set in McDonald's.
'Everybody needs a break,' says Wilkins, inadvertently recalling the fact that McDonald's used to ask whether you'd had yours today."

I made this a necessary rule when organizing protests; find out where the useable restrooms are nearby and check them out.  We've used Christian Science Reading Rooms, grocery stores, and even the police station when those worked out best.  

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

my trip to Occupy Denver

Jeff's 11-25,26-11 Occupy Denver Adventure


I went down about 1:30pm to the Denver Civic Center Park. There were no tents. Along the north-south sidewalk on the east side of the park were tarps, sometimes with people and supplies under them, sometimes looking like there must just be some supplies under them (like sleeping bag and such). There were maybe 40 people around the area but it was hard to tell who was an Occupier and who was just there. One guy had an "info" sign around his neck so I talked to him some. He
said the 3pm general assembly was normally about camp matters, while the 7pm GA was more about Occupy matters. I didn't make the 7pm GA, thnking I'd go to the Saturday one, but then it turned out they didn't have them on Saturdays, so I blew that.

The general look of the Occupy site in the park is that it is a bit haphazard, but that is probably due to the police having raided their encampment a few weeks earlier and taking their tents and cooking equipment. Along the north-south sidewalk by the road are maybe 15 to 20 tarps with what could be either people or supplies under them. This is where people sleep. There are two or three such tarp bundles across the street as well. Here and there are knots of people standing or sitting just talking together. People come and go constantly. The strong wind was blowing leaves up against the tarps, and now and then a cardboard sign into the street. A very few people would stand by the road with signs, so there is not much visible to show just what this group of people is there for. The eight or so police cars are right on the grass facing the occupiers, perhaps 50 feet away, scattered between the corners of the site. The police never seem to get out of their cars, and the cars are running. They are a total waste of taxpayer money.

I talked to a few of the Occupiers about how things are going. I'm guessing 20-30 people live there full-time, just based on the number of tarps. On Saturday I saw a couple move in with their own sleeping bags, so that was 2 more.

There were people from Occupy NYC, Santa Rosa, Los Angeles, New York,
and me from Rapid City, all visiting and checking out the Denver situation. During the 3pm GA about 25 of us were in a circle, and the LA guy said he was there for any suggestions about
their upcoming explusion from in front of City Hall. The mayor there gave them a midnight Sunday night deadline to move. There weren't many suggestions offered at the circle. One drunk guy was there and kept trying to talk, but the "stacker" who handles the order of those who want to speak handled him well by talking to him. I suppose they deal with him once in a while so know how to handle him.

The GA lasted maybe 1/2 hour with not much being done except the outsiders saying why they were there. There were questions about the planned Children's Rally for the next day, such as whether they had supplies for sign making.

Not many people held signs on Friday. I talked to one woman who did. She comes down frequently, she said. While we were talking, a guy came up and wanted to donate some food and a sleeping bag he had brought. The other guys told him where he could temporarily park without being
ticketed, so a bunch of us went over and waited for him. He brought 8 boxes of canned food, beans, and such, plus a sub-zero sleeping bag that was set aside for a pregnant woman who was going to start Occupying. We took everything back to the park where it was partially distributed. They don't have a storage unit or anything, so one guy said he would eventually take stuff to a house nearby. Another older guy came by later and asked what they needed. I didn't follow that
conversation so don't know what they asked for.

All the time I was there Friday, there were police cars surrounding the Occupy area. On the park side were usually 4 city police cars, I think with just one policeman in each. Across the street on the state capitol property were usually 2 or 3 hghway patrol cars. These had 2 people in each. So, on average there were 8 such vehicles surrounding the Occupiers.


I got to the park about 11:30am for the noon rally. There seemed to be another event going on off to the side in the park. This turned out to be the ending of the first Children's Rally. I didn't ask how that went, but there were several children at the big rally.

About 250 people marched maybe a mile through downtown streets, the federal mint building being the midpoint. The Anarchists had a big black banner, and the official march banner was perhaps 4 feet by 30 feet, with Occupy Denver and other stuff on it. There were a few quick speeches, directions on who should walk in front (the banner and the children) and off we went. The police blocked traffic when we crossed a street corner, which was nice. Bicycle cops rode along on both side of the marchers. There was chanting most of the way, like "Who's Street? Our Street!" and "We are the 99 percent." There were plenty of signs, most crudely made though. My favorite was "The only hope for the future lies within the proles." I saw four official Guy Fawkes masks, only one of which was actually being worn. Later I asked one of the guys if he had protested with Anonymous against Scientology, since I had protested with them in Denver three times. He said "it's Anonymous, man." Oh well.

We stopped twice for speeches. Each time it was mostly kids who gave what might be called encouraging statements. They were cute but not too profound. They used a combination of bull horn and "mic check" so everyone would hear them.

The march concluded on the steps of the Capitol building, where adults gave speeches. One was about the congressional bill that would supposedly make it clear that corporations are not people. But the speaker stated that this was a flawed bill and needed to be amended. Another speaker talked about why Monsanto was supporting a bill in Colorado to legalize pot growing (so they could monopolize the market, of course). The speakers were long-winded and the audience was simply the protesters, so I went down to the street with my sign to picket. Another guy joined me, so we were the only ones on the street holding signs. We had a good conversation. He had been to most of the previous marches, including the one where the cops used violence. One guy asked for a ride, which my new friend offered to give, but then those people never came back. Another guy used my phone, but the number he had me dial was disconnected.

I left about 4pm again after finding out that there were no General Assemblies on Saturdays.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

a more in-depth history of OWS

"No matter what happens next, the movement’s center is likely to shift from the N.Y.C.G.A., just as it shifted from Adbusters, and form somewhere else, around some other circle of people, ideas, and plans. 'This could be the greatest thing that I work on in my life,' Justine Tunney, of, said. 'But the movement will have other Web sites. Over the coming weeks and months, as other occupations become more prominent, ours will slowly become irrelevant.' She sounded as though the irrelevance of her project were both inevitable and desirable. 'We can’t hold on to any of that authority,' she continued. 'We don’t want to.'”

