Friday, May 25, 2012

Students do ICA in Mexico

Student protesters rallied last Friday at the headquarters of Televisa and took to the streets Wednesday evening, with some 10,000 gathering at the Stele of Light, a recently completed giant monument, before marching down the capital’s Paseo del la Reforma boulevard to the landmark Angel of Independence monument.
'It’s really something that students would start from scratch to organize this,' said Alejandro Mora Ruiz, an 18-year-old high school student.
'We’re fed up with media that hide real information,' echoed Berenice Marin, who was nearly drowned out by chants among students from at least 15 private and public universities in the capital. She said the movement was nonpartisan."

Organized online, no hierarchy.  Thousands take to the streets and wind up changing things.  YEAH!

On the other hand, people are pushing back. So, as usual, it's a struggle.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Pimply-faced kids now rule the world

"It’s the pimply-faced kid in the basement who controls the whole game, and Bradley Manning proved that.  The fact he had the 250,000 cables that were released effectively cut the power of the U.S. State Department in half. The Afghan war diaries and the Iran war diaries effectively cut the political clout of the U.S. Department of Defence in half. All because of one guy who had enough balls to slip a CD in an envelope and mail it to somebody."

He's got a point there.  Pimply-faced kids have always had keys to important things, though.  The difference now is that with the click of a button that kid can spread information around the world with the keys he has.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

A History Lesson; the Great Strike of 1877

   The Great Strike of 1877 in the U.S. is a useful piece of history for Occupy Wall Street.  In a short time it reached across the United States. It had no leadership.  It utilized the latest communication technology, the telegraph.  But also, in the end it failed. 
   This was a time when the big corporations of rail, steel, coal, and others not only had few rules to follow but also paid little taxes.  In fact, at times it could be said that the corporations ran the country more than the government.
   An economic depression began in 1873. By 1877 roughly 27 percent of the population was unemployed.  Corporations were cutting wages and hours.  the strike began with rail workers in Baltimore, and word quickly spread up and down the rail line.  Word also spread from a new technology that allowed instant communication, the telegraph.  The rail lines ground to a halt.
   Uneasy corporate bosses and governors called for federal troops, who came.  Firefights happened in some places and people on both sides were killed.  In other places there was no violence.  But still the strike spread, reaching St. Louis, Chicago, and most everywhere east.  Each locality organized and went on strike spontaneously, with no leadership or organization coming to persuade them nor control them.
   In the end, it was the guns that won out.  The protesters were certainly in the right, being starved by their masters for no reason other than greed.  But the corporations had the iron fist of the government on their side.
   So what is the significance of this today?  OWS is a movement grown from the corporations sucking the money out of the 99% for simple greed.  OWS utilizes that newfangled communication technology, the Internet.  They are leaderless.  But hopefully, we are not in a time when our government only listens to the corporations.

Further Reading:
American Colossus, by H.W. Brands

A couple of interesting protests

"MOSCOW -- Prominent Russian novelists and poets led a street protest by more than 10,000 people in Moscow on Sunday without obtaining the required permit, and police did not intervene.
The demonstrators skirted the law by remaining silent and carrying no posters, even though the demonstration had clearly been organized as an anti-President Vladimir Putin rally.
The gathering was the latest of several impromptu protests that have taken place in Moscow since Putin's inauguration Monday, held by people unhappy that he is the country's formal leader once again."

That's one way to do it; when your government says no permits, just go right up to the point of doing what you need to do in order to have a permit. Wael Ghonim talked about doing such things in Egypt at the start of the protests there. They would simply gather somewhere with similar clothing. No talking, no protesting, just gathering.  And in some eastern European autocratic country people would gather in a park and just eat ice cream.  Even that angered the government though, because it was like-minded critics of the government gathering together.  Very suspicious.

"Social media play a major role boosting public discussion in China by breaking systematic cover ups. However, it seems clear enough that the Chinese government has shown a remarkable expertise in playing with censorship, leaking or blocking information at its convenience to lead public opinion. Who wins? Do China’s social media outlets really challenge the government’s control of information?"

This is sort of a strange article about whether rumor mills online in China can alter the government.  I don't know, rumors are rumors whether online or not.  The bigger point, I think, is that autocratic governments or organizations have a hard time granting just a little free speech. It seems to be that if you allow some free speech, you may as well just allow free speech.  China seems to be partially successful at utilizing online conversation, but also the attempts to censor free speech are not completely possible. For example, is you censor articles with certain words, the online community can just start using a euphemism for that word.  

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Anonymous; what is it?

"Even if spectacle alone is insufficient to engender political change, it is hard to overstate its importance for publicising issues and clarifying political stakes. With Anonymous, it is not simply that their DDoS tactics dramatise specific issues, such as with their campaign in the winter of this year against the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement. It is that in their totality - as a masked entity bearing the name Anonymous - it relays an urgent message about anonymity to contemplate. Given the contemporary reality of a corporate and state controlled surveillance apparatus, Anonymous stands out, compels, and enchants for a very particular reason: it has provided a small but potent oasis of anonymity in the current expansive desert of surveillance, much like the one quite literally being built in the Utah desert right now by the NSA."

Gabriella Coleman is one of the few people on earth who could be called an "expert" on Anonymous.  I like her style and most of her writings on the subject.

I look at Anonymous as having 2 historic parts so far; the protests against Scientology, and the online attacks on government, business, and such.  I suspect that not many people overlap in both these groups, but I don't know anyone (at least I think I don't) in the 2nd bunch.  Their campaign against Scientology was the cause that got them out of their parents' basements and out into the real world.  The online attacks let them go back to their basement apartments, but still confront actual organizations.

Anonymous in general is barely connected people who see something wrong while they're online and say "Oh yeah?  Well fuck that," and then do something about it.  They want to keep their anonymity, have fun, and do something reasonably useful if it seems worthwhile.  They have no leadership, no written code (except maybe this), and no real long-term plan or goal. If enough people think something is a good idea, it will be done. If not, you will be ridiculed mercilessly for coming up with such a stupid idea.

Friday, May 4, 2012

New Russian method of crowd control

"My producer Yulia and I followed him through the melee, laden down with extra camera kit.
But as we passed from one trade union crowd to the next group, a line of plain clothed men who were walking ahead blocked our path.
Andrey had got through and was forging on ahead so we pleaded with them to let us pass: "We're journalists. We need to be with our cameraman."

But they weren't having any of it. We were to walk at the same speed as the marchers, no faster."

Hm. So the idea is to just keep the marchers marching, and get the thing over with?  That's an interesting method.  So the plain clothes cops control the protest, sort of from the inside.  You keep marching, or else.