All posts by katie

9.14 Cute Cats and Civic Society

9.14 Cute Cats and Civic Society

Ethan Zuckerman’s Cute Cat theory of digital activism

Pros and cons of Facebook activism

Clay Sharky Political Power of Social Media


Zuckerman’s article aims to prove that is is harder to shutdown websites that people use to share pictures of their cute cats then just proxy servers because  those websites are representative of large social networks like facebook, tumblr, and twitter which are open to everyone regardless of political or social persuasion. When a government shuts down these huge networks, it is a very authoritarian act and seems much worse than shutting down just one blog. For instance, when Egypt blocks twitter, they shutting down everyone’s voice not just one voice.

“The Political Power of Social Media” discussed how the opinions that are transmitted through media help form social opinions. The article briefly touched on the history of spreading social opinion within social media. For instance, it discussed smuggling xerox machines behind the iron curtain to aid in underground press or “samizdat”;  in Belarus, Lukasenko’s 2006 attempt to control social media,  in Iran 2009, the Green movement protests against Mr. Hussein Mousavi’s revolution; the Red Shirt uprising in Thailand; and in Phillippines, 2001, the 7 million text messages that forced people to gather in support against their government.

Do digital tools enhance democracy, yes?

Yes, but here are some of the arguments for facebook not being those most democratic tool for social activists.

  1. Administrators get limited control
  2. Messages get lost
  3. Key arguments can be lost
  4. Serial activists on Facebook weaken the cause by moving onto whatever cause is next.
  5. Facebok doesn’t really incorporate the ladder of engagement that say something like people’s mike at occupy wall street does.
  6. Repressive governments are using Facebook to squash dissent.
  7. Governments are gaining increasingly sophisticated means of monitoring, interdicting, and coopting tools
  8. its a passive way of getting involved

My rambling:

I believe that an efficient system is one that accepts diverse opinions but is also driven by common purposes and values. I think that most efficient systems have a mediator. In other words, I do not think its efficient for everyone to talk about all of their problems all at once otherwise it turns into a situation where everyones talking at the dinner table and all that is heard is noise not discussion. I know enough about everyone talking at once at the dinner table to know that it is incredibly frustrating and that its difficult to make sense of the conversations.

The author mentioned in the article that  “disciplined and coordinated groups have always had the advantage over undisciplined” . I vehemently agree with this idea.

This is my opinion of the face book environment for debate:

Sometimes its makes me really uncomfortable when people start debates about very private issues on Facebook. Earlier in the year, there was a court case of a young women raped by New York City police officers that many friends commented on which lead to massive threads on their walls. It just made me cringe a little when I saw people debating such a sensitive, sexual assault crime. I’m not saying they shouldn’t be allowed to, but I wouldn’t feel comfortable debating about it on Facebook.

– I went to a rally for Planned Parenthood last year and posted controversial pictures of vaginas signs promoting women’s sexual rights to Facebook. I got a lot of likes from people who supported the issue but I never really got a taste of those didn’t support the issue. I’m trying to point out that it is easy to see  those who support the issue, which is a biased perspective.

– Sometimes it becomes a tiring exercise to debate about topics on facebook and debates on Facebook come off as more threatening than productive.

For example, I have a friend who was was lashing out at someone who was complaining about occupy-wall street movement. The person removed her comments which were somewhat pushy. This turned into a passive aggressive, katty fight.


– Also its sometimes nice when people open up issues to discuss on facebook.

But I think people go out of their way to say things that they wouldn’t say in real life because they can, and plus they have a computer to hide behind, this can open a lot of ground for anger and resentment.

– Finally, this is my opinion but I think that in the Facebook  platform, its harder to admit to someone “ yeah, I was wrong, I’m open to hearing your points”  because you’re put on public display. The psychology is sort of like you don’t want to show weakness or indecision or admit defeat.


Theatre of the oppressed

this was one of my favorite readings and also one of my favorite classes.

I interpret “Theatre of the oppressed” as a method of acting that helps exploited groups reverse their situation with role playing techniques to “take the power back”. The method offers DIY maneuvers that participants can apply to everyday life circumstances. The audience writes the work and actors perform it simultaneously. Then the action is interrupted and an audience member assumes the role of the subject. Steven Metz also describes it as way of sending a message to a larger audience through politicized theatre. It represents the feasibility of change, and the means by which all possible paths can be examined. The idea is that when people go back to their ordinary lives outside of the theatre, they can pull from the experiences they  acted out on in the theatre. So, the actors are carrying out in fiction what they may do in reality to curtail cultural and ideological domination.

