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#OWS: Online, The Movement is Starting to Level Off

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, October 24 2011


Overall interest in the Occupy Wall Street movement appears to be cresting at the moment, with affiliation through the nearly 500 Facebook pages that we've been tracking starting to top out and organic interest in the topic also showing signs of calming down on Google search. Overall interest in the Occupy Wall Street movement appears to be cresting at the moment, with affiliation through the nearly 500 Facebook pages that we've been tracking starting to top out and organic interest in the topic also showing signs of calming down on Google search. At the same time, the movement--which deliberately has avoided appointing leaders and spokespeople--continues to expand its networked base. Nearly 250 of those Facebook groups have at least 1,000 members. Another 70 "Occupy X" Twitter accounts also have at least 1000 followers. And in a fascinating development noticed by Shane Castlen, who is tracking all of these metrics on his CollectiveDisorder.com website, while the main Reddit community for OWS now has more than 10,000 members, a number of local Occupy groups are slowly building their own "subreddits" focused on the news and debates occurring around their own encampments. Boston, Los Angeles, Austin, Chicago, DC, Orlando, Philadelphia, Seattle, Richmond, Omana, Columbus, South Dakota and Boise are all active there.

But the meta-trend of rapid attachment to Occupy sites on Facebook has definitely leveled off in the last several days. As the chart below shows, "likes" are slowing down to a rate of about 2% per day.

Searches for "Occupy Wall Street" on Google are also settling down, though as the chart below shows, interest in the movement is currently still at a much higher level than the Tea Party, which it is being compared to.

Right now, it appears as if OWS is going through a consolidation phase. In New York City, where the movement started, occupiers are debating a proposal to create a "spokescouncil" that would enable a hybrid form of direct democracy, with some individuals empowered to speak for their working groups. If they pass it, the Zuccotti Park occupation might be able to scale its efforts a little more efficiently. (The details are here, on the NYCGA's revamped website, which is a beehive of internal conversation.) OccupyTogether, one of several de facto hubs of information, is trying to cobble together a system for different local groups to coordinate communication with each other. And all kinds of people are pitching in ideas, efforts and resources, in a fashion that one active participant described to me as "chaordic."

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