Most people know quite a bit about the WTO now. Last week’s protests have left many people stumped, though. It seemed so 60's. 35,000 to 50,000 people shutdown the city for a week. While the property damage by some people grabbed the attention, that damage was very limited considering the size and length of the protests. The protests were primarily peaceful. And the police were remarkably restrained with limited arrests and limited use of tear gas and such. A number of commentators have noted that the effort was very organized.
The protests were organized primarily over the internet via websites like seattle99.org. Businesses may have taken to the internet like fish to water, but they don’t own the internet. It’s still a powerful tool for everyone else, too. More broadly, the government representatives and the public have both seen that public needs to be taken into account in government again. That's a huge reaffirmation of democracy.
Going forward, governments need to find creative ways to include public concerns much more integrally to the decision making process. I suspect we’ll also see more protests like this going forward. Hopefully, they’ll be even more peaceful than this protest was. Damage doesn’t make the point. Masses of people do. Beyond that, I suspect police departments will now include internet research as a core part of their intelligence gathering. You can be sure the Seattle police wish they'd kept a closer eye on the information available on websites like seattle99.org and coordinated with the protest leaders.
Looking to the longterm, we’ve stepped over a threshold. The first virtual nation —Cyber Yugoslavia— has been growing slowly. But, it and others, are an unavoidable fact of life now. Seattle may be noted in future histories of virtual nations in the same way that the so-called "shot heard round the world" was a critical moment in the American revolution. Power is heady stuff and moments like these remind people that they have power. We can hope that the changes coming will bear a closer resemblance to the peaceful overthrow of dictators seen in numerous countries over the last ten years than the rolling heads of the French Revolution.
We’re doing some behind the scenes work to draw more people here. It appears to be succeeding. We’ll see how the rest of the month works out, but we’re currently running about twice the traffic we did 30 days ago. If you’re a new regular, thank you. Keep coming back, we’ve got some new goodies in store.
In other site news, we’ve done more work on our Resources section. We’ve added a chat room open to one and all. All you need is a browser that’ll handle our site. We’ve also added more documents and updated our listserv page.
The Word –which is in the process of becoming artsDFW– now has its own domain. We’re still providing website development and hosting, but it’s easier to find it. You can go directly there now: artsDFW.com, artsDFW.org or artsDFW.net