Way too many words, on Transparency, Surveillance and the Power of Streaming Media

It’s a crazy late, I’ve been at my computer for over 14 hrs and I’m tired as shit…but I know that if I don’t put my thoughts down now and finish this piece, I’m NOT gonna be able to sleep anyway. So away away I go, deep into the latest Occupy can of worms about livestreaming, and debates about transparency, security and privacy. I’m pretty emotional right now, but fortunately wrote most of this yesterday in a more thoughtful state.

Today has been a day full of conflict, anger, tears and laughter. My brain hurts from multitasking – meetings, conversations, actions, streams. Sometimes it hurts just from the mental coordination, others it’s because my heart is so deeply in it. How much I want things to change. How strongly I feel about issues like racism and misogyny and capitalism and hate, and how clear some things seem to me. If you’ve only met me, you probably think I’m harsh and bitchy. If you know me, you know I am that…and more. I hold real solidarity in the highest regard and will speak out and challenge shit I find hurtful and oppressive. I also love deeply, have endless patience with people who have good hearts and make a sincere effort for personal and social change, and sometimes am even able come around to seeing when I am the asshole in a situation. It’s with this love, honesty and fighting spirit that I write.

I want to start by saying that I have mad respect and appreciation for most of the streamers I’ve met through chatting/tweeting in streams, and while engaging in roundtable meetings. Despite my positive feelings about individuals , some of what I have to say may feel like an attack on all livestreamers. I ask everyone to read with an open mind and understand that I am just trying to expand the dialogue about how we ALL engage in Occupy and activism, and that livestreamers happen to be in a very visible, unique (and powerful) position.

I’d also like to acknowledge that emotions are running super-high on these issues. Recent debates and Twitter wars have been full of sarcasm, hostility, defensiveness. People are tired, hurt, disillusioned, frustrated and resentful. Comments and debate feel like personal attacks because activism IS intensely personal. We have ALL been working fucking hard for months, putting in countless hours, personal funds, sacrificing family time, losing sleep, jobs, homes, often relationships while confronting the police state. Many of us feel the need to defend our views because they reflect concrete concerns for the safety and wellbeing of our friends and comrades. Lots of shit has happened to cause mistrust of the livestream process. Streamers have been threatened. Occupiers have been threatened. Both have been disrespected (remembering of course that many are Streamers/Occupiers at the same time). People have been assaulted, arrested, incarcerated – in one case some feel strongly that this was connected to livestream footage being used as evidence against Occupiers. We know there is a least some level of Cointelpro happening, simply because there couldn’t NOT be. The whole attack on Tim Pool by a masked (then unmasked) man seemed a pretty obvious example of such tactics, in my opinion. Trust is low, emotions and righteousness high.

My hope is that if we try to remember we’re all humans who give a shit, while also being willing to accept critique and challenge, Occupy might avoid becoming paralyzed over differences and come to terms on this issue.The following are some observations and analyses I’d like to offer to the conversation. To be clear, I am not currently a streamer or physical Occupier due to limitations of disability and geography. My perspectives come from being involved in activism for over 20 years (including direct action) and from participating in online Occupy organising nearly full-time since Oct.

1. How the Cult of the individual has impacted Livestreaming: The insidious separation between “streamer” and “Occupy”

My personal feeling is that this disconnect has been a major underlying factor in creating resentment, division, anger, hurt and defiance. In what so many have joyfully embraced as a horizontal movement, streamers have become the accepted “faces of Occupy” to many. We know them by their first name, they give interviews and presentations about Occupy, they have massive followers on Twitter and personal websites and channels. Some have become celebrities and public figures whether they wished for it or not. People call them heroes, gush, and disproportionately credit the success of Occupy to livestreamers – minimizing the efforts of thousands of others off-camera in a dynamic system of occupying, organizing, communication and direct action. In less and less instances are there livestream TEAMS connected to an Occupy, funded through, and accountable to a GA or other group. Streamers are now (in most cases) freelance – “citizen journalists”, the “new media” – whether working closely with an Occupy or not. This disconnect (which 1st happened with Tim Pool, and at the time didn’t seem so problematic to most) has brought to the surface questions of power and privilege in both the framing of the message, and the opportunity to participate in livestreaming.

