Neil Kandalgaonkar

hacker, maker of things

Puerta del Sol protests

I went to Madrid in part because I wanted to see these ongoing protests for myself. Let no one say this was a mob; it was a functioning anarchist community, with distribution of food, security, even cleanup crews.

I don’t believe in every slogan I saw here – but it is wonderful to see people reclaiming a town square as a place to discuss the issues of the day. The main activity was simply reading all the messages plastered on every surface; some radical, some witty, some revolutionary. Everyone from young people to grandmothers was engaged in consuming or producing messages, outside the mass media system.

I never got close enough to photograph my favorite slogan, written in English: "SPAIN IS NOT A BUSINESS. WE ARE NOT SLAVES."

And they love the interwebs. Facebook pages and Twitter hashtags are everywhere, as are references to "rebooting the system", "upgrading the system" and more. If you thought the internet was producing a generation of passive mouse potatoes, it seems not. They instead seem to be learning to expect systems that are more transparent, more flexible, more efficient, and more personal.

The voice of the people will never be illegal by Neil
This is the first sign you see on the way to Puerta del Sol… a reference, I think, to the proclamation that all protests had to shut down on Saturday

Spain is filled with half-completed construction projects these days, it seems, perhaps owing to the banking-fraud-fueled boom and subsequent crisis. Activists are using the scaffolding to their advantage…

Scaffolding signs 1 by Neil
IMG_1430 by Neil
IMG_1432 by Neil
Scaffolding signs 3 by Neil
IMG_1434 by Neil
Capitalism goes on by Neil
The irony of this very anarchist, anti-capitalist flavored protest area was that it’s in the middle of Madrid’s bustling downtown. While some stores had closed down, many shops, like this upscale clothing boutique, were carrying on as if nothing was happening.

Of course the restaurants and fast food places made a killing. We’re tired of protesting, where’s the McDonalds??

Ambient media, assemble by Neil
IMG_1444 by Neil
V by Neil
metro entrance by Neil
While entering or exiting the metro was carefully left unblocked, they were all decorated …
yes we camp - hashtags by Neil
There were lots of signs with Twitter handles or hashtags or Facebook pages to follow – this one lists all the different "camps" set up in cities across Spain
applause by Neil
with the scaffolding backdrop
More reading post-its by Neil
grandmothers, young people, everyone in the streets
People reading each other’s thoughts on the crisis by Neil
this was one of the most heartwarming things to me, everyone actually taking time to understand other opinions, even radical ones
red post-its by Neil
a wall of these
Another geek metaphor by Neil
Scaffolding by Neil
There happened to be some reconstruction stalled – as there is everywhere in Spain these days due to the securities-fueled boom in construction and subsequent crisis

The activists have made good use of it

neuvos guerrilemos by Neil
This sign was really selling shoes (play on words of Zapatista, of course)
Plants by Neil
Someone has planted a garden around this fountain, now lost amid a sea of tents
Map by Neil
To my surprise there was even a map of different areas with different functions. This was replicated all over the place – sometimes hand-drawn
Inside the tented area by Neil
It was surprisingly well organized
Who’s leading who now by Neil
Change by Neil
Chuck Norris wants democracy by Neil
The primary activity by Neil
reading all the messages plastered on every surface. It really was like a mutual education / discussion, conducted through the town square
Error de sistema by Neil
Geek metaphors for "changing the system" abounded. This was one of the most elaborate posters
Law enforcement by Neil
There were about eight or nine police vans guarding the government buildings. There were others nearby in other plazas, either ready to go in or seal off areas of the city, as far as I could tell.
Volunteer cleanup crews by Neil
Most had armbands that say "RESPET" (Respect)
IMG_1501 by Neil
Now or never by Neil