One of the most amazing events of election night was likely missed by many viewers if they were not tuned in to Fox News Channel at just the right time. In the video below Fox News political analyst, former Bush senior adviser, and the man behind the Super PAC Crossroads GPS, argues with network’s decision to call Ohio for the incumbent.
Karl Rove on Fox News Election Night
What appears to happen is that Rove overrides the messages coming from the directors and sends Megyn Kelly on a bizarre journey deep into the bowels of the network to confront the back-end analysts who are making the state calls. The whole episode is notable since it is obviously unscripted and offers a glimpse into the way media outlets stage manage election nights. Continue reading
As you may have heard on the news, or perhaps from a co-worker, August 1 was Chik-fil-a appreciation day. This was an event driven by backlash against the perceived stifling of the Dan Cathy’s (the president and CEO of the company) right to express his opinion on gay marriage (he is very much opposed). His comments spurred several gay rights groups to call for a boycott of Chik-fil-a. While the verdict is still out on the boycott it did have one major unintended effect, mobilizing opposition. To show support for Chik-fil-a, and Mr. Cathy’s comments hundreds of thousands of supporters showed up to purchase something from their local restaurant setting a single day sales record for the corporation. This story struck me for two very differnet reasons, the first is how tactics and strategy align to create success or failure for a movement, and the second is how social media played in this situation.
Living in Tampa and working in a criminology department I’ve been in a position to hear quite a bit about the preparations for the upcoming Republican National Convention in downtown Tampa this August. Over the past few months there have been several reports on the large budget, especially the possibility for long term public surveillance expenditures, and of the disappointment by the city council and police over the denial of airborne drones for the event. Lost in the discussions over how much, and what new toys local and federal agencies will have has been the ability of the protestors to actually protest in a meaningful way during this event. It almost seems as though it’s an afterthought, with local law enforcement I spoke to saying the intention is to keep the protesters as far away from the convention as possible. Continue reading
This week several major media outlets (NPR, BBC, CSM, Al Jazeera) are offering retrospectives of various kinds of the wave of protests that began roughly a year ago in the Middle East and North Africa. Coined as the ‘Arab Spring’ these protests were initially hailed as a wave of nonviolent social change, and proof that democracy and peaceful protest could take root in historically authoritarian regimes, challenging the more conflict based approaches of groups such as Hamas. Continue reading
Sometime today several prominent websites will be down, they will, in effect, ‘go dark’. This will not be due to some outside hacking attack, or internal technical difficulties, but rather in solidarity to a planned day of outages in protest against the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Acts currently being considered by the Congress. These pieces of legislation are considered problematic by many for the ability they would confer on government and large rightsholder monopolies to stifle innovation and ‘blacklist’ websites that may have content found to be objectionable in a broadly construed sense of what counts as objectionable.
In protest of this coalition of sites, many major web services such as Wikipedia, will be going dark to raise awareness of these bills. This represents the most widespread usage this novel tactic of the information age.
While the OWS (and affiliated Occupies) have taken up a great deal of our space here during the first month of the blog it has been good to see that many of my colleagues have been making connections between Occupy and other movements. My own interest was piqued by this piece in Wired’s Threat Level blog on a State Department funded initiative at the New America Foundation aimed at supporting democratic protestors but which is using the Occupy movement as a test bed for their technology.
The idea is to create a portable wireless communications and internet network that activists could use to coordinate activity and disseminate news and accounts in a way that gets around media filters and state censorship regimes; think of some of the censorship that occurred during the Arab Spring and the problems that protestors in places like China and Iran still have to find a way around. The problem faced by this initiative, as well as many attempts to bring complex and delicate technologies into places that may not have the infrastructure, or even an hostile infrastructure, is the number of problems that arise in real-world situations that are difficult to predict or model in a lab.
By using Occupy the researchers are able to gain some real world experience for how their technologies may be used (so far not so well) but it also raises issues of who should have control of this technology and whether a planned sort of technology like this is better at addressing this sort of problem than DIY hacks and local work-a rounds.
I know I’m not unique in having had students, friends, and family ask questions about the Occupy movement over the past few months. And by far the most common question I get is, “what do they want/why are they angry?” And the answer, as it is so often, is a complex one. But new economic data is starting to fill in this picture of ‘why’ and ‘what’ by showing, as Michael Mandel does, that many of the participants of the Occupy protests, young adults who are either still in school or recently graduated, are driven by the simple fact that their prospects are dwindling.