The Revolution will be Twittered

by Jane Hamsher, Campaign Silo/FireDogLake

There's absolutely nothing interesting about what the GOP is doing here in Minnesota. The party itself is like an enormous cadaver whose funeral is being held in the Xcel Center, and the wakes thrown by its drunken hedonist powerbrokers bear more than a passing resemblance to Roman vomitoriums.

Not that the Democrats in Denver were much more interesting -- more lifelike, to be certain, as the baton of power and pork passed over to them, but completely staged and lacking in spontaneity nonetheless.

What happened on the streets of St. Paul yesterday was something else altogether. Whereas Denver was the site of young people clutching their blackberries and hustling passes to more and better parties, in St. Paul they were creating a whole new model for communication, documentation and activism.

Members of the Coldsnap legal collective fanned out across the city and communicated with each other (and the world) openly on Twitter about what was happening during the protest, and were thus able to alert and steer journalists, observers and anyone else with an interest immediately to what was happening on the street throughout the day. Nothing that law enforcement did happened in secret, and ACLU lawyers and other observers were able to be quickly alerted to anything that was happening. When we first arrived we started following their bulletins in the wake of the weekend raids, and as more information came in verifying their reports it became clear that they were a highly trustworthy source of information.

Meanwhile, the Uptake provided an army of video journalists with Qik cameras that broadcast live on the internet. You could track their whereabouts on a Google map, and they provided on-the-spot coverage of what was happening in real time. Really, I can't recommend enough going to their main page and taking a look at what they managed to do yesterday. They also provided a lounge where visiting bloggers could have internet and video editing space, and that's where we were headquartered yesterday. We were able to not only hear about what was happening all across the city virtually instantaneously, but see their reporters quickly diverted to anything that was happening and watch as their cameras went into action.

It was like a million ants scurrying around the city, passing back bits of information that formed themselves into a whole in a completely decentralized manner. Its very nature defied efforts to control and spin and propagandize.

It was the anti-Fox News.

Today we're going to the Ron Paul convention, where the nascent pro-civil liberties, anti-war insurgency within the GOP is congregating in Minneapolis. Their use of the internet as a broadcast and organizational tool has been impressive (Glenn Greenwald and I are working with members of the Break the Matrix group on the Accountability Now project), and it should be interesting to hear what Ron Paul and Bruce Fein have to say today.

Lindsay Beyerstein and I will be reporting throughout the day on the Campaign Silo.

Denver, with its forced marches to the Pepsi Center, its Blue Dogs and its consultants jockeying for AT&T's money and party power made me ill.

There's something happening here.

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The media's job is to interest the public in the public interest. -John Dewey