sinking-ship

The Justine Tunney Debacle & OccupyWallSt.org

Over the last few days, the world of #Occupy has been reinvigorated. Not for any particular achievement, mind you, but for the public meltdown of a dedicated OWS activist named Justine Tunney, who just happened to be the woman who founded (or co-founded) some of the movement’s core assets, including fb.me/occupywallst, @occupywallst, and occupywallst.org. (The last often referred to simply as STORG.)

As detailed in various places including, heaven help us, Buzzfeed, Ms. Tunney asserted control over the Twitter handle she created, and essentially told her story. Part of that story is that she has felt unappreciated and disrespected from the very beginning. I’ve felt that way at times. It’s a common experience in activism.

A main thread emerging from the backlash to Ms. Tunney and STORG is that these digital assets were movement resources regardless of who founded them or when. They wouldn’t exist as important communication tools were it not for all the others who made OWS possible in New York City, or the others who expanded it nationally and internationally, and all those who wrote, commented, retweeted, followed, liked, shared, and gave a damn. The Occupy brand is being defended by those who feel they are stakeholders, as happened when STORG began to sell Occupy themed merchandise.

STORG is like Facebook in that it generates value from the unpaid labor and creativity of others. But, at least with Facebook, the deal is understood by both sides from the outset. With STORG, it wasn’t as clear. Had all stakeholders understood that these were Justine’s personal accounts from the get-go, maybe they wouldn’t have added all that value. Had Justine and STORG committed to those assets being controlled by something other than a small group of individuals, maybe those accounts wouldn’t be susceptible to these kinds of shenanigans.

The Problem of Accountability in OWS

There was a time when this lack of clarity was treated as a serious concern by the Tech Ops Working Group, which founded this blog and created NYCGA.net as a tool explicitly owned by OWS. Unlike STORG, it was constructed by and for the OWS General Assembly – something we treated as our governing infrastructure. For better or worse, Tech Ops cared deeply about being accountable to something larger than itself. Not accountable in the sense that we care what other people think, but in an operational way. We were enthusiastic about working on behalf of General Assembly decisions and we paid for things (in part) with funds funneled by the GA from donors who wanted to support its work.

In late October or early November of 2011, Tech Ops pushed for a General Assembly resolution that would have asserted symbolically that STORG was – or was not – a movement resource. We wanted to enter negotiations with STORG over their use of the domain occupywallst.org. Our take was that a website seen as the de-facto voice of OWS should strive to become the de-jure voice as well. And if not, then maybe there could be an official statement that it shouldn’t be our collective platform.

We believed that successful movements need to build and own their own infrastructure. Absent that, we are dependent on the goodwill of others who might not be there for us down the road. This is one reason why so many of us were FLOSS fanatics. (aka Open source and free software.)

Alas, the General Assembly process failed us. Despite their statements rejecting the authority of the GA to make any decisions regarding STORG, their supporters felt comfortable showing up and ‘blocking’ any decision on the topic. But I’m not bitter. In retrospect, maybe it was the best outcome.

The inability of the GA to take a position on movement infrastructure was in keeping with an Occupy culture that had real trouble with planning and coordination. Efforts to engage a wider circle of volunteers, address racial justice issues, establish proper email lists, engage in community organizing, manage office space, honor commitments with other movements and organizations, and handle money competently were also features of OWS, both before and after the Zuccotti Park occupation. Sort of like The Little Rascals Start a Revolution.

Against that background, the decision of actors like Justine and STORG to absolutely refuse to give up the resources they had created so that they could be managed accountably makes perfect sense. Their relative success and longevity compare quite well against many other pieces of online movement infrastructure including NYCGA.net, occupywallstreet.net, Interocc and the Occupy Network. (Which doesn’t mean those other efforts are failures – I’m part of the Occupy Network which puts out an excellent newsletter that still covers much of the New York Occupy movement.)

Many of the very best Occupy media resources also fall short of any kind of ‘movement accountability ethic.’ Occupy.com, Waging Nonviolence, Global Rev, the Occupy Wall Street Journal and Tidal are all examples of that. When push comes to shove, every one of those online media properties could be taken off the deep end as the STORG twitter account was – and there’s not a thing anyone could do about it.

Where Does That Leave Us

Ms. Tunney is a person and a friend. She has contributed a great deal to the Occupy movement. It’s funny how we became friendly over time, given that I was part of the effort to shame her group into giving up control of her digital properties. It’s also relevant that we aren’t particularly close politically or organizationally.

Watching her be savaged by the online version of a mob with pitchforks fills me with sadness and more than a little shame. This target of online toxic rage has a narrative that makes her recent actions quite understandable. No, I don’t agree with them – but I have empathy with the person who did those things. I can put myself in her shoes. There’s a coherent logic at work.

In my humble opinion, what happened to Ms. Tunney and the STORG twitter handle was the result of years of pressure building up. Years of feeling unappreciated and under attack. The lack of folks working to establish closer relationships and one-on-one solidarity across whatever lines divide us from each other. And yet that doesn’t go far enough. Justine is fairly young, a cancer survivor, an out transgendered woman and nerd with a lifetime of shit to deal with. I’m sad and ashamed that 2.5 years in the Occupy movement did nothing to heal her; instead, it just added more layers of shit.

If you were paying attention, as so few of us are, you’d see that Justine is having a public meltdown. A crisis. I can’t see her recent pronouncements as a political conversation about which one might have a firm opinion. For me, it’s a moment of weakness, maybe far overdue. She’s earned the right to have it. I wish that the movement folks wielding online torches and pitchforks could be persuaded to walk away instead of fanning the fames. That wouldn’t just make us look better, as the Occupy diaspora. It would actually make us better.

My last point is that the Occupy movement really screwed up by not insisting on accountable infrastructure. The General Assemblies were terrible, the horizontalist impulse ended up as a self-defeating cultish behavior few survivors would care to repeat. We changed the conversation and blew ourselves up. Let’s own that and leave STORG – and every other Occupy splinter – the hell alone. Focus on what’s next, not what’s past.

I sure hope what comes next involves more compassion. And infrastructure.

Research by and for Occupy Activists Challenges Received Wisdom about the Movement, Urges Alliance with Poor Peoples Movements

Months after the NYPD eviction from Zuccotti Park, NY Occupy activists conducted over 120 political projects allying hundreds of organizations – even as media coverage of the movement declined.

