But initial challenges in online communication also led to one Nuit Debout’s greatest innovations. According to Sitka, French activists use twitter and email far less than the Spanish activists of 15M. From the start of Nuit Debout, the French instead started using Telegram, an open-sourced version of WhatsApp, which comes with more security than Facebook messages or email. Telegram, which creates groups organized by location or focus theme, was quickly rolled out so that the majority of Nuit Debout groups, or commissions, use it for communication. The groups are all 200 people or less; therefore, unlike email threads, you can see who is the audience, and non-active users are cleared off the lists.
This innovation alone has opened up the movement, by reducing the ability of gatekeepers to hold special positions, or for communication to rely on friendship bonds. It has also made time-inefficient mass email lists almost irrelevant. For the media team, this means their message can be shaped with wider participation – both input through digital and input on the squares. From the start of Nuit Debout, said Sitka, digital tools and online developers were at the forefront creating the digital infrastructure to network the movement.
The revolution may not be televised – but on the square in Paris, it is being networked.
Recent French Revolt 11 Weeks Strong and Counting*
By Steve Rushton
“Across France we are building a non-hierarchical network, and this is new,” explains Jan Sitka, who is part of the media team of Nuit Debout, the French movement of the squares that is now nearly three months in the making.
Since its first evening in Paris’s Place de la République on March 31, Nuit Debout continues to stay “up all night,” as the name implies. It may have fallen from international mainstream media attention, but the movement is both reshaping France and showing the evolution of post-2008 global democracy movements.
Cities and towns across France continue holding assemblies and working in participative commissions on social justice issues. The movement has spread to Belgium and Germany and has caused the re-occupation of Spanish Plazas. It has spread across France on a similar scale that 15 million did across Spain in…
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