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Flashmobs and Smartmobs Are The Mobs Left Out Of The Dublin Riot Story

category national | arts and media | feature author Monday February 27, 2006 22:42author by eeekkk Report this post to the editors

'Why pay Eoghan Harris when spin and opinion is free eh?' sez Wag. 'All power to the commenteers!'

featured image
Traffic cams show riot in real time

Looking on through the lens of the virtual on Saturday I was stunned by the breath and depth of the live and parasitic (in a healthy way) critique of the action which unfolded alongside the action on O'Connell Street on Indymedia Ireland and throughout the hiberno-blogosphere. I quickly realised that this was definitely the first example of an ad-hoc flashmob of citizen journalists banding together with a decentralised diy publishing infrastructure, spontaneously, as live and with no pre-planning whatsoever and with no notice, flexing its muscles and absolutely wiping the floor with the methods of the traditional media. RTE had just about caught up with events by the time the (10 minutes later than scheduled) late evening bulletin came around. All of the blogs all day were choc full of dissatisfaction with the performance of the 'public service' broadcaster.

Slugger O'Toole from the wee six is hardwired into the blogosphere and their roundups of coverage are as good an entrypoint as any into this emergent phenomenon. Bloggers and citizen journalists threw the kitchen sink at the event: Linking to live radio sources; Grabbing compelling images from traffic cameras; Utilising cheap video cameras and digital cameras and phone cameras; Hopping in and out of net cafes (plenty serving the new immigrant communities on Parnell Street); Doing the Flickr thang.

However for me the defining feature of the citizen journalist coverage that shows its unique power was the absolute breakdown of the ever thinning line between participants in, producers of and consumers of news events. Participants and observers on both sides of the Garda line as well as observers removed from the event but live on the network of networks had their say, debated, analyzed and interacted live as the event and its aftermath unfolded.

Within a period of two days all the materials that a skilled tv-documentary filmaker would in previous years spend weeks working to assemble so as to reconstruct and narrate such an event - the footage, stills and viewpoints from a range of perspectives - were there for the taking on the web and much of it with non-traditional copyright licences attached. It felt like a revolt against the staid usual suspects approach of the newspapers and tv presently available in the Republic of Ireland. It was a cross-border bottom up non-sectarian effort too which in some ways is the healthy obverse of the outright obfuscation, pointscoring, demonisation and agenda pursuing visible in the majority of mainstream coverage. A thirst for something approaching the truth was apparent.

Of course Indymedia Ireland has used the same toolset to cover various events before in Ireland and even abroad but loose co-operation and foreknowledge that an event would take place at a particular time and place was in the past a prerequisite of such coverage. This time the same model was spontaneously adopted by large numbers of people at a moments notice.

The flipside of the coin is that this was also in my opinion - after having read through as much citizen-reporting as my eyes can handle - the first truly spontaneous 'smartmob' protest in Irish history. Yes, of course some actors with various agendas seeded the event - RSF by calling it - casuals from various areas who decided to have a little sport - those with a nose for trouble who simply turned up out of curiosity - but it seems clear that as the confrontation between protesters and the Gardai began, word of trouble and fun and opportunities for revenge and cheap goods spread with the use of text messages and mobile calls through the cheap housing and rough pubs in the north inner city like a raging bushfire. Within minutes those seeking to block O'Connell Street had more reinforcements than even those most up for a riot (or the Gardai) could ever have imagined. The rest, as they say, is a people's history - except for some footage documenting the first baton charge by the Gardai on protesters. I'm sure it'll turn up.

Run - the future is behind you.

author by seedotpublication date Mon Feb 27, 2006 23:41author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Here's an a eyewitness account of the first blows

"And then ..... a 'sing-song' started ! Very threatening , wha' ... ! The Irish National Anthem was sung , some then started singing the Fields of Athenry , whilst others were singing 'We Shall Overcome' - and , with a group that size , in the four different locations that we were in ,
the songs over-lapped , as ya would expect ! But THAT was the atmosphere at that time - about 12.20PM - good natured , but determined to show the loyalists , who were due in ten minutes (12.30PM) that not everyone welcomed them under their new flag of convenience .

Thats when things got nasty - the riot control cops (think mini-SAS wannabe's!) , about thirty of them at that point , dressed in black , carrying batons with helmets and perspex shields , moved in to remove the crowd of us at the Parnell Monument who , by this time , numbered
about 200 strong and had taken-up positions , with their placards and banners etc , across the by-now closed-off [by the cops] road junction - O 'Connell Street itself was not being blocked by us - we were just lined-up along that one side of it , but the riot squad wanted us gone from
there - we said no ! They lifted their shields chin-high , formed a straight line about three feet in front of us , drew their batons - and briskly waded into us , batons flying . And THAT , folks , despite what the media are now saying - was the spark that started the whole thing off ."