In some instances, the separation has been functional and worked well. Ethical questions remain, however, about whether promoting individual streamers or activists is antithetical to Occupy. I raise this here not as an attack on streamers, but as a fundamental question for Occupy, in the USA in particular where the freelance phenomenon is most prevalent. Is fundraising for individuals via WePay and public donations diverting money from community Occupy projects (direct action, feeding homeless folks etc)? Or does the independent fundraising take pressure OFF local Occupies to maintain a livestream? Streamers (whether they identify as Occupiers or not) work CRAZY hard and put themselves in harm’s way to show the world what is happening. I feel they should be appreciated and thanked for their contributions. But the question arises – are their contributions any more important than OTHER activists/Occupiers who work tirelessly every day, and many who also put their bodies on the line?

Shifting to a freelance model has afforded a small group of people the opportunity to use their own funds, as well as donations to buy equipment (which they then own), travel cross country and internationally, to stream,learn and skill share with each other. None of these things are inherently negative. It’s been through the motivation and dedication of numerous people deciding to stream that many of us have been able to witness first hand the work of Occupy around the world. My question is: Who is being left out? Who cannot access these opportunities? Wasn’t the idea at one time to teach everybody to stream, so people could participate locally and be empowered to witness and frame their own Occupy narrative? In a freelance individual system we leave out folks who cannot afford their own tech and/or who are not fundraising savvy. Unfortunately, these are often the voices/perspectives that are the most marginalised to begin with. In a freelance system without equal access, we also end up concentrating the power of livestreaming/media in a small number of hands which almost always proves to be problematic.

What’s most concerning to me is that while we clearly want as many people, views and perspectives as possible involved in livestreaming, there is no ethical code or accountability structure. Some people see themselves as journalists – whether they have any knowledge, understanding or commitment to journalistic ethics or not. (Though many do) Some Occupiers and streamers believe anyone recording anything amounts to free speech, with no analysis of power. In some cases, livestreamers are not guided by, or accountable to, a GA or another Occupy group. So, not only is access to livestreaming somewhat privileged, anyone with that smart phone and financial support can go into any community (whether invited/welcomed or not) and proclaim themselves a citizen journalist, uniquely equipped to get the real story. This is not only privileged access to media creation, but in some cases an extension of imperialism, racism and colonization in controlling the narrative. Also disturbing are reports of individuals planning to secretly film communities and Occupy events. Clearly, there are all kinds of fucked up power relations at work here. This goes far beyond any single streamer or Occupier imo, we all have a responsibility to think about our relationship to a community , as well as the impact of our presence and actions. I think we all need to be able to self-reflect, and we also need to be able to call bullshit.

2. Streamers, Occupiers, Occustreamers and more

Another matter causing confusion, friction and huge mistrust between folks on each side of the transparency debate is that. *not all livestreamers are the same*. Many are also Occupiers themselves who see their role as being there to support and protect activists, and show the world what is happening – live. Others envision their role to be that of an objective, neutral, outside observer. (Which I don’t see as entirely possible since filming always involves a degree of subjectivity) Regardless, folks are expecting the same principles of solidarity and alliance from ALL streamers who may or may not be similarly politically motivated. On the flipside some non-Occupy livestreamers expect to be treated differently than other media, be given free rein to film, participate, question and access Occupy resources and intel.

Personally, I’m not comfortable unquestioningly supporting anyone – livestreamer or not. Not all streamers have their shit together politically imo – sometimes causing harm and replicating oppressive relationships – while some are some of the most kickass activists I’ve met. I base my own opinion and level of trust based upon their individual actions and choices when filming, and the message they each choose to communicate. Point is, lets not judge all streamers as one, and streamers, don’t expect that acceptance or criticism of one, means acceptance or criticism of all. Some of us will have significant political disagreements, and some of us simply wont like each other. Occupiers – if you have a hate on for all streamers and zero trust, they might not be there when we need them the most. Streamers – if you blindly support each other as a group, your credibility is affected and people lose trust.

3. Transparency, Security, Privacy and Current Surveillance State

The best piece I’ve seen so far on this discussion/debate is from Adam Rothstein: Transparency vs. Security: The Two-Headed Beast

Once a camera is placed between people, the power dynamics DO change. We are all acclimated to some extent, to the current surveillance state. We are constantly on camera in urban areas, walking, at bank machines, driving a vehicle, at the 7-11. In some ways we’ve gotten used to it and this fact has become normalised. I’ve heard the argument from a streamer that cameras are everywhere, so they should be able to stream. I understand that argument, on the surface. But it also presumes that govt/private surveillance is acceptable to begin with. A similar argument is saying it’s legal to record, as if law implies right – often then becoming a competition of rights within an already oppressive system.

