Occupy Wall Street’s Structure Without Structure

cropped-fist.pngOne of the reasons that Occupy Wall Street became such a huge national discussion is that such a large, seemingly organized group was able to coordinate for a common goal. The group was able to organize and operate protests all over the country, and in some cases, all over the world. And they did so in such a tidy fashion that it sometimes appeared like there had to be some sort of mastermind in the background orchestrating the whole process.

But as any Occupy protester would tell you, there was no unifying force behind the protests. There was only small splinter groups that gained momentum as each group continued to gain momentum. The groups communicated online, using social networks like Twitter to share information about social injustice and each groups protests. Hundreds of Facebook groups, Tumblr blogs, websites, and even specialized Occupy-specific Twitter accounts sprouted up seemingly overnight.

But even at the peak of the Occupy Wall Street protests the communication wasn’t really organized. Individual protesters each took it upon themselves to become a voice for their movement. Nobody agreed on who was going to be the face of the Occupy movement. Each individual protester who helped maintain the communications between Occupy chapters decided to get more involved and to help spread information on the movement and for the movement. This decentralized process is truly democratic. The more useful information you provide, the more people would check for updates. The highest quality and most interesting communication channels grew fastest.

This decentralized structure was exactly what made Occupy Wall Street so powerful at it’s peak. Because there was no figurehead or individual person to remove, the protest was built around an idea and the ability to communicate individual opinions and views of that idea almost instantly. The participants were truly equal.

The outsider’s perception of structure within the movements springs from the power of this decentralized communications hub. The ability to instantly communicate online helped each protest in every location to be united in message and for news of any sort of police resistance to be spread almost instantly. The ease of spreading information also helped the protests grow rapidly. The social media presence across so many channels with so many protesters getting involved was powerful enough to make it almost impossible for anybody to avoid. There was no big marketing push or recruitment drive because they didn’t need one. Everybody already knew.

In more recent days, with the momentum of the Occupy movement falling to a standstill, the structure will continue to retract until there is a more centralized authority on the subject. But by the time that happens, the only reason for their additional authority will be their experience on the subject. Nothing would prevent other Occupy veterans from getting involved again and regaining some spotlight. And nothing would stop even brand new participants from joining up, rallying the population, and organizing something similar. All you need is the tools.