This is a more in-depth history of the beginnings of Occupy Wall Street. Adbusters came up with the idea and the date.  They attempted to steer it from there, but New York started their own General Assembly and pretty much did what consensus came up with from there, regardless of what Adbusters was thinking.  And as the operator of says, her site may well be replaced by some other that becomes more useful to the movement.  That's just how the ball rolls.

So Occupy Wall Street shows once again that horizontal organizing can work.  There are problems, as the article shows (the loudest people get the biggest say, for example).  But it also shows that these things can be worked out on the fly, right during the process of what you are up to.

The article also makes a great point of how some people naturally rise to be in positions where they SEEM to be in a leadership role. I consider that these people are the personality types or those with the background that give them experience or training in facilitating, organizing, etc.  The word in the article I like is "defer."  Others defer to these people because they have shown that they are capable to do certain functions. But unlike top-down movements, these people are in their position because others defer to them.  It is not that they hold a hierarchical position. It is not that they hold that position for a certain time. It is that so long as others defer to them, they hold their position.  When others decide that someone else should hold that position, consensus rules and others start to perform that function.

And it's fun to note that had the city been passive toward OWS, they might well have packed it up in a couple of weeks and moved on to their next activity.  Instead, the movement now has to first establish its right to protest before it can now move on.  The heavy-handed approach by local police to OWS will backfire everywhere.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

How OWS almost wasn't

"The decision to relocate to Zuccotti Park was made 'on the fly' according to Justin Wedes, a member of the New York General Assembly, because of fears that they were about to be 'kettled' by police.
Zuccotti Park was simply the nearest of the five back-up locations the Assembly's "tactics team" had picked out, although there was concern that it would not be big enough.
Once the protesters had 'flooded' into the park, says Mr Wedes, he grabbed a megaphone and asked everyone to sit down in what he describes now as the 'first act of occupation' but there were still fears among the crowd that they would be evicted before they had a chance to pitch their tents."

Meticulous plans don't guarantee success.  Flexible planning might help, but it's no guarantee either, as OWS shows.  The trick is to get out there and try.  Do your best, stay flexible, get ideas from all sides, and keep plugging away.  If you want to accomplish something you have to actually go do it, whether you're sure it will work or not.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

thoughts from a pre-Internet activist

I'll paraphrase his 10 points as best I can, with my thoughts in parentheses:

1. Organize (or at least I think that's his point)
2. Any leadership positions are temporary and recallable (Anonymous can ignore this one)
3. Struggle against the media's propensity to define you by one small piece of you
4. the movement should be completely transparent from top to bottom
5. as your movement grows, eventually you'll need to switch from consensus to representative organization (my advice is, struggle hard to not get that complex that you need this switch)
6. work with like-minded already existing groups
7. Include the unemployed and poor, but understand they will need help as they help you
8. Seek to spread the movement geographically
9. Invite the unions, but understand their natural political prejudices
10. Speak the language of your audience. Don't talk over anybody or use insider language when you are reaching out to the public.

Whew.  After I read this article I liked the points, but trying to bare-bones what the author is saying is harder than I thought it would be.  All in all these are common sense ideas. 

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Silent Treatment after you got the Pepper Spray Treatment

"In the video above, UC Davis students, silent, with linked arms, confront Chancellor Linda Katehi just one day after the incident. It's hard to tell exactly how many of them are present, but there they are, a huge crowd. They're seated in the same cross-legged-on-the-ground position their fellow students were yesterday just before Lt. John Pike pulled out a can of pepper spray and pulled the trigger.
Note that Katehi remains silent during what looks like her perp walk. She does not acknowledge the presence of the students. And yet, within an hour she was live on CNN explaining away the pepper-spray incident to host Don Lemon, who had to cut her off a few times because her responses were so long-winded."

I'm sort of dumbstruck by this video in many ways.  The self-control, the brilliance, the  poignancy of the moment by using silence, and sitting in the way those who had been pepper sprayed were sitting; this just amazes me.  It was like the students saying to the dean, here, you can pepper spray us now.  Go ahead.  You had the cops do it to us yesterday.

When I hung out with Anonymous as they protested Scientology, it gave me hope for our future.  When I see much of what is coming out of OWS, I am again moved to great optimism.

Yes, a lot of this is due to new technology and how people are using it. But from this video you can see that it is still the spirit of the people that is the most important ingredient.  And these students have that in spades.

Best professor letter EVAH!

"Your words express concern for the safety of our students. Your actions express no concern whatsoever for the safety of our students. I deduce from this discrepancy that you are not, in fact, concerned about the safety of our students. Your actions directly threaten the safety of our students. And I want you to know that this is clear. It is clear to anyone who reads your campus emails concerning our 'Principles of Community' and who also takes the time to inform themselves about your actions. You should bear in mind that when you send emails to the UC Davis community, you address a body of faculty and students who are well trained to see through rhetoric that evinces care for students while implicitly threatening them. I see through your rhetoric very clearly. You also write to a campus community that knows how to speak truth to power. That is what I am doing."

   Woah.  Just woah.  This is how EVERYTHING should be done. Straight talk.  No political mushiness.  Just say what you mean.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Do new information and communication technologies (ICTs) empower repressive regimes at the expense of civil society, or vice versa?

"The main contributions and highlights of my dissertation include:
* New dataset on protests, ICTs, political and economic variables over 18 years.
* New econometric analysis and contribution to quantitative political science.
* New conceptual framework to assess impact of ICTs on social, political change.
* New operational application of conceptual framework to assess impact of ICTs.
* New datasets on independent citizen election observation in repressive states.
* New insights into role of ICTs in civil resistance against authoritarian regimes.
* New comprehensive literature on impact of ICTs on protests, activism, politics.
* New targeted policy recommendations based on data driven empirical analysis.
* New lessons learned and best practices in using the Ushahidi platform."

