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Lester Leavitt

The MOCSIE Systems are a work-in-progress effort to create the kind of "institutional memory" that will be necessary in order to hold together the kind of protest movements that are becoming almost common in the second decade of the 21st century. The movements resemble "solidarity" movements, but they lack sustainability, so no solidarity emerges from most of these protests after grievances have been aired. The problems that the MOCSIE Systems hope to solve can be highlighted by pointing to how, when a social movement is germinated in social media, it can take place in geographically separated cities, but still have a very central purpose. However, as with everything in social media, when the "moment" passes, so does the "movement," at which point the purpose is lost. 

Leavitt's research is pointing to the fact that what is missing that would provide "sustainability" to these movements is an "institutional memory" that will retain all of the protest narratives (the "purpose") and allow them to be retrieved in policy-supporting "narrative threads." In this way, the protest narratives have a far greater chance of becoming actual "governing narratives." Time and again we see protest movements simply evaporate after a tremendously successful disruption of the public conscience, and this has been an ongoing failure ever since humanity began experimenting with the idea of a modern democracy. In 2011 it was the Arab Spring, followed by the European austerity protests, followed by the Occupy movement, to the point that on the weekend of November 12-13, 2011 there were an estimated 951 protests staged in 82 countries.

But then what?

Another missed opportunity came in June 2013 when we saw the Movimento Passe Livre (Free Fare Movement) in Brazil fade out of the spotlight as soon as the fare increases in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro were rolled back. For the people of Brazil, and "the 99%" everywhere, we need to create different outcomes in 2014. We need global solidarity that is sustainable. 

The technology already exists to create a virtual institution, giving this global solidarity movement a "home," or "sense of place." The time is now to develop the information systems that will bind it together and allow for global governance through a direct-democracy (non-hierarchical) system that has never been imagined before.

Leavitt, who returned to university at the age of 49 after a life-long career in business consulting and accounting, has converted the MOCSIE Systems idea into a dissertation project. He is currently in his final year of completing a Ph.D. in Public Administration at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Florida. 

The MOCSIE Systems are a culmination of not only his years in university (first completing a Bachelor of Multimedia Journalism degree in May 2011, and subsequently the Ph.D. program), but primarily stem from his frustrations working as an activist with non-profit groups from 2006 until 2009. During his "activist phase" Leavitt traveled (literally) from New York to LA while working with groups like Soulforce, Truth Wins Out, Equality Florida, Stand Up Florida, and several activist bloggers.

Over the summer of 2010 Leavitt completed an internship in Washington, DC with MediaMatters for America. More recently, Leavitt recently completed a one-year term on the board of the international Public Administration Theory Network, during which time he held the office of secretary-treasurer. He currently is a member of the 2014 Conference Committee for PATnet. He sits on the editorial board of the Florida Communication Association's peer-reviewed publication, Florida Communication Journal and was invited to be a peer-reviewer for ICIS 2013 (see conference listings).

Leavitt started presenting his research on the MOCSIE Systems at academic conferences in October 2011, and during the 2013 academic year his research had been accepted for presentation at over a dozen global conferences. Ultimately he decided on eight conferences, including four prestigious global conferences and four United States-based conferences. For 2014 he anticipates the opportunity to present his work at six conferences, in addition to completing his dissertation in time for graduation on August 5th.

In 2012 and 2013 Leavitt's work was accepted for publication in three peer-reviewed journals.

Leavitt and Rowe have a mini-track proposal accepted for AMCIS 2014 that they will co-chair. The Americas Conference on Information Systems is hosted by the international Association for Information Systems (AIS) and has a focus on the Western Hemisphere. The mini-track title is, "In Search of a Virtual Walden: Re-imagining a 21st Century Vision of B.F. Skinner's Utopia." The conference is being held in Savannah, GA from August 7-11, 2014.