Town hall activism, astroturfing, and netwar tactics
August 10th, 2009

Clay Spinuzzi has a long and thoughtful post about the top-down vs bottom-up arguments of the recent right-wing-sponsored health care legislation town hall protests:

Now, in 2009, some on the Right are bringing up these 2005 protests to suggest moral equivalence as they defend the health care protests. That’s certainly not my aim; I’m not after evaluating either protest morally. I am rather arguing that such networked protests, as Howard Rheingold said about the tea parties, are “a hybrid of top-down and grassroots organization.” They are an evolution of the netwar tactics that Castells describes, tactics that temporarily tie together groups with little ideological coherence in order to counter proposed change. In that sense, they are decentralized, reactionary and counterstrategic, even though some represented groups have longer-term strategic objectives. They’re going to become more prevalent, I think, since we are encountering such structures in business and leisure as well. And they’re going to continue changing form over time as people leverage more information technologies.

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