Social Media for Social Justice

On Saturday October 24th, #RiseUpOctober’s Anti Police Violence Rally in New York City drew media coverage from around the country. Quentin Tarantino and Cornel West were among speakers addressing the audience of thousands. The event was largely organized around social media, similar to many other anti-police actions. Organizers in the Black Lives Matter movement and similar movements have used social media as a way to organize events, keep tabs on police during protests, and update the world about these events. They are often live streamed and live tweeted, allowing people thousands of miles away to be at the center of protests.

In 2014, when news broke that police officers shot and killed unarmed Michael Brown in a neighboring town of where I grew up, I immediately jumped on social media to see what was happening as the protests unfolded. Twitter feeds of activists and protesters’ live streams were hours ahead of the news coverage and did not include what could arguably be called pro-police propaganda that many news channels featured.

During the #RiseUpOctober rally, the Texas A&M Initiative for Digital Humanities, Media, and Culture (IDHMC) expanded social media’s role in these protests further by hosting an event using various streams of live information to build an archive of the rally as it happened in real time. The event was hosted in Texas A&M’s Humanities Visualization Space, which features fifteen computers to monitor social media streams. Using these streams as primary sources along with ideaMache, a software platform developed at Texas A&M, the participants in the event were able to collect, discuss, and contextualize what was happening on the ground.

Texas A&M IDHMC’s event shows how live streaming information, photos, and video can be used to develop archives and practice history in the social media age.

Check back next week for an in-depth look at the ideaMache platform.
h/t to the Gilmer Mirror