Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Assignment 6: OWS, Ken Perlin, and of course, the New Media Reader



  • Occupy Wall St. (OWS) is an ongoing protest/large demonstration being held in NYC's Zuccotti Park.
  • started on September 17, 2011, by Canadian activist group, Adbusters.
  • protests against social and economic inequality, corporate greed, and corruption in the government.
  • Originated as an idea from the aforementioned Canadian group, known for its advertisement-free publlication.
  • The internet group Anonymous supported the movement, and perpetuated it by encouraging its members to join the peaceful protest by joining and setting up shop at the park.
  • The demonstration is said to have been enacted so late after the start of the financial crisis because people were under the impression that Obama would do something about.
  • Zuccotti was chosen because it was private property, where police could not intervene unless requested to do so by the property owners.
  • "We are the 99%" is the slogan of the Occupy movement, and refers to the imbalanced concentration of wealth within the population, wherein the top 1% holds a great portion of the wealth.
  • There is a mixed bag as far as a demographic among the demonstrators goes. Its quite a diverse group, varying in age, ethnicity, and political views.
  • As for organization of the demonstration, there is what is referred to as an assembly, where meetings are open to the public, and there is no actual leadership. The group is somewhat self-moderated. The protest was often criticized, as there was no formal mission statement until mid-october. Since then the website with the demands seems to have been deleted by an administrator.
  • While there are mixed goals among the group, there is a general message that asks for better jobs, equal distribution of income, bank reform, and less corporate influence on politics.
  • Protesters communicate among themselves via "human microphone", where a message will be repeated in unison throughout the crowd, due to lack of amplified sound permit.
  • The whole movement is said to have been inspired by the protests in Cairo
  • 52 cities are participating in protests as of 9/27
  • Professional unions are among the protesters.
928 Offshoots Overnight:

  •, a social networking site meant specifically for offline meetings reached out to the OWS movement to help with technical publication and promotion of the protests.
  • The site had previously worked with Adbusters.
  • While the simple Meetup organization seems superior to that of Facebook, as far as it being a platform conducive to such get-togethers, facebook events pages seem to trump those of Meetups, where the number of attendees is concerned.
  • In the end, the article states that both are somewhat chaotic platforms, and that's what matters to some degree, the decentralization of the movement.
OWS Hackathons:

  • Programmers in support of the OWS movement started hosting Hackathons, to develop, work on, and discuss the various technological needs that will be necessary. Things like running the main website, allocating proper server space, developing helpful communication apps and platforms, online privacy, etc.
  • Decentralization is also key here, to prevent one integral communication platform of being shutdown permanently from one location.
  • FreedomBox seems like something very conducive OWS communication, as it provides a decentralized computer/web server, where on external source could completely shut it down from any one point.
Twitter Buzz:

  • Activity and participation within OWS is seemingly easily being tracked and statistically recorded by following various OWS-related tweets.

Ken Perlin's Lecture:

Ken's lecture was nothing short of fascinating. For one thing, just sitting there in his presence was something in and of itself, almost like being starstruck. I really don't mean to flatter, but I feel its a similar effect, when for example, there is something prominent in everyday life that most people take for granted, like I don't know, facebook. -It isn't everyday that anyone gets to not only sit and chat with Mark Zuckerberg, but have him demo some of his new and upcoming work, as well as the thought process that's gone into it. With all the bells and whistles out there today, ranging from 3d animations in silly advertisements that no one really pays attention to, to things like people playing their microsoft kinects, there really are a multitude of complexities that are simply overlooked. I mention this because for one thing, the chance to listen to Ken go into his thought process behind innovating things like the 3D bubbles and cubes that he'd demoed reminded me that things like these are built and thought up by living, breathing people. I know this seems like an odd point to be getting at, but I feel as though with a lot of consumer technology out there today, and even a lot in the past, what goes on behind the scenes in all the gadgets and gizmos that people have become dependent on may as well be some sort of incomprehensible magic to the greater population of said consumers. Moving on to the lecture itself though, I must say that what really resonated with the most was Ken's outlook on his process. For one thing, with his animated fish example, he demonstrated the idea of sort of animating in real-time, more like digital puppeteering even, as opposed to the grind of drawing something frame by frame. He also mentioned a scholarly paper, which pretty much points out that mathematics shouldn't be something that is taught for the sake of drilling it into kid's heads, as opposed to something that should learned through playing and being creative with it, not unlike music. In the end, I guess I'd like to comment on how admirable I find it that he truly seems to be doing what he enjoys doing.

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