(Meta)Aggregating Occupy Wall Street

So, a few weeks ago, as the Occupy Wall Street movement started picking up steam and spreading beyond the initial occupation site at Zuccotti park, I noticed that news about the various occupations, which was predominantly being spread via social media channels, often seemed fragmentary and hard to get a hold of in any sort of holistic way. This, it occurred to me, was basically an aggregation and meta-data problem to be solved, so I suggested as much to a group of fellow academics with an interest in the digital humanities. Sadly, we're all busy teachers and academic professionals, and only one of us was an experienced coder, so we didn't produce the grand aggregation of public data on OWS I had imagined. We did, however, start to collect a database of tweets that will hopefully become a fruitful source for future research.

In the meantime, however, others have done what I suggested. This is the Web 2.0 version of the “procrastination principle,” if you have a good idea, just wait. Someone else will implement it. In this blog post, I attempt make my own (very) small contribution to this process by providing an annotated list of the available aggregation projects: a sort of meta-aggregation, if you will.

OWS Aggregation Sites:

  • OccupationAlist is an attempt to be a single page portal to the entirety of the media coming out of the occupy movements. It includes recent updates from the “We Are The 99 Percent” tumblr  arranged by date in a horizontal format that seems to have been inspired by something like iTunes' coverflow. They use foursquare check-ins to provide a visual representation of activity at occupation sites, and a map of occupation related meetups. Recent video posts are on the right hand side and recent results of twitter searches of relevant hashtags sprawl across the bottom of the page. The attempt to be everything to everyone is ambitious, and I'm curious to see how they refine the site.
  • Occupy Together, an early hub site for online organization of the movement, provides a hand-edited daily news blog of events they believe to be significant to the movement, as well as organizing information and a directory of actions including action websites.
  • OccupyStream provides a handy way to access dozens of occupation LiveStream channels, which have often been the source of important citizen-documentation of events as they unfold. Sadly, the site does not currently give the user any way of knowing if a given channels is broadcasting, or even active, without clicking through to the channel. I'm not sure if the LiveStream site provides any way of doing this, but being able to see who was broadcasting live at a glance would be great.
  • Researchers may be interested in participating in occupyresearch, an interdisciplinary hub wiki for research projects investigating the movement.
The aggregation sites above are interesting, but I have found that the best way to keep abreast of news about the Occupy movement is via social media, especially twitter. Cultivating a good list of twitter sources is, of course, essential to using the medium effectively. Here are some useful twitter sources I have discovered:
  • R. Kevin Nelson's Occupy Wall Street list is New York-centric, but very good.
  • Andrew Katz is a Columbia J-school student who has been a great first-person source of Occupy Wall Street news, and a strong curator of messages from other occupations as well.
  • David Graeber is an anthropologist and anarchist theorist who played an important role in fomenting the initial Wall Street occupation.
  • Xeni Jardin is a boingboing contributor, and tweets prolifically on a wide variety of topics. I have, however, found her a useful retweet relay of  occupation news, as well as other nerdy news items.
I'm sure I don't have a comprehensive list here. What am I missing? Let me know in the comments!

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