Instapundit linked to an article about the Tea Parties, and the tech that they’re using:
In the latest example of how user-produced media can capture so-called “massively-shared” events in a way mainstream media can’t, a wave of images, blog posts and videos from a nationwide protest has been washing across the Web. The protests, dubbed “tea parties” by participants, were held Friday in several U.S. cities including Portland and Washington, D.C. as a response to what demonstrators see as unfettered spending and encroaching government as represented by President Obama’s economic recovery plans.
Though even a year ago it would’ve been a slow and difficult process to chronicle a widely scattered protest such as this, the online community is now mastering the art of high-speed media sharing, a trend that can unite geographically disparate communities via the Web. Much of the sharing is now facilitated by the fast-growing messaging site Twitter, where today the keyword “teaparty” was one of the most frequently used terms. Users sent out a flurry of updates about attendance, links to photos on Flickr and Photobucket, and videos on YouTube and other sites.
The protests appeared to be rather small and did not attract much coverage in the mainstream new media. But interested observers had a remote window into the activities taking place in cities such as Tulsa, Okla., Austin, Texas, Nashville, Chicago, Lansing, Mich., Houston, Hartford, Conn., and Los Angeles, where a group that gathered this morning on the Santa Monica pier. (This blog reports that, as a part of that action, former “Saturday Night Live” actor Victoria Jackson read the definition of “socialism”).
If you’re a reader of science fiction – and by the way, you should be; you’re in the future now, baby, and those people were the ones thinking about what it was going to look like while the rest of the population was watching sitcoms – you’re probably thinking about Larry Niven’s “flash mob” phenomenon right now. For those of you who don’t, Niven worked out (several decades ago) that any kind of instantaneous or near-instantaneous, interactive form of communication would result in situations where interesting events would spawn crowds out of nowhere, with the lag time being dependent on how easy it was to actually get there. Niven used cheap and easy commercial teleportation as his communications method – but it turns out that our current growing network of real-time online commenting and posting will work just more or less as well (better in some ways, worse in others).
The question becomes, what now? The model clearly works, but how do we get it to 10K a rally instead of .5-1K (10K is not the goal, either: it’s merely an arbitrary Step 2). That’s an excellent question, and I’m sure that there are several dozen people out there who want to answer it: not being one of the ones who can, I suggest that you go over to the people who are actually emerging as the leaders of this new movement and help them figure it out. I further suggest – heck, implore – that the people who don’t think that they have the answer, but do have decent organizational skills, do the same thing; there’s never enough of them in a movement, and one person who can run a meeting is worth five who can make semi-clever comments on the Internet.
I include myself in that last snark, by the way.
PS: I think that I’ve mentioned the Larry Niven thing before.
Crossposted to Moe Lane.