The Unfinished Business of the People’s Climate March

The People’s Climate March last fall in New York City was a monumental feat of organizing prowess. Seasoned environmentalists from big-budget nonprofits worked with grassroots activists from scrappy community-based groups to pull together the largest environmental demonstration in history. The motto “To change everything, we need everyone” was prominently displayed on the homepage of PeoplesClimate.org. To encourage inclusivity, the international environmental group 350.org hired a contractor to implement an online platform that supported decentralized network organizing. The platform was an important tool for getting people, especially those outside New York City, to the march. It made it easy for anyone to participate, even if they were not a member of a big environmental group, through a system of “hubs” that invited people to join based on geographic-, religious-, community-, or issue-based identities. However, after the march was over—after the headlines had been made—financial, technical, and administrative support for the hubs ended, in spite of declarations that the march would be “about more than just a single day.”

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How Network-Centric Organizing Made the People’s Climate March

At a reported 400,000 people, yesterday’s People’s Climate March was four times larger than expected. Other articles may feature the celebrities who turned out for a photo-op; this one is concerned with everyone else, the “odd juxtapositions” of a Muslim marching next to a Christian, a pagan next to a monk, and the work (and tech) that went into getting them there.

The People’s Climate March was large; the People’s Climate March contained multitudes. It was designed to do so in part by the technology that connected people to the event. The landing page for prospective organizers invited them to join one of the existing “hubs,” groups united by a shared cause or identifying characteristic, or to start their own. There were hubs for vegans, for people of faith, for yogis, for beekeepers, for causes like food justice and biodiversity, and for geographic regions as small as Cape Cod and as large as “The Deep South.”

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TechPresident: The Uncertain Future of India’s Plan to Biometrically Identify Everyone

Last Sunday an 11-year-old boy in Andhra Pradesh, a state in southeast India, hung himself from a ceiling fan as his family slept. He was allegedly driven to this act after being denied an Aadhaar card—formally known as Unique Identification (UID)—which he was told he needed to attend school. The card is one arm of India’s sprawling scheme to collect the biometric data, including fingerprints and iris scans, of its 1.2 billion citizens and residents, and is quickly becoming practically, if not legally, mandatory, for nearly every aspect of life, from getting married to buying cooking gas to opening a bank account. More than 630 million residents have already enrolled and received their unique 12-digit identification number.

Since its launch in 2010, people have raised a number of questions and concerns about Aadhaar, citing its effects on privacy rights, potential security flaws, and failures in functionality. India’s poor, who were supposed to be the biggest beneficiaries of the program, are actually most at risk of being excluded from UID, and there is no evidence that biometric identification has curtailed corruption. The newly-elected Prime Minister Narendra Modi lambasted the UID program as a candidate but in July did an about-face, calling for the enrollment process to be expedited and supporting a UID-linked social assistance program. In all likelihood, the world’s largest experiment in biometric identification will continue.

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The L Magazine: A Long-Lost Hitchcock Film Resurfaces

It could have been lost forever, buried under layers of grime and rust with the nondescript title Twin Sisters. Instead, Leslie Anne Lewis of the National Film Preservation Foundation (described as a “nitrate sleuth”—whatever that is!) took note of two remarkable stills as they passed over her light table: a close-up of a hand of cards, and a portrait-like shot of a woman framed by smoke. Struck by the artistry of the two frames, Lewis began an investigation into the remaining reels. Knowing the names of the two stars, Betty Compson and Clive Brook, and Selznick, the American distributor, was enough information to deduce what she had: 1924’s The White Shadow—one of the first films bearing the name of Alfred Hitchcock. Read more…

The L Magazine: The Normals: Side Effects May Include Being a Jerk

Billy Schine (Bryan Greenburg) is the ginger-bearded hero of this attempt to capture one man’s experience as a participant in a two-week trial of an antipsychotic drug. He joins fellow green-clad “normals” Gretchen (Jess Weixler), Rodney (Reg E. Cathey), and Lannigan (Frederick Weller) at a secluded testing facility. (They filmed it at Creedmore, an abandoned mental hospital in Queens.) He begins the trial cheerily enough, chatting up the nurse, doctor, and blood technician during processing, much to their institutional irritation. But things take a slow, confusing turn in the dark and bizarre second half of the film. Read more…