NY Movement Most Often Sought to Expand Public Communication, But Low and Middle Income Allies More Often Fought For Basic Rights and Subsistence

A new study released today (http://bit.ly/1futsoY) by and for Occupy activists finds the movement built alliances among newly politically active people and hundreds of diverse organizations in the New York area alone in the first half of 2012. The findings challenge common media narratives that Occupy simply ‘faded away’ after the Nov. 2011 raids at ZuccottiPark and that the movement primarily involved affluent whites.

“The movement was more far reaching than previously documented or as suggested by declining levels of press coverage in 2012,” said James Owens, the study author. The study found Occupy organizing in NYC enabled a pluralistic network of alliances connecting over 200 non-profits, emerging grassroots groups, religious organizations, and incorporated businesses with over 120 Occupy groups. Occupy united allies across social divisions based in identity, professional and non-professional status, and racial and economic background. “The NYC Occupy movement connected people taking political action for the first time to a highly diverse network bridging divides reinforced by ruling elites,” said Owens.

The purposes advanced by NYC Occupy projects also contradict common characterizations that the movement was mostly engaged in prefigurative politics, that is, creating alternative systems of government and distribution. The study found 5 times as many projects sought to reform existing systems than to create alternate systems and less than 2% of projects sought to create or revive deliberative assemblies such as the New York City General Assembly.

The most common purpose pursued by Occupy projects in the sample was to create new means for public political communication. About 43% of projects sought to expand public political communication, with most advancing face-to-face rather than print or online interaction. Occupy activists may have given higher priority to public political communication than issue campaigns or even mass protests, the next most common purposes pursued by 36% of projects.

According to the study, competition over movement purposes may have developed along lines of established social privilege/exclusion. According to the report, “Projects seeking to create spaces of communication and wage issue campaigns for healthcare and financial reform tended to emerge from alliances of wealthier, whiter, professional identified partners.” In contrast, partners from communities of color and low-income struggled for human rights, subsistence issues, and against foreclosures. Mass protests, the study reports, may have emerged from alliances of white, mixed, and non-white low and middle income communities but with little participation from upper-income or professional partners.

The study recommends Occupy activists should rally behind poor people’s struggles against the common opponents of the poor and the relatively affluent: banks, corporations, corrupt officials, oppressive police systems, and the 1%. “If recognized through poverty and mass incarceration, the injustice of the ruling order demands more than a fight for improved financial regulation,” said Owens.

The study itself fulfills a long term goal of The NYC Occupy Project List, a publication (and ancestor of OccupyNetwork) that gathered and shared information to help people participate in and shape the actions of the movement in 2012. The NYC Occupy Project List produced the data used in this study and enjoyed the support and authorization of the OWS TechOps and InfoHub working groups.

For more information contact: projects@occupywallstreet.net

Past issues of The NYC Occupy Project List are available here:
Issue 1, Issue 2Issue 3

 

info_doc

New Site Features: Group Documents and Forums

As mentioned before, there have been some changes made to the site. The biggest change has been the elimination of the groups on the site. This is due to ongoing maintenance issues associated with BuddyPress, the software used create groups, and the changing nature of the structure of Occupy Wall Street. The primary group features used were forums and documents.

A Network Group Blog directory has been added, which enables people to easily find the active nycga.net network blogs. In addition, it displays the four more recent network blog posts.

All previously created Group Documents are accessible on the site on the Document Archive page or by using search. The document listing is arranged alphabetically by group, with an indication of the number of documents available. For groups that would like to continue adding publicly viewable documents, a form has been added that allows anyone logged-in to post a document.

Discussions have been added to the site–which any logged-in person can participate in–to replace the group-based forums. Currently, the forum categories are limited to General Discussion, Announcements and Questions, but more can be added as needed.

Please let us know (tech [at] nycga.net) if you have any comments, feedback, suggestions, etc.

-Pea
OWS Tech

Website Update

Site Update!

You may notice some changes to NYCGA.net. Here’s what happened, and why:

  • The servers went down for ~8 hours last week, largely due to the social networking plugin (BuddyPress). GREAT job on the detective work, Pea and Ross.
  • The groups feature was thus deactivated.
  • Some group-related content was therefore archived. Forums, documents and contacts are preserved, but need users to help move them to the new system.
    • Blogs, events, and main forums are already done.
  • An awesome new theme was set up (Foundation). It’s responsive, so the site now works on tablets and mobile phones!
  • Admin permissions must be reconfirmed if you want to keep adding files!

Please contact us with any twinkles and:

  • Confirmation of admin accounts to keep active
  • Confirmation of groups with active meetings
  • Desire to transition content, style the theme, etc. You’ll learn how our general assembly site works!
  • Questions about anything
  • Jokes

They can take our uptime, but they’ll never take our meetings!

#OccupyData Hackathon 3/1-3/2

Upcoming Events

There are some exciting events coming up. If you like sharing, working together, and/or doing awesome stuff keep reading!

Feb 9-10 - Science and the City - People who want to build a better city with technology will be meeting at NYU’s ITP Center (721 Broadway, New York, NY 10003) all weekend to work on projects (Registration is free). The Network Mapping team will be hosting a project and we need your (non-tech) support! (more info below)

Feb 23 – Celebrate International Open Data Day - by joining our friends from #OccupyData to digitize and pre-process any and all #OccupySandy data. Canvasing forms, Amazon Registry records, anything at all. Why not take a nice relaxing day off and do some data entry! Group will be meeting at the CUNY Graduate Center on 365 Fifth Ave room 5409 from 12-6PM. More info here.

March 1-2 - #OccupyData Hackathon  - The Feb 23th data cleanse is just a warm up to the main event. Data heads from #OccupyData will be parsing and sifting through #OccupySandy data to find out just what happened in the weeks and months after the storm.

If you have, or know of any “data” (canvasing forms, spread sheets, etc.) that relates to Sandy, please let me know: Drew@nycga.net

Why is this crap important?

I’ve been developing tech solutions for Occupy for over a year now. It’s easy to build tools, it’s hard to build tools people will use. We need non-technical people to help us. We the keen insight of people on the ground doing the work, using the systems. At Science and the City we will be brain storming how to improve occupysandy.org on Day 1 (Feb 9). More information about this will be forthcoming.

The #OccupyData events are also very important. Many of us were out in the streets going door to door asking people what they needed. The data that was collected (and is mostly sitting unused) paints a dramatic picture. Those who were living it and those out on the front lines know how unjust the city’s response was. They know how long the power was out and basic needs were unmet, but the public at large doesn’t.

Data projects like these illuminate in ways that statistics can’t. We need to open up our data to shine a light on injustice. We need the data to tell a story that can’t be refuted, dodged, or denied.

