We always knew that Social Media was the enabler of the "Occupy Wall Street" movement - that's what got the word out in the first place. We just didn't know what direction it would take: what could possibly be the Wall Street version of the Arab Spring?
The answer may involve a tectonic shift in government.
On their own, the regular cops spent little time worrying about the protestors. Most of the time they did what protestors did - stand around checking their iPhones and 'Droids.
Police management may have been taking heat from Wall Street execs just a few blocks from 1 Police Plaza - but this is more that territorial. It could be the first time hierarchical order has had to confront social media managed organized chaos - and they instinctively hate it.
Social Media has turned the traditional patrol relationship upside down. It is now the world watching the cops and not the other way round. It is enough to make George Orwell rise up and wonder!
You'd think Police Management would have known that the first act of violence would go international. Yet they clearly didn't understand the force they were confronting or they would have been better off house all those protesters at the downtown Marriott. No overtime, no brutality no worldwide public sympathy.
Wall Street is good for 25% of the State's economy and it likes to hire ex-offers for their own extensive security needs. But once the NYPD leadership lashed out they turned what looked like a joke into an International Phenomenon. Now they have attracted a level of attention to Wall Street and government that will change how they operate forever. It will cost them more than money - it will cost them their way of life.
We still haven't taken stock of the fact that government used our money to save the banks and yet, did almost nothing to save the public with mortgage relief. Now the banks are foreclosing those houses and you can probably forget about getting loan. I recently served on federal jury duty where a small time mortgage hustler was indicted by the FBI for a few thousand dollars while the bank that made millions by enabling him - got to testify against him. And boy, were they outraged.
When the crowd is the watchdog and they are empowered that kind of think is not likely to happen - at least not without a fight. This is the battle that has been waiting to happen.
Crowds have already been taking control in gradual ways. Ask Microsoft what they think about open source - as they lose market everywhere. Ask McCain or Hilary Clinton what they think about the people who microfinanced Obama's election. They haven't exactly gone away.
3 years later, mobile has accelerated the social media that bought "change" and now everyone with a smartphone is probably using it. "Occupy Wall Street" and the opposition it engendered only seems to amplify it's reach. It is already teaching people how to take charge of the political system in entirely new ways.