Saturday, July 23, 2011

advice for ICA revolutionaries

1. Technology doesn't guarantee revolution. Neither does poverty.
2. The medium can lead to the message.
3. Online crowd dynamics mimic offline crowd dynamics.
4. The Internet facilitates repression, too.
5. Pressure causes adaptation.
6. Geography matters, even offline.
7. Think small.
8. The new threat is Goldilocks dictatorship.
9. Beware Animal Farm.
10. Use the Internet to keep power the right way.

Read it and learn, grasshopper.     

two articles about the Egyptian Revolution

"It is an exercise fraught with difficulties, particularly at a time when the question of who gets to speak for the revolution is being bitterly contested on the streets of Cairo and elsewhere. 'Documenting the revolution sounded like an easy thing, but what is the revolution?' asks Fahmy. 'When did it start? When did it end? What constitutes participation in the revolution – is it only those who went down to Tahrir, or is it also the doctors who worked extra-long hours in their hospitals to treat the wounded? What about a police officer who fought the protesters – is he a part of the revolution or not?'"

This is a great article about Egyptians trying to figure out how to preserve the history of their revolution.  Should Facebook and twitter posts be included?  Stay tuned...

"Are Egypt’s pro-democracy activists finally starting to realize that social media are no substitute for grass roots organization?  
Facebook and Twitter helped galvanize the ouster of Hosni Mubarak, writes Yasmine Saleh, but activists are 'starting to wonder whether faith in social media as the key to Egypt’s democratic future might be a little overdone.'"

I view the revolution as one thing, and organizing the country for political pluralism as another. I don't think you can tackle both in the same way. The revolution was essentially leaderless, but by definition you can't have a leaderless government.  So there are differences, and I really think these two things should not be seen as a seemless whole. They are separate, both in their goals and methods. That is not to say that ICA is not useful at this stage. It just cannot be at the forefront.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Vancouver riot arrests still months away; too much data to go through!

More than 50 officers and civilian experts are assigned to the Integrated Riot Investigation Team, which so far has received more than 600 GB of data, 15,000 images and almost 3,000 individual video files, many of which were captured on cameras and cellphones.
Police have flagged more than 1,700 potential suspects involved in more than 120 incidents."

The cornucopia of data is the citizens of Vancouver collectively coming forward to provide the photos and videos they have of the riots. Most of Vancouver is pissed off at the rioters and hope they get due punishment.

Friday, July 15, 2011

How Syrian protesters are using ICA

"These are the two layers of the movement - the people on the ground who organise day-to-day events at a local level; and the online community which helps give the protests a sense of cohesion on a national level.
'Those of us online are not actually organising the demonstrations, but helping people on the ground to stay connected,' said one cyber activist in Damascus, speaking to the BBC on Skype. He asked to not to be named for safety reasons.
'We help the people in Deraa, for example, to know that they're not alone in their demonstrations,' he added."

This article explains how the people on the ground and the people online work together. 

"'[The protest movement] started online and on Facebook, but now Facebook is really just 1% of the movement,' said Mr Nakhle, chain smoking in a Beirut cafe, his blue eyes bloodshot from lack of sleep."

So it is possible that ICA can be a small but still significant portion of a movement.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

An examination of how the Egyptian revolution started

"I would like to take you through the years preceding Egypt's revolution to demonstrate how years of technological innovation and social networking—online and off—laid the groundwork for Tahrir Square. The very genesis of online activism started in 2004 with the emergence of the Kefaya ('Enough') movement, followed by the emergence of oppositional activists in the Egyptian blogosphere."

This is a nice article that shows how ICA fits into a growing action.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Shirky likes Chaos

"Having one kind of institution do most of the reporting for most communities in the US seemed like a great idea right up until it seemed like a single point of failure. As that failure spreads, the news ecosystem isn’t just getting more chaotic, we need it to be more chaotic, because we need multiple competing approaches. It isn’t newspapers we should be worrying about, but news, and there are many more ways of getting and reporting the news that we haven’t tried than that we have."

When the god of Internet Understanding speaks, I listen. I agree with Shirky that chaos is not a bad thing. It's what comes with the territory in a lot of useful internet actions, like ICA.  When a group is leaderless, you should expect a bit of chaos. When the status quo breaks down, you should expect a bit of chaos as people try to fill the vacuum with something better.  Anonymous, that leaderless, almost-not-group, considers heated arguing a necessity before action.  So everybody gives their input, calls each other names, people get butthurt, then a course of action takes place.

Chaos is scary to many people. Lots of hierarchical groups seek to avoid chaos. But in some cases it's just a by-product that must be accepted.

Another reminder not to oversell ICA; Egyptian protesters fight claims of responsibility

"The reality of the uprising in Tunisia is that it was sparked by a young man, Mohamed Bouazizi, who lit himself on fire, because that was the only form of protest he had left to use. The reality of the uprising in Egypt is that it was sparked by a young man, Khaled Said, who was brutally beaten to death in an alleyway, while people watched, helpless as he begged for his life.
So with that in mind, it’s no surprise that the Wikileaks parody ad that seemed to be taking a bit of credit for the Egyptian revolution has sparked outrage among Egyptian activists."

This is a good article about corporations and journalists trying to give some credit  for the successful Egyptian revolution when they deserve little or none.  It behooves us to listen to the actual activists for the real history of what caused the uprising.

That being said, ICA was still a popular and useful tool for the revolution. Whether the revolution would have succeeded without it, is probably an unknown. the people were ready so I suppose they would have used whatever tools were available, whether it was ICA or human couriers or whatever.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Infographic on Aononymous

"It's mostly helpful in seeing how the different groups are connected to each other and where they branch off on special projects. There's even some color coding and visual cues to show who's friends with whom and what those relationships begat in the recent history of hacking. There's not, however, much explanation about the projects or the groups. We've done our best to itemize and explain everything with a handy hacker glossary."

If you've ever been confused about how all the "Anonymous" related actions connect, here's a handy attempt at explaining.