If you are interested in participating or have a project that relates to either of these events please contact me or visit the links above and contact the event organizers.

via: blog.dhornbein.com

MermaidParadeMeme

Protect OWS from False Allegations of Terrorism

On Monday, December 31st, Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post reported that weapons and high explosive powder were found in the home of a Greenwich Village couple. The article also featured an evidence-free assertion that one of the accused is an “Occupy Wall Street activist”.

Take Action Now to Protect OWS from false allegations of terrorism.

As the OWS PR working group emphasized in the immediate aftermath of the story, “There is nothing… to support a link between OWS and the individual arrested.” The NYPD further does not believe that that the accused was active in any political movements, as reported in the New York Times. And when the New York Post reporter, Jamie Schram, was asked by Atiq Zabinski of the OWS Media Working Group to cite his source for the OWS connection, he refused, and abruptly ended the conversation, referring Zabinski to the Post’s legal department.

Occupiers have long been experiencing the tangible impact of hyping falsehoods about Occupy Wall Street, such as how it contributes to real and documented police violence, unconstitutional domestic spying activities, and the marginalization of constituencies and views that deserve respectful treatment by reporters.

The scope of this problem has recently become even more pronounced through the “disclosures that FBI and the Department of Homeland Security are treating protests against the corporate and banking structure of America as potential criminal and terrorist activity. These documents also show these federal agencies functioning as a de facto intelligence arm of Wall Street and Corporate America.”

In response the ‘Your Inbox: Occupied’ team decided to start a petition for concerned OWS activists demanding a retraction and an apology from the New York Post on the same print and Web pages as the original accusation. Since its inception Occupy Wall Street has been firmly committed to non-violence. Yet this is far from the first time that the Post has distorted the facts of a story in order to associate the movement with violence.

Sign the petition today, and then we can go deliver them in person to Rupert Murdoch.

#OccupySandy, technology, and relief

Julio lost his home, and church but not his community.
Julio lost his home, and church but not his community.

Nearly a month ago “Super Storm Sandy” ravaged communities from Cuba to Long Island. The aftermath has seen communities leading the relief and rebuilding effort. One group is said to stand out, a surprise according to the media, #OccupySandy.

While it may seem like #OCCUPYWALLSTREET has “changed,” it hasn’t. Anyone who was present at Liberty Plaza (Zuccotti Park) last year knows that OWS has always been a network with mutual aid at it’s core. Just beyond the characters surrounding the park was a show room floor of how a better world might work. Food for anyone who is hungry, clothing for anyone who is cold, and community open to all.

#OccupySandy is simply the realization of a major aspect of #OCCUPYWALLSTREET, mutual aid.

Some are asking how did a group with no disaster relief experience out perform the Red Cross, NYC disaster response, and FEMA? But this is a much more complex question. Community groups can’t repair subways or bridges while the establishment clearly cannot provide comfort and aid to the people who most need it. The community is like water filling in the cracks in between these massive bureaucracies.

Our response was swift and powerful because we had a strong infrastructure in place. Both human and technological, this post will focus on the latter.

#OccupySandy

The basic structure of #OccupySandy consists of distributions centrals that take donations and volunteers then send them out to front line locations in affected areas. Here are some Occupy and non-occupy projects currently in use or development.

InterOccupy.net

The InterOccupy team spans the globe and closely collaborates with Occupy Tech Ops and Occupy.net. Their system is based on HUBs, each HUB relates to a project within Occupy. As the hurricane made it’s way up the east coast an InterOccupy HUB was created: interoccupy.net/occupysandy. This provided a platform to organize local Occupy networks together. Currently the HUB acts as a central clearing house of information. Erica Heinz, member of Tech Ops, details the five day redesign of the Occupy Sandy HUB.

Fusion Table

InterOccupy is also managing a Google Fusion table that provides a way to track changes of locations and place them on a map. This map pushes data to Google’s Crisis map.

Volunteer Intake with CiviCRM

InterOccupy (IO) also manages nearly all volunteer intake. Using the OWS CiviCRM IO can create forms and lists of volunteers. Special lists are being put together for rebuilding efforts along with other needs. Mass e-mails are sent to volunteers or segments of that list. This service is provided by MayFirst/People Link

“Social Media”

I’ve come to loathe the term social media. It’s a silly way of saying “the internet”. Though it is good short hand for when you want to say Twitter and Facebook but don’t want to spell them both out.

Facebook

There is currently a sophisticated operation going on via Facebook. A Facebook group and accompanying chat is used to manage the administration of Occupy Sandy’s Facebook page. With a mix of information and opinion the Facebook page keeps people up-to-date on the dire situation our neighbors are still in while also fielding questions and sharing stories of hope.

Twitter

Like facebook the main Occupy Sandy twitter account (among many) @occupysandy also spreads the news and answers questions. The account is also used to promote very important information to a feed on the InterOccupy Hub. This allows coordinators to tweet to @occupysandy who can then re-tweet that message on to the home page.

Mobile Applications

When power goes out, so too do cell towers. Connectivity is very difficult in disaster areas which makes technology less effective. Here are some apps that use SMS and mobile networking to provide information and relief.

OccupySMS

OccupySMS uses peer to peer matching to connect needs with relief. Using simple SMS gateway provided by Mobile Commons NYC area users can text SANDY to 69866 to post personal needs while people seeking to help can text MUTUAL AID to 69866 and be connected with someone directly. This system allows needs and offers to be crowd managed with little admin overhead.

Contact OccupySMS: occupysms@gmail.com

Mobile Disaster Relief App

Said to be created in just five days the Mobile Disaster Relief App provides a powerful iOS (Android coming soon) app to record pictures and audio for first responders and canvassers. It has mapping and peer to peer need/fulfillment. I haven’t personally been able to use this application.

iPhone download

Maps Maps Maps!

At a recent hack-a-thon put on by #HurricaneHackers there was a general sentiment that we sure have made a lot of maps but aren’t connecting the data dots. Most of these tools and ventures aren’t talking to each other, more on that later. Here are some notable maps:

Google Crisis Map

Many of the maps are ending up here. From InterOccupy’s map of relief locations, to Senior Services map, and a Gas map. Here is a great example of centralizing data into a highly useful map.

SparkRelief

Another powerful map that covers many relief topics. SparkRelief.org provides a great user interface and allows for clear and simple peer to peer relief.

Other maps:

The Human Story

When far removed from a disaster it can be easy to lose touch. When we deal with data, points on a map, we can forget that those points of data are all embedded with a human story. The story of tremendous loss, courage, and solidarity.

The People Who Were Killed By Hurricane Sandy

Artur Kasprzak, 28, NYPD officer, drowned after saving his family, South Beach. Lester Kaplan, 73, lawyer, hypothermia, Brigantine, N.J. Edith Wright, 52, teacher’s aide, swept out to sea, Montauk. Read more about this.

