Monday, June 06, 2011

Observations from a "Social Media" revolution in Spain



chaosMonster (The Mind of Bob 2.0): Plaza Del Sol protest in Madrid: "Gail Orenstein 5 June 2011 Madrid"

The key lesson we have learned talking to people in Madrid and observing the protests is that is it best not to think of this as a Social Media organized revolution. Rather, this is a social event carried out by a new generation who use Socail Media and the Internet as an every day part of their lives. But the events stress direct physical experience of social life, which is missing form social networks.

What is striking among the protests in the Plaza Del Sol of Madrid is the absence of continual mobile phone and computer usage . Most of the mobile phone usage is by visitors taking photos of the sites. The participants are more likely to be talking, cooking, singing or demonstrating.

That is not to say that social media and the Internet are not important for these protests. The camp has a communications center at there are signs with URLs, facebook groups and Twitter hashtages everywhere. Its likely the demonstration would not have taken place, or been so well organized without the new technology.

But one also see a decisive change in how the technology is use. The events mark a very deliberate and strategic use of digital and social network technology. To organize, to bypass indifferent national media, and to connect to people in remote locations around Madrid, around Spain, around Europe and around the world. The local protest here is very linked in to the global events from Tahrir in Cairo to Athens.

But its also striking how much less these young people are glued to their computers and phones than we are used to seeing in their generation. Within the acampada of Plaza Del Sol there is not the vast boredom and lack of social engagement which is normal for our modern world. Young people are simply to0 busy, too happy, and too engaged to waste time checking their facebook profiles or foursquare mayorships.

In Madrid young protesters are likely exchanging addicative purposeless usage of socail media in isolation for deliberate strategic usage to larger social ends. And most of the activies the stress is on engage here and how activity which people a physical sense of community. Maybe its just a Spanish thing but people are embracing each other constantly.

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