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

OWS figures how to deal with provocateurs

"When confronted with a rabble-rouser, protesters use a technique they call de-escalation, talking provocateurs down or putting their bodies between people throwing punches. In tenser situations, they have encircled troublemakers and ushered them to the edge of the park, one time while yelling “get out, get out,” another time while chanting “om.” But several times, people who have been kicked out or arrested have returned."

I like this. It's a passive way to deal with people who want to disrupt the movement or turn to violent means.  It's good to see OWS working through these problems and coming up with nonviolent solutions.  It's also interesting to see that OWS can accomplish quite a bit without any hierarchical structure.  That does not mean there isn't a need for structure, just not a vertical chain of power.

Monday, November 7, 2011

An old hippie provides sage advice to OWS

1. Let’s be clear: It is absolutely OK to insist on behavior norms.
2. It is OK to draw boundaries between those who are clearly working toward our goals, and those who are clearly not.  
3. The consensus model has a fatal flaw, which is this: It’s very easy for power to devolve to the people who are willing to throw the biggest tantrums. 
4. Once you’ve accepted the right of the group to set boundaries around people’s behavior, and exclude those who put their personal rights ahead of the group’s mission and goals, the next question becomes: How do we deal with chronic a**holes?
5. It is not wrong for you to set boundaries this way.

* * * 
Great advice from an experienced voice.   

Friday, November 4, 2011

violent subgroup within OWS causing problems

"It wasn't the only time during a huge Occupy demonstration in Oakland this week that protesters found themselves on opposite sides. When dozens of black clad marchers began attacking a supermarket, others urged them to stop -- finally linking arms to protect the store from further destruction. "

"A majority of Occupy Oakland protesters sought Thursday to distance themselves from masked vandals who they said had undercut the movement by hijacking the tail end of a mostly peaceful protest, damaging downtown buildings and clashing with police."

"If you see someone trying to incite violence, start with the assumption that that person is undercover, Homeland Security, cop, or whatever, because this is the history of America where those in charge have tried to ignite people, incite them into acts of violence..."

This seems to be a common problem in protests in the U.S. I saw it in the 1990's in anti-war protests.  Gandhi would call off protests if violence started.  So it has to be something that protesters plan how to counteract.

My opinion is that the legitimate protesters must do everything they can to show that those committing violence are not part of the protest. Immediately separate yourself from them.  Point them out to the police, cooperating with prosecution of anyone who vandalizes or physically attacks someone.  Shame the vandals by yelling at them, pointing at them, chanting "we don't want this."  Try to talk to their group ahead of any action to let them know their tactics are counterproductive and not wanted.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

some quotes from a good book

some quotes from A Movement of Movements, edited by Tom Mertes, 2004

"We have not come to lead you, we have not come to tell you what to do, but to ask for your help." [Subcomandante Marcos, p. 7]

"Our analysis of the farmers' movements of Latin America and Brazil taught us that whenever a mass movement was subordinated to a party, it was weakened by the effects of inner-party splits and factional battles.  It was not that we didn't value parties, or thought it wrong to join them.  But the movement had to be free from external political direction." [Joao Pedro Stedile, p. 21]

"Our success or failure should be defined by the vision of the world we develop, and the kind of solutions for it we offer, rather than by whether we can tactically out-manoeuvre the most powerful combined police forces in the world..." [John Sellers, p. 184]

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

OWS works on structure

"When Graeber and his friends showed up on Aug. 2, however, they found out that the event wasn’t, in fact, a general assembly, but a traditional rally, to be followed by a short meeting and a march to Wall Street to deliver a set of predetermined demands ('A massive public-private jobs program' was one, 'An end to oppression and war!' was another). In anarchist argot, the event was being run by 'verticals'—top-down organizations—rather than 'horizontals' such as Graeber and his friends. Sagri and Graeber felt they’d been had, and they were angry.
What happened next sounds like an anarchist parable. Along with Kohso, the two recruited several other people disgruntled with the proceedings, then walked to the south end of the park and began to hold their own GA, getting down to the business of planning the Sept. 17 occupation. The original dozen or so people gradually swelled, despite the efforts of the event’s planners to bring them back to the rally. The tug of war lasted until late in the evening, but eventually all of the 50 or so people remaining at Bowling Green had joined the insurgent general assembly.
'The groups that were organizing the rally, they also came along,' recalls Kohso. 'Then everyone stayed very, very late to organize what committees we needed.'
While there were weeks of planning yet to go, the important battle had been won. The show would be run by horizontals, and the choices that would follow—the decision not to have leaders or even designated police liaisons, the daily GAs and myriad working-group meetings that still form the heart of the protests in Zuccotti Park—all flowed from that."

* * * *

In my previous post I mentioned that it appeared to me that the OWS was using an organizational structure that would only work for smaller, less complex groups.  OWS seems to be figuring this out as well and has proposed adding to the General Assembly a Spokes Council:

The Occupy Wall Street Spokes Council
A Spokes Council is structured similar to the spokes of a wheel:  It is designed to combine large group participation (like in the GA) with small group deliberation and consensus process.
  • Each group selects a “spoke” to sit with the other “spokes” in a circle in the middle of the meeting space, with the rest of their group sitting right behind them
  • Spokes have no authority and are not decision-makers. They actively discuss all agenda items with all other members of their group who have joined them for the Spokes Council.
  • Spokes are responsible for communicating any diversity of sentiments that may exist within their group to the rest of the spokes council
  • Spokes rotate at every meeting, and can be recalled by their group at any time
  • During Spokes Councils, individuals in multiple groups are free to sit with any group that they are a part of and to move around at will
  • Movement Groups may partner with Operations Groups and/or Caucuses

Decisions & Decision-Making
  • The four types of decisions that the Spokes Council attend to are:
1)     Decisions related to the logistical operation of Occupy Wall Street
2)     Approval of Occupy Wall Street budgets and expenditures
3)     The addition or subtraction of Operations Groups and Caucuses to the Spokes Council
  • All Working Groups and Caucuses will be admitted to the Spokes Council that adhere to the above definitions of an Operations Group or Caucus and that agree to abide by the Principles of Solidarity adopted (as a working draft) by the GA [available at]
  • The only reason a group may be asked to leave the Spokes Council is for either repeatedly disrupting the Spokes Council’s process or for behaving in a way that seriously violates the GA’s Principles of Solidarity
4)     Amendments to the functioning of the Spokes Council that do not alter the power of the GA

* * * *

   I'm not sure I grasp exactly how this works but I'm glad to see they are working on some method that will streamline the General Assembly.

