Occupy Wall Street (OWS)

On November 17th, 2011, on its second month anniversary, the OWS movement planned a series of organized activities across Manhattan and the five boroughs of New York City, as a demonstration and celebration of its commitment to action. This was not a spontaneous demonstration, but rather a well-organized event with a set schedule, advertised broadly through a wide spectrum of communication avenues, ranging from the blogosphere to Facebook and even posters (see Figure).


The activities were organized around three key planned events as shown in the event poster and communicated through social media channels:

  • 7 a.m.: Shutting down Wall Street
  • 3 p.m.: Occupying the subways (with a particular emphasis on Union Square as the subject of a mass student strike)
  • 5 p.m.: Taking Foley Square, across from New York’s City Hall.

These events were to be followed by a march towards Brooklyn Bridge to round out this day of action.

Through the use of Twitter and Flickr we have created a short movie that shows how social media portrayed the event. You can see the spatial and temporal clusters formed around the corresponding locations at 7 a.m., 3 p.m., and 5 p.m., and then get a magnificent view of the people crossing the Brooklyn Bridge at night.

Demarcating New Boundaries: Mapping Virtual Polycentric Communities through Social Media Content

The proliferation of social media has led to the emergence of a new type of geospatial information that defies the conventions of authoritative or volunteered geographic information, yet can be harvested to reveal unique and dynamic information about people and their activities.