Weekly Roundup: Social Media And The Occupy Wall Street Movement, and A New, Greener Energy Paradigm
Every week, we provide a roundup of the latest news in social change and innovation.
Actually, The Revolution Will Be Tweeted. And Facebooked, And LiveStreamed, And Blogged…
This week, the nation’s eyes were fixed on the Occupy Wall Street movement, which has grown to occupy cities across the U.S. (with varying degrees of success) as well as abroad. Looking at the Occupy Wall Street website, one has the sense of viewing the emergence of a small nation. They have a general assembly that uses consensus-building procedures to democratically determine every collective action they make, various working crews act as government ministries in taking care of the needs of the group, and a dedicated cadre of media guerrillas who are tweeting constantly from numerous different accounts. (PR must be difficult to manage in a decentralized, leaderless movement with more than one main message!)
The press is having a great time voicing their opinions about Occupy Wall Street – President Obama said on Tuesday that it’s comparable to the Tea Party, Bill O’Reilly called them “loons” after seeing footage by Fox News anchor John Stossel, who was heckled and booed when he came to report on the protest (conservative outlets haven’t been getting the kindest reception in Zuccotti Park), the New Yorker’s John Cassidy shared a list of the top ten unlikely (read: wealthy) supporters of OWS, and blogger after blogger has shared his or her opinion about what the protesters should be doing on the Huffington Post.
Occupy Wall Street has created a robust new space for dialogue to emerge regarding the 2008 financial crisis and subsequent economic recession. And because the protesters don’t have one demand (yet), that space is wide open for viewpoints of every sort to be voiced.
And none of this would be happening without Internet and social media. NPR wrote this week that “Protesters are not only occupying Lower Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park; they’re also occupying Twitter and other social media sites like Livestream, where visitors to the site can watch live footage from the protests.” OWS doesn’t need the mainstream or alternative presses to help spread their multiple messages; they are doing it themselves. Tumblr, for example, is the platform on which thousands of OWS supporters have shared heartbreaking stories of being in the 99 percent, as well as the site created by folks from the 1 percent who say that they are privileged and should be taxed so others can enjoy health care, too.
The Global Voices Online blog pointed out that Occupy Wall Street is following in the footsteps of movements like the massive Tahrir Square protests this past winter and spring, which mobilized supporters with a Facebook page and a Twitter hashtag (#Jan25); the anti-austerity protests dubbed ocupadas in Spain this summer did likewise.
In fact, the social media from OWS might be so prolific that it has become cacophonous. The BBC shared a video this week that asks whether the deluge of digital discourse coming from Zuccotti and its solidarity occupations is making it difficult to hear any message at all. To alleviate the problem, a new site has formed, OccupyTogether, that aggregates news from the various simultaneous occupations around the world, and uses MeetUp.com to keep a calendar of protest-related happenings.
Green Technology and Renewable Energy Will Lead A Paradigm Shift
A review of a new book by economist Jeremy Rifkin’s, The Third Industrial Revolution: How Lateral Power Is Transforming Energy, the Economy, and the World, came out on Triple Pundit this week. The book makes the bold claim that the second industrial revolution has reached its “end-game” due to the unsustainable nature of fossil fuels. It is time for a third revolution focused on sustainability, says Rifkin, and at the heart of that movement is renewable energy. The book essentially calls for a paradigm shift, both culturally and economically, in the way we behave and think about resources.
More and more companies are recognizing the cost-saving and eco-friendly potentials of green technology. Late last week, the Washington Post reported the creation of a $1.05 billion fund by prominent Venture Capitalist Vinod Khosla, who co-founded Sun Microsystems. Roughly half of the fund will be focused on clean technology – making it one of the top five largest funds created this year, according to VentureSource.
But the Republican candidates for the 2012 presidential elections are not supportive of the solar industry – despite its growth and successes, Grist’s David Roberts reported this week. The solar industry, Roberts writes, is the fastest-growing industry in the US: “It now employs 100,000 Americans at 5,000 mostly small businesses spread across all 50 states. Unlike in so many others, in this industry the U.S. has a positive trade balance with China; it is a net exporter of high-tech manufactured products.” Nevertheless, Republicans are taking the exceptional case of Solyndra (which was actually initiated during the Bush administration, not Obama’s) and using it to get rid of the cash grant program (Sec. 1603), which is set to be renewed next year.
Also, a list of the world’s Best Clean Tech Companies was released this week, as judged by the Global Cleantech 100 Summit in Washington, DC. USA Today shared the winners.
Worthwhile Weekend Reads
- TIME’s Ishaan Tharoor explained why Obama was wrong in comparing Occupy Wall Street to the Tea Party.
- Social enterprise must be a priority for the Europen Union as it climbs its way out of the sovereign debt crisis, wrote Jonathan Bland at Social Enterprise Live.
- A public services bill being debated in the United Kingdom’s parliament would present opportunities for social enterprises, the Guardian reported.
- The Business of a Better World sites wrote about the case of Patagonia to argue for why we need to prototype sustainable consumption.
- And the big news in social change on Thursday: ousted Libyan dictator Muammar el-Qaddafi was proclaimed dead.