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Occupy Wall Street: Can filmmaking website unify the movement?

By placing their own content on a 'cloud' server, Occupy Wall Street encampments can create a universal video, audio, and image database that all can use to create individual messages.

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“We are looking to be of service and for the demonstration of co-creativity,” says Mr. Starr, who has worked with musician activists such as Bob Marley and produced the film “Flow” about water rights. 

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Some sociologists and media analysts say the idea may have as much promise as the Occupy leadership hope.

“StudioOccupy has the potential of being a ‘game changer’ for the Occupy movement as a whole, by going beyond the neatly circumscribed political and media-driven categories prevalent in civic life," says Professor Catherine Wilson, who studies social movements at Villanova University. "This platform allows Occupy to engage American political culture on their own terms and in their own way. Occupy has prided itself on being an alternative movement – now they have an alternative media platform – that allows the movement to bypass a variety of intermediaries and take their message directly to the American people.”

Fordham University communications professor, Paul Levinson, author of “New New Media,” says the new platform gives the Occupy movement a boost at a key moment in its development that could be crucial to its future.

“The difference between today and protests of the past is that just about everyone with a cell phone can take a video, so little can be kept secret about demonstrations and the response of authorities. But what is still needed is a central place, where all of the videos and manifestos can be easily accessed. OccupyStudio looks an important development in this direction.”

Other academics worry that the new idea could diffuse some of the live energy of the groups, generated by on-the-street protests, encampments, and marches by diverting attention to essentially passive, online viewing.

"StudioOccupy is proof positive that the Occupy Wall Street movement is on the verge of becoming a harmless pastime, as people post their 'narratives' on a web site that supposedly reflects and initiates social change,” says Dr. Ben Agger, director of the Center for Theory at the University of Texas, Arlington's Sociology department, in an email . “This Facebook-ification of OWS will be easily absorbed, no longer possessing a transgressive and progressive potential.  Instead, social change will become merely self-expression.  The revolution cannot be blogged."

But his comment doesn’t fly with many here at the Los Angeles encampment at City Hall.

“That doesn’t sound like a very informed statement,” says Alissa Kokkins, a screenwriter who has been with Occupy L.A. since it began here October 1. “Facebook is one of the keys to putting together activism, sharing information, and problem solving. Just the fact that we all come together online in addition to being out in the communities, doesn’t halt or slow the revolution.”

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