[FRIAM] Fwd: 'We Are the 99 Percent' Creators Revealed
sasmyth at swcp.com
Tue Oct 18 21:04:37 EDT 2011
There was an IARPA call (BAA11-11) that a group of us came close to
sending in a proposal on... it nominally asked for a demonstration of an
open-source data mining system that could predict such events as the
Arab Spring. The test region is to be South America with the
system(s) in a bake-off going live about 1 year from now (Oct 11).
Here is a sort of lame description that came out very recently from the NYT.
I don't disagree with the idea that the socio-political space of
interest has nonlinear structures/processes in it (Paul's assertion of
Complexity and Emergence). At best, in such a system, I think one
could only hope to predict the general boundaries of basins of
attraction and/or orbits or "phase changes" (in a different vernacular).
I agree with Nick that an overtly political discussion on this list
might be unwelcome, but I hope there is plenty of room to discuss the
*structure* and nature of the events that have been going on around the
world of late.
Here is an article referencing the Fruit Vendor in question:
One could also assert that emergence and complexity were key to WWI as
> Interesting, I didn't know it started with a fruit vendor and a police
> officer. Maybe it was just the spark which ignited a fire that was
> waiting to burn? The straw that broke the camel's back (in German we
> say: 'der Tropfen, der das Fass zum Überlaufen bringt').
> Sent from Android
> Paul Paryski <pparyski at aol.com> wrote:
> The Occupy movement is actually about emergence and complexity. The
> Arab Spring began with an incident between a woman police officer and
> a fruit vendor in Tunis.
> FYI below a bit of what this movement is about
> cheers, Paul
> -----Original Message-----
> From: mile16 <mile16 at aol.com>
> To: PPARYSKI <PPARYSKI at aol.com>
> Sent: Sun, Oct 16, 2011 5:03 am
> Subject: Fwd: 'We Are the 99 Percent' Creators Revealed
> -----Original Message-----
> From: mile16 <mile16 at aol.com <mailto:mile16 at aol.com>>
> To: kris.moore <kris.moore at verizon.net
> <mailto:kris.moore at verizon.net>>; scottmoore44
> <scottmoore44 at verizon.net <mailto:scottmoore44 at verizon.net>>;
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> Sent: Sat, Oct 15, 2011 5:03 am
> Subject: Fwd: 'We Are the 99 Percent' Creators Revealed
> This is an interview with the creators of the initial blog that
> started OccupyWallStreet.
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Portside Moderator <moderator at PORTSIDE.ORG
> <mailto:moderator at PORTSIDE.ORG>>
> To: PORTSIDE <PORTSIDE at LISTS.PORTSIDE.ORG
> <mailto:PORTSIDE at LISTS.PORTSIDE.ORG>>
> Sent: Fri, Oct 14, 2011 10:40 pm
> Subject: 'We Are the 99 Percent' Creators Revealed
> [To see the gallery of '99 percent' photos, go to
> http://wearethe99percent.tumblr.com/ -- moderator]
> 'We Are the 99 Percent' Creators Revealed
> By Adam Weinstein |
> Oct. 7, 2011 3:00 AM PDT
> EXCLUSIVE: MoJo interviews the two activists behind Occupy Wall Street's
> poignant Tumblr sensation.
> It began as a simple little idea, just another blog
> among millions. The Occupy Wall Street protest was
> scheduled to begin on September 17, and launching We Are
> the 99 Percent  on Tumblr seemed like a good way to
> promote it. Its creator had no clue that it would go
> viral and become a touchstone for a protest movement
> soon to spread nationwide. 
> This week, Mother Jones tracked down and spoke with the
> two activists behind the 99 Percent sensation, whose
> identities have remained unknown until now. The blog is
> the creation of a tenacious 28-year-old New York
> activist named Chris. (He asked that his last name not
> be published because he works full time for a small
> media outlet.) Chris has also been busy managing
> logistics, including food drives, for Occupy Wall Street
> in Lower Manhattan-so about two weeks ago, he started
> sharing the blog's increasingly demanding curation
> duties with a friend in the cause, Brooklyn-based
> nonprofit worker and independent media maven Priscilla
> On August 23, Chris put the idea in motion: "Get a bunch
> of people to submit their pictures with a hand-written
> sign explaining how these harsh financial times have
> been affecting them, have them identify themselves as
> the '99 percent', and then write 'occupywallst.org' at
> the end."
> On September 8, the first day he started publishing
> submissions, there were five posts. Less than a month
> later, the blog was posting nearly 100 pieces a day:
> from the 61-year-old  who lost her job and moved in
> with her kids, to the husband of a college professor 
> on WIC and Medicaid to support an infant daughter, to
> the fiftysomething couple  living on tossed-out KFC,
> to a bevy of youths pummeled by student debt and too
> poor to visit a dentist.
> "I submitted one of the first photos on the site, and I
> chose to obscure my face because I did not want to be
> recognized," co-editor Grim told MoJo when we caught up
> with her and Chris for interviews on Wednesday. "I saw
> it as a way to anonymize myself: I am only one of many."
