“Participant reporter”

Another topic that came up at Sunday’s Commie J-School, mostly as people introduced themselves, was that of the roles and labels we choose for ourselves. “Advocacy journalist,” “citizen journalist” and “citizen reporter” are some of those used. A major network reporter once derisively called us “iPhone journalists,” a term I find quite apt and endearing.

For the first time ever, the tools to report facts, opinions and analysis using print, video, photography and graphic art, both recorded and live, are in the hands of virtually anyone with a modest income. This is revolutionary and is an integral part of both the open, transparent character of Occupy and a harbinger of the emerging hyper-networked democratic society. The means prefigure the ends.

Read more, this one is shorter than the previous, really

Commie J-School in Oakland

Last Sunday, I was one of 11 people who attended what got nicknamed “Commie J-School” in Mosswood Park in Oakland. Initiated by two of Occupy Oakland’s most active reporters, journalist and cartoonist Susie Cagle and journalist and journalism teacher Justin Beck ( @susie_c and @pixplz respectively on Twitter), it was billed on the Facebook page as

A workshop on journalism law, ethics, best practices, tips & tricks. We’ll cover livestreaming, tweeting, blogging, photographing, interviewing, investigating, and the tools needed/best used for all.

That, of course, sounds like a couple years’ worth of journalism school curriculum, not a two-hour workshop. Nevertheless, quite a bit of ground did get covered as it applies to amateur, citizen and freelance journalists covering topics like, but not limited to, Occupy Oakland.

Read the rest of this fabulous post

OPD 6. Occupy Oakland 0

Last night’s “fuck the police” march in the streets of Oakland ran its predictable course. I was out of town, but wouldn’t have gone anyway. Instead, I watched @OakFoSho’s livestream while sorting a couple boxes of receipts in preparation for this year’s taxes. It was a good way to double-task and feel like I was at least accomplishing something while watching Occupy Oakland accomplish nothing. At least nothing I could see. (Scroll through the videos on that link to the 1/7/12 FTP march videos, where you can watch the whole thing.)

The crowd gathered, marched to the jail, set a toy fire in the street, threw a few rocks and bottles, screamed at the cops a lot, made embarrassingly empty threats, got herded around a bit, ran when the cops advanced and eventually ended up at the Plaza.
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FTP march in Oakland

9:30pm, Saturday, January 7th, 2012

My prediction for tonight’s “fuck the police” march in Oakland: If people don’t engage in significant vandalism or attacks on cops, they cops will largely ignore the protest and let it spend itself. So far, they’ve let people take the streets and I think this will continue. I think they’ll even ignore minor property damage, like they ignored the bottles and rocks thrown at them. I think the cops will mostly try to avoid conflict tonight, even while many in the crowd are trying to provoke it.

The cops have generally shown that they have a better grasp of effective tactics than Occupy Oakland. They attack when they have the upper hand, exploiting us in weak positions, where we mostly play right into their hands. (See my posts here and here.) While the marchers tonight will never “win” over the OPD, arrests or tear gas right now would play into the confrontation that the protesters want. I think that the cops recognize this fact and will go out of their way to avoid it. There are also a few too many people to easily arrest or disperse them all.

If people do get excessively violent or destructive, I think the cops will go for focused arrests or kettling and group arrests, but will still try to avoid beating or gassing people.

So, let’s see how it goes. If you see this tonight, you can watch @OakFoSho’s livestream here http://bit.ly/yEyOFh It will also be archived on the site.

That’s my prediction. Who’s taking bets?

(Whatever happens, stay classy folks.)

Update: As of 10:30pm, I was partly right/partly wrong. They did go for focused arrests as opposed to arbitrary ones, but also beat numerous other people, threw people off bikes, shot one shot-bag weapon and kettled people for a while without arresting them. Now people are in the Plaza, with many cops in the area. We’ll see if they try to clear the plaza.

As I was watching this all go down on @OakFoSho’s livestream, it appeared to me that the cops were being the kind of stupid and unnecessarily violent that I expected they wouldn’t be. Right now, I’m hoping people will just call it a night and filter out of the plaza before the cops clear it out.

More on gadgets for “Drone Journalism”

The previous post got a friend and I talking on Google+ this morning. He suggested RC blimps as platforms for live aerial videography. It’s an intriguing thought. Since a helium-filled blimp is self-lifting, much less power is needed, thereby vastly extending battery life and aloft-time. It would also be a very quiet and stable platform, especially for long, static events like large demonstrations that don’t involve a fast-paced march. Keep reading, there’s way more

Update on previous post “Drone Journalism—Occupy Airspace”

According to an article on Alternet, Occupy Wall Street livestreamer Tim Pool is using a Parrot AR drone to livestream aerial images of protests, exactly what I’d been fantasizing about in my previous post on the topic.

Parrot AR drone

(Okay, well, not exactly. See further down in the post for “exactly”.)

The small, lightweight, four-rotor craft is controlled with an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch or Android phone. Two cameras, one facing down and the other facing forward, are built in, allowing control from your phone’s touch video screen. keep reading, more cool videos and stuff

iPhone Journalism

“I call them ‘iPhone journalists,'” one corporate news reporter said derisively to another, describing the crowd of us citizen reporters at the November 14th eviction of Occupy Oakland.

In the pre-dawn hours of November 14th, 2011, the Occupy Oakland encampment experienced its second eviction. This one was less traumatic than the previous one, partly because we all knew it was coming, partly because the cops exercised a bit more restraint—refraining from tear gas and steel-shot-bag guns, for example—and partly because they came in with such overwhelming numbers that any active confrontation would be pointless.

I was awakened by my phone buzzing with texts about the raid from street-medic comrades, but by the time I got there, the area was sealed-off two blocks away on all sides but one. I made my way through the buildings to the south of the Plaza and ended up on 14th Street, west of Broadway, directly across from the tree that was still occupied by Running Wolf as the last arrestees were brought out without incident. Continue reading

Some practical, tactical tips for livestreamers.

It’s here, in the palms of our hands, what military strategists and other organizers have dreamed about for millennia: instant, live, visual communications across any distance. People in ancient times used to consult oracles and pray to deities for the power that we now have in smartphones with livestreaming capability.

I’ve written elsewhere about how I think livestreaming video capability is game-changing in terms of social movements, so I won’t repeat it here, instead focusing on some ways to improve the quality and utility of the livestreams.

The streams I’ve watched range from excellent (shout-out to @Oakfosho), to unwatchable. We have to remember that we’re the eyes for the world. When people chant “The whole world is watching!”—they’re watching through us. Continue reading

Drone Journalism—Occupy Airspace

This is a wild ideas I was going to pursue in advance of Monday’s port shut down action. Since I won’t have time for it, I’m putting it out to the world to see if it “flies.”

We’ve got livestreaming, realtime video of most of our actions now, but imagine if we had it from a small, radio-controlled helicopter. Continue reading