The transparency debate has been particularly interesting to me in that people seem entrenched in their positions and have been retreating to absolutes. “Everything and anything can be filmed, we are being transparent” vs. “Don’t film anything because it’s not the public (or govt’s) business.” Personally, I see how livestreams are important and useful to film actions, events and cops in particular. I also see the need for discretion, and respect for privacy. With regard to streaming illegal activities @roamingradical said it pretty concisely the other night on Twitter “yo, streamers. please don’t record ppl breaking laws. yo, ppl breaking laws. please look a-fucking-round before you do it. #problemsolved.” Fact is, people *choose* what to stream, how, when and why – whether they are conscious of it or not. Just like MSM, streamers get to decide what is most important/relevant to film, what to leave out, and what narrative they are going to participate in and create. Intention and perspective cannot be removed from that choice. There is no single reality/fact/truth, just the ability of a participant (incl witnesses) to interpret, frame, describe and assign meaning to what is being filmed. This is done even without commentary – simply by pointing a camera.

A much less talked about aspect of transparency is accountability. To whom are we accountable, how and why? Somewhere along the way, the value of transparency in gov’t became applicable to Occupy. At first glance it makes sense – let’s be exactly what the govt is NOT. Let’s have open communication, accountability through GA’s, integrity and honesty. And it worked for awhile. Kinda. But even then the meaning/discussion was about being transparent and accountable to each other thru a governance process. Transparency meant people being able to share knowledge, get involved, make decisions collectively, avoiding hierarchy and conflicts of interest. Finances were to be open, minutes of meetings available. The debate about transparency meaning “all people/activities could be filmed at all times.” was only starting. Within the conversations I was involved in at the time, the question first came up with regards to direct action planning and secret meetings. Should people be able to plan occupations and actions outside of the GA? How can successful actions happen if cops know our every move? Should we stream the actual (breaking?) entering into a building for occupiers to see first hand? Tough questions that only seemed to get more contentious when D/A included squatting, barricading, fires to dispel gas, and black bloc tactics. As physical camps were raided and GA’s became (seemingly) less integral to organising actions, transparency quickly became about legality, cops, security and risk, with folks strongly divided. Occupies were no longer working so much in an accountability structure of transparency as a legal one. Real life consequences of arrest, incarceration, trumped up charges and criminalisation of protest were brought to the forefront and how some occupiers were disproportionately at risk if identified on film. (People with criminal records/warrants, undocumented immigrants, high profile activists and runaways, for example). That bizarre incident of someone in a black mask attacking Tim Pool in NYC happened and many started blaming “the anarchists”. It became “You’re either with the streamers or your against us”, and “You’re either with the anarchists, or your with the cops”. And folks are still throwing daggers each way because in debating transparency (and tactics, they’ve pretty much been joined together in this) we are talking about things like privilege, risk, fear, and intense racism and repression within a police state. I think many Occupiers are wondering how transparency without accountability is any different from surveillance.

A discussion of transparency vs security (and privacy) in such a police state, also needs to acknowledge and consider that many marginalized communities and neighbourhoods are constantly surveilled and may not welcome cameras, whether MSM or livestream. My view is that transparency should not always take precedence over privacy, and in some cases safety. An example of the (potentially) problematic nature of “anyone streaming anywhere” happened yesterday as activists occupied the Woodlawn Mental Health Centre in Chicago. Overall it was a brilliant action, and I commend the occupiers (including clients and doctors) on their tremendous heart and resolve. When I initially linked to the inside stream however, it was not made explicitly clear whether or not the people inside had given permission to film, knew they were being livestreamed or were involved in the organising. Only after asking the question repeatedly and engaging in some intense, emotional back and forth in the Ustream did I get some confirmation that these folks had indeed given permission to film. When I first raised the question, I was shocked how it was brushed off by some saying “well they see the camera” and “it’s a public building”. It struck me just how far we had moved from the notion of valuing dignity and privacy to a demand of right-to-know. Just because something is legal, doesn’t make it ethical. Recipients of mental health services are some of the most marginalised people in our society – often homeless or living in poverty, frequently dismissed, scorned, feared and at the mercy of the state for essential health programs. Many folks are tracked, restricted, frequently assaulted and arrested, and in some cases forcefully medicated. Their rights to privacy, dignity and security of person are violated as a matter of course. That is NOT to say people with mental illness do not have important things to share, the ability to organise, or the power to Occupy and fight back. The deep concern for me in this situation was about privacy, informed consent, and subjectivity/control of the narrative. Too often activist groups have gone into communities claiming to know “what’s best” for that community and how to achieve it, effectively objectifying and other-ing a group and denying their experience, agency and right to tell the story in their way.