Kimberly Smrkovsky, 25
Michael Robson, 13
Herminia St. John, 75
Jessie Streich-Kest, 24 and Jacob Vogelman, 24

Story Line

StoryLine is a collaborative documentary for us to share experiences of Hurricane Sandy and relief efforts. Using any phone or mobile device, you can create a story by calling or sending a text or picture message. StoryLine is a project of HousingisaHumanRight.orgInteroccupy.net and the MIT Center for Civic Media (civic.mit.edu)

CowBird - There are some stories on CowBird too.

Getting things done

Sandy has proven that given access to the right tool people can extremely effective.  There have been a number of tools used and developed around Sandy.  Within #OccupySandy Google’s integrated apps have been put to heavy use. In the first few days Gmail addresses were set up, Google Docs shared, Google Voice, and Google Groups.

While I’d rather see stronger use of Free & Open solutions, Google products do perform quite well and illustrates how strongly integrated tools can increase effectiveness. Being able to share and collaborate on a spreadsheet between two locations is very remarkable.

When we look at the problem that people had to solve after Sandy it’s fairly simple: report needs, fulfill needs, and let others know a need has been fulfilled.

One of the now many spreadsheets used within “the” Occupy Sandy shared Google Drive folder is an unassuming document named OS Requests. This document currently tracks all the requests and dispatches to and from locations on Long Island to Staten Island. It is used between both of Occupy Sandy’s main distribution hubs 520 Clinton and Jacobi Church.

I was asked to come into Occupy Sandy to make a task management system. It became clear that something much more powerful was needed. As it turns out around that same time Mark Prutsalis (@Globaliist) was doing the same thing. Mark is the CEO of Sahana Software Foundation.

Sahana

Sahana is a disaster relief software that came out of the 2005 Earthquake and Tsunami in Sri Lanka.

Mark and developers Fran (@franboon) are currently working on site to get Sahana configured for Occupy Sandy. Mark wrote a blog post about setting up a kitchen in Bay Ridge where most of Occupy Sandy’s food prep is moving to.

Sahana looks very promising and I will surely write more about it soon. It is currently being adopted by the Occupy Sandy team both here in New York and in New Jersey. Adoption is tough in a decentralized network like Occupy Sandy. Sahana is mostly in use at the higher level dispatch locations rather than “front line” locations.

Each location, from Staten Island to Red Hook to the many locations in the Rockaway are finding their own tech solutions. As we expand Sahana’s use will work to integrate into existing systems rather than trying to replace them.

I was also able to catch a bit of a lesson on a FEMA system being put in place for VOADs or Voluntary Organizations Active in a Disaster. I will share more on that soon as well.

Get Involved

If you are interested in working on these technologies I highly suggest attending the #NYTechResponds Sandy Benefit Weekend: Hackathon & Relief Agency Conference. December 1st and 2nd.

If you would like to get directly involved with Occupy Sandy Tech work please contact me at drew@nycga.net

NewsDiffs Reveals NY Times Changes Story of Police Shooting to Favor NYPD

Early in the morning last Thursday in Queens NY, Noel Polanco, an unarmed 22-year-old National Guardsman, was shot and killed in his car by an NYPD detective. Friday morning, The New York Times ran a story about this incident in their NY / Region section with the headline “Grief and Anger After Noel Polanco Is Fatally Shot by Police”. That article however, depicting the shooting, and outrage of Polanco’s family and friends, can no longer be found on the Times’ site since it has been replaced by another article depicting the NYPD officer who killed Noel Polanco as a hero, and providing few details on the community’s reaction to the shooting.

In the past there has been no easy way to track changes to online news, but a new site called NewsDiffs.org (launched in June 2012 at a Knight Mozilla MIT Hackathon) can reveal how a new story can undergo substantial revisions in the hours after first being published. The site was inspired partially by how the NY Times changed its coverage of the mass arrest of Occupy Protestors on the Brooklyn Bridge on October 1, 2011. The site uses a text-comparison algorithm known as “diffing” to show changes in a story. Most changes are minor edits like spelling and grammar corrections, but occationally a story will be completely rewritten hours after it is initially posted. The Times’ story on the Noel Polanco shooting is an example of the latter.

As the story’s home page on newsdiffs shows, the original article was posted around 10:30 AM on Friday with the headline “Grief and Anger After Noel Polanco Is Fatally Shot by Police”. It opened with a depiction of Polanco’s grieving mother and then a detailed narrative of the circumstances of the shooting.

Standing on a sidewalk in Queens, Cecilia Reyes, struggled to get the words out. She pressed the palm of her hand to her mouth in an attempt to mute her sobs. She used her other hand to wipe her tears.

“I’m sorry,” she said. “I just lost my son.”

For the relatives and friends who encircled her at 1:30 a.m. on Friday – less than 24 hours after a police detective shot and killed her son, Noel Polanco, during a traffic stop on the Grand Central Parkway in Queens – her grief needed no explanation.

The story remained unchanged for the day, save for a minor spelling correction made around 11:30 AM.

Then, NewsDiffs shows that by 8:51 PM that Friday the article was almost completely rewritten. The headline was changed to take the focus off of Noel Polanco and the shooting and instead was made to be about Detective Hassan Hamdy, the “hero” officer who shot Noel Polanco, and now read:
“Portrait of Detective in Fatal Shooting: Hero, but Subject of Suits”. The article now opened with several paragraph’s about Hamdy’s record and his own chronology of events on the night of the shooting. Polanco’s shooting is not mentioned until the 13th paragraph – the 2nd page of the online version of the article. Most of the quotes from Polanco’s mother, Cecilia Reyes, were cut, and quotes from her neighbors and friends about police violence against unarmed civilians and holding the police accountable were completely edited out.

Finally at 10:28 PM on Friday, a final round of edits was made to the article, further supporting the police and downplaying Detective Hamdy’s history of abuse. The phrase “Target of Suits” in the title changed to “Subject of Suits”. A quotation was added from the NYPD claiming that Hamdy’s role in the incidents that led to civil-rights suits being brought against him was “minor” and the suits were not indicative of wrongdoing on his part. A paragraph about his 1992 service in the US Marine Corps was added before the article shifts focus to the family of the man he killed on Friday. Several paragraphs were added towards the end of the article casting aspersions on the witness’ depiction of events:

Edward Mullins, the president of the Seargents Benevolent Association, said he did not believe that road rage played a role in the shooting. “Do you know the level of stress and training that’s involved with this unit?” Mr. Mullins said. “And for officers to lose it over a road-rage incident? That doesn’t make sense. These are not rookie cops. These are experienced, veteran police officers who are used to being under heavy, stressful situations.”

