Take a Drupal back-end enabling user-generated video uploads. Add two video portals, side by side, linked from Justin.tv, and configured so that participants can go live at the push of a button. Add an entry portal to Freenode Internet Relay Chat, so that everyone involved can exchange ideas in real time, bouncing off and interjecting in the live video interviews and conversations.
What do you have? The answer: an architecture for coordinated chaos.
Or rather: a MovementCamp, a platform for a social experiment, a virtual pow wow enabling activists, webheads, change agents, and social entrepreneurs from all over the planet to gather together to brainstorm ideas towards the future of climate action.
On 10/10/10, one hundred people swarmed the Coalition Movement Camp to push at the limits of the possible. By the time we’d wrapped up eight hours of intense discussion, we realized that what we’d achieved was nothing less than the Coalition of the Willing refigured. We had evolved the Coalition project to a new stage of social emergence. The Coalition had unfolded in an online community.
What did I learn at Movement Camp? I learned about grassroots cooperatives, cooperative banking, and transformational currency projects. I learned about green wiki culture and eco-advocacy art projects. I learned about next generation online climate action from people at the forefront of social change. And I learned that the people behind the campaigns, services, and initiatives that I most admire are not giants striding the earth with lightning bolts in their fists, but ordinary folks inspired by a momentary glimpse through the fractured present into the possible future, sustained (in most cases) by neither money nor even much in the way of institutional support, but by passion and hope.
I was reminded that the online climate action movement cannot be reduced to any single organization or campaign. It’s power lies in the diversity of its goals and approaches.
Check out this clip from Fernanda Ibarra’s presentation on the Metacurrency project. The vision and ideals that Fernanda articulates here resonate powerfully for me, as I know they did for others at the Camp. Ultimately, it was passion that brought us into this collaborative space on 10/10 – passion for change, innovation, and community, but most of all for freedom and the promise of a better future.
Something specific I learned at Movement Camp is that people are hungry for new ways of talking and interacting with one another. Time and time again, our conversations returned to the social and technological processes required to facilitate new forms of interaction and interoperability. The novel and anarchic mode of social interaction enabled by the video-chat system we’d set up for the event was central to the success of the camp. People, in particular, liked the fact that they had the opportunity to watch, listen, and engage with the people broadcasting on Justin.tv. Conversely, people broadcasting live appreciated the fact that they could respond in real time to the flow of questions and ideas emerging out of the chat-stream.
Here is a snippet from an interview with Gabe Stern from GreenTribe. Bouncing off a question in the chat-stream, Gabe refers back to a conversation that had taken place hours before on the value of emergent leadership, and systems that facilitate it. It may seem incidental . Yet it is a great example of online social etiquette and simple tools working together to consolidate an insight forged through a transnational conversation. The swarm lives, people! Here, Gabe Stern is it’s mouthpiece.
The most inspiring insight I took away from Movement Camp is that the online network I discussed in Coalition of the Willing is much closer to being created than I thought. Not only now do we have a community of activists and technologists working towards the realization of this vision, but the idea is out there in the common mind, reshaping our collective consciousness.
Joe Solomon, social media coordinator for 350, hit the nail on the head in his dynamic interview with Michael Maranda early in the day. The field is awaiting interoperability. Our dream is shared by untold others working toward climate solutions globally. For my money, this is the most exciting insight to have emerged in a day of furiously exciting insights.
Our next Movement Camp is scheduled to take place on November 14, 2010. Watch this space for details, or follow us on Facebook and Twitter @coalitionfilm.