This article is super smart, and fun, and thought provoking. Thanks to my pappa for the sending it my way!
A key feature of APIs is that they require structure on both sides of a request. You can’t just ask Twitter’s API for some tweets. You must ask in a specific way and you will receive a discrete package of 20 statuses. We decided that breaking down the inputs and outputs of Occupy Wall Street in this way might actually be useful. The metaphor turns out to reveal a useful way of thinking about the components that have gone into the protest. Obviously, many of these tactics owe a debt of gratitude both to traditional organizing training (e.g. consensus decision-making processes) as well as more recent protest movements in North Africa and Europe (e.g. taking the square, distributed leadership). Nonetheless, it is Occupy Wall Street that pushed many of these ideas out across this country.
[excerpted from post to Web of Change community]
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the balance between chaos and control, and how fundamental social change rarely happens in a straight line.
The thing that excites me most about #OccupyWallStreet is how entirely unprofessionalized it is. I mean, it’s a bit of a mess in so many ways! But unlike some other actions we’ve discussed a lot on this list, there’s no single organization, or clear coalition, or strategy behind the mess. It’s this emergent thing that will either sort itself into some kind of coherence, or not. This kind of mess can be super uncomfortable for those of us who are working hard to affect change through disciplined, focused, targeted campaigns.
But a little mess can make great magic, even if it’s completely impossible to measure the outcomes.
Like many, I have been seeing lots of similarities between OWS and the WTO protests. But, what makes OWS so unique, and so 21st century, is that it is so meme driven (called by our favorite advertiser/non-advertiser no less!).
All good memes have the potential of spreading like a virus, replicating, reconstituting, and then embedding themselves in the culture in unexpected and transformative ways. It is THIS aspect of change making that we can lose sight of as we get better at the precision of organizing — a precision which tends to be crafted and shepherded by people who are doing little else… this is part of the game, and it’s essential, but it’s not the only part.
Or, better yet, what parent of a 16-month-old has time to blog? I know many do, but I swear I can’t figure out how!
It’s 9:24pm. We put my son to bed an hour ago. My eyes are bloodshot, my vision is starting to blurr sitting in front of this screen. I will go to bed in the next hour, wake 2-3 times in the night to comfort my still-learning-how-to-sleep boy, and then rise with him shortly after the light breaks dawn.
I could watch him wake up a thousand times. It always helps me forget, for a moment, how sleep deprived I am.
This is the story of so many parents.
So, I decided to hop on here, to at least own it. Maybe it will help me feel less guilty for my lack of engagement in basically everything outside of the finite time, during the week, when someone else cares for my child so that I can work. The rest of the time, I try to be a decent and present mother. High-wire balancing… alas.
Yesterday, during lunch with a dear friend, we took out our iPhones, looked at each other, took deep breaths, and deleted our Facebook mobile apps.
This marks the beginning of our Quitting Facebook campaign. We’re too afraid to go cold turkey, so we’re entering into a recovery strategy — like AA buddies. Come January 1st, we’ve agreed to log on to FB no more than once a week. One month later, we’ll meet to assess how this has affected our sense of online well-being.
We were inspired to do this after spending almost an hour discussing everything we hate about Facebook and how it affects our communication patterns — how the last thing we want is to be permanently connected with everyone we’ve ever met in our lives (haunted by high school!), how much time we waste, how we find ourselves feeling on the outside of places we don’t even want to be on the inside of, how strange it is to keep up with friends while never talking to them, and how disturbing it feels to be forced into constant voyeurism by the very structure of the Facebook platform. “It’s like porn!” my friend exclaimed. Seductive, but totally unsatisfying if what you’re after is a real intimate connection.
I’m a technology strategist. My work is all about helping nonprofits use technology effectively, so let me tell you, it feels pretty blasphemous to throw in the towel on one of the major tech it factors. But it may be just this strange convergence of personal and professional that irks me. I have no interest in socializing online during my personal time, but I still end up doing it! Because it’s addictive, because all my friends seem to be doing it, because it’s becoming the cultural norm. I feel like I’m being squeezed into a box that doesn’t represent my values, or the future I want for my children.
That said, nothing is without paradox.
All things social media, despite my discomfort, can help nonprofit organizations get their messages out. The tools equalize the playing field between grassroots organizers relying on people power, and corporations or institutionalized nonprofits leveraging big ad budgets and paid communications staff. The tools have their place — for organizations, and for individuals. Facebook is even the easiest way for me to share photos of my new baby boy with friends and family.
Nonetheless, I can’t shake the feeling that we’re all being duped. That we’ve allowed a small group of mostly young, mostly white, boys/men to define how we relate to each other, how we organize, how we build movements, how we make change, how we even organize our own thoughts. That every word we write, every image we post, every Like and Poke is being catalogued and quantified and analyzed so we can be better dog food for advertisers. That an online network of the entire world is just creepy! I just can’t shake it.
After my friend and I pressed delete, we high-fived each other, and laughed. It was easier than we expected. Wanna join us?
Update: The experiment was fun. I decided not to quit FB completely, but I only log on once a week, and my life is better for it.
I am having a baby. And pretty soon. So, I’ll be offline for a while.
Happy new year y’all.
O, sweet breath of a changing political season.
For far too long, the social change sector has been in stop-horrible-things-from-happening mode. This has been the mandate of our collective context and, wow, it has been exhausting.
While all horrible happenings will not stop overnight (or ever), the shift in our nation’s leadership does allow us to begin advocating for something greater than fundamental human decency and common sense. What a relief!
Time to step back, look to the horizon, and start pushing an agenda of truly transformational change. It’s not up to Obama to do this. He won’t. He can’t. He doesn’t even want to.
So let’s celebrate this moment, this transition, this opening.
And, then, let’s remember what we, too, are here to do.
Happy Thanksgiving friends.
Each year, on this day, I have a ritual of remembering that I’d like to share with y’all.
Before the feasting and celebrating begins, I chose to acknowledge the indigenous peoples of this land — to remember and honor the brutal history that so many Americans chose to forget, and to bring witness and understanding to the very present and constant struggle for sovereignty. I spend some time studying and I spend some time offering prayer.
While there is some dispute about the origins of the “First Thanksgiving,” Americans commonly understand that sometime back in 1621 the Wampanoag Indians offered food to the poor, starving colonists. “This harvest meal has become a symbol of cooperation and interaction between English colonists and Native Americans,” as History.com would have it (a familiar tale).
The subsequent genocide of the Wampanoag and every other Native American tribe across our lands always gets left out of this happy little tale. This willingness to forget is something I’ve never understood about my culture.
In the United States, the ongoing struggle of the Native American people is not a part of our common cultural narrative, even among progressives. Can we put a stop to this trend? This is not about beating our chests in guilt-striken despair, but simply having the courage to look our cultural heritage square in the face.
Our celebrations of abundance have come at a horrible price. We need to integrate this reality into the fabric of our lives — our shared memories, our national policies, our calls to action, our prayers.
Wikipedia is no defacto authority on anything, but it’s got some great info and background on Native Americans in the United States. And, the “current status” portion of this article is quite illuminating.
Also, check out an older classic: Thanksgiving: A Native American View.
Barabara Ehrenreich’s latest essay is by far my favorite opinion/analysis of this economic craziness. She simply rocks when it comes to unpacking issues that affect working people.
A quick and very worthy read.