From an article on http://www.irbb.rr.nu/ courtesy of politics.ie contributor

Related Link: http://admin2.7.forumer.com/viewtopic.php?t=5487
author by redjade - {i didn't make the video - but i made the screenshots!}publication date Tue Feb 28, 2006 00:03author address author phone Report this post to the editors

A 13 minute video of the rioting in Dublin
approximately 100 MB in size
you will require a broadband connection to view it.

can be viewed using Quicktime and other movie players,
but if you have probs, try VLC

I've watched zillions of indymedia 'activist video' and this is the most amazing I've seen yet - you feel the confusion and its probably the first indy-style video I've ever seen where I felt bad for the cops (humans too, of course).

• video was originally published at
Dublin Riots: What Happened and Why

13 minutes in Dublin
13 minutes in Dublin

author by R. Isiblepublication date Tue Feb 28, 2006 00:30author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"Democracy" is a GPL'ed, free, open source player that can handle most types of video codec. Its really nice feature is how it handles syndication (RSS/ATOM etc). Unfortunately the Linux branch isn't great right now, but the Mac and Windows ones work very nicely.

It's part of a wider project to make the net more useful for people that like video and to make video blogging more popular.

Related Link: http://www.getdemocracy.com/
author by redjadepublication date Tue Feb 28, 2006 02:17author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Dublin Riots
'What the hell just happened in Dublin? If you had told me last week that there would be riots in Dublin at the weekend, there is no way I would have believed you. I didn't find out about it until this morning, when someone forwarded my a collection of photos of the riots.'

Plan for failure
'A march fails when disrupted. Reasons for disruption of an Orange Order march are well-known and most involve missiles. So when an Orange Order march is scheduled down a street full of bricks in piles, loose concrete slabs and unattended storage bins that can hold petrol bombs it appears to me that it was designed to fail. Anyone reading the European Sunday papers today can see the results of that failure. It's a top 25 tag on Flickr as well. In one quick snap, Dublin Tourism has placed itself on the same thematic pages as destinations noted for burning cars on city'

Musings on yesterdays 'Love Ulster' riots
'...there was no Provisional Republican involvement yesterday that we could see. The Republican Sinn Fin elements and an assortment of Dublin (and Eastern European) scumbags made up the rioters and looters. The Provos had nothing whatsoever to gain politically from yesterday's violence. McDowell, on the other hand, has just been gifted with priceless material for sound-bytes to scare voters in middle-class Ireland with come election time.'

And another thing
'I can clearly remember the PDs condemning the Make Partition History rally on the grounds it was divisive, sectarian, etc. Now they're getting on their high horse about the loyalists' right to march being denied.'

Rioting in Dublin
"Here Anto, I'm after getting a deadly new pair of Nikes!"
"Nice one, Deco. I'm gonna get a pair of Pumas."

Walking through town is quite scary
'While the parade may have been sensitive and provocative, for once it was not politics or religion that caused the problem.'

Sick of hearing about Charlie Bird
'On boards.ie there was a pointer to this superb video of the riot in Nassau street
The person who filmed it sent it to various media outlets to be told "they were only looking for footage of Charlie Bird being attacked". The video above is the real news.'

Moving Forward
'I have to say that two days after the unfortunate Dublin riots, I am completely rioted-out. I can't think of Saturday without feeling a combination of sadness and nausea. It's completely depressing to me that a few hundred thugs could cast such a shadow on city and a country.'

Visit from Queen unlikely after violence
'I spotted an excellent point made by Henry McDonald in his latest column in The Guardian, a point that I and everyone else appear to have missed, which is that Saturday's violence in Dublin has made the proposed first state visit to the Republic by the British Queen a very remote possibility indeed.'

They left their barstools to free Ireland!
'This rag tag bunch of barstool republicans has gifted Frazer with the perfect propaganda tool, what a bunch of idiots!!'

Analysis of the Riots from Indymedia
'Indymedia have been doing sterling work reporting on the riot and its aftermath.'

Richard Waghorne's Blog: The Meaning of Today's Riot
'It won't be possible to reach a considered view of the meaning of today's events until a number of uncertain facts are established, but there are two initial points that can and should be made.

First, it would appear that today's violence has been orchestrated by republicans.'

How's that for a bit of Freedom of Expression?
'The lunatics are, obviously, insane bigots but the Republican Sinn Fin protest that turned into a riot has made them out to be victims. The stupidity of it all is phenomonal.'

We Should Be Better Than This
'I had thought we were better than this. I had hoped that recent experience of a growing peace in our country (which I never thought Id see in my lifetime), of progress towards a more enlightened Ireland were bringing us closer together, but I guess it will take a decade or two, possibly a couple of generations to heal some wounds.'

