The single hashtag which created a protest that circled the world

Or otherwise said – in the roots of #occupywallstreet


If revolution previously meant talking to each other in various physical gatherings, straightening demands and planning actions, this has for a while, not necessarily, been the case.

Revolutions are not always bloody rebellions. Some revolutions unfold like natural phenomena, as when some catalyst under the surface creates a sudden shift and causes a society to erupt.

In essence, “revolution” signifies an idea whose time has come.

This, arguably, would have been why and how the Occupy Wall Street movement gathered enough momentum. However, it didn’t follow the notion of physical gatherings, but instead sparkled its revolutionary fire online.

It all was initiated innocuously enough on July 13 2011 in a blog post on Adbusters, a Canadian anti-consumerist and pro-environment magazine, urging people to stand up to corporate influence on democracy as if it was possible – a not-so-influential foreign magazine reaching to the people of America urging tens of thousands of them to converge on lower Manhattan?

Decentralized and leaderless, but aiming to achieve mobilization. Exclusively over the internet.

Anyone would have experienced a dose of negativity at this point. Little would they know.

An Occupy Wall Street campaign demonstrator stands in Zuccotti Park, near Wall Street in New York

An Occupy Wall Street campaign demonstrator stands in Zuccotti Park, near Wall Street in New York October 17, 2011. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

The first apparent mention of #OccupyWallStreet on Adbusters was too slow to get traction. Just one Twitter mention seven days later from a Costa Rican film producer named Francisco Guerrero didn’t give the idea much voice.

There was a few more mentions and retweets until the beginning of August, mainly by organic food supporters and producers as well as poets.

Generally, the notion of Occupy Wall Street was out there but it was not gaining much attention — until, of course, that changed – all of a sudden and with force.

In New York, the Newyorkist’s Twitter account was the first well-followed to post about the protest in mid-September.

The hashtag itself showed volume on the evening of September 16, right before thousands gathered in Zuccotti Park. Within 24 hours, the tag represented nearly 1 of every 500 uses of a hashtag.

This replicated the following day when thousands fled to New York City’s Wall Street financial district to give the movement its public start.

The first couple of weeks after were slow and little was reflected in the media, slim coverage and little happened beyond the taking of the park. Then, however, a Brooklyn Bridge demonstration prompted hundreds of arrests and the spark was ignited for real.

The Occupy Wall Street Facebook page reached critical days within three days of its creation. Facebook listed no fewer than 125 Occupy-related pages.

The #OWS was maintaining its1 in every 500 hashtag mentions of Twitter.

The Occupy Wall Street became Occupy Everywhere as #OccupyBoston started to show up on Twitter. Within a few more weeks, #OccupySD and #OccupyDenver and others appeared.

“No one owns a hashtag, it has no leadership, it has no organization, it has no creed but it’s quite appropriate to the architecture of the net. This is a distributed revolt,” (Jeff Jarvis) and so was Occupy Wall Street.

Occupy Wall Street didn’t need the structured leadership, the physical gatherings or the clarified demands to gain popularity and speed.

Results, however, might be a whole different matter.


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