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Looking at the #Occupy Archive

2012 January 23
by Sheila

After a very active fall, the Occupy movements are waning making the work we started on creating the #Occupy Archive more important. During the nearly 3 months of collecting, we have collected nearly 2650 items (*after some importing work on Jan 23, that number jumped to over 3000) including oral histories, photographs, webpages, and fliers.

We have been pleased to discover some interesting materials contributed by users and collected by our team.

For instance, the collection reveals that original and referential graphic art of the Occupy movement, which is posted online and printed for distribution, employs a shared visual style. Most of the art created incorporates a black, white, and red color palette, and uses Sans Serif typography. Silhouettes of iconic buildings or a home state represent the local visually. Some art incorporates frequently repeated images to reflect solidarity with the larger Occupy Wall Street movement.

You can view a slide show of some of these images:

Recurring images, such as Guy Fawkes and the raised, closed fist, speak to a shared history with other anti-establishment political protests. While others, such as Rich Uncle Pennybags from the Monopoly board game, address real estate speculation and mortgage scams that have motivated many to become Occupiers.

We never located a central repository of suggested images, but the How to Occupy site acknowledges that Occupiers should respect copyrights when making publicly-distributed fliers to avoid legal action. The site’s organizers recommended that occupiers use images in the public domain, because “ it is very important for us to recognize that using stolen intellectual property (IP) is very dangerous for us, as it gives big media companies a weapon to use against us.”

Given these warnings, I also expected to find lengthy guidance for Occupy groups on running websites and communications through open-source software. There is a tab on the topic of “Internet/opensource software.” Most of the 6 suggested sites/projects offer alternative social network spaces, such Our Project, Better Means, N-1, network 99, and the HolisticCommons.

Through our collecting efforts we see that Occupy participants are using free digital platforms and tools to establish their web presence and communicate with members and the public, and many are commercial and corporate. Groups use Facebook, Twitter, and Flickr. Most of the materials generated and published rely on the continued success of these companies and dedication of their members for it all to remain accessible–another reason motivating us to archive these materials before they disappear.

Searching through the list of nearly 500 movements registered in the Occupy Together directory as of October 21, 2011, I found the following breakdown of services in use:

  • 270 Facebook pages
  • 23 Meetup sites
  • 8 WordPress.com sites
  • 4 Blogspot.com sites
  • 1 Wikispaces
  • 1 Weebly site
  • Flickr: 510,681 results when searching for “occupy”; 80,503 when searching for “ows”.

If you are interested in reading more about different aspects of the Occupy movement, In Media Res hosted two weeks of curated reflections in mid-December, “Assessing the Occupy Movement” and “Occupy: Local Expressions.”

We will be very interested to see what others find in the Occupy Archive and encourage others to use the Archive in the future to contextualize the movement’s impact and legacy.

2 Responses leave one →
  1. January 23, 2012

    Occupy isn’t “waning” as you put it above–there was a lull over the holidays, certainly. The transition from encampments to dispersed and decentralized actions has entailed a regrouping that some people call Occupy 2.0. But I think you’ll find there will be plenty more to add to this archive as the weather warms up….

    • Sheila permalink*
      January 23, 2012

      Fair enough. Looking forward to seeing the next steps, as Occupy 2.0.

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