Brains and Boobs: ‘Viral Media’
Or
How I survived ‘BoobQuake’ and what I
learned 
Barcamp Chiang Mai 2010
"First they ignore you,
then they laugh at you,
then they fight you,
then you win.”
-Mahatma Gandhi
Photo: Maritia Cosma /...
In June 2009 Twitter profiles were
‘going green’ to call the media’s
attention to Iran’s recent election
worries.
The Obama administration
(while maintaining
neutrality) asked
Twitter to hold off on
scheduled
maintenance.
People took Tw...
Iranian prayer leader Hojatoleslam Kazem
Sedighi stated in April 2010:
"Many women who do
not dress modestly ...
lead youn...
When translated this led to much amusement.
A (Canadian) science student in the USA decided
to test this, and created a Fa...
‘BoobQuake’ got 14,000 members in 24 hours,
and continued to grow.
#BrainQuake
• Two Iranian Professors, Negar Mottahedeh and
Golbarg Bashi, suggested ‘BrainQuake’ for the
same day, to take advantage o...
• Ms. McCreight issued a clarification after
#BoobQuake’s launch:
• “Seriously, internet, you scare and amaze me
sometimes...
Women dressing
immodestly in Iran (and
other countries) can
face arrest and
harassment.
I am not an expert on
Iran. But I ...
After a friend joined #BoobQuake, I clicked
through the various sites, and wrote a short
blog post. #BoobQuake & #BrainQua...
Via tags and Twitter I ended
up corresponding with
Negar Mottahedeh aka
@negaratduke who
introduced me to others
discussin...
Ms. McCreight aka
@JenniFurrett was being
bombarded by media
attention, and coordinated
physical ‘BoobQuake’
meetups. In a...
While this looked like a classic example of ‘2nd
Wave’ feminism contrasted with ‘3rd
Wave’
feminism, the founders had a co...
I thought BrainQuake sounded like a good ‘follow-on’
from #boobquake. But I’m a guy. The spotlight was
reserved for women....
April 26th
: #BoobQuake was
covered on TV, radio,
newspapers, web media,
and even Persian media,
which had some trouble
de...
Coverage appeared via NPR, CNN, the
BBC, ABC, Fox, The Guardian,
Newsweek, and many varied print and
web news services.
@J...
Also on the 26th
, #Brainquake first posted profiles worth
celebrating on their FaceBook Group, then on a Tumblr blog.
(@J...
There was a small earthquake in Taiwan.
But an analysis by @JenniFurrett showed that
statistically it was not significant....
Follow-up
discussion
about
#Brainquake
led to a live
Twitter chat
on the Herald
de Paris show.
A ‘BrainQuake’
podcast is a...
For one day, #BoobQuake rocked the airwaves,
but now things are pretty quiet.
Some personal observations from the crazines...
1. Viral activism and campaigns are not 100%
controllable.
(Humor is a big help.)
2. Viral campaigns can quickly overwhelm
founders due to scalability issues.
(And watch out for hackers and trolls!)
3. It’s important to show respect in efforts that
reach across language and gender.
- @JenniFurrett thoughtfully reviewed
...
4. The more specific, targeted (and locally run) a
campaign is, the more effective it can be.
I’m going to close with an example from another
feminist campaign to demonstrate some of
these points.
In 2009, Hindu fund...
The Consortium of Pub-
going, Loose and
Forward Women
quickly appeared on
Facebook and Blogger.
They provided contact
info...
The ‘Pink Chaddi
Campaign’
spearheaded a
push to send pink
underwear via mail
to Sri Ram Sena
headquarters on
Valentines D...
Results:
-140 members of the group held in
custody on Valentines Day.
-Due to widespread media attention, the
leader has r...
But - The Facebook group / blog has been shut down by
‘trolls’, and the blog is not updated any more.
So it’s difficult to...
In conclusion, viral activism can have a huge
impact, but usually over no more than one
target day.
And just as abruptly a...
Links?
http://bit.ly/quakechiangmai
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Brains and Boobs: Viral Activism (BarCamp Chiang Mai 2010)

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A brief look at two 'viral' protests. Links: http://bit.ly/quakechiangmai Video snippet and more: http://www.jweeks.net/2010/06

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Brains and Boobs: Viral Activism (BarCamp Chiang Mai 2010)

