I shot a quick documentary from my cellphone on the night of December the 8th. It’s about 8 minutes long, and genius that I am, I had my phone oriented incorrectly so I had to rotate the footage, resulting in a restricted viewing window. Limitations aside, it came out alright. It was really a fun night, a win against a likely negative portrayal of OWS. I’ll do a roundup of footage and press, for now, here’s the nyt on the event.
Discussion of the admittedly far-fetched idea of pushing for a huge global day of action on less than two weeks notice. Only worth considering for the use of synchronicity, universal symbology, and a common demand (overlapping here with WeArethe152). Makes no sense, right? Sorry, I’ll elaborate soon…
As part of my desire to do something useful for OWS, I’m looking to learn a bit about Media Wiki, in particular the semantic data side of the wiki. For those who aren’t nerds, the term “semantic data” is a layer of data that is separate from the content or the visual styling of this data. It’s data that describes the type of content that is displayed. In a rudimentary form, I guess you could say what we know of as “tags” (i.e. like in delicious.com, tag clouds, etc) could constitute a type of semantic data, but hardcore data people would probably shoot me down on this point.
For instance, if you were to share a digital contact card from your phone via bluetooth to another handset, the .vcf file that you would send is full of semantic markup – things like address, telephone number, first name, etc. Basically, it’s data that specifies what kind of content is coming next. So far, so good.
Why is this important to a wiki, you ask? Well I found a few incredible plugins for Media Wiki, that allow users to sort and display data in incredibly sophisticated ways. When I think of how this could be leveraged for Occupy Wall St, I imagine the following:
A single wiki that could provide a list of all of the assets of the movement, organized primarily by location (physical location, or if the asset is solely online, this would be a separate category), but then, also by any of the following tags/metadata. So, for instance the wiki page for OccupyChicago would have landing pages with links to each of the following sections and subsections, all generated via templates in the wiki, so each occupation could simply plug in and fill in their assets, projects, and goals/strategies (the following labels in quotes are NOT meant as final taxonomies, merely illustrative examples):
Working Group Assets:
“[Working Group Name] Online Tools” (any relevant workspaces/wikis/websites for collaborative work)
“[Working Group Name] Discussions Archives” (links to previous conversations in the form of archived forums/lists)
“[Working Group Name] Offline Resources” (Local supportive organizations, allies, spaces, sources for supplies or other support)
“[Working Group Name] Member Profiles” (links to individual occupiers websites, twitter, RSS feeds, etc
“[Working Group Name] News/Tags” (links to location specific and/or group-specific RSS feeds, Twitter streams, specific hashtags used to post content, specific stories that the group as a whole should be aware of – ie instances of sabotage, hacking, impersonation, or any malfeasance of any kind, coming from either within the movement or from the outside.
“[Working Group Name] Already Implemented Suggestions” (Working group specific, self explanatory)
“[Working Group Name] Specific Projects Underway” (Working group specific, self explanatory)
“[Working Group Name] Discarded Proposals” (Working group specific, self explanatory)
“[Working Group Name] Proposed Projects” (Working group specific, self explanatory)
“[Working Group Name] Urgently Needed” (Working group specific, self explanatory)
“[Working Group Name] I am Offering” (Working group specific, self explanatory)
Strategy/Objectives Related Content:
“[Working Group Name] Abstract Arguments/Ideas for Moving Forward”
“[Working Group Name] Debates/Unresolved Issues”
“[Working Group Name] Consensus Agreed Upon Short Term Objectives” (CAUSTO?) (Working group specific, self explanatory)
“[Working Group Name] Consensus Agreed Upon Medium Term Objectives” (CAUMTO?) (Working group specific, self explanatory)
“[Working Group Name] Consensus Agreed Upon Long Term Objectives” (CAULTO?) (Working group specific, self explanatory)
A tool like this would be useful for ALL types of visitors to the wiki – first time visitors who can get a bird’s eye view of the OWS as a whole, as well as their local occupation; as well as returning OWS participants/Occupiers who want to keep track of current activity related to their local occupation, as well as educate themselves about what other similar Working Groups have done previously, thereby allowing working groups to learn from one another’s processes – both good lessons and bad.
In short, there is a tremendous about of duplicated effort, and time spent of supporters and potential supporters simply trying to grasp what is happening, and where – be it online or offline. By leveraging the power of a database, with the self-mapping ability of the wiki, together with the powerful search & filtering options afforded by good use of semantic markup, we could build a powerful tool.
Soooo, how can we build this super cool wiki? I’m going to write about this in my next post – Media Wiki Part 2.
My name is Felipe T Ribeiro, I am a part time (but full hearted!) Occupy Wall Street supporter. I’ve been active in the Internet Working Group at the NYCGA (NYC General Assembly), acting as a proponent of documenting extensively what is happening “behind the scenes”  at Occupy Wall Street. I say part time because I have my share of the rent to pay which means I can’t abandon my work (I work as a freelance art handler in NYC, mostly for private clients, but occasionally for galleries when my bank account drops below my age). To give you a sense of my level of participation, I’ve only attended six meetings – two for the FLO (Free/Libre/Open Source Solutions working group), two for the IWG (Internet Working Group) , and two General Assemblies, so although I am sympathetic to and aligned with the OWS movement (even at this undefined stage), out of respect for the people currently freezing their asses off in open spaces around the country (the world?) as I type this from the comfort of my bedroom, I can’t call myself an Occupier.
And that’s what this website is about – my observations about the effort to get the massive numbers of people who support the movement involved (but aren’t going to their closest occupation location for any number of reasons). Since I’ve become involved with OWS, I’ve learned that collaboration is actually not simple to accomplish in a productive fashion. And while it is uplifting and encouraging to have sudden influxes of people who want to get involved and help out in some way, it’s actually pretty difficult to harness this energy when the infrastructure to do so is still being coordinated and implemented.
At any rate, I met up with the internet working group right away and proceeded to assimilate what step they were at in terms of building up a platform to extend and leverage their support base online. It was hectic, there were many bright, enthusiastic people but it became apparent that the big drawback to leaderless organizing and organizations is the lack of continuity – significant time is spent getting newcomers up to speed and familiar with what is happening, while those who were involved with a particular project channel their energies elsewhere.
Oops, I’m breaking my own rule – I want to keep each post to about 500 words. So I’ll end here, but my next post will be a bit more about my plans for this website – it’s got a separate forum and an attached wiki. Both are pretty much playgrounds for ideas, pretty bare at the moment. So here are the links:
 I use the term “behind the scenes” in quotes because, by the criteria that matters most – intention – there IS no “behind the scenes”. In other words, there is every intention for full disclosure, total transparency, and real time documentation, as much as is humanly practical, given the nature of the movement.
 On the evening of the impending Bloomberg showdown, (the night of the 13th to the 14th of October), I went to sleep with a sinking feeling, sad that the occupation was going to get violently displaced. Did I post about their plight online? yes. Did I encourage folks to call the city at 311? yes. Did I go down to the park that night or early the next morning like they asked? No. I only live about a 45 subway ride away, 35 minutes by bike. I could have, but I didn’t. Will I regret this for a long time? yup.