Global 'Occupy' marches show reach of most unlikely consumer revolution ever

Corporate America: Customers have conquered your social nets, demanding more than disdain and dismissal

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Within the park – and in most of the other cities to which OWS has spread – the protests themselves have been remarkably peaceful -- carefully obeying rules against camping and obstructing traffic to minimize response by police. They also take pains to treat both police and opponents with carefully non-confrontational messages and keep minders throughout crowds of marches swelled by new supporting groups or other noobs, to keep the marches in order to the greatest extent possible.

At the same time, smaller contingents are openly confrontational and to some extent, provocative in both the way they design their events. After a huge and peaceful march with Unions last week, breakaway protesters stormed police lines, tried to expand their march to City Hall despite warnings from the Mayor they'd be barred from the site and arrested by police if they go t anywhere near.

Charging a line of police in riot gear, which is both admirable and incredibly stupid ant the same time, isn't the way to keep your event low key. Neither is leading a march to show up on the doorstep of a billionaire to sing songs about the tyranny of an economy obsessed with obscene wealth while the billionaire, presumably, surrounds him or herself with security goons and quavers in fear in a darkened control room first build to hear mad villains gloat over the pending triumph of their evil plans while preparing implausibly ornate and catastrophically untested ways to kill James Bond slowly while no one stays behind to watch the fun.

Unfortunately the billionaires OWS chose to taunt are all the wrong kind of obsessive megalomaniac, or are simply too smart to build a self-destruct system controlled by a giant red button they feel obligated to point out and explain to guests.

If anything, the Millionaires March was more boring than James Bond, though not for lack of titular villains or cool gadgetry (little of which was designed to blow up on purpose, though some ran on Microsoft operating systems, so the risk was never far away.

Cloud-based protest multipliers

The real difference between OWS and previous fight-the-man protests was the unparalleled effectiveness of its online component – hackers, hackerfans, hacktivists and geek-savvy protest wannabes who couldn't go to New York because ditching work for a month is a powerful multiplier of the risk one specific person will join the record-high number unemployed and underemployed already.

Why make the situation you're protesting worse by getting fired?

Even less well-defined than on-site leadership, however, OWS online support within the U.S and elsewhere has been the digital equivalent of the Human Megaphone – the analog replacement for voice-amplification systems OWS on-siters aren't allowed to use in Manhattan.

Photo Credit: 

Reuters: Heino Kalis

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