The Indivisible Movement’s Facilitators

On January 18th I published The Indivisible Movement, which contained a visualization of the role accounts for the movement as mentioned by the four founders and the lead role account, @IndivisibleTeam.

On January 19th I published The Indivisible Movement’s Conversation, in which I explored the five core accounts and 173 additional role accounts that mentioned over 8,500 others.

Mentions are an excellent way to see who matters in the moment; keys accounts can have enormous numbers of friends and followers, but there is a limit to how much conversation happens in a given period. The Netwar System permits me to extract mentions in a given timeframe; fine grained control in which accounts are involved in a specific event.

I keep Maltego Classic, a penetration tester’s toolkit, which is useful for plumbing follower/following relationships, but it becomes clumsy when starting with more than a few dozen accounts. I have yet to lay hands on Maltego XL, which will handle more than the 10,000 node maximum of the version I have, but I am not particularly tempted. I have some skill with Gephi, a free data visualization package that will easily handle tens of thousands of nodes and which offers a wide variety of additional capabilities via its marketplace.

Today I undertook a type of analysis using Gephi which I’ve previously only done with Maltego – examining friendships in search of high centrality node that are otherwise innocuous. The numbers involved were an order of magnitude larger than anything I’d trust Maltego to handle without thrashing helplessly due to memory exhaustion.

My initial working set was only 1,738 accounts, 176 I am tracking as part of the Indivisible Movement, and 1,562 they were following. There were an amazing 25,230 links from the 176 accounts to the total set of 1,738. This is a very dense network.

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This is the same network as above, only with the ‘ego network’ of @IndivisibleTeam highlighted so that we can more easily read the names of the nodes. The larger the text, the more links to a given node.

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03-5-171-127-16575-min-degree-23 I used the filter methods until the only accounts that were visible had at least twenty three links. The 176 Indivisible Movement accounts were following 127 others, for a grand total of 16,575 links. A graph of 300 total nodes with sparse links is at the outer edge of my ability to lay them out in pleasing fashion. A graph this dense was basically impossible to simplify. I needed less data.

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I manually removed a large number of the high degree nodes, Senators, news outlets, and the like. They are important, of course, but not in the context of attempting to understand an emerging social movement.

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Growing weary of filtering and layout algorithms, I simply copied all of the high degree nodes to a new workspace in Gephi, and then deleted all of the 176 that I’ve identified as being founders and the role accounts for the moment. These remaining 58 accounts are, I believe, mostly humans that matter to the movement. Some are minor celebrities in their own right, some will prove to the the proprietors of various role accounts for the movement, and some are quiet, but pivotal players.

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The first thing that jumps out at me is the keyword ‘resist’ and in particular @ResistanceParty. I suspect that group is another facet of the same social movement. I found about 4,000 accounts with the hashtag #TheResistance in their profiles using FollowerWonk.

A pool of accounts twenty times the size of those I’ve made out as being Indivisible Movement would require between two and a half and five days to collect in a serial fashion. I’ll have to rummage around in my sock drawer and arrange for parallel processing.

I see many parallels between the Indivisible Movement and other social movements in which I have engaged or studied in the eight years since I became interested in social network analysis. There are echoes of both Coffee Party and Occupy Wall Street, as well as other more subtle signs of other prior populist outbursts.

 

The Indivisible Movement’s Conversation

Yesterday in The Indivisible Movement I visualized the four founders, the primary role account, and about 170 role accounts for various states, cities, and Congressional districts. Now that I’ve got all of these accounts being recorded by the Netwar System I can easily visualize their conversations as they grow and spread.

These are all done with Gephi.

Almost all of my layouts start with Force Atlas 2 and then get tweaked with Label Adjust, Expansion, and various applications of Filter. This is a bit of a departure; the Indivisible Movement is busy enough that OpenOrd produces an interesting initial view. This is 178 accounts that mentioned 8,539 others a total of 18,783 times.

