Portland Antiwar Rally Goes Wireless

from the hello,-smart-mob dept

We’ve discussed the idea of “Smart Mobs” before and now read Howard Rheingold’s SmartMobs blog on the subject regularly. So, it shouldn’t be a surprise that there’s more evidence every day of the concept catching on. The latest is that anti-war protestors in Portland used text messaging to keep themselves informed as to what was happening where. They used a fairly simple system (involving a human middleman). Anyone who was interested could sign up on the web to receive alerts. Then, anyone on the street could send alerts to a guy sitting by a computer, who would turn around and blast those messages out to everyone on the list – telling them where marchers were headed, or where police were. No matter what your opinion of the protestors are, it is fascinating to watch this type of communication in action.

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Comments on “Portland Antiwar Rally Goes Wireless”

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dorpus says:

Witnessed it myself

I was at the antiwar rally in SF two weeks ago and tailed the Black Bloc anarchists. They had cell phones and walkie talkies. The SF police has decades of experience handling protestors, so they know how to avoid looking bad on camera — they’d arrest only one or two protestors at a time, avoiding use of batons or tear gas.

I watched a fascinating choreography of riot police squads split up into 3 or 4 groups and converge on Black Block mobs. The cops knew how to come around a corner to surprise the mob. The mob would panic and disperse, then re-materialize on another street corner. The dance went on for hours, travelling right through the tourist district of SF. It was a somewhat anti-climactic affair. Both sides were locked in a kind of moving stalemate.

dorpus says:

And in Tokyo...

When I went to a bar tonight, an American who works for “Peace Boat” walked in — some sort of leftist organization that hosts boat cruises to promote intercultural exchanges. (I laughed out loud when he told me that, which almost led to a fight.) I overheard leftists here saying that the cops are employing the reverse technology, where plainclothes officers blend into a mob and snatch away known troublemakers at the first sign of trouble.

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