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Mass Protests and Crowd Intelligence

sterrab's picture

In the Digital Humanities Manifesto 2.0, the word “manifesto” from manus or hand helped me relate the mass 2011 protests, such as those in the Arab Spring and Occupy, to the digital humanities. As fists  reaching out for freedom and equality against corruption and unemployment in a mass protest, a similar hand reaches out for the freedom of the spoken word and the common share of ideas in the digital humanities. In a protest, a hand is not to be distinguished from the others around it as each one joins the others in a wave of fists for a common cause. Similarly, one person’s words and ideas in the digital platform matter, but how they connect to others' and their derived linkages create the multimedia network of “innovative thinking” that makes up the digital humanities. The emphasis of the ant colony instead of the Ivory Tower in the digital humanities reminded me of a book on complexity science (more about it here) that demonstrates the intelligence of crowds and how ant colony and swarm behavior can be used to determine the logic behind networks. The research on crowd behavior suggests that a group of consolidated, cooperative individuals is more powerful than separate individuals and we hence should all agree that power lies in the masses. Digital humanities creates a platform for individual minds to unintentionally connect together to create logical networks that are governed by the same individual laws that form the order to an ant colony.  The same applies to a group of mass protesters that unite against a common cause. The digital humanities is a co-creation, as mentioned in the Manifesto, that emerges from the collaboration of individuals through the easy exchange of works and the space for open-ended critiques and dialogue. The digital platform allows writing to be collaborative and transformative to new ideas, opinions, and trends in popular culture. Even if one’s work may be individual, it inevitably joins a mesh of accessible works that simply condense to make up a node in the multidimensional lattice of the digital humanities.

Image source: TIME magazine--