Occupy Denver shows a weakness in ICA; interlopers

"'We see two elements within the crowd,' he said. 'There are clearly people committed to the cause, but others who are obviously out to start trouble.'
A man arrested Saturday for allegedly knocking a police officer off his motorcycle appeared to have little connection to the protesters who keep the effort alive. John Sexton, 33, remained in jail Monday in lieu of $20,000 bail, facing a charge of second-degree felony assault on an officer."

I've always wondered why Scientology didn't infiltrate our protests with firebrands who would demand that we resort to violence or property destruction. Fortunately it never happened.  Meanwhile, the Occupy Denver group has such people who have an individual agenda that they want to use the group to hide behind.  The best way I know to deal with this is for the group to make it abundantly clear that anyone who promotes violence or destruction is not part of the group. Point them out to police. Try to isolate them in marches or rallies by simply keeping a distance from them. When they do something wrong, point them out and yell "shame!"

Quitting is a very last resort. If the good people quit, then what's left?  The idiots.  Please stay in and fight for the good, both for the cause and for the local movement.

 Meanwhile, here's a great OWS blog to keep up with things;

Monday, October 31, 2011

OWS bypasses, even ignores, established methods for speaking out

"As Barack Obama and Mitt Romney hone their lines, trying to work out a position that sympathizes with the aggrieved while reassuring their donors, the OWS message to both candidates is the same: 'This isn’t about you. It’s between us and them,' pointing up to the Masters of the Universe on the executive floors—not the mouthpieces of the corporate chieftains but the actual power.
OWS is clearly inspired by Tahrir Square. Yet Egyptians succeeded in toppling the Mubarak government not because they occupied the square but because their occupation exerted direct pressure on the country’s most powerful business interests. As SUNY Stonybrook sociologist Michael Schwartz has detailed, by shutting down the tourist industry, disrupting construction projects whose financing had already been committed and initiating general strike actions that threatened to shut the Suez Canal, the occupiers of Tahrir threatened the interests of the economic elite—and that is what brought down the regime.
Clearly, something similar—nonviolent action that directly challenges the economic elite—is required here if we’re to succeed in making serious change. It’s daunting, but there is a precedent. Before there were civil rights laws, people broke the back of Jim Crow by picketing, boycotting, getting beaten and arrested by the tens of thousands, in direct action against the most powerful forces of their society."

I like that OWS is basically ignoring ALL elites; economic, media, political, and just saying hey, everything is screwed up and we need to work on fixing it.  The elites will have to be steered from what THEY want to be talking about to what ACTUALLY NEEDS talking about.  Go OWS.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Occupy Iowa City statement of principles

The Occupy Iowa City General Assembly approved the following statement of principles over the course of a two part discussion on Oct. 23 and 24, 2011.

In the fierce urgency of now:
  1. We observe the destructive power of militarism throughout the globe, increasingly spurred on by national and corporate greed, fear, and desire for complete domination over people and resources.
  2. We witness the greatest disparity in the distribution of wealth since the Great Depression.
  3. We observe corporate and individual greed on an unprecedented scale, resulting in the upward flow of capital, the impoverishment of the working class, and the dismantling of the democratic process.
  4.  We witness the exploitation of the Earth and its natural resources, and its disastrous effects on climate, agriculture, food, waterways, and all living beings.
  5. We witness concerted efforts to criminalize and oppress human beings on the basis of ability, age, class, gender identity, gender expression, sexual identity, religion, race, ethnicity, and nationality.
  6. We witness political repression and incarceration of dissenting voices and political ideologies.
  7. We witness the degradation of public schools which do not provide the skills needed for creative and free thought, or for full participation in economic or political systems.
  8.  We witness the infiltration of the profit motive into all spheres of life.

Therefore, Occupy Iowa City, based on the material and social conditions of the world today, and aware of the particular responsibility we bear as people who reside in the United States, articulates the following principles:

  1. We stand in solidarity with the brave people participating in Occupy Wall Street and other Occupy movements throughout the world.
  2.  We affirm inherent human rights and recognize the utility of the United Nation’s “Universal Declaration of Human Rights” as a model for the articulation of these rights, but additionally affirm the need for protection of diverse and indigenous cultures.
  3. We affirm the need for safe and affordable housing for all human beings.
  4. We affirm the right of human beings to choose where they live and work, and to engage in these activities free from intimidation or harassment from the state, employers, employees, financiers, or the community.
  5. We affirm the need to protect the environment and believe that a just world requires all people and organizations to take full responsibility for the ecological implications of their actions.
  6. We affirm the right of all people to have access to appropriate health care as well as clean and nourishing food and water.
  7.  We affirm our commitment to peace and the belief that entities, including nations, states, and private capital, should never pursue war or brutality of any kind.
  8. We affirm transnational interdependence, which rejects colonization, military occupation, and economic and cultural imperialism.
  9. We believe in the equitable and just distribution of all resources, opportunity, and wealth.
  10. We affirm the necessity of affordable public education for all people, so that they may be fully informed, creative and curious participants in a just society.
  11. We affirm our commitment to the process of democratic decision-making, and believe all people deserve an equal voice and vote.
  12. We affirm the interconnectedness of these principles and seek new paradigms to bring about systemic change.
This is a living document and is not all-inclusive.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

