Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Thoughts on my support of #occupy, as a software developer

Tomorrow, November 2nd, there is going to be a general strike in Oakland. Though I support #occupy, I'm not going to be on strike, for a few reasons:

  1. I also support the organization I'm working for, think they're doing good work, and feel that it is not incongruous with #occupy (though it's certainly not the same)
  2. I don't actually work in Oakland
Even though I'm not striking, I feel I can use my time and my skills at my job to help out.  I've been inspired by the work of some of my colleagues in helping to create design artifacts for use by #occupy-ers.  Here's a list of a few of the things I may be doing, and you might consider as well.
  • Help out #occupy tech support.  I've come across requests from several #occupy communities for additional IT hands (I don't know whether there is a central place where these requests are posted). If you feel so inclined, volunteer a little time to maintaining an #occupy web site, or posting minutes, etc. (if anyone knows more about what tech needs #occupy communities have, please speak up).
  • Help create logistical tools. The #occupy communities that I've seen are little micro-societies and, like any society, have a number of logistical considerations and concrete needs. Are there tools that could help? For instance, I liked the idea of needsoftheoccupiers which they described as "a wedding registry meets Freecycle for the Occupy movement".
  • Do something creative/educational/inspirational. #Occupy has people paying [at least superficial] attention to issues of economic [in]equality and social participation.  That doesn't happen too often, so take advantage of it by creating a visualization or an info-app that awakens peoples imagination and helps them see things that they wouldn't normally.  Things like BankMigration map and Slavery Footprint come to mind.
If you'd like to brainstorm or help out, I'm going to start a list of potential projects here, and I'll be in #occupyoakland on irc.indymediaorg tomorrow.  There are also other projects listed at OccupyHack and on github.


Something else that could perhaps use some help:
  • @benzotweet is "trying to develop a database solution for occupy... crazy requirements! no training, role based security, decentralized... #wiki?"
Also, for some inspiration, a quote from Justin Tunney (who appears to have done a lot of work on the #ows site, which is an impressive bit of code itself):
"This isn't a protest, it's a revolutionary movement empowering people to create their own change. ...We're trying to encourage people to organize and create their own change outside of the existing establishment through direct action."
Update 2:

An interesting idea for a project that came up last night: log tweets tagged with "#occupy..." that have pictures, pull out the geo exif data, and put it on a live-updating map ... kinda like http://www.artmapper.org/ (source at https://github.com/mertonium/muralmapper).

Update 3:

To stay abreast of tech-related opportunities to support #occupy, join the occupyhack googlegroup.

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