Although the Occupy Wall Street movement's physical presence has faded lately due to increasing crackdowns from cities across the country as well as the onset of winter weather, the Occupiers are making it clear that they will continue to be a powerful force in America. Recently, Wired.com spoke to some of the “activist-geeks” involved in OWS' online presence who are working intently on creating alternative forms of social media sites, the two biggest of which are “Global Square” and the U.S.-centric “Federated General Assembly.”
OWS is trying to create their own Facebook-esque site.
Searching for an open-source, non-corporate, community-oriented website to share information about political events, thoughts about movements, and post other potentially non-activist material, the new site would be both more limited and more liberated than current social networking sites. In terms of freedom, the Occupy movement wouldn't have to rely on a billion-dollar corporation to get their message out, and their sites would connect automatically to similar ones around the world, letting you post on one site and share it instantly on others. But they would also have to be more selective — posts planning civil disobedience, for example, would be limited to a private group. More so, like the early version of Google+, you would have to know someone already affiliated with the site to join it (an effort to prevent people with destructive intent from joining the network).
According to the amalgam of groups that initially presented the idea, the Global Square site could include maps listing global assemblies; individual pages for each local assembly, including forums, voting capabilities, and minutes of the in-person assemblies; and the “ability to 'scale up'” ideas from local movements to a global setting.
Though the current OWS websites are admittedly disorganized and confusing, technology has always been on their side. It was Twitter and Facebook that catapulted OWS to global prominence when mainstream media coverage of the movement was more limited. And as most Occupiers are young, they're also more likely to use social media (and have an impact on politics, as Obama's internet-centric presidential campaign strategies proved in 2008). The internet has been cited as the great democratic tool of our century, and an Occupy website would cement that reputation as a networkwhere one person's ideas could easily become the impetus for global action.
So while the Occupy movement clearly needs a social-networking base, their philosophy also almost prevents them from using corporate-minded sites like Facebook and Twitter as bases. And with an Occupy-oriented site, people without access to Occupy movements near their home could have access to real debates, instead of having to rely on newspaper's second-hand accounts.
If realized, these plans would diversify the movements' debates, connect Occupiers around the globe, and involve people who hadn't been active earlier. And perhaps even more importantly, they would ensure the Occupy movement's lasting impact on American culture.
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons