Much has been made this past year about the recent interplay between technology and social protest. As citizens in counties across the Arab world have rise to challenge despotic leaders, they have relied on social networking sites to organize and spread information. In Egypt, Facebook was an instrumental tool in bringing large crowds to central Cairo for days on end. In Libya and Bahrain, Twitter has acted as one of the crucial links of communication between those countries and the outside world. And, in Syria, bloody videos posted on YouTube have coalesced public opinion in opposition to the ruling regime.
Now, over the past few weeks, the equation has turned itself around. This time, instead of using technology to guide social protest, protesters are creating new technologies – or, at least, new apps – that further their cause. These protesters are members of the Occupy Wall Street movement, a protest that does not function on the same life-or-death scale as the Arab Spring but still models its social media use after those Mideast uprisings. In addition to using Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to broadcast its cause, though, the Occupy Wall Street protestors have also taken to developing new Android applications.
The most popular new app developed by the movement is the “I’m Getting Arrested” app, which can be downloaded on any device that runs Android 1.6 or higher. Developed by Quadrant 2, the app allows users to store the information of key contacts that will immediately be notified if the user is arrested. Most users have the numbers of a couple family members, maybe several close friends, and a legal counsel saved in the app. The app is available in several languages, allowing it to be used by Occupy Wall Street protesters in cities around the globe.
Another app developed by the movement is called “Shouty.” Also designed for Android phones, the app is intended to be used when delivering speeches to large crowds: it turns a person’s speech into a live mp3 stream that can then be heard by people far from the speaker. Since speakers, megaphones, and microphones are often banned at Occupy Wall Street gatherings (since the protesters usually do not have a permit), the app provides one of the few legal means of projecting something that is said to all protestors in the area.
These are just a couple of the new apps developed by recent social protest movements. If the current trend of widespread economic and political protest continues, it will be interesting to see what else gets created in response.
Author Bio:- Tyler Hunt is a blogger and commentator with a particular focus in social innovation and enterprise products, including cloud servers and cloud gpu. He lives in San Diego, CA with his wife and three dogs.