"Leader" of Egyptian revolution is no such thing

"Even now, everyone from grassroots activists to top intellectuals continues to insist that no leader is necessary. 'No, no, no, no. Not one person,' says Alaa Al Aswany, Egypt’s most acclaimed novelist, who has been aligned with the protest movement from the start. 'We’re not asking for a hero, you see?'
This notion is in keeping with the decentralized ethos of Internet organizing. And as Aswany points out, it made the movement a perfect foil to Mubarak’s entrenched and suffocating authority—“because the revolution was leaderless. That’s why the Mubarak regime couldn’t control it, right?” But it’s also a reflection of an animosity toward the very idea of a leader, stemming from a long history of corrupt autocrats. Many Egyptians hold this sentiment and share a reflexive suspicion of anyone who looks like they might be trying to take charge."

The media, in desperation to understand a leaderless revolution, tried to pin the title on Ghonim.  But as this article shows, he didn't want to be a leader, didn't think the movement needed a leader, and has never acted in any way to take such a position.  In certain projects, there really is no need for a leader. ICA works and it helps people.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Message of support from Cairo to OWS

Solidarity Statement From Cairo

Posted Oct. 25, 2011, 2:39 p.m. EST by
To all those in the United States currently occupying parks, squares and other spaces, your comrades in Cairo are watching you in solidarity. Having received so much advice from you about transitioning to democracy, we thought it's our turn to pass on some advice.
Indeed, we are now in many ways involved in the same struggle. What most pundits call “The Arab Spring” has its roots in the demonstrations, riots, strikes and occupations taking place all around the world, its foundations lie in years-long struggles by people and popular movements. The moment that we find ourselves in is nothing new, as we in Egypt and others have been fighting against systems of repression, disenfranchisement and the unchecked ravages of global capitalism (yes, we said it, capitalism): a System that has made a world that is dangerous and cruel to its inhabitants. As the interests of government increasingly cater to the interests and comforts of private, transnational capital, our cities and homes have become progressively more abstract and violent places, subject to the casual ravages of the next economic development or urban renewal scheme.
An entire generation across the globe has grown up realizing, rationally and emotionally, that we have no future in the current order of things. Living under structural adjustment policies and the supposed expertise of international organizations like the World Bank and IMF, we watched as our resources, industries and public services were sold off and dismantled as the “free market” pushed an addiction to foreign goods, to foreign food even. The profits and benefits of those freed markets went elsewhere, while Egypt and other countries in the South found their immiseration reinforced by a massive increase in police repression and torture.
The current crisis in America and Western Europe has begun to bring this reality home to you as well: that as things stand we will all work ourselves raw, our backs broken by personal debt and public austerity. Not content with carving out the remnants of the public sphere and the welfare state, capitalism and the austerity-state now even attack the private realm and people's right to decent dwelling as thousands of foreclosed-upon homeowners find themselves both homeless and indebted to the banks who have forced them on to the streets.
So we stand with you not just in your attempts to bring down the old but to experiment with the new. We are not protesting. Who is there to protest to? What could we ask them for that they could grant? We are occupying. We are reclaiming those same spaces of public practice that have been commodified, privatized and locked into the hands of faceless bureaucracy , real estate portfolios, and police ‘protection’. Hold on to these spaces, nurture them, and let the boundaries of your occupations grow. After all, who built these parks, these plazas, these buildings? Whose labor made them real and livable? Why should it seem so natural that they should be withheld from us, policed and disciplined? Reclaiming these spaces and managing them justly and collectively is proof enough of our legitimacy.
In our own occupations of Tahrir, we encountered people entering the Square every day in tears because it was the first time they had walked through those streets and spaces without being harassed by police; it is not just the ideas that are important, these spaces are fundamental to the possibility of a new world. These are public spaces. Spaces forgathering, leisure, meeting, and interacting – these spaces should be the reason we live in cities. Where the state and the interests of owners have made them inaccessible, exclusive or dangerous, it is up to us to make sure that they are safe, inclusive and just. We have and must continue to open them to anyone that wants to build a better world, particularly for the marginalized, excluded and for those groups who have suffered the worst .
What you do in these spaces is neither as grandiose and abstract nor as quotidian as “real democracy”; the nascent forms of praxis and social engagement being made in the occupations avoid the empty ideals and stale parliamentarianism that the term democracy has come to represent. And so the occupations must continue, because there is no one left to ask for reform. They must continue because we are creating what we can no longer wait for.

But the ideologies of property and propriety will manifest themselves again. Whether through the overt opposition of property owners or municipalities to your encampments or the more subtle attempts to control space through traffic regulations, anti-camping laws or health and safety rules. There is a direct conflict between what we seek to make of our cities and our spaces and what the law and the systems of policing standing behind it would have us do.

We faced such direct and indirect violence , and continue to face it . Those who said that the Egyptian revolution was peaceful did not see the horrors that police visited upon us, nor did they see the resistance and even force that revolutionaries used against the police to defend their tentative occupations and spaces: by the government's own admission; 99 police stations were put to the torch, thousands of police cars were destroyed, and all of the ruling party's offices around Egypt were burned down. Barricades were erected, officers were beaten back and pelted with rocks even as they fired tear gas and live ammunition on us. But at the end of the day on the 28 th of January they retreated, and we had won our cities.
It is not our desire to participate in violence, but it is even less our desire to lose. If we do not resist, actively, when they come to take what we have won back, then we will surely lose. Do not confuse the tactics that we used when we shouted “peaceful” with fetishizing nonviolence; if the state had given up immediately we would have been overjoyed, but as they sought to abuse us, beat us, kill us, we knew that there was no other option than to fight back. Had we laid down and allowed ourselves to be arrested, tortured, and martyred to “make a point”, we would be no less bloodied, beaten and dead. Be prepared to defend these things you have occupied, that you are building, because, after everything else has been taken from us, these reclaimed spaces are so very precious.
By way of concluding then, our only real advice to you is to continue, keep going and do not stop. Occupy more, find each other, build larger and larger networks and keep discovering new ways to experiment with social life, consensus, and democracy. Discover new ways to use these spaces, discover new ways to hold on to them and never givethem up again. Resist fiercely when you are under attack, but otherwise take pleasure in what you are doing, let it be easy, fun even. We are all watching one another now, and from Cairo we want to say that we are in solidarity with you, and we love you all for what you are doing.
Comrades from Cairo.
24th of October, 2011.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

can you organize too much in ICA?