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I just can’t stay away from Force Atlas 2. Each of these is that layout algorithm with various tweaks intended to provide a visually provocative exposition of the movement’s conversation.

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This one is precisely the same graph as above, only limited to nodes which had thirty or more mentions. This is a somewhat clumsy measure of who is important, or at least who has been at it longer. There are a lot of brand new accounts that haven’t had chances to develop the cloud of mentions exemplified by the orange cloud around @Leahgreenb.

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This is a combination of larger scaling than above coupled with high gravity. The effect is to produce a dense, circular graph with good separation of the colored sub-groups within the overall conversation. We’ll revisit this layout in a few weeks and we’ll find that many of these accounts in the middle left that are conversationally close to @IndivisibleTeam will ‘pop’, producing little clouds of their own. The @USIndivisible account on the right is emergent – it wasn’t there yesterday, now it’s a rising force.

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If you’re a journalist and you want a graphic like this for an article just drop me a note – nrauhauser at gmail. I’m happy to provide assistance.

The Indivisible Movement

A few days ago I noticed @IndivisibleTeam and their 26 page Indivisible Guide. Having worked on Capitol Hill during the time the Tea Party was rising the suggestions in the guide are immediately recognizable as their playbook, edited to fit the needs of Progressives by Congressional staff that intimately understand how a House or Senate office works.

I started with the four founders (@AngelRafPadilla,@ezralevin,@Leahgreenb,@texpat) and the official role account @IndivisibleTeam, then looked for other Indivisible role accounts that got mentioned. The colors here don’t have a legend, they’re a visual clue as to how many subdivisions there are within a given conversation group. The thicker the line, the more often the accounts are mentioned.

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I turned the squelch up on links until only seventeen or more mentions qualified.

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I checked these accounts and it looks like the best way to get mentioned by @IndivisibleTeam is to score some local media attention.

Using nothing other than the mention metadata, I’m going to guess that @ezralevin sets the policy for how @IndivisibleTeam conducts itself – they share a promotion strategy. He’s mentioned the most of the accounts that have been noticed by the four founders and his is the only account speaking to others who have not been recognized by anyone else.

03-it-mentions

The rapid growth of this movement reminds me of Occupy Wall Street, but the clear, concise playbook will avoid the endless tedium of OWS decision making, and the fault that eventually brought the movement down. OWS had no way to expel troublemakers, informants, and they gave equal time to the mentally ill. Indivisible has a set of guiding principles which will permit autonomous local action and a shared brand that will give it national reach, without the group hug dynamics that wrecked Occupy.

I agree with both what these people are doing and the methods they’re employing to reach them, but I’ve already served my time on the front lines of a couple social movements. I’m just going to set up here and observe, occasionally commenting in a manner which I hope will assist the process.

 

Chelsea Manning To Be Freed 17 May 2017

President Obama has commuted most of Chelsea Manning’s remaining sentence.

Chelsea Manning

Chelsea Manning

As I noted in Freeing Chelsea Manning, I was the oldest surviving contributor to Project VIGILANT, prior to resigning in late 2010. I had no direct involvement in Manning’s capture and I took what steps I could to assist in freeing her.

This move not only frees Manning, it frees me too, in a small way.

 

Thanks, Obama.

 

Freeing Chelsea Manning

Chelsea Manning

Chelsea Manning

Chelsea Manning is in prison for her role in transferring this video, among other evidence of war crimes to Wikileaks.

 

I didn’t know the name Manning on May 25th, 2010, two days before the press got the story, but I was aware that the U.S. had experienced the largest leak in its history, thanks to my relationship with Chet Uber. He and Adrian Lamo, as members of Project VIGILANT, took credit for Manning’s capture. I was the oldest surviving contributor to the group prior to my resignation in late 2010.