The latest craze in town!
'The whole thing was soaked in idiocy in every camp. Earlier on Saturday the Provo IRA announced to RTE and FM104 wit the correct codewords that a bomb was going to go off. Republicans promised they would try to cause trouble. The gardai - 300 of them? - less than you'd see at a flipping croker match. Hilarious'

No Love In Dublin
'The sight of a thousand Unionists walking in *their capital* has been too much for these Republicans to cope with. Keep at it lads, your "Ireland of Equals" looks even more appealing after today's little show of pique.'

They don't burn cars just on Nassau St you know.

Quality of reporting on the Dublin riots
'Some people seem to think that the Dublin riots is some kind of pivotal moment for Irish blogs as they supposedly brought the story and the pictures to the Irish public. In reality it did nothing more, but highlight the line between the mainstream media and citizen reporters.'

One Quick Thought on the Riots
'While I was asleep in bed all day, most Dublin bloggers were on OConnell St. Like other bloggers, I learnt about what happened from bloggers. Now as I drink the last of my flat 7UP and Diarolyte before I go to back to bed, I have only 1 thought if I go down to OConnell St next Saturday will I meet loads of Irish bloggers with digital cameras?'

Riots in Dublin
'I saw, in horror at the Dublin Webcams the devistation of the Riots....'

NOTE: most of these link to the Hiberno-Blogosphere
were found at http://www.irishblogs.ie
please go there and snip-n-paste your own
favourite hiberno-blogs from there to here.

screenshot of webcam by http://blogs.boards.ie/number6
screenshot of webcam by http://blogs.boards.ie/number6

author by Shipseapublication date Tue Feb 28, 2006 20:27author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The Indymedia reports of events on Saturday were mentioned by Joe Duffy on his programme today.

author by dunkpublication date Tue Feb 28, 2006 21:03author email fuspey at yahoo dot co dot ukauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

now updated to includes part of imc-ie article Dublin Riots: What Happened and Why (Analysis) + 13min Video Footage:
and link to Terence Wheelock and link to above article


Copied and pasted text removed -ed

author by Tooth Fairypublication date Wed Mar 01, 2006 14:15author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Will a transcript of this debate be available at a later date? All very well to listen to them chewing the cud but I prefer to have something I can get my teeth into. So can you promise us something with bite? It would raise our molar.

author by anonpublication date Thu Mar 02, 2006 09:53author address author phone Report this post to the editors

reports from those who actually bricked the gardai?

author by eeekkkkkpublication date Fri Mar 10, 2006 17:30author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"But it is a short step from disaffiliation to desafodefiance. All the excluded, the disaffiliated, whether from the banlieues, immigrants or native-born, at one point or another turn their disaffiliation into defiance and go onto the offensive. It is their only way to stop being humiliated, discarded or taken in hand. In the wake of the November fires, mainstream political sociology spoke of integration, employment, security. I am not so sure that the rioters want to be reintegrated on these lines. Perhaps they consider the French way of life with the same condescension or indifference with which it views theirs. Perhaps they prefer to see cars burning than to dream of one day driving them. Perhaps their reaction to an over-calculated solicitude would instinctively be the same as to exclusion and repression.

The superiority of Western culture is sustained only by the desire of the rest of the world to join it. When there is the least sign of refusal, the slightest ebbing of that desire, the West loses its seductive appeal in its own eyes. Today it is precisely the best it has to offercars, schools, shopping centresthat are torched and ransacked. Even nursery schools: the very tools through which the car-burners were to be integrated and mothered. Screw your mother might be their organizing slogan. And the more there are attempts to mother them, the more they will. Of course, nothing will prevent our enlightened politicians and intellectuals from considering the autumn riots as minor incidents on the road to a democratic reconciliation of all cultures. Everything indicates that on the contrary, they are successive phases of a revolt whose end is not in sight."

Related Link: http://post.thing.net/node/740
author by dunkpublication date Mon Mar 13, 2006 00:50author address author phone Report this post to the editors

just been watching the politics show there on the box and there was footage from the weeks discussions in the dail, there was discussion about anarchy on the streets and general safety or lack of in dublin communities..

anyway, gist went like this

john gormley (green party) ; how come the government didnt know there would be trouble, there are sites to look at that made clear there would be trouble
micheal mcdowel (pd's) ; not sure what type of sites mr gormley is viewing early in the morning, but i know one type, indymedia showed pictures of the pds offices being done in by the sort of people mr gormely associates with
gormley ; i can not stand for that, i ask the minister to take that back, it is an insult.....

anyway, just to pass that on, hope its accurate enough

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