Saturday, August 27, 2016

Is inconveniencing others a method for successful protest?

"So remember, the next time a demonstration stops your evening commute or gets loud outside of your office window, protesters are not hoping to raise your awareness or tug at your heartstrings. They are teaching you of the deep political importance of being inconvenienced, and helping you to get used to it."

The author kind of meanders a bit, but the main point is that inconveniencing others is a great method for forwarding your Just and Important Cause.  She gives examples of the current pipeline standoff in North Dakota, where Native Americans are trying to block an oil pipeline to protect their water, and the takeover of a lot next to the notorious Homan Square police station in Chicago.  These I would actually agree with, since they are directly confronting the group that is their concern.

But I strongly take issue with using this tactic to, say, shut down a major street corner in some city, where the geographic location and the people thus inconvenienced have nothing to do with what you are protesting.  Wise protesting is very much tied up with not only your message, but in how you conduct yourselves and what you are doing.  Your message is MUCH more clear when you are protesting at a location that points to your object of concern, when you are doing something that relates to your concern, and when you act in a way that shows you are respectful of your audience (that being everybody that you want to sway to your side).  I fail to see how inconveniencing mere bystanders (and probably not even bystanders - simple ordinary people with NO connection to your cause) will bring anybody to your side, or make them want to listen to what you are complaining about.

Friday, August 19, 2016

How the Internet helped stop a coup, in 1991!

"The coup attempt collapsed on Aug. 21. Overall, during the three days, Relcom transmitted 46,000 “news units” throughout the Soviet Union and around the world. Regime No. 1 was a revolutionary idea, although not everyone realized it. Radio transmitters spread information in one direction, outward. But Relcom worked in both directions, spreading and collecting information. It was a horizontal structure, a network, a powerful new concept in a country that had been ruled by a rigid, controlling clique. In the 1950s, the first Soviet photocopy machine had been wrecked because it threatened to spread information beyond the control of those who ruled. Now the power of those rulers was being smashed—by a network they could not control.
Another principle was also demonstrated during the coup: The programmers did what they thought was right and did not ask permission. They acted because the free flow of information was threatened. They also knew that they had the support of thousands of subscribers, making the network stronger. The very first time the internet had a role in Russian politics was during the three days in August 1991, and back then it helped to crush the security services’ operation by undermining Kremlin’s monopoly on spreading and sharing information."

I got on the Internet in 1993.  Usenet became my home.  I still love the free communication of the Internet and have seen the power it has to help people organize.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Turkish coup plotters used WhatsApp, and we get to read and follow along

"A group of plotters of the failed Turkish coup attempt used a WhatsApp group to communicate with each other. Bellingcat has transcribed, translated, and analysed the conversation, thereby cross-referencing the messages with photos, videos, and news reports of the evening, night, and morning of July 15-16.
The transcript is composed of two different sources. The first source is a video which was uploaded to Twitter in the morning of July 16, and appears to show the conversation on the phone of a surrendered, captured, or killed coup plotter. This video revealed the WhatsApp conversation from its start at 21:15 to 22:45. The second source is 21 photos that show the rest of the conversation, has already been transcribed. The photos are courtesy of Al Jazeera Türk’s Selahattin Günday, and we are thankful that he was willing to share them with Bellingcat. We owe many thanks to “Has Avrat[1] for fully translating the transcript, as well as contributing to the analysis. All times mentioned are in the local time zone, which is EEST (UTC+3)."

wow.  I think this has to be the first time we can follow along with the coup plotters, and even see what they were doing via video.  This is an historically amazing record.