Friday, October 21, 2011

The "human mic" - a necessary evil?

Unlike many other #Occupation sites, in New Orleans we are allowed to use amplified devices, including speakers.  We've been using the "human mic" technique, through which the speaker delivers a few words or phrases to an audience who repeats in unison these words and phrases so everybody in the crowd can hear.

As you can imagine, this method can be very inefficient, nearly doubling the amount of time it takes to communicate an announcement, speech, proposal, or pep talk.  It would stand to reason that the use of a microphone and speakers would enhance the communication potential of such a gathering.

However, there has been a schism among #OccupyNOLA participants related to this issue, with many (sometimes up to half) of the people walking out of General Assemblies and other meetings where the speakers are being used.

The objection is mainly to what's perceived as the co-opting of the medium, which is definitely being done by a small group of white men who literally speak over other people during these meetings.

[These same men decided to disc-jockey the Day of Solidarity march this past Saturday, playing the classic NWA tune "Fuck tha Police" on a particularly desolate stretch of Canal Street when it was just us protestors and the police officers escorting us.  Not the strategic move for free speech I would have made, but hey, everyone occupies in their own way.  Chloe says: "Eliminate the root of oppression and the apparatus will disappear."]

So for now, I'm pro-human mic, despite its shortcomings. In a movement with at times disparate interests and messages, it's important that people think about what they're going to say and not take too much time to say it.

1 comment:

  1. thanks for your writings. have you read the new edition of the Raging Pelican? there's a lot on OccupyNOLA in the latest issue.

    The human mic strikes me as a powerful technique for reaching understandings between people traditionally divided by social sectors. it reminds me of a therapeutic technique, where one person in contest with the other repeats back what the other has said, in order that the first person internalize it and come to a better understanding of the other.

    Sometimes words take a while to sink in, so much so that the people's mic, while time-consuming from a lecturer's point-of-view, may actually be saving time from a communicator's perspective.

    And i'm sorry you haven't yet found decent pizza--there isn't much "new york" about new york pizza. but have you tried Pizza Delicious? they make their own dough fresh and trace their lineage directly from Brooklyn. i think it's the closest you'll get by far.