06 September 2008

the protest politics of delicious

As you'll notice below, I've been obsessed with the stories coming out of the RNC protests. Information is scattered and inconsistent, the anarchy listservs being too hyperbolic to trust, and the mainstream media all but ignoring the whole sorry event. But, what I have found, I've been saving on my delicious.

Which has led me to a sticky issue: how to tag, how to tag?

I started with "anarchy" -- a safe bet, since most of articles are about the anarchist protesters. "Politics"? Sure, although it's kind of vague. This isn't just about politics -- in fact, it doesn't really seem about politics at all, it's about a way of life, a lifestyle. But "lifestyle" has become an advertising word used to sell beer or cigarettes -- not really appropriate for protests.

So.. "protests." That's a natural one. I'm pretty sure that's what I tagged the articles I saved back when I was following the protests in Tibet, right before the Olympics. I open up my delicious page to check, but nope -- no "protests." The five articles I saved on the protests in Tibet share the same three tags: "china", "tibet", and "riots."

Riots?! Why would I have used the word "riots"?

I skim the CNN article I saved back in March. It's a weird exercise in code-switching. Sometimes the Tibetens are described as "protesters" --
Also on Thursday, an international human rights group urged Nepal to stop doing Beijing's bidding and end its crackdown on Tibetan exiles protesting against China, AP reported.
-- while other times, the protests are "riots":
On Thursday, China acknowledged for the first time that anti-government riots that rocked Tibet last week have spread to other provinces, The Associated Press reported.
Those two sentences are back-to-back, the former, of course, describing the reaction of human rights groups, the latter, the reaction of the Chinese government. Most articles I saved use the word "riot" in their titles, which I would have been looking at when I saved the link.

I searched delicious for "riots" -- 3,184 results. For "protests," 7,262 results. (Another 22,709 results for just "protest", with only 5,038 more for "riot".) A quick scan seems to indicate most of the links tagged with "riots" are mainstream media articles, while the links tagged with "protests" tend to be resources for protest groups, or after-the-fact analysis. What does this say not only (and most obviously) about mainstream media coverage, but about how it affects our tagging -- the conceptual categories in which we lump texts?

I've removed the tag "riots" from my articles on Tibet and changed them to "protests." I'm still not sure how to tag the latest info on the RNC . . protests.

No comments: