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A Guide to the Occupy Wall Street API, Or Why the Nerdiest Way to Th...

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A Guide to the Occupy Wall Street API, Or Why the Nerdiest Way to Think About OWS Is So Useful
By Alexis Madrigal The most fascinating thing about Occupy Wall Street is the way that the protests have spread from Zuccotti Park to real and virtual spaces across the globe. Metastatic, the protests have an organizational coherence that's surprising for a movement with few actual leaders and almost no official institutions. Much of that can be traced to how Occupy Wall Street has functioned in catalyzing other protests. Local organizers can choose from the menu of options modeled in Zuccotti, and adapt them for local use. Occupy Wall Street was designed to be mined and recombined, not simply copied. This idea crystallized for me yesterday when Jonathan Glick, a long-time digital journalist, tweeted, "I think #OWS was working better as an API than a destination site anyway." If you get the idea, go ahead and skip ahead to the documentation below. If you don't get, let me explain why it might be the most useful way of thinking about #Occupy.

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. many of these tactics owe a debt of gratitude both to traditional organizing training (e. just a useful frame. Delete. essays.e. You can't just ask Twitter's API for some tweets. Nearly everyone accessed Twitter information through clients developed by people outside the Twitter HQ. it is Occupy Wall Street that pushed many of these ideas out across this country. What an API does. We decided that breaking down the inputs and outputs of Occupy Wall Street in this way might actually be useful. but we employ. APIs allow data to be pulled from an online source in a structured way. So.g. The metaphor turns out to reveal a useful way of thinking about the components that have gone into the protest. I realize that this is not a realistic API.theatlantic. policy papers). websites.. Obviously. So. they can choose the most useful information streams for their own individual applications (i. taking the square. occupations. for verisimilitude. in essence. These co-developers made Twitter vastly more useful by adding their own ideas to the basic functionality of the social network. Twitter has an API that lets app developers create software that can display your Twitter feed in ways that the company itself did not develop. Nonetheless. is make it easy for the information a service contains to be integrated with the wider Internet. consensus decision-making processes) as well as more recent protest movements in North Africa and Europe (e. Post (create or update info). These developers don't have to take in all of OWS data or use all of the strategies developed at OWS.. *General* Create PDF files without this message by purchasing novaPDF printer (http://www.com) 2 de 8 27-11-2011 02:02 .novapdf. memes. You must ask in a specific way and you will receive a discrete package of 20 statuses. the REST architecture.com. Instead. Occupy Wall Street today can be seen like the early days of Twitter. API is an acronym for Application Programming Interface.. just like Twitter.com/technology/print/2011/11/a-guide-to-the-occ.A Guide to the Occupy Wall Street API. Or Why the Nerdiest Way to Th. http://www. A key feature of APIs is that they require structure on both sides of a request. to make the metaphor here clear. So. here's your guide to the Occupy Wall Street API. Developers make a call to that API to "GET statuses/home timeline" and Twitter sends back "the 20 most recent statuses" for a user.g. distributed leadership). That means we only have a few actions: Get (retrieve info).

com/technology/print/2011/11/a-guide-to-the-occ. GET Occupation: Occupying physical space stands in for a greater metaphorical occupation of the commons. Hence OccupyHistory and hundreds of like sites. Create PDF files without this message by purchasing novaPDF printer (http://www. Actions to permanently occupy or reoccupy a park focus and energize a larger group of temporary protesters and armchair supporters at home.. Organizers and occupiers alike have not tired to maintain control of the message or methodology for spreading ideas or occupations. While youth-driven.A Guide to the Occupy Wall Street API. This is not required. The physical location provides an anchor for virtual activities.. the occupation was meant to take on a life of its own. trusting they'll be able to connect to the movement.com) 3 de 8 27-11-2011 02:02 . make sure to highlight examples of older occupiers. If necessary.theatlantic.. Anyone who wants to support Occupy Wall Street can just do something. Accounting battles in these situations can and have gotten messy. a la Denver. GET Money: With the approval of the General Assembly. such as labor or ethnic identity. http://www. protesters have gotten to document the heavy force the police have deployed. While the occupations have been almost exclusively non-violent. have no single leader on whom the media and/or public can focus. GET Loudly inclusive userbase: Do not require any particular identification. In return. they have also refused to heed police orders. GET Strategy/open source ideology: From the beginning. Hundreds have been arrested and a few injured in clashes with police. elect a dog as leader of the occupation.' In practice. Or Why the Nerdiest Way to Th. Images of hundreds of riot police facing down unarmed protesters has catalyzed support for the movement.novapdf.. Avoid profiles of organizers. GET Decentralized leadership structure: Repeat mantra that the movement is 'leaderless. other occupations can draw on the funds raised by the main Occupy Wall Street fund. *Strategy* GET Strategy/studied police antagonism: Occupy protesters have courted some confrontations with police officers while shying away from others.