I also think we need to realise that in a racist police state non-residents coming into a community and filming may be met with suspicion or hostility – especially since actions often bring the police. Filming folks on the street without their permission may incite anger since privacy is routinely denied to those who are poor or homeless. (Think about it – we’re in their living room) These reactions should are to be expected as normal responses in our fucked up society. None of this means don’t livestream, but that all of our activities (incl direct action, occupations, streams, marches) should consider the needs of those most at risk of direct harm as a result of our methods and choices. I would also suggest that if a streamer is not prepared to be challenged by individuals being filmed, that they may want to consider streaming primarily non direct-action events. I believe that we should ALWAYS be looking out for each other and have each others backs, preferably working in teams or affinity groups during actions, for safety. Still, protest and streaming in public inherently involves risk, I think we have a responsibility to be aware our own comfort levels with confrontation and quickly changing circumstances , and participate accordingly.

4. Masks, Tactics and Alliances

This discussion belongs in the debate on transparency because it’s the clearest example of how we often frame “transparency” according to our ethics and politics of the moment. So much of this discussion has been centred around concerns of being recorded and identified on livestreams for legal and political reasons. There have reportedly been threats made to livestreamers by masked individuals, creating a hostile and apprehensive climate. Some folks believe that if you’re going to participate in an action, you should be “transparent” and show your face, so categorically do not accept or respect masked tactics. They could be cops! (So could that hipster over there…oh wait) They are anarchists! (actually no, that one WAS a cop…) There has been an unfortunate (and I would wager calculated) cultivation of mistrust for masked activists and anonymous tactics in many Occupies. Transparency has also come to equate “legal” for a vocal few in this movement. I’ve seen statements of folks who think any illegal activity is morally wrong, and should be filmed. These proponents also believe all protest should occur within the permits and confines of the current laws. Others have said they heard that if they saw illegal activity and didn’t film it they are then at risk of being charged with conspiracy. This threat, in particular, is a known tactic to frighten both livestreamers and activists away from political organising. Again, I suggest we all participate in ways that we are comfortable, knowing the risks to ourselves AND others.

Something that’s really ironic to me is the disconnect between the incredible popularity and respect people have for Anonymous who engage in similar tactics, and the vilification of direct action approaches involving masks, black bloc, or monkeywrenching. Both strategically employ anonymity, secrecy, in some cases affinity groups, and at times, technically illegal activity. All with the goal of disruption-as-social change. I saw a tweet the other night that said something like “if you mess with a streamer, u mess with a hive”, and I thought. Hmmm.. that’s weird coming from an Anon. I sensed that blind allegiance “all streamers are one” idea again. That regardless of their choices and conduct, streamers needs/feelings/views/safety override those of another Occupier/activist/citizen – even when it’s with regards to anonymity, a basic premise of Anon. Obviously, I DO NOT think its OK for livestreamers or other Occupiers to be threatened or assaulted, but I also think streamers need to try and respect the needs of others, and to expect anger and resistance when they do not. I’ve noticed that most streamers are paying attention to this shifting need and have been responding, using creative strategies and quick thinking to adjust camera angles, and action plans. And I applaud and thank them for that.

Occupy has been successful thus far because of the hard work, fearlessness, and amazing contributions of physical and online occupiers, livestreamers, folks doing communications support, and community members sharing resources of money, food, skills, love and hope. Political organising has ALWAYS involved controversy and arguments over tactics, politics and priorities and I don’t see that changing. This basic tendency toward conflict will also continue to be exploited by the gov’t, corporations and Cointelpro to create divisions and mistrust. My belief /hope is if we can challenge ourselves and each other with real honesty, humility and respect we will be one step closer to developing strategies for real liberation for all.


