This is Thing #1 to me, and why I have been trying to get involved. Thankfully, because I have been lucky enough to not be entirely alone when I tried to get this moving but accidentally next to a programmer who was volunteering his time, I was able to pick the ear of Jim Yalta (sun...@knowyourvalues.org) who hopefully has managed to get subscribed to this list by now or will be shortly.
Jim has been working on the Facebook social media plugin via Drupal, though he has flexibility and can work on other things as-needed to ensure cross-compatability. Jim has been working on building a forums system that can be used instead of the obviously-atrocious extant forum onwww.occupywallst.orgthat was unorganized, unmoderated, and borderline unusable. I sent him a few links to point out what I was thinking of conceptually, and he has hit the ground running and been flying that way ever since, a quick convert to the system I have seen emerging in places over the past few months and how to use it as a tool for growing the movement.
I believe 100% that sewing the Occupy Wall Street movement and the conversations contained within the movement onto Facebook publicly is the direction we need to take. Using the Facebook social media plugin has the barrier of requiring you use your real name, a variety of non-identity options that are nonetheless somewhat limited in scope, or making a Facebook page under a pseudonym or as a Public Figure page, so it does have *some* barriers to cross for the user to contribute to the conversation. However, that said, these barriers are actually *good*, because it disincentivizes trolling - your words carry your face, your reputation, and your weight in a way that just being HowardRoark in the forums does not. (Don't look him up, your eyes will bleed and you will not thank me.) Sure, there are those who think that publishing anything that might track back to their identity is a horribly bad thing that is going to cause them major problems, but the system can be fooled and it accepts dummy email accounts readily if you do the little bit of work to do so, and let's face it anyone who walks into Zucotti Park with a cell phone in their pocket is already conceding the personal identity protection question whether they wear a mask at the protest or not. The disincentives of having to use something that ties to your identity here are actually pretty small, and while not negligible they are easily worth the cost of admission.
What we get out of this is actually HUGE. What brought *me* into this movement was seeing some of my friends discussing Occupy Wall Street and their experiences there, finding them to be very well thought out and astonishingly sane, and thinking that instead of looking down my nose at #OWS I should give it some critical thought and a chance to prove itself to me. It has, I'm on board, and am trying to help give the movement the tools it needs to grow and find its message and the solutions that will come in the future as the movement grows... because I am confident that as it attains a critical mass of size that these questions will be crowdsourced, and begin to appear through conversation and research as an emergent property of the movement itself, if we simply bring it openly to the world and continue our non-violent, intelligent movement where everyone can see it. A lot of people who might feel some resistance or hesitance to the movement "because they don't know anyone in it" will have the opportunity to learn that they do, in fact, know someone in the movement, be able to ask questions and receive answers, or just see meaningful and important discussions beginning to appear around them more and more as the fundamental questions and be drawn into the dialogue.
The social media tools we have available to us are amazingly powerful, and will if successfully implemented cause an explosion of growth for the movement as it begins to sew together all of the disparate groups in shared discussion, purposeful fact-searching and everyone climbing the learning curve together via the power of social media in its current form. The signal will spread, ideas will be shared, and instead of being a movement about a place it will be a movement about an idea; it will grow from "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore!" to "These are the things that need to change, and here is how we fix the numerous and disparate problems we have diagnosed". I don't want to steer the movement - I consider myself a rational human being and try to be informed but have no convincing reason to believe my thoughts and perspectives on the nitty gritty details are any more right than anyone else's, so I am not married to any of the perspectives I am walking into this with, I want to find the right answer (a process we can follow) instead of provide my answers (a result that may be fallacious). I do however want the movement to live up to its potential, and use the tools that technology has made available to us, which includes the power to take advantage of the fact that a larger-every-day percentage of America and the world is on Facebook, and the conversation can spread and grow, because it is the conversation and the search for the problems and their answers that is to me what this movement is about.
Rather than spout philosophy, I am going to give you a link, the link that proved to me recently just how powerful the intersection of Facebook social media, Twitter, and discussion can be. The article in question is about females in the niche environment of competitive Magic: the Gathering play, but you can skip over it entirely (or read it, if you want, it's long but interesting and meant to be readable to the non-player since it talks about nerd culture more broadly instead of just that game specifically). What is worth noticing is the *forum* at the bottom - a website that routinely got 5-15 comments on a forum thread, and literally capped out at a hundred for its record-breaking response in the prior decade, easily exploded with Facebook integration - people who had never even heard of the website were commenting, sharing, and discussing with their friends and family, and sharing information over long-reaching networked connections thanks to Facebook that was literally a sea change in how their social networking functioned. We should be harnessing that existing network to spread our conversation as well, for which I believe the Facebook Social Media plugin to be absolutely vital... and conveniently Jim has been working on coding it, so hopefully he can present you with some sort of work product either now or soon, so that you can include this into the upcoming releases. It is the methodology that corresponds with the ideals Occupy Wall Street has stated, and uses existing social media networks to spread its message in a powerful way that will assist Occupy Wall Street in achieving its goals of finding a solution to that which ails us. A million brains working together were able to crowdsource a solution to folding a protein for cancer researchers by playing a video game, the power of this tool to get ourselves and those around us engaged in discussion, comparison, and fact-checking will be a game-changer for Occupy Wall Street.
The link is here, to Geordie Tait's "To My Someday Daughter". The example is mostly to point you towards the forum at the bottom of the page, though if you have a spare hour for pleasurable reading at some point you may enjoy the link for its own merits even if the writer's methodology and argumentation is in some places flawed. :)
-- Sean McKeown
By making his world a little colder...
Date: Fri, 14 Oct 2011 15:08:39 -0400
Subject: Re: [NYCGA Internet] Internet SubGroups/ Objectives?
You have hit the nail on the head. There are many questions being asked and no flow of useful information (yet). It is very nebulous as to who has any power of decision making, or where if any input can be funneled. Numerous people have been begging to help get involved and we are only met with decisions that have already been made. And when those decisions are made, very little information is shared with the group to let us know the direction of progress so again, we unable to lend a hand.
Your questions are VERY relevant to this enterprise and ones which I don't have a sense were ever considered, or at least not addressed to the group. I can only suggest that we keep asking for information and offering advice.
This site and web presence demand a great deal responsibility as it is a major face for our movement. The interest people have shown clearly indicates that there is manpower to move whichever technologies are in place forward and maintain them. That said, we should pick the most appropriate technology that can address some of these questions.
I say all that to say this- we can ask the questions- now lets answer them!
We can get some feedback about what we IWGers think should go into this, but after its initial incarnation, I think it should be reopened for GA discussion and approval. We don't want people thinking we're not responsible to the people and therefore not their voice.
For your questions, I'll start with my $0.0134 (after taxes):
1) Lets provide forum for people to discuss ideas and the ability to add polls to them. The forum should be unmoderated by the admins, but governed by the users with the caveat that illegal activities be removable.
2) Do you mean cataloging documents or version tracking?
3) Allow users to create accounts on the site or remain anonymous and join participate in forum/discussion groups (possibly allow OpenID, facebook logins)
4) Allow for a rating/voting system to let users self-govern topics
5) I think as an internet ...
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