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Tim Pool Phones It in from Occupy Wall Street

Casual internet users may remember Tim Pool as the guy wearing the beanie who documented the #N17 Occupy Wall Street protests.
24.11.11

Photo by Dan Meyer

Casual internet users may remember Tim Pool as the guy wearing the beanie who documented the #N17 Occupy Wall Street protests. He was there since the wee hours of the morning, pointing his Samsung Galaxy II at police and protestors while the former tried to throw the latter out Zuccotti Park (and in some cases beat them with batons). Everyone in the VICE office was glued to Tim's USTREAM feed (which, by the way, was viewed by over 1.2 million people through various media outlets, all said and done), but Mr. Pool and his associates at We Are the Other 99 have been streaming The Truth since day 1 of Zuccotti's occupation. Today we sat down with Tim to talk about the attention he's been receiving as of late, where things might be headed with OWS and other Occupy movements around the globe, and if we should all tune into his stream tomorrow as Snoopy and Ronald McDonald balloons hover over lots and lots of tourists in Time Square during Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

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VICE: You have an assistant now. That’s interesting. How does that work?
Tim Pool: Well, Caralyn emailed me and said she wanted to meet at the park. I said, “Sure, all are welcome.” When she met me, she said, “Hi. You’re Tim, right? I think you need an assistant to help you with stuff.” I said, “I don’t think I really do.” I can definitely handle all this on my own. Then what happened was a march started while someone was trying to give me information so they could archive data. So I just immediately turned my phone on and turned around, while she grabbed the information from him. It’s not like I’m paying her. So, I guess it works

Have you ever been involved in documenting any other protests?
I’ve done a lot of the “No Blood for Oil” anti-war marches for whatever political reason that people have for being against war—I just don’t like war. I’ve also worked for Greenpeace and Environment America—doing the nonprofit stuff.

I know you arrived at the protest in Zuccotti very early on. What were you doing before this?
I was actually in LA before Virginia. I was skateboarding, for the most part.

Filming skateboarding is probably the best training you could have for shooting a protest or riot, reaction time and all that.
In Virginia I was filming trick tips with my Galaxy S phone, the earlier model.

Has Samsung contacted you for a product endorsement?
No.

Sorry, I had to ask because you do give them some plugs.
I would first say I am not a paid spokesperson for Sprint. My concern right now is that Sprint is the only provider of unlimited data and they aren’t doing that well. And it scares me because I’ve already used about 15 gigabytes of 4G and 3 of 3G, and it’s been over two weeks.

Streaming live seems to have really taken off this year. When did you first start using it? How’d you get the idea to do it like you’ve done, in a sort of guerilla style? It seems so obvious when you’re watching it, but a lot of other people have been streaming for a while. No one’s doing it quite like your, or if they are they’re failing at it.
I worked with Henry James Ferry, most people know who he is by now. He set up some political theater. He called it a “Conversation with the One Percent” and he welcomed them to come down and debate. He said, “How can we get this out there?” I said, “We can film it and edit it, or I can set up a live broadcast.” I was looking at the two companies, Livestream and Ustream. Ustream offers the mobile app. I said, “If we do it this way, I can leave the computer at home and just do it through my phone.”
We had 250,000 unique viewers on [last] Tuesday. There was so much attention from everyone that watched, and another huge event was coming in two days. Tuesday, as horrible as it was, became an announcement of my channel for Thursday. And then Thursday had 750,000 hits. On Friday I did absolutely no streaming whatsoever, and we had 600,000 hits just from the repeats. It’s crazy.

You never anticipated this, and that is very apparent. This was something you did on your own.
It was the ease of access. Why film it with my camera when everyone’s got their phones out filming, when I could just broadcast it and it’s archived and available.

I think people are OK with talking to you because there's not a big camera in their faces. When you’re videotaping with a big camera, it’s like you’re sticking a phallic object in someone's face.
On Tuesday morning some people tried to form an amateur Black bloc. A group of people wore bandannas over their faces while they drained police tires. When I walked past them with the camera—I was actually talking about The Other 99, our media team, at the time—they attacked, they run at me, they swung at the camera, and yelled at me. Everyone was like “That was a defining moment,” because I refused to turn the camera off. I had over 10,000 simultaneous viewers. I said I have an obligation to those who are watching right now.

Is there a chance of something happening at Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade? You told me earlier that people had been cryptically smiling at you.
Yeah, I mean come on it's a big corporate event you know? The direct action team is probably salivating right now. Just giddy in their boots.