31 thoughts on “Way too many words, on Transparency, Surveillance and the Power of Streaming Media

  1. I, too, was concerned about the mental patients. I wondered if they were participating freely of their own will. Generally, it is considered unethical to show seriously ill mental patients on camera, because they are often considered unable to give consent; many are wards of the state or have guardians. On the other hand, the standard in international law is that the mentally ill have the right to public assembly and protest. This issue is of utmost importance to the patients, and so they should be able to protest it. Of course, the method of protest was illegal, and it may be unethical (or illegal) or reckless for clinic staff to involve patients in illegal actions.

    In this instance, I was also concerned because the patients were kept up so late, which is usually very bad for people with mental illness. Then they were arrested so late and taken to jail, where it is almost impossible to get needed medicine.

    While they were in the barricaded clinic, on the live stream video it appeared that many of the patients were sitting in chairs, zoned out. As police broke through the barricade using what appeared to be a welding torch, one man sat very nearby, seeming to not even notice the sparks shooting out.

    All in all I thought these are the patients using the clinic, the clinic is closing, and it seems like it would empower the patients to fight for what is important to them.

  2. excellent points, well said and fair. i adore the intellectual level of many in our movement, and you are one of the top tier as far as thoughts, ideas, and communicating them.

  3. Cry a fucking river. The entire ‘Occupy’ movement is a god damned joke. Nothing but a bunch of aging hippies, idiot anarchists, the occasional Communist, a metric fuckton of mindless ‘followers’, the same people who will buy -anything- as long as it’s branded with ‘controversial’ or linked to a ‘counter-culture’ and a handfull of idiotic idealists who refuse to factor in human nature.

    You idiots have -NO- fucking clue what you’re doing, you have -NO- fucking clue about public perception, you have -NO- fucking clue about your rights, where they end, why they end there and why your ‘understanding’ doesn’t change anything…you’re basically just a bunch of twits, intentionally provoking the police into doing their GOD DAMNED JOBS…and then getting mad when the people recording the shit, don’t cherry-pick and hand-edit to suit your propaganda agenda.

    When you throw that little factoid onto the ‘Occupy’ movement’s absolute -REFUSAL- to control their ranks, taking absolutely -NO- action to control the Anarchists, and even less to deal with the criminal problems surrounding every camp in the US…

    …lather in an absolute -FAILURE- to understand that no, just because the higher ups said something does -NOT- mean that rank-and-file disagrees with them and finally add the ‘Occupy’ movement’s refusal to understand that you don’t gain the support of ‘The People’ by taking actions which can only -hurt- ‘The People’ in the long run, (See: Shutting down entire shipping ports, or trying to. Closing off major intersections, causing people to be late to work, shit like that) is destined to fail…

    …and we’ve got the biggest clusterfuck of “Lets not and say we didn’t” that ever existed.

    Go home. You are unwanted, even by the people you -CLAIM- to be supporting. If this continues too much longer…’The people’ will have to take action…and I promise, it will make the way the Police are treating you guys, look like love-taps with Kid Gloves on.

  4. PS: Want to see how much ‘Occupy’ truly cares about freedom and the right to free expression? Try and write something against them on one of their blogs…and watch the censorship flow.

  5. Although I’ve only skimmed this article, I’ll add that my exhaustion with this issue is not should(n’t) we stream, it’s been the abject horror of the attitudes, disrespect and bullying that’s gone on surrounding these topics.

    Most importantly the “I’m more occupy than thou” attitude that people are bizarrely inclined to freely express, when bullying anyone that disagrees with their beliefs, that streamers should be controlled. The concept is so foreign to the underlying tenets of Occupy that it’s inconceivable that anyone would confidently wear that badge yet still consider themselves a dutiful, loyal occupier concerned with the well being of society as a whole.

    For my part, as a person organizing online support for live streamers, I have not been overlooked with these viewpoints, attitudes and bullying. In particular, there have been people that are so blinded, so utterly removed from the reality of the situation to argue that anyone participating online is a lesser-occupier, that their perception of field operations is completely devoid of concern or compassion–it’s merely passive “television”. Due to this, we cannot possibly understand or relate to the risks they take because online occupiers take no risks.

