The “Occupy Wall Street” Library

by Henry Farrell on October 10, 2011

So I’m informed that the _Occupy Wall Street_ movement has a pretty good library, and that it’s possible to donate books to it by sending them to:

The UPS Store
Re: Occupy Wall Street
Attn: The People’s Library
118A Fulton St. #205
New York, NY 10038

I’ve just sent them a copy of “Pierson/Hacker’s Winner Take All Politics“:, which I think is both very readable (important if you are trying to get through it under not exceptionally wonderful reading conditions) and terrific on the substance of why we are in a 99%/1% society. I encourage CT readers (a) to send books that they think might be good reading for OWS people, and (b) to leave comments saying which books they think should be in the library, and why. You certainly do not have to do (a) to write (b), but if you are in a position to send a book, it would obviously be nice (and a good, albeit small gesture of solidarity – I may be atypical, but if I were sitting and camping out, I’d really like to have something good to read during the duller moments). Also – these don’t have to be weighty tomes of policy analysis or whatever – you may reasonably think that the people occupying Wall Street don’t need to read those books, or that they may want lighter and livelier stuff.

Guestpost: Communications Tools, Agency, and Anxiety

by Clay Shirky on October 10, 2011

Reading the literature on social media and the Arab Spring, there’s a recurring sentiment I’ve run across:

Jeff Neumann: Social Media Didn’t Oust Tunisia’s President — The Tunisian People Did

“Did social media have an effect on events in Tunisia? Undoubtedly, yes. Is this a social media revolution? Absolutely not.”

Achalla Venu: What happened in Tunisia and then in Egypt?

“So the common trait between the revolution in Tunisia and the ongoing revolution in Egypt is — they all are human revolutions not caused by Twitter, Facebook, You Tube, Flickr and many others but they all played their part.”

Jillian York: Not Twitter, Not Wikileaks: A Human Revolution

“I am glad that Tunisians were able to utilize social media to bring attention to their plight. But I will not dishonor the memory of Mohamed Bouazizi–or the 65 others that died on the streets for their cause–by dubbing this anything but a human revolution.”

Despite their affirmation of the importance of social media during the uprisings, these authors (and many others) want to assure us that their analysis remains appropriately human-centered, that they are not making the terrible mistake of describing tools as if they had some sort of agency.

But here’s the funny thing — we describe our tools as having agency all the time. This isn’t a mistake, or an accident. It’s an essential part of our expressive repertoire around technology.
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