" So.. a great disruption or an especially clear objective. For example. The GAs strive for inclusiveness and bring the whole group together on some predictable schedule....com/technology/print/2011/11/a-guide-to-the-occ.com) 4 de 8 27-11-2011 02:02 . OWS has splits. this is just not the case.. Some want a share economy. not Capitalism. GET Strategy/social media: Occupy Wall Street had a social media strategy from the beginning. Others are nihilist. While some protesters may espouse the desire for massive and structural changes to our economic system.novapdf. While media attention is easier to get now. it garnered little attention. But most see Steve Jobs as a hero.A Guide to the Occupy Wall Street API. the thousands of other tasks involved in running the camp have been farmed out to working groups that focus on specific issues. http://www. they are not calling for a Marxist revolution.. the channels the protesters created in the early days remain active and provide a direct transmission of what the occupiers think is happening." DELETE Strategy/Mainstream media mediation: In the early days of the protest. a whole network of social media has emerged from Twitter accounts to Facebook pages to wikis. These are generally run by organizers who are familiar with the consensus method. They encouraged all protesters to record their experiences with cell phones and cameras and then used that media to drive awareness of the protest in its early days. It's FOR Entrepreneurial Capitalism. the Internet Working Group works on the infrastructure requirements of the protesters. which presented stories of everyday people who were struggling despite their hard work. DELETE Strategy/Marxist ideology: Despite the dogged determination of some on the right to read any critique of capitalism as pure Marxism. Or Why the Nerdiest Way to Th. This web is woven together by a media team as well as outsiders who have begun to act as signal amplifiers and filters. Since then. A particularly effective outside effort was the WeArethe99Percent tumblr. the protesters made their own media and distributed it (see above on social media). GET Strategy/General Assembly: The occupations are governed by general assemblies in which consensus rules. GET Strategy/working groups: While the big decisions are made by the GA. prominent people. Create PDF files without this message by purchasing novaPDF printer (http://www.theatlantic. As journalist Bruce Nussbaum put it. "OWS is against Crony Capitalism. An NPR editor said they did not cover the protest because it did not "involve large numbers of people. Anyone can speak at the meetings and detailed minutes are taken.

http://www. Most of the medics are street docs with some first-aid training.theatlantic.A Guide to the Occupy Wall Street API. protesters linked arms around the camp.. GET Tactic/veterans in front: In major clashes with police at Boston and Oakland.com) 5 de 8 27-11-2011 02:02 . forcing police who wanted to clear them to physically move them. That means the protesters have had to learn how to camp out in a city.novapdf. The National Lawyers Guild initiated a mass defense for occupiers. A variety of other legal help and counsel has been given and received as well.. GET Tactic/legal: Legal battles were anticipated and support organized. GET Tactic/medics: Occupiers built their own medical infrastructure to tend both to confrontationinduced injuries as well as more every day problems. Or Why the Nerdiest Way to Th.. The structure and rules of the mini-settlement became part of the narrative of the protests.com/technology/print/2011/11/a-guide-to-the-occ. This has created very powerful media and highlighted the way state power was being deployed against people who'd served the country. GET Tactic/linked-arm peaceful resistance: To defend the settlement police were attempting to clear out. not MDs. but there were also many practical considerations that were worked out at OWS before the police booted the protesters. *Tactics* GET Tactic/camp outs: Occupation has meant actually living in Zuccotti Park. They have positioned themselves between riot police and the protesters protecting the camps.. Create PDF files without this message by purchasing novaPDF printer (http://www. Police have to go through the flag-wielding veterans. Protesters were instructed to write the phone number for legal help on their bodies in case they were arrested. the group Veterans for Peace has played a central role.

There was an official livestream but also unofficial ones. POST Infrastructure/storytelling: The Occupied Wall Street Journal produces stories about the occupation and is actually distributed as paper to people in the local area.. Streams of live tweets. http://www.com) 6 de 8 27-11-2011 02:02 .com/technology/print/2011/11/a-guide-to-the-occ. *Infrastructure* GET Infrastructure/Internet: Zuccotti park wifi has been run by a group called The Free Network Foundation. All have played a role in making the protests feel much more active than they would if one read only distilled media accounts. the presence of thousands of individuals recording their experiences has changed how the protests are viewed by the outside world. say)... photos posted from the front lines of battles with police.theatlantic.A Guide to the Occupy Wall Street API. The literary magazine N+1 has also produced a ton of occupy-related content. GET Infrastructure/library: The Occupy Wall Street library became a powerful symbol that the camp had a rich intellectual life. OccupyWriters also publishes new work about the occupation by high-profile writers. a bewildering array of personal narratives have been transmitted by participants in the protests.000 donated books about all kinds of subjects. POST Infrastructure/blanket cell-phone documentation: As in protests across Europe and North Africa. Or Why the Nerdiest Way to Th. video streams of meetings. It contained more than 5. A system was also arranged whereby food could be purchased at Costco with donations from around the country.novapdf. GET Infrastructure/kitchen: A fascinating feature of the occupation was the kitchen that occupiers set up to offer free food to all comers. GET Infrastructure/electricity and water: Different types of electrical generators have been employed from traditional fossil fuel units to bike power. They created a $2090 ultra Internet hub called The Freedom Tower that can be easily copied. including a printed gazette. Create PDF files without this message by purchasing novaPDF printer (http://www. GET Infrastructure/network amplification: Though the number of people in any individual occupation has tended to be small (relative to the biggest civil rights marches. Bloggers like BoingBoing's Xeni Jardin have become key nodes for disseminating information as have internal activists. Instead of being experienced through traditional news media genres. The key point was that live video can be very compelling. particularly during periods of conflict with government authorities. POST Infrastructure/livestream: The livestream was a key part of how events at Zuccotti were relayed to outside parties.. the number of people acting as network amplifiers has been large. An Occupy field manual detailed the list of sanitary regulations that should be enforced.

As the press clamored for position papers and lists of demands. *General Assembly* POST GA/human mic: In Zuccotti Park. but some occupiers felt it had good psychological effects and it kept speeches short. Or Why the Nerdiest Way to Th.com/technology/print/2011/11/a-guide-to-the-occ.. no electrified amplification was allowed. the entire group can engage in debate about what courses of action to take. POST Meme/the99percent: One especially savvy viral idea to come out of the protest was the idea of The 99 Percent. http://www. Take a look at this overview of how it works for more details. the more they find. the more reporters look. There were two messages in that relative silence: 1) your media is inadequate to convey the scale of changes necessary and 2) your politics are inadequate to make the scale of changes necessary.A Guide to the Occupy Wall Street API. It provided space for nearly everyone to ally with the occupy movement. The idea that our politics are not up to the serious tasks we face in fixing our economy and society has become widespread.000 per year.com) 7 de 8 27-11-2011 02:02 .theatlantic. but it became a kind of rallying cry of solidarity.. Occupy Wall Street simply ignored mainstream politics. POST Idea/inadequacy of politics: Approval of Congress and President Obama are near all-time lows. Create PDF files without this message by purchasing novaPDF printer (http://www. OWS responded by paying no attention. Since Occupy Wall Street began.. but the 99 percent was the biggest tent that could be imagined. Instead of pointing that out. Led by skilled facilitators. or those Americans who make less than approximately $250. POST GA/consensus-based decision-making: This form of group deliberation has been a key differentiating component of the occupation. Though OWS' package of complaints was the catalyst. Occupiers responded by creating a human mic in which a speaker's words were repeated by the crowd so that everyone could hear her. *Ideas and Memes* POST Idea/economic inequality: The core message that the world's playing field is tilted to the advantage of the wealthy has come through loud and clear. The protests have become a "news hook" to look at the United States' shockingly unequal distribution of income and wealth. mentions of economic inequality have skyrocketed in the national media. The process takes a long time. American progressives have often been torn apart by their micro-differences. but has been developed for years. as many have.. Not only did a viral Tumblr spin out of the idea. Consensus-based decision-making is not some newfangled idea.novapdf. POST Meme/occupyX: Occupy has become a cultural token with its own value outside the protests.

It's a testament to the flexibility of Occupy Wall Street that Occupy jokes don't seem to subtract power from the movement but add it.theatlantic. organizers hit on a protest strategy that speaks to a national issue but that can be executed at the local level. many successful social movements have had this self-replicating quality.. What's fascinating about Occupy Wall Street is that local now means your local Twitter neighborhood or your local physical neighborhood and that protest could mean anything from OccupyDesign to OccupyDayton. Or Why the Nerdiest Way to Th.com) 8 de 8 27-11-2011 02:02 . It's a meme with a strange power.com/technology/archive/2011/11/a-guide-to-the-occupy-wall-street-api-orwhy-the-nerdiest-way-to-think-about-ows-is-so-useful/248562/ Copyright © 2011 by The Atlantic Monthly Group.com/technology/print/2011/11/a-guide-to-the-occ. All Rights Reserved.theatlantic.. People don't just occupy cities in the true spirit of Occupy Wall Street.novapdf. In one way or another. Even though I've framed this in terms of the technology of the API.. Create PDF files without this message by purchasing novaPDF printer (http://www.A Guide to the Occupy Wall Street API. http://www.. This article available online at: http://www. They also OccupySizzler and OccupytheBathroom.