It’s a cool idea. Overall, I think that making thought visible and doing it physically is very appealing. Maybe that’s why I enjoy dance or even sports so much?

I feel like without even knowing it I’ve used this method in my own life  to point out what someone was doing wrong to me and it definitely helped get the point across. When you enact the method, it makes you feel more empowered than it would if you stayed silent and did nothing even if enacting it was uncomfortable or didn’t go anywhere

One of the things I like about this method is that I think it is very relatable because of its visual, physical, and participatory element. I think that the main element that demolishes the wall between spectators and actors is definitely the participation element. I love that this method helps people solve problems by giving them a tool that helps them express themselves through physical change. I think that if you can physically do something, you can do it again. So that’s a powerful tool!

Reading the article was helpful, especially when reading about how the town in South America responded to the acting method. The success of the method was conveyed in the situation where the town purposed different solution to the woman whose husband was cheating on her. I can see how that would empower someone on both the stage and the back in her real life.

I think it would be really interesting if a business hired the people form the Theatre of the Oppressed to come in and give a lesson once a month. This would be a very useful teaching instrument to a business, which is an environment with a whole sleuth of power complexes. This is what I’ll do if I ever own my own company.

responding to “Disciplining the Avant Garde” By Gregory Scholette

“The times were dark, why were their poets silent?”


“Discipling the Avant Garde” reminded us about the openness that was annihilated during the Bush era. Come to think of it, it was a very oppressive and scary time! I can’t believe that people were actually arrested for creating anti Bush statements? This article also discussed contemoprary visual culture in Ireland. When I lived in Ireland in 2007, I was lucky enough to visit Belfast, in Northern Ireland, which has a very violent political history. In Belfast, I saw political murals discussed in this article, which were quite beautiful but they were definitely creepy and damning.

For instance, I remember seeing murals that reminded people that babies could be killed in car bombings so don’t bomb your car.

These are some pictures I took of the murals I saw:

This is the famous mural of Bobby Sandy, an Irish activist who starved himself in jail to make his point.

9.7 Speech Rights in Post 9/11 US, Steven Kutz

First of all , this is a crazy story. Can we all agree? I can’t believe that his wife died of a heart attack on the same day that he was busted by the FEDS. Is that bad luck or what! Also there just seem to be a lot of holes in the story. What ever happened to those samples of the bubonic plague that were taken from the lab? Also I didn’t catch this- is Kutz’s work still in custody by the FBI?

To summarize:

Kutz  is an artist who works at the University of Buffalo in NYC who developed the critical art ensemble for activists. His artwork is essentially civil disobedience to social and political realities. He is interested in democratic sciences and in social networks. In the project that lead to his arrest, I think  he was trying to make a statement again biotechnology being misused by corporations by using bacteria form the lab to strengthen an art project.

When Kutz was arrested, the FBI took his passport, books, computer, and put him up in a hotel for 22 hours. Kutz was charged with 69 criminal courts, tax evasion, and bio terrorism. He was also charged with mail fraud and wire fraud.

(This is a little side note: but I feel like governments always pull the tax evasion card when anyone’s in trouble and they can’t think of how to tell the public. I mean when the government says that a citizen is being marshaled for tax evasion, you know it means something screwy. )

The other side of the story involves the scientists who were helping Kutz with the project. I’m very pro-scientist mainly because my mom is a scientist who runs at lab at a major university. Basically, when I hear any story about the government taking away a scientist’s rights, it is terrifying. Also, (just a little more background on my opinions), when the US government attacks scientific research, for instance,  when the bush administration put a stop on stem cell research, I get livid.

Anyway, as a product of an amazing scientist, I know that scientists will get crucified if anything goes wrong. It is true: scientists have to be really careful because they are completely beholden to their institutions for funding. I feel really felt bad for the scientist Dr. Thomas Butler, who reported that samples of the bubonic plague missing. For doing the right thing, he faced several years in prison ! Bob Ferrel, his colleague, didn’t even volunteer to testify for his friend because it could have jeopardized his career. I’ve heard so many stories like this from my parents that I can’t say I’m surprised.

