A small group of committed programmers has taken it upon themselves to build a central network for Occupy groups and protesters around the world, Wired reported on its Threat Level blog. It's partly a function of not wanting Facebook to have access to private activist messages, but it's also an attempt to simplify communications among the many groups. Because many of the largest Occupy camps in the U.S. have been closed, this new network could be where much organizing will now take place.
Additionally, the programmers hope to build the kind of technology that goes beyond politics by making a less centralized network, and one that is easily searchable. It makes a certain amount of sense because the world saw in 2011 how powerful social networks can be. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak hit the power switch on Egyptian Internet feeds because he knew a revolution was brewing on Facebook and Twitter.
The idea isn't new. Open-source alternatives to Facebook and Twitter like Diaspora and Identica already exist, but they aren't tailor-made for protest groups like Occupy and Anonymous. That means it's even more important that not just anybody be able to joins such a network. The plan is to have a kind of sponsor system for people who want to join. They would need to know someone in real life to get an invite.
To that end, protestors will be using tools like OpenID and OAuth to let people sign into a new Web site using their login info from Google and Facebook, for example, instead of getting a new password and username. Under this model, one network of activists could vouch for another, and that group could join the larger network. The current setup for Occupy Web sites is a quite a mess, and is set up like a never-ending feed of info from all over. The new system would be more like Reddit, with the best entries put forward more prominently by consensus.
Tell us in the comments what you think of this if you are an Occupier or Anonymous supporter.