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This was originally posted at Cyborgology – click here to view the original post and to read/write comments.

all photos in this post by nathan jurgenson

This is a disorganized photo essay with my photos and random ruminations from Occupy Congress last week.

Larger versions of these photos; am very happy to share them, just ask and/or credit me: twitter.com/nathanjurgenson

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There is a good conversation to have on just how leaderless the Occupy movement is. It is more networked and decentralized, but, of course, not perfectly so. Structures and hierarchies always emerge. Unfortunately, this important conversation is derailed when some try to create fictional leaders for a movement that, for the most part, does not have them. Articles like, for instance, John Heilemann’s New York Magazine expose on Occupy, again and again force leader-language on the movement. And they do so unsuccessfully.

The traditional media wants to tell a traditional story, and this is why they get Occupy so terribly wrong. It is easier to describe a movement of leaders, of charismatic personalities and of specific ideas, messages and demands. The media momentum favors retelling the type of story they have told before.

But the reality for Occupy is much more complicated. Yes, the movement is not completely leaderless. Participation and efficaciousness are not evenly distributed across the 99%. For instance, the term “occupy” was not arrived to by some consensus but instead the creation of Adbusters. However, the magazine has claimed that they “have no interest in a continuing leadership role.” Instead, the magazine’s role has been aesthetic: to come up with good memes.

While pure leaderlessness may not be possible or even wanted for Occupy, the bigger story is that it is more decentralized than previous political movements. The high degree Read More »

This is co-authored with PJ Rey and was originally posted at my blog Cyborgology – click here to view the original post and to read/write comments.

We begin with the assumption that social media expands the opportunity to capture/document/record ourselves and others and therefore has developed in us a sort-of “documentary vision” whereby we increasingly experience the world as a potential social media document. How might my current experience look as a photograph, tweet, or status update? Here, we would like to expand by thinking about what objective reality produces this type of subjective experience. Indeed, we are increasingly breathing an atmosphere of ambient documentation that is more and more likely to capture our thoughts and behaviors.

As this blog often points out, we are increasingly living our lives at the intersection of atoms and bits. Identities, friendships, conversations and a whole range of experience form an augmented reality where each is simultaneously shaped by physical presence and digital information. Information traveling on the backs of bits moves quickly and easily; anchor it to atoms and it is relatively slow and costly. In an augmented reality, information flows back and forth across physicality and digitality, deftly evading spatial and temporal obstacles that otherwise accompany physical presence.

When Egyptians dramatically occupied the physical space of Tahrir Square this past January Read More »

This was originally posted at my blog Cyborgology – click here to view the original post and to read/write comments.

 

In the 36 hours since the Occupy Wall Street raid removed protest infrastructure from Zuccotti Park, much of the conflict strikes me as the tension between the informational (the symbolic; media; ideas) and the material (physical; geographic). It runs through how New York City carried its actions out (at night, blocking journalists), the ensuing legal fight (does occupying physical space count as speech?) as well as the new strategic challenges facing an Occupy movement where camping is decreasingly an option.

Anyone who reads this blog knows that much of my work lies at the intersection of (1) information, media, technology, the online and (2) materiality, bodies and offline physical space. At this intersection, our reality is an “augmented” one. Part of the success of Occupy (and other recent protest movements) has been the awareness of just this point: by uniting media and information with the importance of flesh-and-blood bodies existing in physical space, our global atmosphere of dissent is increasingly one of an augmented revolution. Indeed, these are not protests centered online, as Jeff Jarvis tweeted this morning, or Zuccotti park, but in the augmented reality where the two intersect.

And this intersection of the power of the image and the power of the material dramatically came to a head about 36 hours ago as I write. In the early morning of November 15th, the two-month long occupation of Zuccotti Park was eliminated by the City of New York. Read More »

This was originally posted at my blog Cyborgology – click here to view the original post and to read/write comments.

all photos in this post by nathan jurgenson

The role of new, social media in the Occupy protests near Wall Street, around the country and even around the globe is something I’ve written about before. I spent some time at Occupy Wall Street last week and talked to many folks there about technology. The story that emerged is much more complicated than expected. OWS has a more complicated, perhaps even “ironic” relationship with technology than I previous thought and that is often portrayed in the news and in everyday discussions.

It is easy to think of the Occupy protests as a bunch of young people who all blindly utilize Facebook, Twitter, SMS, digital photography and so on. And this is partially true. However, (1) not everyone at Occupy Wall Street is young; and (2), the role of technology is certainly not centered on the new, the high-tech or social media. At OWS, there is a focus on retro and analogue technologies; moving past a cultural fixation on the high-tech, OWS has opened a space for the low-tech.

What I want to think about there is the general Occupy Wall Street culture that has mixed-feelings about new technologies, even electricity itself. I will give examples of the embracing of retro-technology at OWS and consider three overlapping explanations for why this might be the case. I will also make use of some photographs I took while there. Read More »