I saw “Maker Culture” at work front and center and it was not a pretty sight.I was at the historic Willard Hotel the other night in Washington DC. I was having dinner with a small dinner party in a private dining room at the hotel. The storied Willard was where Martin Luther King put the final touches on the brilliant “I Have A Dream” speech; where the Battle Hymn of the Republic” was penned, and where Walt Whitman improved on some of his poems for his seminal “Leaves Of Grass”, so scandalous at the time that he had to self publish. For hundreds of years, the Willard has served a diverse guest list of a free nation and at every level of the political spectrum.
The Willard is also at the epicenter of our nation’s capital. It is a stone’s throw from the White House, and not far from K Street where the encampments for the Occupy Movement currently exist. That morning, the Occupy movement of 700 protestors marched down K Street, stopping traffic.
The DC Police were everywhere including outside the Willard hotel. At approximately, 8 pm when dinner was served at the party, the Occupy movement walked into the private dining room with a bull horn and a siren chanting “We are the 99%” There were approximately 20 Occupy protesters. Apparently, they had cleverly infiltrated the very busy hotel one by one, past the police posing as friendly holiday travelers, hours before a fund raiser was to begin for Newt Gingrich. They had ordered drinks at the bar, newspapers in the lobby, until their appointed rendezvous of disruption at 8 pm.
They were successful in the rendevous on one level: they converged on an event with their noise makers, creating quite a cacophony. The only problem was: they were not at the right place. But in “Maker Culture”, does it matter? The intent was to cause disruption at the Newt Gingrich Fund Raiser at the hotel. While I didn’t count them, there seemed to be approximately 50 ballrooms and private facilities at the Willard. The protestors had lost their way. They had gone to the wrong banquet room. I understand Newt Gingrich was staying at the hotel, but I could not get that verified by the Willard, which makes sense, as it caters to the privacy of its guests.
The first thing that surprised me was an Occupy protestor falling flat to the floor and screaming “Assault! Assault!” Of the 20 or so protestors, ten of them were equipped with cell phone video and all of them were recording. I thought to myself, this will be recut to show some sort of abuse or harassment; I have been surprised that nothing has shown up yet on the internet.
By 7 am the next morning, there were several different videos posted on YouTube, all with thousands of hits, all from our new “Maker Culture”. There is no question that the Occupy movement is well versed in transmedia strategy….only it was not the truth: they had not occupied a Newt Gingrich event. Here’s is one of the videos. The fellow with the megaphone definitely has a memorable staccato.
The biggest surprise was how many legitimate venues carried the”Maker Culture” story without checking sources. Perhaps, the LA Times and Keith Olberman no longer care about the truth in a world leaning towards further confusion in the mdeia. I had always understood that the journalistic code required at least two credible sources. It does not seem that any of these venues checked with anyone from the hotel or the Newt Gingrich camp or anyone from the party that they crashed.
Here is the event reconstructed by Countdown with Keith Olberman. Olberman interviews a reporter from Mother Jones who I did not see in the room.
While I was looking for the Willard Hotel, I came upon this story from Countdown. On the same rainy night, Bill O’Reilly left the Willard Hotel to attend a White House Christmas Party. It is said that he “assaulted” an occupier with his umbrella. It is interesting to note that the apparent “assault” takes place off camera with only the sound of the cameraman and victim making noise. We are all now storyboard artists. Welcome to “Maker Culture”.