"'We are supposed to be inclusive, and I worry that a few of us appear to be making the decisions for all of us,' volunteer Rob Piper said in one of the meeting's earliest statements. 'We must decide whether we are a circle jerk or a social fucking movement.'"

There's no shortage of talking, and you never know who will take hold of the People's Mic. Persuasive speakers on all sides can give General Assembly meetings a roller-coaster feel. Someone always seems to oppose a budget proposal, or have a strong dissenting opinion on something that seems on its way to sure passage. Just one voice joining the debate at the last minute has the power to sway the entire discussion.
With every proposal, there are questions and there are concerns, and the process continues and continues. The facilitators say numerous times the group has strayed off process. Questions are sometimes ignored for being 'off-topic' even when they aren't, time constraints are cited and frustrations boil over. Occupiers curse, speak out of turn and sometimes they just keep on talking, despite 'Mic Check' calls over them. Those on all sides alienate each other."

* * * *

I don't know the solution to this. Handling finances and infiltrators are important issues. But really, a 3-hour meeting?  A 5-hour meeting?  I'm going to guess that both NY and Denver OWS is trying to organize a bit too much for an ICA.  The simplicity is getting lost.  But, if a group gets that big, and needs to consider how to help those who get arrested, etc., there does need to be organization.

So I'll go out on a limb and say once your group is so big you need to build a sort of bureaucracy, then abandon the idea that you are working under ICA. Those methods will no longer work.  And I think they're too worried about a "leader" since such a position can be seen as just another position, not one that controls the whole system. 

This is the sort of stuff that needs to be thought through more; when does ICA work, and when should it be abandoned for more organized methods?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

A collection of articles on Occupy Wall Street

"70 percent of the survey’s 1,619 respondents identified as politically independent, far-and-away the vast majority, compared to 27.3% Democrats and 2.4% self-identified Republicans.

A whopping 71.5% of the sample earns less than $50,000 per year.

50.4% reported full-time employment, and 'an additional 20.4% were employed part-time.'”

* * * *

"The Occupy movement, decentralized and leaderless, has mobilized thousands of people around the world almost exclusively via the Internet. To a large degree through Twitter, and also with platforms like Facebook and Meetup, crowds have connected and gathered.

The first two weeks of the movement were slow, media coverage was slim and little happened beyond the taking of the concrete park itself. But then a demonstration on the Brooklyn Bridge prompted hundreds of arrests and the spark was ignited.

On October 1, #OccupyBoston started to show up on Twitter. Within a couple of weeks, #OccupyDenver and #OccupySD and others appeared."

* * * * *

"On Sept. 17, Constitution Day, about 1,000 people assembled in lower Manhattan to protest Wall Street, the government’s bailout of too-big-to-fail banks, and the growing gap everywhere between rich and poor.
The world ignored them.

By Oct. 15, the occupation had spread to hundreds of cities, in America and across the world, and that Saturday witnessed mostly peaceful marches comprised of tens of thousands of citizens across the world."

* * * * *

"Demands would require a leader, someone to give a face and a name to the demands. Without formal demands, we are left to presume from the actions of the loose group that it is protesting the situation that drove the economic crisis in 2008, which has not been resolved to anyone's satisfaction and which is responsible for the dismal economic outlook -- especially for people in their 20s looking for their first real jobs.

So there's neither message nor demands, but with a nod and a wink we all know what's unspoken. But look at the effect this has. No spokesperson means no individual for the media to fixate on, and that means the message can't be diverted very easily.
At least in the Occupy Wall Street situation, there's no shortage of information, and it's readily available, as is the basic story (just as in North Africa, no one had to tell people they were oppressed by corrupt regimes). What's fascinating is the way people have chosen to use the Internet and what they know. They're curiously united but they keep their distance from the center of it all, which could easily bring the movement down.

In the days before all of our new social and mobile technology, it may have been necessary to operate close to the center with leaders and manifestos. How else could people rally others to their causes? Social media does that work now, and it is work done friend-to-friend. New technology has caused some people to think differently about how best to unite and get a message out. They are ahead of the curve, operating out of the reach of conventional media and political jujitsu. This is both instructive and beautiful -- like watching a no-hitter in progress."

* * * *

'As more Americans debate whether to leave the sidelines and join the Occupy Wall Street movement, we should heed Dr. King’s words. Our individual silence is a form of acquiescence, and we speak volumes not only through our action but also through our lack of it. Silence signals that we are okay with what’s happening, or that we have simply given up. While Occupy Wall Street has inspired a new level of consciousness in America, we have only just scratched the surface of what will be needed to shift the political economy of our country."

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The media can't figure out OWS; where are the leaders? The demands?

"The media and the officialdom seem flummoxed by the lack of obvious leaders and official spokesmen.  OWS is an experiment in something more akin to direct democracy and it explicitly places the wishes and needs of the community first. If nothing else it is exercising muscles that have atrophied badly in American discourse."

ICA has no leaders. The media needs to figure that out eventually here.  The reasons behind an ICA are usually multiple, depending on which participant/group within the movement you ask. Basically there is some core agreement for what is wrong or what needs to be changed that unifies the otherwise diverse group.  For Project Chanology, it was simply to expose the bad side of Scientology, and have fun.  Not everyone agrees WHY you need to expose the bad side of Scientology, nor perhaps HOW, but a consensus is arrived at to do something, and off they go to the street.