Michael Palladino, president of the Detectives’ Endowment Association, the union that represents Detective Hamdy and other detectives, characterized the bartender’s version of events as “absurd.”

“No police officer would shoot a person who has both hands on the steering wheel,” Mr. Palladino said Friday night. “We have gone done this road before so I ask the public to withhold their judgment until the investigation is complete.”

The article has remained unchanged since then, although the article’s URL still contains the original title. Posting the article to Facebook will also reveal the original title and summary, since Facebook stores content in a cache which is rarely updated. Times on NewsDiffs’ may not be the actual time article content was changed since articles are only checked periodically. There may have been other states for this article which were not recorded by NewsDiffs. For example, one of the article’s authors has a Twitter post from 12:43 PM on Friday showing the title “Portrait of Detective in Fatal Shooting of Noel Polanco” which is already substantially different from the original “Grief and Anger” title, but still mentioning Noel Polanco by name and not referring to Detective Hamdy as a “hero”.

Once a story on the web is posted, its URL almost never changes, so checking the URL, such as http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/06/nyregion/grief-and-anger-after-noel-polanco-is-fatally-shot-by-police.html for discrepancies between its content and the title of the story is a good indicator of articles that have been substantially altered since they were first posted.

NewsDiffs.org is not affiliated with Occupy Tech – but we do want to bring attention to this important and under-utilized tool.

Tech Ops Thursday Training – Social Media

Join us for Occupy Tech Ops Training on advanced social media tricks and techniques.

Learn some simple tips and trick to seriously increase your effectiveness on social media.

We’ll have a training and discussion. Meet other activists and chat about social media and how to kick ass on it!

Register Online! »

Feel free to bring food, drinks, or snacks.

When

August 30th, 2012 – 6-9pm

Location

33 Flatbush
Brooklyn, NY
United States

Tech Training Tomfoolery!

I want YOU to kick ass. Become a superhero today!

Hello, Occupy Tech Ops Volunteers!

Join us for Occupy Tech Ops Training in WordPress & S17NYC.org

Facebook

Thursday, August 23rd 2012   6PM

Located at 33 Flatbush Ave. in Downtown Brooklyn near Nevins subway stop

If this is your first Occupy event, please introduce yourself by email before
attending the meeting.  (tech@nycga.net)

Also feel free bring food and/or beverages! (snacks, beer, etc.)

Organized by members of Tech Ops, Occupy Wall St.

Facebook

"Pass me the David Graeber, bitte!"

Copyright, Expertise, and Book Burning

I’ve been involved with Occupy Wall Street and the NYCGA since before there was an occupation on wall street. I remember going to a General Assembly in Tompkin’s Square Park one Saturday and being very delighted by the gentleman facilitating that meeting. He, along with his co-facilitator, did a really outstanding job.

It wasn’t until months later that I saw the same man on Democracy Now! that I was made aware that he was David Graeber, famed anthropologist and anarchist. Apparently a very big deal. To me he was just another organizer.

So why am I bringing this up on the Tech blog? Well as silliness would have it a video has been passed to me of some activists in Germany burning David Graeber’s book. The “manifesto” of sorts cites Graeber’s celebrity, lack of true involvement in OWS, and the copyright notice printed on (allegedly) every page of his book Inside Occupy.

I have a highly technical term for this kind of activity: Dumb fucking bullshit. I also try to use every instance of DFBS as a learning experience, so lets break it down:

Information wants to be free

The obvious way to go with this activity is to point out that a bunch of German “human rights” activists are burning a book by a Jewish author, though it looks bad on paper, I doubt these people have any concern for Graeber’s background. What worries me is the celebration of the destruction of information.

One of their key arguments against the book was that it wasn’t open source. I think that falls very flat. First of all, the publisher is the one who copyrights the book. Yes they are locking away the content and they would be, arguably, better off with a copy left or Creative Commons license but this is the way publishing works, but why?

Copyright isn’t a naturally evil thing. At it’s most basic level it is there to protect the little guy. If David didn’t copy right his book and it became very popular, what is going to stop Mega Evil Printing inc. from making a copy of his book and using their superior logistics infrastructure (and team of lawyers) to out sell David with his own book? This means David’s profits for his work go to someone else, that doesn’t seem fair does it?

What we need to focus on is not copyright in and of itself, but the copyright of that which should belong to the commons. What if Mega Evil Printing inc. purchased the copyright to a specific book binding technique and began to sue all the little mom and pop book binding stores? We must focus on taking back the technology that allows us to compete with these mega industries, rather than compete with each other (or burn each other’s books).

Celebrity and Expertise

I’ve been told that David is “one of the most celebrated living anthropologists“. One might say he is a rock star of anthropology (those must be fun parties). This get confused in OWS often as celebrity. A celebrity is Paris Hilton, someone who’s only claim to fame is their claim to fame. David is an expert. Think about it, if you want to get an expert opinion on why Occupy Wall Street is happening wouldn’t you ask one of the greatest living anthropologists who has literally been involved since day 1 (and I’m not talking September 17th, I mean the “real” day one). I’ve seen this guy at many meetings and evidence would suggest that he is involved in some manner.

Expertise needs to be celebrated! Here in the U.S. there is a general disdain for educated people, or those with experience greater than our own. This isn’t to say that a college grad is more experienced than a high school drop out (like me). No, this is a matter of respect to people who know their shit. I would be perturbed if an anthropologist was talking about network technology or if a arm chair activist (like me) was talking about what it was like to sleep in Zuccotti Park.

In summation, this movement needs to stop attacking itself and stop pretending it knows everything. This guilty until proven innocent nonsense needs to stop. Most of us don’t have the full story. Be it around copyright law, anthropology, any individuals intentions or commitment, or the level of someone’s expertise. A little humility would go a long way.

I could have looked at David facilitating in that park so many months ago and said “who the hell is they guy, why does HE think HE can be up there leading this meeting? What does he know about people, society, or anarchy?” Wouldn’t I have looked stupid…

monopoly money

Proposal On OWS and Fundraising Using Our Tools

How should Tech Ops, Occupy.net folks, Action Resource Fund (ARF) and other interested parties think about using our collective resources and legitimacy for fundraising?

Below is a set of theses, arguments and proposals that might constitute a framework. The need for it comes from a year of trying to advance efforts to become self-sustaining as a movement, and meeting various obstacles. We actually have a wonderful infrastructure that enables fundraising (= covering the costs of your work with help from supporters who love you) but it’s not being utilized very well. An example is the repeated use of WePay and fiscal sponsorship from 501c3 nonprofits when not actually necessary.

