In contemplating my own research agenda, I was hoping to discuss the ways in which community is structured around technologies, inspired by a reading by Pingree and Gitelman, in which the discuss the diverse and obsolete technologies and the communities that are formed around them.
In looking at the current state of Occupy and the dissipating interest in the general public, it’s difficult to imagine how quickly the momentum of such a seemingly powerful protest movement and general experiment in democratic participation could evaporate. There are no major positive changes in our social and political reality. There were superficial social changes from Obama “supporting” gay marriage and passing a bill to help a limited number of immigrant students, yet for the most part the situation is continuously volatile.
) It’s possible that the current election cycle is sucking up political attention towards the basic mechanizations of the two party system, which has caused people to realign or re-situate themselves in their past, pacified practices; 2) It’s possible that people expected a much larger structural upheaval or “regime change” as perceived in Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia; 3)It’s possible that sustained attention and commitment to any ongoing political movement is impossible due to a general schizophrenia or ADD in our population; 4)This later fact combined with the overwhelmingly complex mechanizations of society and capital that seems impenetrably specialized; 5)What was stimulating to initial participants was the consensus-building and direct participation which eventually became too cumbersome or on the other end begin to break down and form leadership around affinity groups and committees. The hope is that the radicalization of so much of the population will remain a growing “virus” so to speak with the imaginations and political consciousness of the population. If anything it’s make very explicit the systematic failures that underline our economic structure while rallying around an argument of fairness against the illusion of meritocracy, most notably with the 99% moniker. In some ways the fear is that this has only loosely been co-opted by the Obama machine in separating himself from the corporate elitism of the Romney campaign, though his position was equally as focused on social stratification (or class war under the language of Fox news, etc) before Occupy came into existence. It was interesting actually to think back on the debates around tax increases/reliefs around the time leading up to OWS.
Positive elements about the Occupy movement could also be the strengthening or formation of new activist networks, where often Occupy attempts to build relationships with Union, Illegal Labor, Women’s rights groups, etc, some of which was already in existence while others are forming new networks. The ideal hope is that it continues to spread along the base or social lining, taking deeper route. But how again to create such a force, such a momentum. Maybe it will not come again in the form of Occupy, that ideal has already been lived through the mobilizations and buzzings of populations moving as fast as their twitter feeds and ustreams would allow to connect and then respond. The new movement may not be so “vague” as a centralized protests but rather the ticking time bomb of multiple networks now primed and their positions/demands concretized after a year plus of dialogues, critical reflections, and networking.
How does my own research go about to solve this problem? I cannot sit alone and read loosely the data of online media sources. I should also converse with those still active and participating. What are the next steps?