> Many of the submissions posted are poignant and
> heartbreaking. They have freaked  out  some
> conservatives, but they have also galvanized 
> progressives, lit a fire under Occupy Wall Street, and
> attracted contributors from many walks of life. And
> there is a powerful undercurrent that's anything but
> gloom and doom. "Despite the economic hardships many in
> the 99 percent are experiencing," Chris says, "it's an
> empowering message, letting people know that they are
> not alone."
> Mother Jones: What is your background, and your role in
> the Occupy movement?
> Chris: I am 28 years old, college educated, full-time
> job, part-time freelance job, and I volunteer to feed
> the hungry and needy every Sunday. I live in New York
> City. I wear a tie to work, unless it's Friday. I am an
> anarchist, though my belief is that anarchism should be
> more about building things up than tearing things down.
> I am a dedicated pacifist. I drink too much coffee. My
> favorite band is Sleater Kinney, and I think their best
> album is Dig Me Out, followed closely by One Beat. I've
> read Infinite Jest twice, and I'm fully aware of how
> pretentious that makes me sound, and I'm really, really
> Priscilla Grim: I worked for nonprofits for 10 years,
> have studied online media in school, and I am currently
> in grad school studying information science. I helped to
> organize online actions pre-MoveOn. I love serving
> people and improving the world, firstly for my kid and
> secondly for the rest of us. I worked in a lot of
> different realms  and know how to build
> organizations and make them sustainable, if I am working
> with like-minded, determined individuals.
> MJ: What is the origin of the 99 Percent idea, and how
> did you decide to present it on the Tumblr blog, using
> C: Well, from doing a little bit of research on
> occupywallst.org , the earliest mention I can find
> of "99 percent" is this flyer , which was made to
> inform people of the second General Assembly, which
> functioned as, essentially, our planning meetings during
> the buildup to all of this. As for the blog, I really
> wish I had a cool story to tell, maybe something
> involving ninjas and running down a tunnel with a
> fireball chasing after me, but the truth is that it was
> just one of those random thoughts you get throughout
> your day that make you go, "Huh, I should write this
> down," before going on with whatever it is you're doing.
> Except in this case I actually wrote it down. It didn't
> require a lot of tweaking since the idea itself is quite
> simple: Get a bunch of people to submit their pictures
> with a hand-written sign explaining how these harsh
> financial times have been affecting them, have them
> identify themselves as the 99 percent, and then write
> "occupywallst.org" at the end. It was something simple
> that most anyone with a computer could do, so that even
> if they couldn't make it to the occupation, they could
> at least help build its narrative.
> MJ: What was your motivation for the presentation, the
> idea of people posing with their stories, and with most
> obscuring their faces?
> C: My original intention was to have a very uniform
> One-sentence statement I am the 99 Percent
> And the person's face would have been fully revealed.
> However, as it's progressed, I've seen stories that
> can't be told in just a sentence. It also occurred to me
> that people may not be comfortable showing their full
> faces. So, we've come to be a lot more flexible when it
> comes to things like that. And, in all honesty, I think
> the blog has benefited. With hindsight, it occurs to me
> that demanding conformity with this strict uniform
> format would have made all the stories start to sound
> the same, smoothing out the diversity and making it much
> more bland. So, thank goodness for rule-breaking!
> Right now, we only ask that you do your best to keep it
> concise, that the sign be hand-written, and that some
> part of your face be visible, though we'd still prefer
> whole faces. Also, we delete entries that are too
> blurry, have text that isn't legible, or are upside down
> or backwards. (People, remember that if you take a
> picture in a mirror, your text will be reversed!)
> MJ: How does the Tumblr work, practically speaking?
> There seems to be a narrative rhythm to it.
> "I have read many long letters about the hard choices
> that people have to face every day." PG: We post almost
> all of the submissions. It's really hard because so many
> of our fellow citizens have such remarkable stories, and
> they write more of a letter than a simple fact. For many
> of these entries it feels like this is the first time
> anyone has asked them to articulate exactly what about
> the system in which they live is not working.
> C: We try to post as many as we can, but when the inbox
> fills up literally while you are working through it, and
> you're only doing this during the little free time you
> have, this can be quite difficult. I think I cleared the
> inbox once during the entire time I've been doing this,
> and then the next morning there were tons more.
> There's not much to curating it. I go through and read
> the submissions that, from the outset, look ideal:
> simple format, full face, hand-written. After that, I
> comb through the ones that may not entirely fit the
> format (the really long ones, for example) but still
> look okay, and publish them. After that, I delete any
> that are illegible or too blurry to read.
> MJ: Have submissions been steady? Did you notice a real
> turning point in volume?
> C: We get more than 100 a day. I just logged on now to
> check, and I have 106 new messages. And it's only 9:49
> PG: It did start as a handful.suffice to say that I have
> read many long letters about medical and student debt,
> abusive families inside which people are trapped, and
> the hard choices that people have to face every day,
> choices that I am sure they thought they were the only
> ones making-until this Tumblr.
> MJ: Why do you think it is connecting so strongly?