Please do chime in with your comments and suggestions.

  1. Our online resources should be used for fundraising by as many occupy related entities as we can support.
  2. It is important that folks raising money for personal reasons, or primarily to benefit themselves without a comparable benefit for OWS, should not use our resources.
  3. We can divide fundraising projects into some useful categories. All of them are ‘legitimate’ as long as we are careful about representing them accurately:
    1. OWS or NYCGA wide efforts or entities that enjoy a high level of legitimacy. This includes May First, S17, and the remnants of the NYCGA money that we use for bail. ARF and Accounting.
    2. Well known, long standing, and relatively accountable structures like InterOcc, Tech Ops, Farms that have attempted to operate within the (fluid and hard to navigate) boundaries of OWS.
    3. Affinity groups, campaigns, and special project. Examples: student debt strike, Freedom School, Tidal, livestreaming groups.
  4. Fiscal sponsorship is OPTIONAL. In some cases it feels essential, to provide for a higher level of accountability for large sums of money. In other cases it is a wasteful expense, as in the case of a small sum for a specific project. Fiscal sponsorship should be an option for all and a requirement for none.
  5. We affirm that c3 status for fiscal sponsorship is relevant when you need to promise a tax deduction to the donor or to receive funds from an institutional donor. It is not ‘necessary’ beyond that, though it may be desired for the appearance of legitimacy..
  6. Groups wanting fiscal sponsorship via ARF should have a way of asking for it, with clear conditions on who is eligible. Any group or individual with fiscal sponsorship of their own can use that as well.
  7. Using Civi or Salsa, any group can provide data for the merchant account and donation gateway of their choosing. We discourage the use of services like WePay and PayPal. IF you are using WePay or PayPal, then processing will likely cost you more, and you don’t need Civi or Salsa to do it.
  8. Anyone using our Civi or Salsa for fundraising needs to supply a roadmap for how the funds will be collected, transferred, spent, and accounted for. This is a task we can and should help with, according to our capacity.
  9. The existence of one mechanism for raising funds will never be a reason to prevent, prohibit or discourage the use of another mechanism.
  10. Blocking power over using Tech Ops/Occupy.net tools and resources does not exist. That said, many things simply cannot be done without expertise and access that is distributed among many people. In the case of serious concerns, blocking can take place if 50% +1 of Tool Managers support it.
  11. Tool Managers list is meant to comprise those using Civi and Salsa, working to update it, have access to the backend, and/or are key users. The only purpose of a Tools Managers list is to address blocks. Proposed initial list includes Drew, Ravi, Ingrid, Devin, Charles, Andrew, Dana, Patricia, Badger, Leah, Tom and Dan. (this post will be the first they heard of it….)

Tech Training in CRM and S17 Work Sprint

OCCUPY TECH OPS EVENTS FOR FIRST WEEK OF AUGUST, 2012

8/2 – 6pm Occupy Tech Training in CiviCRM and Salsa
8/5 – S17 Work Sprint 

Download Flyer Here

Occupy Tech Training in CiviCRM and Salsa

Facebook

NYCGA.net

Thursday, August 2nd 6-8PM
Located at 33 Flatbush, downtown Brooklyn, near Nevins subway stop

We had a great training last week and we are doing it again so more can participate.

Using our constituent management database, both strategy and software, it will be an open source CiviCRM and Progressive Proprietary Salsa CRM.

If you do not RSVP, we might not open the door for you! (Because we will think everyone has arrived, etc.)

Please RSVP on Facebook or send an email RSVP to tech@nycga.net

If this is your first Occupy event, please introduce yourself by email before
attending the meeting.  (tech@nycga.net)

Also feel free bring food and/or beverages! (snacks, beer, etc.)

S17 Work Sprint

Facebook

NYCGA.net

Sunday, Aug. 5th, noon-4pm
33 Flatbush, downtown Brooklyn, near Nevins subway stop

We are getting together to work on S17 related projects: the website, social media, graphics, mapping, emails, database and more. Plenty of space for making art if you bring the supplies. Community. Prepping for Monday meetings. Join us! Hours may be extended depending on demand. Open only to folks who are part on an S17 working group or by prior arrangement.

Questions? services@s17nyc.org

 

 

Training Twofer: Learn CiviCRM and Wiki (7/25)

Tech training is back!
When: Wednesday, July 25, 6-8 PM
What: Learn the basics of wikis OR using Civi, an open source program can manage data, send email blasts, accept donations and more.

Wikis are a type of website that is easy for a large and decentralized group of people to use together. Information is managed so that things are easy to find and new items can be added easily. For many kinds of projects within OWS, wikis offer a way of preserving the information necessary for working together across groups and time zones.

Civi is a Constituent Relationship Manager (CRM). Occupiers are using Civi to send emails, sign up volunteers, and offer online tools to more and more groups.

Come to this Tech-Ops/Occupy training in wiki or Civi use, meet other movement techies, and have a beer with us.

Training will begin promptly at 6:15. Please RSVP on our Facebook event page or by emailing tech@nycga.net.

Tech-Ops at the Occupy National Gathering in Philadelphia

Tech-Ops, in coordination with #NatGat and others, is happy to announce that we’re bottom-lining a number of trainings and events. While the schedule is set, and we have trainers, we are very interested in connecting with anyone who wants to help out. (Link to National Gathering.)

Everyone gets that our social media and online tools played a crucial role in OWS. What is less clear: how to ramp up our online game. Join us in figuring it out!

UPDATE: On Monday morning, NatGat folks announced that all indoor sessions will be moved back to Franklin Park. We might decide to move back indoors on the spot, after gathering and doing a head count.

Sunday, July 1st

10:00-12:00 Technology Meetup
If you build and operate websites, manage social media accounts, build tactical apps, code, program or sysadmin for #Occupy, then let’s hang out together! We can do so much more if we can share resources, and tools.
Location: Washington Square. The specific location will be given at the table near 5th and Market.

1:45-2:45 Technical Support Work
Providing Technical Support Work for Resistance Movements
Location:  IL2 – Bread and Roses Community Fund, 1315 Walnut St.

Monday, July 2nd

3:00-5:30 pm Workshop: Digital Strategy
Digital Strategy for #Occupy Direct Actions

3:00-4:00 pm Hackathon
(At this time, we don’t know who is organizing this or what the content is – but it sounds interesting!)

