If there is a single, clear theme, it's this: Occupy Wall Street says it represents the interests of 99 percent of the American people, against the 1 percent it says controls 50 percent of the wealth.
Gunner Scott, a spokesman for sister movement Occupy Boston, says of his group, "We are in solidarity. We are fed up with how our country is being run. We want fundamental and lasting change. We are the 99 percent not being represented by government, and our needs are not being met. We want to engage other citizens on how we might reform business and government." He looks forward to a nation where "every person has an equal voice and equal access."
Scott says news organizations have been wrong to describe the movement as being made up of hippies and peace activists. "That's not representative of all of us involved. We have students and young people, and the unemployed. But we also have families and the self-employed, who can make their own hours. It's broader than anarchists and hippies."
Warren and Benkler view as significant the role played by social media in the movement's formation and evolution.
It's not that social networking technology has made it possible, they stress. Rather, it's that OWS' members bring to its structure and governance behaviors learned on the web. OWS adherents, says Benkler, are people "comfortable with decentralized collaboration" and with organizations more flat than hierarchical. They naturally seek consensus.
Says Warren: "Think Facebook or twitter: These protesters have adopted that same decentralized structure. There's no one leader. It's not top-down. It's much more democratic, much more 'open-source.'"