(Sidenote 2: In the interview, Kutz mentioned, “ the National Lawyer’s Guild, Primers on what to do on what if you’re arrested”. Now that I think about it, that would have been an excellent manual to make for the final. )

To conclude, it was so great that Steven came to speak to our class. I think that what happened to him was a real tragedy. It was so nice to see that he was going on a boat trip with his new wife. etc : ) A huge message I got from reading Kutzs interview with Melanie was this — when the government gets involved, they will “F” you over, so try not to piss off the government (sorry if that was crude). Also never sign away your rights to a legal defense. The scary thing is that this man practically lost all of his rights as a human being when the government got involved.  I can see this event affecting him in two ways: either he could just tone done his influence as an activist or either carry on more carefully. Obviously, he’s a badass, and doing the latter, carrying on with more knowledge from his experience

Kutz’s story reminds me of this movie called “ Fair Game”, it definitely something worth putting on your netflix queue.

In fair game is based on the tell all memories of ex CIA operative Valerie Plame (played by Namoi Watts) who was publicly exposed by the US government after her husband (Sean Penn) ruffled feathers in Washington by accusing the Bush administration of bending the truth in regards to weapons  of mass destruction in Iraq. She didn’t undergo what Kutz did  but the government really messed with her. True story too!

Is our government like China or something, because they act like it sometimes…?



8.31 Intro

In response to

  1. A counterpoint, Bart Cell Tower
  2. Counterpoint, Pair jailed for using Facebook to incite violence

A Counterpoint, Bart Cell Tower

“Counterpoint” talks about an situation that occurred this summer on the BART, the subway line that runs in San Francisco. BART was informed that the riders of the subway were organizing a petition and were informing people about it over their cell phones. Subsequently, Bart shutdown all the cellular service on their trains as people made their way in and out of the city. Many riders were outraged that BART would turn off cell service on the trains; they saw it as an attack on their civil liberties. BART stated that the reason that they shutdown the cellular access on the train was that the were worried about illegal behavior that could lead to violence and danger to the public. Bart also claimed that civil disturbance during commute times could lead to platform overcrowding and unsafe conditions.

BART’s mission is to provide a service that allows passengers to travel safely from one place to another in a timely fashion so I understand BART’s concern for the safety of its passengers. If BART hears about an event that will disturb the journey then they can act to prevent any foreseeable problems. Here’s an analogy: If Amtrak decided to turned off their wireless internet service during a train ride because there were suspicions of portending riots on the train, that is a perfectly legal and acceptable thing to do. Amtrak (although supported by the government) is a private company and their decisions about the services they provide are in their control and as it is with BART.

I think that it is very unreasonable that BART did not give the subway riders a fair warning before they shutdown service. BART has a responsibility as a company to inform its patrons of a major service change. If the people were warned that service would be shutoff because of threats to the safety of the passengers, a lot less people would have been angered.

If the US government (obviously not a private company) decided to shutdown internet service or cell service in a public landscape, then that would be a huge problem. It would also be a huge violation to constitutional rights. BART cell service technically exists in a private space although it is available in public property (San Francisco, the city) but BART shutdown the service on their own private property.

A important point in the article “Counterpoint” is that this time period in our lives is the golden age of the first amendment. Americans have the constitutional right to free speech, that means a lot in this day and age.  We have to reconsider how we define free speech because of the new forms of technology that have been invented to help facilitate speech such as the internet, skype, text messaging, and cell phones, etc. We need to be constantly examining the rapid developments (and the popularity) of online social communication and information technology systems and consider how the constitution affects the way we use these services and where we can use these services.

Response to: A pair jailed for using Facebook to incite violence

Interestingly enough, I was living in Savannah, Georgia during the time of this riot. For a New Yorker, Savannah is a very weird place to live in because the housing distribution illuminates the large gaps of wealth inequality in relation to race, particularly between Caussciuans and Black people. Very affluent white families live downtown in the fancy historical district, whereas, within a 10 block radius, Black families live in housing projects.

Right after the London riots, there was a big flash mobbing cases in Philadelphia, which is my hometown. Just like Savannah, Philadelphia has a very large Black population and the wealth inequality in relation to race is very apparent in Philadelphia as it is in Savannah, Georgia. It definitely worth pointing out that in the Philadelphia flash mobs this summer, there were very few White protesters as compared with the Black protesters.