Tuesday, July 3rd

1:45-2:45 pm Training in WordPress – Build A Website
Learn how to build your own website! Get started in WordPress, one of the most popular web development tools out there. (OWS Tech Ops)

3:00-4:00 pm Training: Advanced Social Media Tips and Tricks for Occupy
What does it mean to manage social media accounts? Move from self expression to organizing.  Learn more about the possibilities and limitations of Facebook, Twitter, online video and more. (OWS Tech Ops)

4:15-5:15 pm Training: CiviCRM, Salsa, Databases, Email/Advocacy Software
Most of us use email. But is our movement really using it? Despite the rise of social media, email is still the ‘killer app.’ Learn about tools that manage large lists, why you should be using them, and get your first lesson in CiviCRM or Salsa. (OWS Tech Ops)

Our team of crack movement techies really want to share our tools and skills. If you can’t attend one of these sessions, we just might meet with you anyway, one-on-one, and give you a private lesson. We’re also interested in talking to occupies, projects and groups about services, tools and resources we have available for you.

Lists of Interest for OWS Communicators

This post is in part an effort to preserve some of the conversation from the occu-communicators meeting described in the following post.

Who gets to speak on behalf of OWS?

  • nycga.net
  • occupywallst.org
  • occupy.com
  • occupy.net
  • OccupyTogether.org
  • wearethe99percent.tumblr.com
  • Occupy Wall Street Journal
  • Livestreamers
  • Tweetboat
  • ComHub – sms messaging
  • Archives
  • OccupyWallStreet.net
  • Tidal (theory journal)
  • Occupy Stories
  • Various Facebook Pages
  • Regional Occupy Sites
  • The Project Project
  • Your Inbox: Occupied
  • InterOcc
  • Adbusters

Who else? Who shouldn’t be on this list?

How are Occupiers communicating?

  • Email listservs
  • Mass emails
  • Online forums
  • Facebook comment threads
  • Twitter
  • Youtube videos
  • Livestream videos
  • Feature length films and documentaries
  • Dead trees
  • T-shirts
  • Waves of light bounced off buildings
  • Postering
  • Stickers
  • RSS feeds
  • Brochure websites
  • Text messaging lists
  • Placing stories in mass media (=public relations)
  • Placing stories in alternative media (=easier but less effective public relations)
  • Self produced television shows in public access
  • Micro-radio broadcasting
  • Live music, songwriting
  • Poetry
  • Puppetry
  • Theater
  • Individual and group blogging

 What else?

Categories of Online Tools that Tech Ops (and others) Create, Manage, and/or Fantasize About

  1. Collaborative (foster internal OWS collaboration or collaboration for any purpose)
  2. Tactical (used for direct actions or to implement a real world project)
  3. Broadcasting (carry our voice further)
  4. Administrative (record keeping, lists)
  5. Alternatives (ways of creating non-capitalist options for consuming, producing, living)

Bonus Questions

  1. How is messaging being tested for impact, refined, and tested again?
  2. Does anyone keep record of what messaging works best, using A/B testing?
  3. Is there any functional method of keeping multiple voices (voluntarily) coordinated?
  4. If you wanted to ‘conform’ to OWS messaging priorities, where could you find out what they were on any given day?

Discuss.

The Interplay of Tech, Communications and Occupy

On Saturday, May 12, Tech Ops and Your Inbox: Occupied hosted a community meeting / training. This is a report-back covering the material presented and subsequent discussion.

The initial conversations about this meeting had to do with the intersection of Tech Ops with Occupy in general. Concerns included:

  • How do we ‘serve’ other parts of OWS more explicitly, as service providers?
  • What is stopping or slowing down the adoption of powerful tools such as CiviCRM?
  • Why is it hard to generate overall ‘digital strategy’ at the intersection of different working groups and committees?

Some of the initial conclusions were that:

  • Occupy Communicators often lack a shared language to talk about specific parts of the overall work, and how different groups can coordinate better.
  • Many communicators are eager to understand how Tech Ops works and be in better coordination.
  • There is a widespread consensus that ‘we have to improve our game.’

To this end, myself and Drew, in consultation with various occu-communicators, came up with a combination training and discussion that would seek to address these issues while generating important feedback.

Developing a Shared Vocabulary

Our first step was to define some terms. For our purposes, a Broadcaster is anyone distributing messages for, from, or about Occupy. These are our semi-official voices: The Tweetboat, Your Inbox: Occupied, the Occupy Wall Street Journal, Occupy.com, Occupy.net, Occupywallstreet.net, Occupywallst.org, OccupyTogether.org and many more. Each of these Broadcasters plays a role; but we can analyze each one of them and ask: who are they reaching?

Audiences are the various slices of people that Broadcasters are reaching, with greater or lesser impact. We discussed the ways that one could classify an audience – by geography, race/class/gender, psychographics, and more. But there was broad agreement that the most useful way of slicing was by steps on a ladder of engagement. This is because, if and when we are evaluating the success of a Broadcaster, what would we want the most? For Audience members to move up a rung on the ladder, to become more active in the fight against the 1%.

Together, we came up with a ladder of the following rungs:

  • Hasn’t heard of Occupy, or enough about it to form an opinion
  • Has heard of Occupy but is not a supporter
  • Supports Occupy, but has not engaged
  • Supports Occupy, has engaged virtually, online
  • Has shown up on person for an Occupy event or meeting
  • Shows up routinely, but is not part of a group or committee
  • Is a committed part of an Occupy group or project
  • Full fledged, sleepless organizer with Occupy

People recognized that a large proportion of our communications are directed at the lower rungs – at supporters with a record of strong engagement. Unlike in the early days, when social media and then mass media fueled outreach to millions who were just learning about us, today we are often talking to ourselves – but without healthy and consistent movement of Audience members to higher levels of engagement.

The point of course, isn’t just to map what is going on, but to do something about it. That thing is: help our Broadcasters to be more successful with specific Audiences. But this, a we discovered, can be a problem.

Expressive Vs. Instrumental Communications

I stole this from Matt Smucker’s Beyond the Choir. He writes about expressive and instrumental actions. (The following are my own words, not a quote.)

Expressive: Satisfies the urge to self-express,perhaps at the cost of achieving some impact in the world.

Instrumental: Designed for achieving a specific outcome, even when this means less authentic expression of our individuality or collective spirit.

Participants reflected that with Occupy Wall Street, the very personal, authentic and expressive nature of our actions and communications were a defining part of the culture that built this movement in the first place. Positioning ‘expressive’ and ‘instrumental’ at opposite poles feels uncomfortable because it suggests that being expressive is indulgent and that being effective is a prize worth suppressing who we are.

But at the same time, we heard that often our actions or communications can be both: designed for utmost impact AND highly expressive. The initial burst of enthusiasm for the Zuccotti Park occupation demonstrates that this is possible. What we need to do now is examine our communications, the measurable impact of our Broadcasters on our Audiences and bravely ask the question: what is working? What is achieving our goals as a movement?

Currently, it feels like these questions are not being consciously addressed. The concentration of our communications to inward facing efforts comes at the expense of effective vehicles that spread our message and expand the pool of activists. We talk more and more to ourselves in ways that please each other, even if the real world impact is declining. A shift towards communications that are built around the delivery of outcomes – instrumentality – doesn’t require the wholesale rejection of who we are, but rather the deliberate adoption of additional tools that are mostly within reach.

What Technology Has To Do With It

The technology resources of our movement include databases capable of delivering mass email blasts. Despite the large numbers of people using social media these days, what’s obscured is that we don’t have ‘an audience’ that is reachable via ‘social media’, instead we have multiple audiences that are impacted to a greater or lesser degree based on all kinds of choices: who is speaking, what medium is using, the news cycle, and so on. Email is still seen as crucial to any engagement effort in the real world, but Occupy has done a poor job of taking email communications seriously.

Fortunately, OWS has many resources for helping activists use email more effectively, especially CRM tools, meaning Constituent Relationship Management tools like CiviCRM and Salsa. CRM’s help us evaluate in real time whether or not particular communications are having the sought-for impact. They are excellent for learning what movements actually care about, in contrast to what they say they care about.

Websites are also tools, and at various times groups or actions have struggled with them. But the kinds of questions about this tool are often not asked during the planning stages: should it collect data, like event RSVP’s? What would it be stored? Who is it aimed at? What audiences are unlikely to respond, and therefore need an alternative outreach tool?

One of the questions to the audience was about the parent site of this blog: NYCGA.net. I asked folks who was on it, and whether or not they were still using it as a collaboration tool for working groups. A number of people stated that they used to use it a lot more than they do now, and that one of the main reasons was the proliferation of mean-spirited personal attacks. This is an example of how a tool widely used and praised can have it’s impact reduced as a result of built-in weaknesses. Our ability to manage tools appropriately demands a great deal of shepherding resources, creating effective feedback loops, including strong, non-technical voices, advance planning and of course support for developers who perform specialized work.

In everyone of these areas, the Occupy movement in general, including Tech Ops, has struggled, and this is a reflection of widespread issues in the movement. One of the exercises we carried out illustrates this well. Towards the end of the day, we asked teams of 4-5 to come up with plans that include a Broadcaster, an Audience, at least one online communication tools, and a call to action.

Five ideas were presented (see below). I asked the group, who agrees that we should definitely do at least one of these? Everyone I could see was in agreement. Then I asked, how many of you would agree to work on one of these ideas even if it wasn’t one of the ones you supported? Most of the hands dropped. The clear implication is that Occupy as a movement has excellent mechanisms for proposing and initiating projects. But we don’t do a good job of ensuring that projects have sufficient support to be done effectively. This is how the culture of ‘expressiveness’ trumps ‘instrumentality’.

It felt to me, that most people agreed that our communications needed to do a better job of achieving specific impacts, namely moving people up the ladder of engagement (or through the funnel). But even if we were to agree on projects designed to do that better, it isn’t clear how many of us would step our of our comfort zones to learn new tools, commit to greater coordination, more advance planning, and hammer out agreed upon definitions of success.

Tech Ops, Occupy.net and other movement innovators have a fantastic record of supporting the movement. But mixed in with that are what some might call flaws:

  • Large scale efforts that take so much resources and time that they can scarcely be called OWS efforts. OWS might not exist as a coherent movement by the time they are launched.
  • Tools are introduced that don’t have a high level of use. In other words, we have invested energy in tools for which demand is weak, there is little or no marketing of the tools, and in any case they weren’t part of an answer to a problem presented elsewhere in the movement.
  • Important tools that are essential and in productive use suffer from weak post launch development. This isn’t the fault of the developers who stick around trying to address those weaknesses; but as a system, we aren’t able to focus resources where they are most needed in a timely fashion.
  • Projects advance not because of widespread agreement that they deserve priority, but because a small number of key players move ahead. In contrast, larger scale efforts that are widely seen as urgent and necessary might languish because they require widespread agreement on the details. (Fundraising tools come to mind.)

Five Projects Presented

The teams presented five projects:

  • A direct action performance project that a live action MEGA BALL BINGO gambling game. It would be played on Wall Street, with the goal of having folks arrested specifically for the crime of gambling. (Irony alert!)
  • A call for camping out in Chantilly, VA to protest the annual Bilderburg gathering of the global 1%. A proposed site could facilitate a mass gathering with travel arrangements, information, and coordination. Would include a component similar to Operation Paperstorm.
  • Building an Occupy crowd-funding service that allows us to deliver funding to our projects more effectively.
  • Preparing a campaign site for the anniversary of Occupy Wall Street (Sep. 17) with event listings and personal stories.
  • An ‘incumbent-be-gone’ campaign that calls on people to vote out all politicians on election day, and helps aggregate resources to that end from like-minded people.

The value of the exercise isn’t in the creativity of the actionable projects presented, but the work of connecting a mission oriented, real world effort to the tech tools necessary to implement it well. This could have been done a lot better – but it drove home the point that conversations specifically about tools should happen more often.

Evaluation and Next Steps

Attendees who stayed until the bitter end said that they were happy to learn more about Tech Ops, both our tools and mind-set. Folks seemed to like the chance to discuss strategy in the abstract, as part of a training, without being wedded to a specific project or effort. In particular, people liked the shared creation of a funnel or engagement ladder demonstrating some of the work we need to improve.

Comments were made about the training being somewhat disorganized, the moderation was too heavy and too dominated by myself, and it seemed at times that I was driving a specific point of view as opposed to laying out information or teaching skills. (All of this is sadly true.)

One idea floated on the Tech Ops discussion list is a ‘Tech Ops Assembly’ that would be larger and more inclusive, and less agenda driven. Many of us feel that more trainings would be great for all kinds of skills and tools. Stay tuned.

A Freelance Workers Statement of Solidarity

(or, a consultant’s boycott of unethical clients)

Many of us in tech work day jobs as freelancers and those working conditions are toxic and exploitative, and often for clients who do not share our values.
The Freelance Worker’s Statement of Solidarity is a statement that we will no longer stand for the status quo in our industry.  We are not mercenaries and we will not work for unethical clients. We will hold accountable the people who wish to hire us to a higher standard than profit and expediency.