On January 20th David Akin reported that a miserable 35 people turned up to dog PMS* when he showed up in Toronto and suggested they were all Liberal or NDP staffers and not members of CAPP, expressing doubt that the Facebook group Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament [CAPP]would be able to put their members out on the street on Saturday.
From David Akin on Saturday evening:
Based on initial reports, some from independent sources, some from partisan sources, it would be difficult to call this day of rallies a failed test. [more]
But he would if he could.
Before rally day, from John Moore who writes for, er, ahem:
Grassroots fury? Thousands of people in the streets, switchboard’s browning out with indignant calls and a tsunami of e-mails might be considered a grassroots fury. Facebook groups, on the other hand, amount to a kind of ephemeral eruption that usually passes like a hot flash or the urge to vote for the Green party.
And in response to a letter from freelance writer James DiFiore, Moore had this to say, in part:
I will absolutely eat my words if anything comes of the movement outside of the usual gang of professional protesters but if you honestly think that a bunch of people clicking a button and joining a Facebook group that they will never return to is political action then perhaps it’s the younguns these days who need a good lesson in media and action. Rosa Parks did not launch the civil rights movement by Twittering “this bus thing totally sucks”. Barack Obama was not elected by social networking. It was a means of connecting people so they could actually do the grunt work of old fashioned politics: door to door, meetings, and phone calls. Digital yakity yak is not action.
I’d recommend you take a quick look at today’s Toronto Star for an idea of how Facebook translates into action. 32 thousand signed up at Facebook to protest a possible strike by Ontario college teachers. One showed up for the protest. I know it’s a popular talking point that “old media” don’t get “new media” but as long as new media rings together a bunch of ernest do-nothings old media will continue to recognize it as a pooling of people who are all talk and no action.
Um, John? Old media doesn’t get new media. Really.
Yesterday, John tried to cover his ass with this post:
But as Rick Mercer has pointed out the push in the last ten days to actually deliver on the whole Facebook thing is drawing considerably upon the fact that it was originally shrugged off. So who is turning out to genuinely follow through on their button pushing and who is turning out to teach the crusty old media wretches a lesson? [some more]
Right John. Tens of thousands of people rallied across Canada to teach your crusty ass a lesson. I doubt that anyone cares if you figure it out or not honey. Come along for the ride, or don’t.
* PMS = Prime Minister Steve and he’s about as welcome to me as that.
UPDATE: Speaking of PMS, a P.S. to John Moore – Ain’t nuthin’ ephemeral about a hot flash buddy.
UPPER-DATE: Can’t leave out Michael Geist, who knew what was happening before the rallies –
The new year is less than three weeks old, but the Canadian Internet story of 2010 may have already taken place. Ridiculed by political parties and analysts, the growth of the Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament Facebook group, which now has more than 200,000 members, provides the clearest indicator yet of how poorly the Canadian political community understands social media and digital advocacy. [lots more]
UPPITY-DATE: As Antonia Zerbisias would say. And how could I leave this irrepressible activist, Toronto Star columnist and blogger out? The day before the rallies, Ms Zerbisias had this to say –
Still, Canadians will show up.
Trouble is, they will be spread out from Antigonish to Victoria to Yellowknife, mostly in towns abandoned by our corporate, concentrated media who plead poverty when it comes to local news, but can pony up millions and millions for U.S. series already piped in by cable.
So a true measure will never be taken, at least not by the national media ministries of truth, especially not on a weekend when newsrooms are bare-bones operations.
But tune into Facebook and Twitter and you’ll see the big picture.
I plan to help paint it.
On that, you can count. [oh, there’s more – count on it!]
FINAL UPDATE: Finally, John Moore responds. Not worth the wait but here it is anyway –
Well it looks like I wont be eating crow for dinner after all. Dan Cook went through the numbers for me city by city and three thousand people in Ottawa and Toronto, 300 in Montreal, 250 in Edmonton and 2000 in Vancouver doesn’t really amount to much.
It’s a numbers game. That’s why politicians monitor e-mail, protests and phone calls. And three thousand people in the streets of Toronto just doesn’t do the trick. Is it fair? yes as a matter of fact. I covered federalist and separatist rallies and protests for years in Montreal and you knew when people were fighting mad. That’s when fifty to a hundred thousand hit the streets. When it was just another “We Hate Ottawa” or “God save Canada” gathering they would muster a few thousand and it didn’t mean a thing.
I’m not celebrating this outcome. My record on this PM is long and clear. But my method as a columnist and radio host has always been to try to offer as accurate a pulse on what people are saying and thinking at the moment. It doesn’t matter how much I don’t like Stephen Harper’s pettiness. What matters is whether or not a significant percentage of the population is fed up enough to do something about it.
Of course John’s not close to correct on the numbers. Even MacLean‘s doesn’t have it right, though they’re certainly closer. No matter how many Canadians had been on the street I think it’s a safe bet that Moore wouldn’t have eaten any crows – he made up his mind beforehand and forgot to leave himself a way out. As well his job is to create fake controversy so really his statement on the rallies is functional for him – it’s what he gets paid for. I guess.
But we can talk numbers forever; contary to what Moore says, there’s more going on here than what the tally does or does not say. Many many many people are involved in this protest on Facebook, on Twitter, on the group’s website and on so many blogs that collecting links is hard work. Large numbers of those people got themselves out onto the streets in cities, towns and communities across the country on Saturday and many of those people are committed to continue working to affect HarperCON policies or to defeat the government entirely. These people have dominated the national conversation for days and even weeks. If we never hear another peep from them collectively, a great deal has been learned and some people have taken an interest in their country’s politicians and political structure for the first time. That’s the least of what has been accomplished. Time will tell us a great deal more about what this movement of people has meant.
Hey John Moore, if it’s so unimportant, how come you can’t stop talking about it? Now, here’s your punishment. Keep your promise.
By Pale from A Creative Revolution