Tag Archives: Tumblr

Occupier + current system + social media = ?

20 May 2012: The police crack down pretty hard on the Occupiers in Chicago today during their Anti-NATO protest.

I found this photograph moving around Facebook and I thought I’d post it.  I thought the Occupy protests were winding down, but based on this chaos, I’d say I was quite off the mark.

The focal point of the image is the young man guarding himself against a police officer, as well as on the overwhelmed and scared woman with the camera.  I feel like this image represents three main elements of the entire Occupy movement really well.

The young man represents the generic Occupier: the recent college graduate, possibly a hipster, who feels the need to stand out against the current regime and say that he doesn’t approve of the current status quo.  His hands are up to shield himself against the night stick, but the look on his face isn’t necessarily one of fear.  There is determination there, a confidence that comes out if you stare a little longer at him, and you can see that he isn’t just going to defend himself against the police officer, he is willing to take him on.

The police officer is not only representative of police presence and the issues that have come out of that during Occupy, but the illustration of faulty government itself.  The police are supposed to protect citizens, just as the government is supposed to benefit the people, but clearly the police were not protecting anyone but themselves in Chicago today, and clearly the system is not working for the governed because groups like the Occupiers and the Tea Partiers exist.

Finally, the woman with the camera represents media, more specifically social media.  Before social media took off, people heard about things like this through news articles or segments done by professionals.  Ideally, the news is supposed to be unbiased but it rarely is.  Now, with social media, people who were actually there in the moment can show their own evidence to anyone they want at lightning speed for free.  With these kinds of resources, the moments like this will always be available to the public and the truth will never be forgotten.

The Occupier, the current system and social media. Put them all together and what do you get?  Based on this photo, a real Charlie Foxtrot.



Y U No Happy?: Angry Occupiers

An article by Marc Lacey titled “Countless Grievances, One Thread: We’re Angry,” simplifies the reasons behind the gathering of so many for a movement that, for the most part, has not brought about a policy change. According to the Handbook of Motivation and Cognition Vol. 2, positive feelings (i.e. not anger) are a better motivator than negative feelings.

“Peace activists, indigenous rights activists, immigrant activists — they’re all here.” A quote from one an occupier interviewed by Lacey. Those three activists have one “thread” in common, according to Lacey, and it’s anger. “What brings me out here? Outrage — outrage with what’s going on in this country,” said Lucy Horwitz, 79, who participated in Occupy Los Angeles. “Right now, the first issue on my mind is that corporations can buy congressmen.” Bold statements and quick soundbites can get people riled up and moving. “Buy [people]” is basically what the woman was saying and buying people is generally not okay anymore. The thing with that is it is temporary; anger diffuses quickly and interest can be lost just as quickly if there isn’t anything going on to make things better. People who take the incentives are usually very passionate about their cause but nowadays, there is so much to be involved in, it could be easy to get overwhelmed and take a backseat. How do you get people to stay motivated?

The movement has taken several approaches to this and their most successful is the tumblr. They get people to continuously follow what they have to say and arrange meeting places and incentives for coming. Those who show up have a good time and if they get threats to be arrested, it’s even better! Getting arrested means they did something big enough to catch the eyes of authorities. The attention could be a huge motivator for some and also having a purpose or cause to believe in.


Trademark and Patent Disputes

The Occupy Wall Street Movement has resulted in many differing legal and political issues.  Most of these disputes have revolved around first amendment rights to protest.  However, other legal controversy has come to light from the movement concerning trademark and patent disputes.

The College on Conference Composition Communication Intellectual Property Annual Report (CCCC-IP) is a publication in its seventh year of production.  This conference produces an annual report on techniques and etiquette of researching news media as well as research and teaching composition (Amidon 29).  The Occupy Wall Street Movement utilized social media techniques of organization that emulated methods used during the protest taking place in the Arab Springs (Amidon 29).  Various hashtag keywords such as #occupywallstreet, #occupywallst, #ows, or #occupy gained popularity as the movement grew.  Also, the Tumblr blog page “We Are the 99 Percent” fueled traffic, in turn further fueling the movement.

Although the social media followings on Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr are quantitatively substantial, Malcolm Gladwell argues their actual significance.  Gladwell claims that former examples of protest are bound on more concrete examples of injustice.  He states that social media organized protest are generally built on weaker ties and looser political platforms (Gladwell 4).  Social media allows individuals to connect to things of indirect significance compared to more hands-on methods of unity due to the convenience of social media. Thus, how does this loose organization of the movement through social media impact trademark legalities?

The social media popularity of the Occupy Wall Street Movement opened the door of capitalist opportunity deriving from the movement.  Many T-shirt and retail companies quickly entered the trademark or patent race in hopes to gain ownership rights to these phrases or keywords.  However, many involved in the movement openly opposed these trademark requests claiming that capitalist financial gain from the movement directly contradicts the movement’s focuses.  Moreover, over 55 trademark applications have been filed on variations of the term “occupy” (Amidon 30).  One, of which, in particular stemmed from a Rocawear T Shirt that read “Occupy All Streets”.  Rocawear affirmed that no proceeds from this T-Shirt would be shared with the Occupy Wall Street Movement.  This raises an interesting debate, should the “occupy” title be allowed to be branded for financial gain?

Many argue no on the sole basis that no outside entity can claim ownership of this group created identity.  However, many can also argue that since there are no hierarchy of leaders involved with the movement that there is no individuals or group of people associated with the movement that could alternatively claim ownership.  The conclusion of the CCCC-IP’s annual report was that Trademark laws in conjunction with the 1976 Copyright Act protect political commentary or parody as free speech under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.  Thus, in regards to the example of Rocawear, they halted production of the “Occupy All Streets” line due to the severe criticism received for failing to share proceeds with the movement (Amidon 30).  However, in a court of law, Rocawear could have definitely made a legitimate case as to the “Occupy All Streets” T-Shirt line being protected as intellectual property of political commentary (Amidon 32).  Gladwell’s writings support the opinion that if this movement was built on mechanisms outside social media, Rocawear’s situation would have a greater chance of being in violation of trademark or copyright infringements.

Andrew D’Amato

Gladwell, Malcolm. “Why the Revolution Will Not Be Tweeted.” The   New Yorker. 4 Oct. 2010. Web. 1 Apr. 2012. <http://hnrs353.wikispaces.com/file/view/GladwellMalcolm.pdf&gt;.

Social Media: Just a New Tool for the Movement

Social Media has played a vital role in the transfer of information for the Occupy Wall Street Movement. However, from what I can see, I do not believe that without the technology, the message would not have spread as much or as far as it has. I believe social media just provides a new outlet for communication that would have occurred, regardless of the technology’s existence.

This is supported in Gladwell’s New Yorker article. He speaks of an incredible Civil Rights sit-in that spread across state lines in the 1960s and highlights how this was able to happen without any of today’s technology to help get the word out. Yes, social media sites make “it easier for the powerless to collaborate, coördinate, and give voice to their concern,” but if they were not around, the cause would still be very much alive (Gladwell).

Now, I would not agree with everything Gladwell stated about the impact of social media on movements. In Brandzel’s article in The Nation, he points out many areas of interest, such as strong ties verses weak ties, where Gladwell seems to miss the change social media has on interpersonal relationships; Gladwell underestimates the strength of the ties people create and nurture with the help of social media sites. Nevertheless, it almost furthers the idea that social media does not add much more to movements besides acting as another tool for communication.

Even with this technology, sometimes the message still gets mixed up. Occupy Wall Street’s call to action, posted on their Tumblr and Blogger, is very well-written, but what is the movement really protesting? The four-page-long letter to the world continues to state that there is injustice in America, but it never directly highlights actual, specific instances of injustice or reasons people should take part in the movement. Without a strong message, no one will know what to support, and in effect, nothing will change. Today, that is exactly what has happened. Everyone heard about the movement, but no one knows for what they are fighting, not even the movement’s spokespeople.

Personally, I first heard about the Occupy Wall Street Movement by word of mouth and continued to retrieve information about it through the news and through conversations with knowledgeable people. After exploring through different social media sites, I can still say that I have gained a clearer and more in-depth message about the movement through those pre-social-media techniques than I have on any social media site, including the movement’s official sites. I am an artifact showing that social media is indeed just a tool of the cause, and not an innovation.