> PG: Because we all have a story, and the conversation
> about social safety nets has been lessened to that of
> accounting and not of the day-to-day realities. It is
> one thing for me to tell people that I have not been to
> a dentist in five years; it is another to confess that I
> deal with frequent wisdom tooth pain with ill-gotten
> muscle relaxers and ice pops, and this has been my
> reality for at least two years.
> C: I think they want to let others know that they're out
> there, that they exist, that their problems exist. That
> they're not just some statistic compiled in a
> spreadsheet, that they're real human beings with real
> human challenges. That they won't be an abstraction, a
> walking political cartoon for people to argue and debate
> over while nothing gets done in the end. They're not
> just "indebted students," "the uninsured," "the
> foreclosed." They're THIS indebted student, they're THIS
> uninsured person, they're THIS person whose home was
> foreclosed. Specificity has great power.
> On the reader side, I think people look for connection,
> some escape from solipsism, to know that they're not the
> only ones scared for the future, that they're not the
> only ones who do everything they're supposed to do and
> still fall down, that they're not the only ones who are
> starting to wonder whether their individual suffering is
> indicative of a much deeper, much more fundamental
> sickness in our society. Struggling with money, you
> focus so much on your own survival that you can feel
> very isolated and alone. Knowing others have the same
> struggle, and that they too are scared, can do much to
> ameliorate this isolation.
> Though, this is all speculation. For all I know, there's
> a lot more hand-written sign fetishists out there than I
> MJ: Priscilla, do you have a link to your own 99 Percent
> PG: I do, but this is not about me.this is about the 99
> MJ: Have you gotten many inquiries about the Tumblr, or
> any interesting messages of support or criticism?
> PG: The Huffington Post has dedicated serious resources
> to the blog, calling it a populist call to action, which
> is pretty amazing. I am amazed that the response has
> been so overwhelmingly positive. Seriously, out of all
> of the contact that we have gotten with the press and
> citizens I have received two negative comments. Try to
> find that reality anywhere on the internets. Finally, we
> have all found something that we agree on.
> MJ: How important, in your mind, has social media been
> to getting Occupy Wall Street to where it is? There's
> probably gonna be a lot of hype, in hindsight, about the
> role of social media.
> PG: I don't think this could have been possible without
> social media to link people to real information on
> wealth inequality , and to possible solutions that
> are on the table to help balance the power structure.
> Every time we go on the web, it is to learn something.
> Right now Occupy Wall Street is part of an essential
> education and conversation on wealth inequality so that
> people can bring their own demands and solutions to the
> table. It is an education that we all should have and a
> conversation that is vital to the future of this
> MJ: What are you currently doing beyond the Tumblr? Are
> you on the ramparts?
> PG: My neighbors rounded up a carload of supplies for
> the campers which I have brought. I have been sleeping
> in the park on and off, much to the amazement of my
> friends and family. I am on the edge of 40 and such
> behavior is seen as a little extreme, but we are
> fighting an extreme system, and if sleeping in a park
> will bring attention to it, then put down some cardboard
> and I will bring my sleeping bag. Other than that I am
> around, doing what I can, lending professional consult
> when asked.
> This is an occupation, and we are not leaving until
> there is systemic change. We have no choice, it is time
> to shift power away from the corporations and into the
> hands of the people whom they should be serving.
> C: I helped spearhead the food committee during the
> planning stages, which involved fundraising and securing
> material donations to get the initial supply of food,
> and helped get the main food station going when the
> occupation formally began. I say "I helped" instead of
> "I did" because none of what we have could be possible
> without the assistance of many dedicated and passionate
> people who also realized that the boring stuff is going
> to have to be taken care of if we expect this thing to
> have any legs. For the first few days, I was at the food
> station pretty much all day, every day, even sleeping
> beside it when I was camping out in the park, and got
> people to help me mostly on an ad hoc basis. Now I go to
> the camp right after work, changing in the bathroom, to
> find five or six experienced people already at the
> station and keeping things under control. At this point,
> I mainly play a support role, helping prep food, going
> on supply runs, organizing food donations, and keeping
> people informed of what the food station needs.
> Incidentally, the way the food station has evolved is
> pretty much nothing like how I initially imagined it
> would be. This is a good thing: It means that it can,
> theoretically, go on without me. We want to avoid
> concentrations of power as much as we can. If the entire
> thing collapses if one person happens to leave, we know
> we've failed. As it is right now, amazing things are
> happening there, and it's all because of the ideas of
> people who've volunteered their time and efforts to
> making sure everyone is fed.
> MJ: Where do things go from here?
> C: Truthfully, I don't know. I don't think anyone really
> knows. What I'd like to see is something that gets
> people to question some of the fundamental assumptions
> that they make about the way the economic system works,
> and to take action when those assumptions no longer
> satisfy. Whether this takes the form of global non-
> violent revolution, or just something that gets people
> to challenge their worldview, the important thing is to
> go as far as we can for as long as we can, and to try as
> hard as we can. Because that means the next time someone
> else is going to try harder. And then, someone else will
> try harder than that. Until, eventually, we win.
> All photos courtesy of We Are the 99 Percent .
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