This summer 2011, 1000s of young Black kids in Philadelphia organized a flash mobbing on South Street. The flash mob was arranged by users of Facebook.

Video clips on youtube show kids terrorizing store tenants and pretty much rough housing and creating a lot of hustle and bustle on the streets. The mayor of Philadelphia, Major Nutter, was really dismayed by this. He instigated a curfew on the youths of Philadelphia.


Although I agree with many of the things Nutter said, I don’t think that a curfew will solve any of the problems that caused this riot. (And anyway, the internet is a 24 hour service, kids are going to using it to do want they want, no matter the time of day.)

Personally, I think the riots in Philly started as a result of boredom. When kids are bored because of a lack of summer activities or lack of jobs or money, that leads to restlessness, which can result  in an event like this.

The story of the teenagers in London arranging riots over Facebook also make me think about an article that I had read on CNN. It was about how Facebook status updating leads to real life arrests. In this case, I thought the London boys sentence was a little harsh. C’mon, 4 years (or something), just make them do community service or something, poor anarchists! But at the same time, next time they think of putting up something something very attacky on the internet,  they will think twice about it rather than doing it on a whim. I say, if kids are status updating threats or inciting violence on Facebook then they deserve to be arrested if they are willing to post something like that and tie it back to their names.


Hi, this is Katie Maguire. I’m sort of attempting to create this big paper style post which I would describe as my contemplation of the readings that we have have had during the semester. Admittedly, I’ve been really terrible about blogging consistently, and seemingly MIA, but I have been following the readings.  I’m just really bad at blogging, unless I can easily reblog something on tumblr (the lazy girl’s excuse).  I am so sorry for the delay and thank you for your patience in waiting for my last minute discussions of the readings and the meanings I have taken from them.

Every student should have the opportunity to take a class like this because we have to educate each other on how to appropriately and intelligently communicate our dissent with the new technologies that exist in our lives. (My parents were really happy to know that I was taking this class because they want me to become more knowledgeable about my rights as a creative person who will express my work to a large audience, most often digitally.) I also wanted to say that one of the most important things I have learned from this class, is it’s ok to have opinions, but its not ok to make assumptions. You have to do your research. Overall, also before I begin my posts,  I have to say what an awesome time is has been studying  “freedom of speech’ in the social arena (both online and in real life) this semester. Excellent timing, I’d say! (I’m posting these in snippets tonight until 10p. )

Concept Post | Views on OccupyWallStreet | Duncombe Response

Katherine Maguire

October 14th 2011

Concept Proposal for “Better Speech” Midterm Assignment


Since hearing Steven Duncombe talk to my class about his perspectives on the occupy wall-street demonstration, my view about what it means and how it is run has revolved a bit. But to be quite honest, if I had not heard Steven speak about his philosophies regarding this demonstration or different forms of civil disobedience my views on #occupywallstreet would have stayed exactly as they were before. These were my previous views on  #occupywallstreet:

I have only been to the site one time, and that was for this class, when we were asked to go there for our class discussion. Before entering the #occupywallstreet terrain, I did not have any formal expectations of what were were going to be partaking in or what were we going to see. While we were there, in class, listening to the main organizers speak about their cause, I could hardly listen to them because I was so confused by the stimulation I saw around me. I saw ‘indigo children’ dancing gracefully and enacting yoga movements; anarchist leading meditation circles; food-trucks; organizers handing out food; sleeping bags and tents strew everywhere;Wall Street businessmen walking around looking perturbed and talking to cops; and cops, in blue shirts and cops in white shirts standing guard.  One big event I observed, when we were there was when Russell Simmons entered the scene and started meditating with the meditation circle. (I think he got bored 20 minutes later and walked away.)

The #occupywallstreet area looked like a big rock concert. The front page of the New York Post showed people at the protest, smoking out of hookahs, and claimed that the area was rife with drugs.It looked like what I imagine Berkley to be like in the 60s with lots of liberal hippies and punks but with less intellectuals.

Most of the information I have gathered about the protest is stuff that I have acquired from personally being there and also from reading blog posts on the event, or by looking at Facebook and Tumblr images. My attention ( as I imagine many other people’s attention in the demonstration) picked up when I started hearing that the NYPD was making massive arrests. I saw a picture on tumblr of a female being groped by a police officer. Then I heard that a woman was sprayed in the face with mace, just because she asked the officer, ‘what’s going on?’

My brother, who goes to school at Penn State called me three days after I had first gone to the site with my class to share his views of occupywallstreet, which were pretty similar to mine at the time. My brother thought that the occupywallstreet protest was giving liberals a bad reputation and actually gave Wall Street big wigs a lot to make fun of.  I’ve heard people say things like [in reference to occupiers] , ‘well of course these people don’t have jobs’.

When I heard perspectives like this or even when I start to think similarly, it makes me want to have no part in the #occupywallstreet protest, even though I support the personal reasons why people are there. The bottom line is that I support any American’s right to freedom of speech and expression. Speaking on behalf of my group: Michelle, Haley, and I  believe in many of the same things that the wall street protesters are rallying for or (what we think they are rallying for). For instance, we are distrusting of large corporations; we would like to see more equal distribution of wealth; we are pro-environmental health; we favor access to health care for everyone in this country; and we are in favor of access to free, quality education for all.

Over all, my feeling when I left the site the first time I went there was that this demonstration or protest seemed incredibly disorganized; and, that, if we as a class were going to do anything to help the protesters build more unity we would have to understand the protesters’ wants as well as understand what the current weakness of their demonstration structure. My other thoughts about the #occupywallstreet protest when I left were that the protesters, as a unified body had no “clear cut intention” or goal to fight for. For instance, in the women’s right’s movement, the goal was to give women the right to suffrage in this country.  Wall Street Occupiers were holding fort there but not actually trying to accomplish something specific besides taking over the space and letting people know they were furious. Another thing I gained from the experience of visiting the protest was that it seemed like people were there for any different reasons, not one main cause.  This was something that I was bothered by until the day that Duncombe came to speak to our class.

Duncombe opened my eyes to seeing #occupywallstreet as more of a ‘spectacle’ rather than a protest that had a specific goal in mind. He talked about it as being a spectacle with more fluidity, where participants should be open to not knowing where things are or where they are going to go. The openness creates a discussion that invites a larger participatory structure.  When Duncombe compared the the #occupywallstreet demonstration to political theatrics and spectacle, I began to understand why were learning about “Theatre of the Oppressed”. A major turning point I had in understanding the larger picture of this protest was when Duncombe said that the the protest is bringing the reality of the internet to the streets.

It’s important to recognize that this occupation caught steam over the internet and gained popularity over the internet.  In fact, the most accurate reporting was done by people who observed it on the streets and blogged about it on the internet or posted their findings to Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter. This internet reporting is perhaps the most democratic tool that people have ever had.

As a group, we want to emphasize the truth about the internet being the birth-mother of the protest by creating a protest manual that would be written in the style of popular social media delivery sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr. We also want to incorporate the aesthetic of the internet into the pages of the manual as a way of showing how modern activism is grounded in an internet way of thinking and also how it is contained in a system that is characterized by fleeting images and text. Our aim is to make this point clear by hyperbolizing the idea of the internet meme to show our readers how a modern flash- mobbing of information over the internet can form opinions about social and political topics.

The main idea we have for our protest manual is to make in into a scrapbook which houses photographs that we have taken or that we have seen in newspapers or internet which emphasize themes seen in occupywallstreet that we support like: distrust of large corporations; more equal distribution of wealth; pro-environment; access to free, quality education for all and to make an argument over the image by drawing over the images, writing our thoughts on them, changing the images, typing over them, and collaging them.  We are going to look to a lot of internet memes for inspiration because we find that internet memes are very good at making their point right away.  They can also be very funny and spread quickly.

The aim of doing it this way is to create a book that allows us to give our opinions in a way that is not  necessarily  clean or “PC” like the nightly news but more like what one would read on the web. Our goal in creating the book is to point out flaws, and ineffective leaks in the protest in a kind, humorous way offering suggestions to strengthen the cause because we believe in the cause but not necessarily the method that is being enacted. We will want to support the liberals by giving them a call to arms, not dismissing them.  We talked about writing the copy in the style of a article. Gawker is a very visible, NYC based visual media company with a very liberal and self-deprecating, pro-NYC attitude in the tone of the writing. We are also looking at examples of socio-political art that makes commentaries on the flaws in American politics, military, and industry. Another graphic precedent we are looking into is spoof ads which represents American capitalism in a twisted way.