    However, nothing could be further from the truth and solidly illustrates the selfish tunnel-vision that some in occupy have allowed themselves to be enshrouded.

    A few facts to begin:

    1) Occupiers that perform field operations, related organizing and tactical teams, in nearly no reasonable or measurable way consult with or inform those that provide online support.

    2) Those providing online support (formal or otherwise) are volunteering, just like any other occupier, yet devoting the very infrastructure of their lives (e.g. equipment, utilities, home, insurance, finances, children, time, love, etc.).

    This underscores how much online supporters have invested. Essentially, we’re supporting field operations, risking literally the core of what makes up our lives, yet we absolutely have neither any control over, nor are we even informed, what it is we will be supporting. But we trust that you will do the right thing and protect us from harm. Because that’s what we’re supposed to do for one another. That’s what this movement is supposed to be about.

    Online supporters risk arrest, physical assault, confiscation of ANY property from their homes that law enforcement deems evidence, trial and imprisonment for conspiracy, collusion, aiding and abetting, accessory, extortion, confederation, interception of wire communications, computer hacking, and access device fraud – just to name a few.

    For those anxious to debunk any of the above, top-line, example charges, let’s not lose sight of the fact that law enforcement is the same everywhere, they will charge you with anything they can imagine –they’re just allegations that can be reduced later but are enough to get your arrested so they can gather evidence. Charges can come at any point in their investigations – something we supported last week could easily result in arrests months later.

    Bear in mind, most of these are Federal charges carrying terms 10 years imprisonment for a single charge. It’s nothing short of unmitigated impudence that ‘out in the field’ occupiers believe they are the only ones subject to these brutalities. It’s just you will likely never about them because we at home we have no live streaming cameras to inform you and help protect us.

  6. Like so much discussion around this topic, your blog is disappointingly vague. “People have been assaulted, arrested, incarcerated,” you write. “In one case some feel strongly that this was connected to livestream footage being used as evidence against Occupiers.”

    Why not tell us which case you mean? If you’re referring to the Occupy Oakland IceCream3 incident, please note that the video shot by streamer Bella Eiko has NOT been formally used as evidence against the accused Occupiers. To date, the only legal proceeding against them has been a preliminary hearing, where Bella’s video was NOT introduced as evidence by either prosecution or defense.

    Yet this myth continues to gain traction among paranoiac livestream opponents. Only two days ago on Twitter, Occupy Oakland’s celebrated street medic Oakland Elle alleged that OPD/DA use livestreams “to detain us” http://goo.gl/F1j20 and that streamers “get ppl arrested” http://goo.gl/ow2Se. Neither of which is true.

    It’s time for you and other critics to get specific and document your spurious charges against livestreamers. As long as you continue circulating and relying on an urban myth to justify your argument, you lose.

    • Fair enough. I did say “some feel strongly”, but guess wasnt worded as well as it could have been. Shame that you discount everything else for that tho.

  7. Wait a minute. Is that true, that Bella’s video has not actually been used as evidence? This makes me extremely angry, because virtually every person who is argued with me has claimed this “evidence” that livestreamers “hurt” the movement or “help” the police. Why is it so damn difficult for so many of these ppl is to make their points without lying? All they do is make things up in their heads, and then act like screaming the loudly enough at you will make them true. I’ve put a lot of time, energy, expense, and jeopardized my own safety as much as anyone to try and help the movement succeed. This whole episode has been an extremely demoralizing slap in the face to those of us with integrity who are actually working for something other than venting our own infantile frustrations on the nearest target of opportunity.

    • ‘This whole episode has been an extremely demoralizing slap in the face to those of us with integrity who are actually working for something other than venting our own infantile frustrations on the nearest target of opportunity.’

      perhaps those with integrity shouldnt take it as it was directed at them, then. or are you claiming that standing around with a cam magically gives one the moral highground ?

      • Yeah, that’s the ticket. Something like telling some women they can have abortions but others can’t. If you just don’t get accidentally pregnant then you won’t have anything to worry about. And God fearing women should just ignore the subject, it certainly will never affect them.

    • Except that I’ve noticed that those that have bullying on about streamer videos used to prosecute people, now have changed their tune to “that’s not what we said. our issue is that streamer videos were used to ID occupiers.”