Chet Uber & Neal Rauhauser

Chet Uber & Neal Rauhauser

I lived in Maryland during the time Manning was on trial and I had a proper spy movie rendezvous with someone connected to her defense. I reached out to them via a third party, and we selected a certain time to meet at Union Station, a very busy venue. We both left our phones at home and took a meandering walk around the facility. Project VIGILANT has excellent internal compartmentalization discipline and what little I knew of the affair didn’t matter at all to the defense team.

I had already distanced myself from Project VIGILANT’s day to day activities about six months prior to Manning’s capture; they were simply way too reckless for me. Even so, I’ve felt bad about what has happened to Manning, and infuriated over the lack of investigation into the war crimes her whistleblowing revealed.

I very much hope that Chelsea Manning on Obama’s ‘Short List’ For Commutation turns out to be accurate and that President Obama frees her.

 

Light Reconnaissance Strike Groups

 

The Navy and Marines have the Expeditionary Strike Group, a package of transports, escorts, and troops that can be dispatched where and when they are needed. The Navy provides the Carrier Strike Group. The largest unit of force for the Army is the Brigade Combat Team. A direct descendant of the World War II Division, the BCT is based on assumptions that no longer make sense.

The 21st century’s conflicts demand that things be faster and lighter, from the gear in a soldier’s pack to the unit to which he’s been assigned. The Light Reconnaissance Strike Group represents a doctrinal change and I found some very provocative things after noticing the initial story on the Public Intelligence Blog.

What $20 Billion Buys

What $20 Billion Buys

I’m going to put one of the last things mentioned in the document right here at the beginning. We wasted $20 billion on the FCS and GCV, which were both canceled. We could buy the equipment for four complete LRSGs with that.

Organizationally, the LRSG is commanded by a brigadier general and it attaches directly to a joint command. The BCT reports to a division HQ, putting another layer between the field and their top level command. That makes sense in large scale operations where there are multiple brigades attached to a division that is handling their logistics. The 5,500 troops in an LRSG would often be the total force deployed and there is no point to having a layer of middle management.

The LRSG’s logistics independence is a big deal once they get into the field. A BCT will burn through 1.5 to 2.5 million gallons of fuel in ten days, requiring three to five resupplies, while the LRSG can go that whole time with just 762,000 gallons. A savings of 50% to 70% in fuel costs works out to $25 million over a 90 day deployment.

Puma IFV

Puma IFV

Opting to purchase a known working system rather than develop new is pointed out as being most definitely NOT “business as usual”, and the selection of a foreign design, the German Puma IFV, is also a first.

 

Our military has a terrible time with change. The Pentagon wandered around like a lost puppy in the ten years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, then seized upon al Qaeda as the next global threat, and began pushing for senseless, overweight, ineffective systems like the F-35. The LRSG proposal is low risk, requiring no development time, it merely requires the political will to ignore the Pentagon’s failure prone development/acquisition process and just buy something from one of our NATO allies that works.

 

War Goes Viral

I bookmarked War Goes Viral and turned it into a 32 page PDF so I’m sure I won’t lose it. This article explores the parallels between social media today and the role the telegraph played in World War I.

If open social networks are fueling conflict, how far could our government go to stop things?

And finally, what of the most drastic measures: Could the United States government, under great duress in some future conflict or catastrophe, censor or nationalize the social-media industry? Extreme as it may sound, there is ample precedent. During the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln ordered the censorship of telegrams. Twelve days after Pearl Harbor, Franklin Roosevelt formally established the U.S. Office of Censorship—its official motto was “Silence speeds victory.” Would such control of social media be advisable? Would it even be possible?

The article is over 9,000 words, but it’s well worth a read for anyone interested in netwar. Twitter is already for sale and, at least to my mind, staggering as they try to figure out how to monetize what they’ve got. There are a number of social media plus blockchain startups out there, and they’ll route around such censorship … but only if they reach critical mass.

It’s a mad, mad, mad world, but this is the last PDF in this area that’s been lingering on my desk, just one more military thing and then I am free to go do something else.