Dutch Student Protests organized via instant messaging (2)
December 6th, 2007

A week ago Smartmobs posted about school students in the Netherlands who organized their protest using online and mobile phone text messages.

How did these protests actually get coordinated (if at all)? The protest apparently seem to have ignited rather spontaneously. A brief online search shows that initially on November 23 2007 Dutch school student action committee LAKS – the coordinating body behind the ‘official’ actions and media spokesmen – write on their website that any MSN message claiming to be from LAKS is not actually from them.

[Thank you Michiel de Lange for tracing these records !!]

> from:

> 23 november 2007
> MSN messages calling for a strike on Monday November 26 are not coming from LAKS. If there will be a nation-wide action, this will be announced on www.laks.nl and www.stop1040.nl.

A couple of days later however, and after a number of (violent) protests, (BBC report ; Associated Press) LAKS seem to have realized the potential of technologies. On November 28 LAKS announce on a website registered especially for these protest actions on 06-11-2007 that *only* the following MSN message is actually sent out by LAKS:

> from: www.stop1040.nl
> 28 november 2007
> The following MSN message is coming from LAKS:
> Wednesday at 22:00 the Parliament holds a meeting about the Education
> hours. If they don’t listen to the students, LAKS (Dutch School
> student organization) will organize a big nation-wide action on the
> Museum Square in Amsterdam. For more info, see www.stop1040.nl and
> www.laks.nl!
> Do you get different MSN messages? Look on www.laks.nl or this website
> whether the MSN message is ours.

A Dutch student who witnessed one of the protests in the city of
Leiden writes:

> from http://www.hdci.nl/jong/?p=313
> 25-11-07
> Who organized all this, and whether LAKS is involved or not, is
> also unclear to the protesters. The only thing known is that
> everything went by word of mouth, via email, Hyves.nl [the biggest
> social network site in Holland], SMS, notes in the toilets and most
> of all MSN. “It all happened via new communication technologies”, a
> head of school later that day said through the telephone, declaring
> this all had taken him by surprise.

Concluding, it still remains unclear who were behind the initial
calls for actions, but these tactics were quickly adopted by the
overarching organizers in their strategies. Finally, not all was new
technologies. Somehow notes in the toilets filled a gap in the action
media palette students have at their disposal.

The dutch student protest case confirms that cellphones and social networks are increasingly in the center of protest and political activism,
as observed by smartmobs blogger Emmily Turretini in The Economist.


Michiel de Lange
Erasmus University Rotterdam
PhD candidate ‘Playful Identities’

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