      Clearly these people are only concerned with themselves and their egos. They can no longer be trusted.

      As I’ve said before, occupy is being taken over by #Egonauts building personal legacy, trying to print their own currency, standing on our backs. Gee, I thought that sort of corrupt establishment is what we were fighting against, not recreating it.

      • Hmmmm…not so “clearly” to me, Dharma…pretty blanket statements, to be fair. Whether streams *have* been used as evidence or *could* be, the argument is valid and has nothing to do with ego, imo.

      • Perhaps I didn’t make myself as clear as I’d thought. I’ll try to do so, briefly.

        The folks that have been bullying, browbeating and disrespecting people that liverstreamers efforts are being used as evidence to prosecute people. Except that isn’t true and they didn’t bother to find that out before letting loose their self-righteous rants. When confronted with the truth, rather than taking responsibility for their assholishness, they backpedaled and said “that’s not what we said”, except, it is.

        Such a defensive reaction involves an overabundance of ego, trying to save their own skin, trying to further dupe people into believing that they are a source of truth and are concerned for others. It is deliberate, blatant deceit for selfish gain. Anybody willing to do so cannot be trusted.

      • Gotcha. Wasnt clear at all to me. I still disagree, tho. Like I said, the fact remains that livestream *could* be used that way. Whether misinfo, misunderstanding, whatever…doesnt equate to ego in my books, untrustworthiness or personal motivation. Just an uber-concern for the people most at or potentially affected.

      • It’s a very odd interpretation to say that I have stated or inferred that a misunderstanding or misnformation equates, in any way, to ego. I haven’t.

        Misinformation or misunderstanding is a distance, tertiary concern.

      • lol, ok. i know how this discussion goes. lets agree to disagree OR not understand each other (whichever it is) NOT going to get into semantic smarter-than-you thing. always a frustrating and non-productive (or non-understanding anyway?) experience. keep whee.

      • I now have absolutely no idea what it is you’re talking about.

        I’m not arguing semantics and I’m not trying to win anything. I’ve only tried to help you understand what you’re misunderstanding of my words. Whether or not you agree is irrelevant.

        Perhaps you’d might consider that you are far too involved in this topic to discuss.

  8. I really appreciate the thoughtful exhaustion of ideas on this topic, in a way it’s nice to take this out of the context of Twitter, but I’m still not sure I agree. Frankly this debate is much stronger within Occupy Oakland than anywhere else I’ve seen, and the consistent fundamental disconnect is that people want the behavior of citizen journalists regulated by GA, but not really the behavior of anyone else. There are a number of strategies being discussed – esp ‘secretly’ recording – which I don’t advocate or feel contribute to the goals of the movement, but which I don’t feel any of us would object to being used in investigative journalism efforts against those we disagree with. I therefore feel, every day more than the last, that we should all behave as if we are being recorded – secretly or otherwise. People who are concerned with how their behavior will appear on film miss the fundamental notion of how their behavior will be perceived first-hand by eyewitnesses.

    I also agree with a point that Dharma made, which is essentially that the notion of footage being used against the #IceCream3 has two fundamental flaws: (a) They didn’t commit a crime, and footage of not committing a crime is not evidence of a crime, (b) It came out after some days of furious debate that footage was simply used to identify those present, so that police could lead a witness. Essentially, people are saying that any recording of an event can serve of proof that we are present. If you don’t want to be known as being present, don’t be present. That is my immovable opinion on the subject. I’m not saying that people don’t have the right to *try* to be anonymous, but whether on the internet or in person, anonymity exists only in very thin layers. It’s our very identity that empowers us.

    At the end of the day, what I feel comes down to a statement I made recently in a streamer roundtable. When I speak about my rights I often make it very clear that I feel they extend further than I am likely to take them, so many will misconstrue this as being more aggressive than it’s intended, and that won’t be the first time:

    I have every bit as much right to take video of you throwing a rock as you have to throw a rock.


    My greatest concern in this debate is that we’re creating an invisible power structure which mimics the one we’re upset about. That some of us being in control of the rest of us is somehow better than the people in control of us. It’s a psychological fact that people cannot be trusted, even by themselves, to carry out their stated intentions, so I don’t trust any of you, nor myself.

