Activation Network Organizational Frame

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Joe Brewer:

'Another important structure used by Occupy was the swarm where a leaderless movement emerged spontaneously in multiple locations all at once. The key organizational frame behind this behavior is the Activation Network Frame — where multiple nodes of a network are constantly monitoring for threats and each is able to engage in rapid response to changes in the local environment. Examples of the activation network include the hive behavior of social insects and the immune response of a complex multi-cellular organism.

Social insects (bees, wasps, termites, etc.) constantly monitor the chemical trails left by individual members of their hive and respond quickly to the release of stress markers in the proximity of a new predator or some other disruption to their normal routines. Multi-cellular organisms have special cells within their bodies—one example being the lymphocytes in the blood of mammals that attack viruses and tumors before they are able to spread—that float throughout the body and respond locally when a harmful contagion is discovered.

The key features of an activation network are decentralization and localized rapid engagement. The Occupy Movement spread quickly as local community members organized themselves into encampments and protest actions. There were no visible leaders who could be targeted across the movement and specific actions reflected the local character of each group and the concerns they rallied around." (

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