Category: Events

#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:

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 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.


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.


August 30th, 2012 – 6-9pm


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 &


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.  (

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

Organized by members of Tech Ops, Occupy Wall St.


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-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.

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,,,,, 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: 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, 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.

Rapid Media Upload Session

Sunday March 18th 12pm
PACE Student Union

Tech Ops is putting together a media server to host citizen journalist media. You often hear “The whole world is watching” chanted at actions, we aim to make sure that the whole world can watch the content you produce. If you have video, audio, or photos of OWS actions please come visit us at PACE today. We will be collecting digital files for archival and publishing. Continue reading

A powerful new outreach & organizing tool for working groups

Tech Ops is now ready to offer trainings on the use of CiviCRM, an open-source “constituent relationship management” tool. We are running an instance at

Civi can do a lot of things. The simplest, and easiest to get started with, is broadcast email lists. We highly encourage all New York-based OWS working groups to move their email announcements into Civi. Unlike a Google Group, Civi lists: don’t require contacts to accept an invitation; support templates for mailings; support scheduled mailings; support sub-lists based on a project or interest without requiring a separate signup; can have a signup form easily embedded on any website; allow you to track how many people receive each email, open it, or click on a link; and integrate with a lot of other outreach functionality. It’s also easy to import your contacts from any spreadsheet or text file. And if you import your contacts into the Civi managed by Tech Ops, we can also offer them a weekly newsletter with events and updates from around the movement (the first of these went out today, using Civi).

Civi also supports, out of the box, events with RSVPs, and keeping track of information about people you’re in touch with including email, phone number, skills, and interests, in a searchable way.

Tech Ops will be hosting a training next Tuesday evening, March 13, at 6pm, in Brooklyn, with more to follow. You can RSVP (using Civi), and we’ll give you the location details.

The training will cover:

  • How to create a newsletter for a mailing list
  • How to import contacts & dedup
  • How to create multiple newsletter/mailing lists
  • How to create profiles for newsletter subscription and contact management
  • How to create events and track RSVPs
  • How to create campaigns
  • How to track/review contact engagement and follow-up

We do ask that, before we give you admin access to Civi, you attend a training, and can demonstrate that you have been trusted with this task by your working group.

Monday Training

Monday Training
12pm – 6pm
Please fill out the Dudle

I’m going to try something new for the training this week. If you’ve come to previous training sessions at the occupied office you’ll know how much of a pain it is to get in there. I’ve decided to hold this weeks training all day (12pm – 6pm) at Charlotte’s place.
Here’s how it works. There are five sessions, one each hour with some time left over for breaks and overflow.
noon – 1pm : Learn General computer security – Learn about common security issues and how to protect yourself from identity theft and other malicious things.
1pm – 2pm : Learn to be an power user! – Get some tips and tricks on using the
2pm – 3pm : Learn how to set up and use blog – Setup and use your group blog! We’ll review some group blogs already in use and go over some general wordpress blogging instructions
4pm – 5pm : Learn how to wiki – Learn how to use MediaWiki, the super powerful system behind sites like Wikipedia. Learn how to use basic wiki markup. By the end of the hour you should know enough to edit and add to (as well as Wikipedia)
We will also go over the use of 1-855-NYCGA 411 phone service!
Each session should be very open and flexible. This is only a general outline of the day and is subject to change. Continue reading

#OWS Tech at Activist Tech Demo Day

Hand drawn activist holding signsThe Tech Ops group along with Occupy Games and some members of Art’s and Culture will have a table at the Activist Tech Demo Day this Saturday (28th) at Eyebeam from 3pm to 6pm.

Facebook Event
Eyebeam Studios

We will be showing off a few of the following projects:

  • The Freedom Tower
  • Digital Twinkles (perhaps a mock GA?)
  • PermaBank
  • HD livestream camera
  • And more!

Read the press release: Continue reading