    What I do trust is that on the ground, most of us are reasonable people, but that it would be foolish and naive to have the expectation that we are always surrounded only by reasonable people. I won’t ever feel safe around people who behave as if they can control or define the level of reasonableness of others around them, because they will make reckless decisions that put me at risk.

    So. Fuck you all. And I love you all. ;)

  9. Great piece quite well written. Things that make you go um…. But what happens now when clearly the agendas have changed focus. Too many at a time confusing. Wait and see good luck!

  10. I think that there are a few essential issues with this discussion; the first and foremost being: autonomy.

    Simply put Occupiers should only have sway and control over the streamers/bloggers/citizen journalists that take up the Occupy name. What gets decided in GA’s about the forms and nature of the surveillance that your own Occupiers do should ONLY apply to your own Occupiers. There are two particular reasons for this: 1. ideologically you cannot fight against the forms of repression that you deny in the government and then try to force non-Occupiers to your own agreed-to ideas without running into a contradiction of your purpose. 2. realistically you cannot enforce these agreed-to ideas with non-Occupiers without the use of heavy-handed tactics; do you want to allow for intimidation, aggression, and even violence against non-Occupiers for filming you? Is that the kind of message that should be promoted? (not saying you are, since it’s a concern you yourself introduced, but that other’s may not be so keen on your concern.)

    Another point is about public space. Namely that by taking up the Occupy position and trying to solidify first amendment rights in public spaces, you MUST admit to undergoing public scrutiny. This is not a matter of discussion realistically speaking; at ALL times, in ALL public places the eyes of the public are upon you. This is part of what I was trying to say to the Occupiers that I knew in my local area, which is that if you are not willing to take the risks of being involved, then don’t be involved in the way that entails those risk (if you don’t want to get arrested, don’t take actions that could lead to arrest; if you don’t want to be seen, then don’t be involved at the actual location; etc…) Luckily for most there are a range of means of getting involved, that don’t require physically being present for actions (this range of levels of involvement is actually a boon that organizations like the Muslim Brotherhood make good use of.) So in terms of whether or not non-Occupy streamers, and citizen journalists ought to be able to do what they do in regards to Occupy, I’d say the debate needs to be reframed in terms of “lets suck it up and figure out how to deal with it.”

    The final point I’ll make is about Objectivity/Subjectivity since this seems to be a part of the discussion as well. Especially now-a-days–in this post-modern kind of society we live in–people honestly throw words like “subjectivity” around as a manner of dismissing ideas and actions that attempt to paint a picture (no matter how narrow a slice) of how “reality” is. I think it seems clear that you as a writer and thinker are fairly cognizant of this, but I question the degree to which you are because there seems to be this notion that I’m getting that unsanctioned citizen journalists are only presenting “their own” subjective view of the Occupy movement as if their narrow slice isn’t still a slice. My point here is that while THEY definitely do this, YOU and EVERY OTHER Occupier who publicizes their own information also does this as well. In fact EVERY living person does this, period. So implicit to this whole discussion of whether or not these vigilante journalists and bloggers should be allowed to record Occupy incidences is this notion that only the truths that Occupy puts forward and espouses are the correct truths and everyone else’s are simply “subjective.” This has been evident time and time again by the way in which numerous Occupy videos have been edited (why was a 15 minute video of a back and forth between students and police at Berkeley edited into a clip only a minute or so long?) Now I understand that your primary concern is about whether or not there are elements of privilege in the subjective documentation these citizen journalists put forward, but I think that other than spreading the understanding of being self-reflective, and cognizant of privilege (which you’ve done a great job of here,) I don’t think that there is anything else that should be done to address the issue of citizen journalists. I think there is clearly an objective reality out there with facts to be found, and that every person presents a different, subjective slice of this reality; therefore I think the most fair, just, and ideal method of dealing with this problem is by trying to allow as many people as possible access to what Occupy does. If every person presents a slightly different slice of the picture, then the more people you have putting in slices the more true to reality the picture can become. So that should be the job of Occupy in regards to this discussion: find ways to give as many Occupiers the access to “journalistic” materials as possible, and allow non-Occupier citizen journalists to continue doing what they do.

  11. I wish I wrote this myself but I am so glad you did instead, that is how good AND important I think this amazing piece of revolutionary work is. Thank you for taking your time to write this, I hope sometime we meet IRL, we think alike:)

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