The fact that ICA has very simple goals makes this possible. If the goal is to become a formal organization, to run some business or government, then ICA does not work.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Dailykos; "Conservative Magazine Brags of its Agent Provocateur's Role in Provoking Police Action in D.C."

The American Spectator admits to being involved in the precipitation of violence at the Air and Space Museum as a means of discrediting the Occupy Movement.
It has been openly reporting about its 'plants' among the protesters and their actions to get certain things to occur.  Included in this, today, was the presence - and central role played by - of Patrick Howley, its Assistant Editor, in sparking the police reaction and violence."

Ok, so what should you do as a legitimate protester when undercover cops or stupid "journalists" try to provoke you into doing something that goes against the ideals of your protest?  The best way to nip this problem in the bud, I think, is to plan ahead as a group. Then if somebody in the group tries to provoke some action that goes against the general plan and philosophy that's been agreed on, tell them Not Your Personal Army and tell them their idea is dumb.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Occupy Wall Street as ICA

"We don't know precisely what will come out of this round. But if the occupiers finally manage to break the 30-year stranglehold that has been placed on the human imagination, as in those first weeks after September 2008, everything will once again be on the table – and the occupiers of Wall Street and other cities around the US will have done us the greatest favour anyone possibly can."

   OWS is ICA.  It's spreading too.  Fast.  I think this will last too. Project Chanology was after one specific organization. OWS is after a complete economic and political system.  This will take longer and much greater effort.  But the tools are there. The will is there.  I predict that OWS  will lead to great changes in our society, though it won't reach as far as many would like.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Jeez, maybe you don't even need a unified message?

"Sikora added that just because the people there have different causes doesn’t mean they don’t know what they’re fighting for. 'Multiple goals doesn’t mean you don’t have a clear direction,” he said, adding: “It doesn’t mean you’re unfocused.'"

I think what's actually going on here is that the protesters DO have a unified message, but the different groups have different ways of describing or explaining it at the moment.   It's clear to me that Wall Street is a problem for the US economy, that Wall Street have been getting the kid glove treatment while the rest of the country gets the shaft.  I'd say every protester would agree with that.

So, perhaps I'd alter this a bit and say you don't need an articulation of the goal that everybody agrees to.

Media conference in London: Oct. 8-9


  • Noam Chomsky, (Necessary Illusions: Thought Control in Democratic Societies, Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media)
  • Michael Albert, coordinator of one of the world’s largest radical websites, ZNet
  • Matthew Alford (Reel Power: Hollywood Cinema and American Supremacy)
  • Jessica Azulay (New Standard News)
  • Mark Barto (London Video Activist Network)
  • Zoe Broughton (Campaign Filmmaker)
  • Brian Dominick (New Standard News)
  • Amira Hass (Haaretz)
  • Becky Hogge (Barefoot in Cyberspace)
  • Dan Hind (The Return of the Public)
  • Emily James (Just Do It)
  • Taesun Kwon (Hankyoreh)
  • Robert McChesney (Our Media, Not Theirs)
  • Laurie Penny (Penny Red)
  • John Pilger (The War You Don’t See)

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Anonymous; bad and good

"Opinion was divided. At one panel, professional analysts suggested ways the mob might improve on itself, such as by setting criteria for responsible behaviour for security firms that wish to avoid being attacked. At another meeting, former Anonymous member Jennifer Emick railed against what the organisation had become and fended off hecklers, including one in a Guy Fawkes mask."

* * * *

"Instead of merely depicting hackers as virtual pamphleteers for free speech or as digital outlaws, we need to start asking more specific questions about why and when hackers embrace particular attitudes toward different kinds of laws, explore in greater detail what they are hoping to achieve, and take greater care in examining the consequences."

* * *

These two articles discuss what some people within Anonymous are doing.  The problem with Anonymous is that it is so unstructured that anybody can give themselves that monicker and put their actions under its banner.  It is good that the history of Anonymous is being hashed out, hopefully so the accurate story can be forwarded. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Iran blocks TOR. TOR makes fix same day

"Yesterday morning (in our timezones — that evening, in Iran), Iran added a filter rule to their border routers that recognized Tor traffic and blocked it. Thanks to help from a variety of friends around the world, we quickly discovered how they were blocking it and released a new version of Tor that isn't blocked. Fortunately, the fix is on the relay side: that means once enough relays and bridges upgrade, the many tens of thousands of Tor users in Iran will resume being able to reach the Tor network, without needing to change their software."

TOR is used to help maintain anonymity when you're on the internet.  This is helpful for activists working against repressive regimes.  The regime, like Iran, of course wants to know what the activists are doing and saying.  So a battle to keep activists safe is going on.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Needed; safe phones for activists

"This was a problem we could do something about," said Verclas, who runs a New York-based nonprofit organization called She won a grant from the State Department and produced a cellphone application called In the Clear. It includes an erase button so activists can instantly delete sensitive information, and a panic button that sends out a pre-written text message - "I've been arrested!" - including coordinates of the location.
The application is scheduled for official release this month, but test versions have already been distributed informally, phone to phone.
"It's already being used in Syria," said Radwan Ziadeh, a Syrian opposition activist in Washington. "It helps protect information from the security forces."

* * * *

every little bit helps.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Libya's Gaddafi used French surveillance system on activists

"EAGLE is therefore able to aggregate, in an automatic fashion, email and physical addresses, telephone numbers, photos of suspects, but also to make automatic searches by date, hour, telephone number, email address, keyword, localization…
EAGLE 'regroups all intercepted data in a single data center, which enables you to obtain a clear idea of your target’s different activites,' to geolocalize them, to graphically reconstitute their social networks, to analyze their semantics, to retranscribe and translate automatically telephone conversations…"

Perhaps the Anonymous model for activists is more useful than it might seem at first blush.   If a government or organization can collate your information and activities this easily, and the result of being caught speaking out is torture and death, then I'd say hide your identity as well as you can. 

