The independent events, some simply community discussions, have been loosely tracked with Facebook,Google maps and links lists. Now, group meeting platform Meetup.com is assisting the protesters in their grassroots efforts.
“We were contacted by the good people at Meetup.com, who got in touch because they heard we were in need of some technical assistance and advice,” says a blog post on Occupy Together, a site linked by Occupy Wall Street websites and protest publication The Occupied Wall Street Journal‘s Kickstarter page. “Little did we know we’d go from listing 4-5 locations in one night to receiving hundreds of emails in a day. We were slowing the flow of information because us volunteers weren’t able to keep up.”
Meetup previously worked with activist magazine Adbusters, an early organizer of the protests, on a project called “buy nothing day,” according to Meetup VP of community and strategy Andres Glusman. Adbusters made the introduction between Meetup and Occupy Together, which ultimately decided to use the platform’s free organizing tool, Meetup Everywhere.
Instead of continuing to maintain a list of protests, the site now features a Meetup widget showing 928 Meetups in 906 cities across the world, most added since Oct. 5 — and many with 0 participants.
Organizing on Meetup, a platform designed in many ways for grassroots organizing, has thus far been less common for “Occupy” protesters than organizing on Facebook. In most cases, the Facebook Pages trounce the new Meetup pages as far as attending participants go. The Occupy Wall Street Facebook Page has more than 130,000 Likes. It’s equivalent Meetup page has 23 “occupiers.” Similarly, Occupy San Francisco has 8,672 Likes and just 27 occupiers. A website called Daily Kos plotted the Facebook Pages on a Google Map (shown below) to make them easier to find.
Meetup has a couple of advantages from an organizing standpoint: a centralized landing page and a format focused on clear actions. It makes sense both the free platform and the unofficial organizers of protest information found it a good fit for Occupy Wall Street offshoots.
Scott Heiferman, Meetup’s CEO, has tweeted about his own involvement in the protests and is a backer of theThe Occupied Wall Street Journal‘s Kickstarter page.
Truth be told, both Facebook and Meetup are pretty chaotic as organization platforms. It’s hard to tell who, if anyone, will actually show up to any of the scheduled events. But that, according to Occupy Together, is part of the point.
“The GREAT thing about all of this, is that it’s completely in line with the whole idea of this decentralized movement,” the site says. “Any single person can start an action in their area, and where one stands up there will likely be another to join you.”