  1. 1. Brains and Boobs: ‘Viral Media’ Or How I survived ‘BoobQuake’ and what I learned  Barcamp Chiang Mai 2010
  2. 2. "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” -Mahatma Gandhi Photo: Maritia Cosma / Creative Commons
  3. 3. In June 2009 Twitter profiles were ‘going green’ to call the media’s attention to Iran’s recent election worries.
  4. 4. The Obama administration (while maintaining neutrality) asked Twitter to hold off on scheduled maintenance. People took Twitter a lot more seriously after this. I’m here to talk about something less serious…
  5. 5. Iranian prayer leader Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi stated in April 2010: "Many women who do not dress modestly ... lead young men astray, corrupt their chastity and spread adultery in society, which (consequently) increases earthquakes"
  6. 6. When translated this led to much amusement. A (Canadian) science student in the USA decided to test this, and created a Facebook Group. On Monday, April 26th, I will wear the most cleavage-showing shirt I own. Yes, the one usually reserved for a night on the town. I encourage other female skeptics to join me and embrace the supposed supernatural power of their breasts. Or short shorts, if that's your preferred form of immodesty. With the power of our scandalous bodies combined, we should surely produce an earthquake.
  7. 7. ‘BoobQuake’ got 14,000 members in 24 hours, and continued to grow.
  8. 8. #BrainQuake
  9. 9. • Two Iranian Professors, Negar Mottahedeh and Golbarg Bashi, suggested ‘BrainQuake’ for the same day, to take advantage of the growing media enthusiasm. • “Everyday women and young girls are forced to “show off cleavage” and more in order simply to be heard, to be seen, or to advance professionally.”… “Let’s create a “Brainquake” and show off our resumes, CVs, honors, prizes, accomplishments (photo evidence) because the Hojatoleslam and the Islamic Republic of Iran are afraid of women’s abilities to push for change” • They were ‘saddened’ at Boobquake and critical of the movement and founder.
  10. 10. • Ms. McCreight issued a clarification after #BoobQuake’s launch: • “Seriously, internet, you scare and amaze me sometimes.” • “Really, it's not supposed to be serious activism that is going to revolutionize women's rights, but just a bit of fun juvenile humor. I'm a firm believer that when someone says something so stupid and hateful, serious discourse isn't going to accomplish anything - sometimes light- hearted mockery is worthwhile.”
  11. 11. Women dressing immodestly in Iran (and other countries) can face arrest and harassment. I am not an expert on Iran. But I live in Cambodia where there was recently a ‘short skirt’ protest.
  12. 12. After a friend joined #BoobQuake, I clicked through the various sites, and wrote a short blog post. #BoobQuake & #BrainQuake would take place two days later (April 26th ).
  13. 13. Via tags and Twitter I ended up corresponding with Negar Mottahedeh aka @negaratduke who introduced me to others discussing the issue, including @ideasurge @ealshafei@faizahm @shrutisinha @maymaym @lksriv @lissnup
  14. 14. Ms. McCreight aka @JenniFurrett was being bombarded by media attention, and coordinated physical ‘BoobQuake’ meetups. In addition to ‘BrainQuake’ many others started groups such as ‘FemQuake’, ‘MenQuake’, ‘AssQuake’, and some even further off topic. (A fake Facebook identity for her was even started.)
  15. 15. While this looked like a classic example of ‘2nd Wave’ feminism contrasted with ‘3rd Wave’ feminism, the founders had a cordial discussion on Twitter. I think a LOT of people would have enjoyed an argument. But these activists were too polite and smart. There were strong arguments about the two approaches in blog posts.
  16. 16. I thought BrainQuake sounded like a good ‘follow-on’ from #boobquake. But I’m a guy. The spotlight was reserved for women. As April 26th approached, I decided to: STFU (avoid ‘male answer syndrome’) RT (retweet positive tweets)
  17. 17. April 26th : #BoobQuake was covered on TV, radio, newspapers, web media, and even Persian media, which had some trouble describing the event.Its main channel was Twitter, where it was a trending topic. #BrainQuake was frequently mentioned in contrast. The reaction was humorous and overwhelmingly positive.
  18. 18. Coverage appeared via NPR, CNN, the BBC, ABC, Fox, The Guardian, Newsweek, and many varied print and web news services. @Jenfurrett sold t-shirts & donated profits to the Red Cross and James Randi Foundation. (Her own school printed t-shirts without her approval until she asked them to stop.) Below: ‘Girls with Slingshots’ webcomic.
  19. 19. Also on the 26th , #Brainquake first posted profiles worth celebrating on their FaceBook Group, then on a Tumblr blog. (@JenniFurrett was included in the list.)
  20. 20. There was a small earthquake in Taiwan. But an analysis by @JenniFurrett showed that statistically it was not significant. The Iranian prayer leader never responded directly. Jen McCreight has an excellent wrap-up on her blog, Blaghag.com (statistics, observations, video.)
  21. 21. Follow-up discussion about #Brainquake led to a live Twitter chat on the Herald de Paris show. A ‘BrainQuake’ podcast is also in development.
  22. 22. For one day, #BoobQuake rocked the airwaves, but now things are pretty quiet. Some personal observations from the craziness:
  23. 23. 1. Viral activism and campaigns are not 100% controllable. (Humor is a big help.)
  24. 24. 2. Viral campaigns can quickly overwhelm founders due to scalability issues. (And watch out for hackers and trolls!)
  25. 25. 3. It’s important to show respect in efforts that reach across language and gender. - @JenniFurrett thoughtfully reviewed feedback from the Persian blogosphere. - (Guys, sometimes we need to STFU.)
  26. 26. 4. The more specific, targeted (and locally run) a campaign is, the more effective it can be.
  27. 27. I’m going to close with an example from another feminist campaign to demonstrate some of these points. In 2009, Hindu fundamentalists (Sri Ram Sena) began a video harassment campaign (including physical violence) against women who drank alcohol in public. (Mangalore) India has a high degree of social media literacy.
  28. 28. The Consortium of Pub- going, Loose and Forward Women quickly appeared on Facebook and Blogger. They provided contact information for political representatives, and downloadable media materials.
  29. 29. The ‘Pink Chaddi Campaign’ spearheaded a push to send pink underwear via mail to Sri Ram Sena headquarters on Valentines Day, 2009.
  30. 30. Results: -140 members of the group held in custody on Valentines Day. -Due to widespread media attention, the leader has requested to resolve matters via dialogue, not violence. WIN! -http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pink_Chaddi_Campaign
  31. 31. But - The Facebook group / blog has been shut down by ‘trolls’, and the blog is not updated any more. So it’s difficult to locate ‘follow-on’ activities.
  32. 32. In conclusion, viral activism can have a huge impact, but usually over no more than one target day. And just as abruptly as the subject I’m profiling, it’s time for me to evaporate and welcome discussion.
  33. 33. Links? http://bit.ly/quakechiangmai

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