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Scientific research reveals positive results from ICA in Arab Spring

"Focused mainly on Tunisia and Egypt, this research included creating a unique database of information collected from Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.  The research also included creating maps of important Egyptian political Websites, examining political conversations in the Tunisian blogosphere, analyzing more than 3 million Tweets based on key-words used, and tracking which countries thousands of individuals Tweeted from during the revolutions.  The result is that for the first time we have evidence confirming social media’s critical role in the Arab Spring."

First, social media played a central role
in shaping political debates in the Arab

Second, a spike in online revolutionary
conversations often preceded major
events on the ground.

Third, social media helped spread
democratic ideas across international

Finally, a data-centered study on the value of social media during a revolution.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Decentralized internet

"And the concept of a decentralized web is gaining traction: more and more people realize something has to change. The cause for this trend is obvious: the number of data security and privacy disasters that were made public has spiked in recent times . In April ’11 for example an update to the security terms of service of the widely used Dropbox tool revealed that contrary to previous claims, Dropbox Inc. has full access to user data.
An analysis of the changes to the Facebook privacy policy over time paints a gloomy picture of how the world’s largest social network changed 'rom a private communication space to a platform that shares user information with advertising and business partners while limiting the users’ options to control their own information'.
With more and more of our personal data moving to centralized servers or 'cloud services' – a term that should be used as an euphemism – we’re no longer in control. But there is hope in sight: there are dozens of projects out there that try to stop the trend of centralization and data consolidation."

Have the days of getting useful resources from big companies in exchange for letting them rifle through your information gone away finally?  Why not just get the useful information without having to have commercial snoops spying on you as well?  Hopefully these new efforts will save us.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Article on internet activists in Tunisian revolution

"Days after the Egyptian parliamentary elections, described as the most fraudulent ever by some human rights groups, Tunisia's revolution began as it would end, in flames. On December 17, Mohamed Bouazizi, a poor vegetable seller, set himself on fire in Sidi Bouzid in protest of a series of humiliations suffered at the hands of petty officialdom. Peaceful protests that broke out in response met with heavy-handed reaction, as reports online made clear, but the country's tamed media kept quiet. Bouazizi's death galvanized hitherto isolated pockets of resistance. "People realized it was now or never," says Haythem El Mekki, who hosts a TV show about Internet society in Tunisia. They had to "go to the streets and scream and shout." A Tak in Sidi Bouzid contacted the Takriz Facebook page admin about the first protests. He was directed to e-mail Foetus, who didn't know him personally. Foetus decided on the basis of a Skype call to trust the source. Takriz leaders knew that Ben Ali would cut off the area as he had during the 2008 protests in Gafsa, so they rushed more Taks in to get there before road and Internet access was severed."

There's a lot here that outsiders (like me) would never know about. I had not heard of Takriz before, for instance. Essential reading for understanding at least part of the Arab Uprising and what role ICA played.

This article was followed up here.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

crowdsourcing invention ideas

"Quirky is an invention website that takes ideas from its online community and makes them into real consumer products. Ben Kaufman, 24, founded the Manhattan-based Quirky two years ago with the aim of making invention accessible.
Though it uses the en-vogue model of crowd-sourcing, it still relies on nuts-and-bolts creation of tangible goods. Beyond Quirky's rows of desks lurks a design shop, complete with a 3-D printer and various work-shopped inventions, along with the curious leftovers of development."

The power of social media in today's world; socialnomics

This is a powerful presentation of the power of social media, by Socialnomics.

I have another blog,  A lot of times I think I should post the same thing on both sites because of the power and influence of social media and the changes that are coming so quickly. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

flash mob robs store

" A 'flash mob' believed to have been organized on the Internet robbed a Maryland convenience store in less than a minute, police said Tuesday, and now authorities are using the same tool to identify participants in the crime. Surveillance video shows a couple of teens walking into the Germantown 7-Eleven store Saturday at 1:47 a.m. Then, in a matter of seconds, dozens more young people entered and grabbed items from store shelves and coolers. Police said the teens left the store together, without paying for anything."

Tools can be used for good or ill.

Friday, August 12, 2011

microbloggers in China protect journalists

"When Chinese journalist Wang Keqin found himself cornered in the countryside two years ago by police who were trying to stop him looking into a rape case involving local officials, he looked online for help.  Wang, one of China's most dogged investigative journalists, and his colleagues called a friend who posted constant updates about their stand-off with encroaching police to a Twitter-like microblog site. Authorities in Badong County, central China, were soon flooded with phone calls from citizens warning them not to detain or hurt him."

   Wang didn't have any authority over his helpers. He just asked for help and got it.  I'm sure he didn't even know many of the people who came to his aid.  Yet it worked.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

People tired of government dilly-dallyiing, do it themselves

"In the months since the catastrophe, the Japanese government, its nuclear watchdogs and Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), have provided differing, confusing, and at times contradictory, information on critical health issues. Fed up with indefinite data, a group of 50 volunteers decided to take matters, and Geiger counters, into their own hands. In April, an independent network of like-minded individuals in the Japan and United States banded together to form Safecast and began an ongoing crusade to record and publish accurate radiation levels around Japan. The group handed out mobile radiation detectors and uploaded the readings to the internet to map out exposure levels. "

While this doesn't say that Safecast organized on the internet, they are certainly making use of it.  When a government does not do it's job, now it's getting easier for the people to rise up and do it themselves.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Some ICA after the riots in UK

"A massive clean-up operation is getting under way in areas affected by the riots across England.Twitter and Facebook users are harnessing the power of social networking to co-ordinate operations."

   It should be noted that reports say the rioters were using ICA to at least coordinate how to avoid the police.  So of course it can be used for both good and evil.
   But here at least is a nice example of how people who don't know each other and are only connected by being in the same vicinity can quickly come together and accomplish a useful task.