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Her Fifteen Minutes of Heroism

Written: 2015
“Oh my God, everyone view-share with me. You have to see this!” Amy blurts out using all her stored reputation score to make the biggest exclamation she can afford on ViewMe.
Her fellow protesters’ accounts take notice.
Her view shows their worst fears: the police have infiltrated the barrier. The cops’ recent little blitzkrieg had been a trick! If anyone had bothered to check a full park sat-view they would have seen more cops massing at the south side of the park than the small spear of them in the north. But, everyone had been view-riding with a fan favorite hot-head protester looking at the incoming detachment of police on the north east side of the park firing tear gas cans like bullets into the demonstrators. Chilling stuff, and it had caused the demonstrators to move toward that spectacle of action and away from the now gaping hole in the makeshift southern barrier. Amy had stayed in the south, and now she was almost entirely alone streaming her view of a wall of police marching in to gather the protesters up.
“Ah those assholes tricked us!” Blared out of the earbud dangling from her left ear, from one of the view-riders Amy had just acquired in a panicked tone.
No shit idiot, thought Amy, they've had constant sat-views of us the whole time. Her eyes searched the view-riders list above her right eye, eye-flicked that rider to the mute list, and turned on her commenter relevance filters; no need for more gems like that.
For weeks in their occupation of this square, she had flooded her fellow demonstrators with requests to rent a sat-view of their location to avoid disasters like this. Most had agreed they should, but of course no one put the bitcoin where their mouth was.
She wanted to throw down an 'I told you so' to her 22,981 and climbing view-riders, but some part of her spoke up and chastised the notion as immature. Plus where had her coins been? Sitting in the bellies of investment AI like everyone else's’. No sense worrying about the past anyway, now she has to act.
“Right, they tricked us.” Amy responded as a way to cut off that line of thinking ”Now we're surrounded, hemmed in on the south by cops, north, east and west by our own barriers. Obviously we need to get out of here. I can find us a place, vote for me for waypoint leader!” And she starts the poll to her group.
The initial salvos of tear gas is wafting up to where Amy was standing. Shit, here comes that very real smell and stinging sensation. Time to leave.
“I’m about to move position,” Amy went on saying over the stream of voice to text comments from other protesters in the poll, “I'm heading north west right now because they seem to be moving from south to the northeast primarily. Where is everyone?”
Markers glittered in her prism glasses showing close-packed clusterings of protesters to the North, East and West. You idiots, we have all this technology to sync up remotely and you still herd together like cattle!? We were supposed to be making the biggest protest perimeter of our movement and avoiding arrest by being spread out, not having social hour!! We all voted on the plan from the last leader!
Amy’s rage was diminished when suddenly one of her now 61,003 strong view-riding peers gave her enough coins for a proper Topview, Inc sat-view, full tactical package.
“We could have gotten snaps of the whole city with that kind of coin, but you only give this now?!” Amy grumbles under her breath. Luckily at this point in Amy’s taking charge of the situation, the protest group gave her control over the waypoint settings for them all to follow, so at least they have some sense. Her online presence had carved out a solid little part of the web for topics on group theory and activism strategy, so everyone's algorithms gave her decent reputation scores. And people were ranking her up as she spoke because she wasn’t shitting her pants. They pay you to be a hero these days, since everyone else is just spectating…
“Alright, everyone reporting their locations? No sense in tin-foil hats now, they know we’re here but we need to find each other now.” Amy’s prism view shows the sat-view of the park with growing numbers of dots appearing as people open their loc data to her.
“So what's going on here...” she says half to herself and half to her view-riders.
Topview topomaps markers glitter in her glasses. Highlighting that the mass of 2,036 protesters in green getting cut in two and rounded up by a police blitzkrieg of red.
According to a sub-screen from Topview’s ‘previous two minutes’ feature, it seems that when everyone on the north end turned to Amy’s view some had shifted their actual visual attention and not just their prism views, and the police had seized that opportunity to burst through the entire north barrier too. Ah can’t people learn to prism look without moving their phys bodies?!
Now one lump of 489 demonstrators is stuck between a wall of riot shields and their own barrier debris. The scene shines in Amy's prism as a mass of 489 green dots being pursued by a mass of red dots estimated at 734 police. Topview's crowd counting algorithms are legendary, but really it didn't take a number to tell that there were plenty of police to arrest the whole bunch.
“There!” Amy broadcast to her view-riders as she blink set a waypoint for the stuck mob. “A weak point where the cops from the south are supposed to be. It's not a perfect surround yet, run you have”–quick glance to the Topview distance counter and walk estimator– “1min07sec before they'll be there. Run!”
The waypoint and path to it appear in the collective prisms, directional headphones and screens of the mob, and all at once they run toward it. Some part of Amy can’t help but marvel at the perspective the sat-view lets her see. The mob as a stream of green points flowing toward their escape while a wave of red points rushes to close off the gap. How interesting would it be to study more crowd dynamics with this software...
No time for musings, this was no game simulation, but real people in real time herding towards arrest or worse. Time for musings later.
She tells the map out loud to alert her when 70% of the mob were past the waypoint.
Now the view in her prism shifts to the larger and already running group. Need to herd those cats too… there!
“I've found a spot where the barricade is weak and the sat-view shows no cops.” Amy set the master waypoint on her location as she starts physically clearing away the makeshift barrier she helped put up just under four weeks ago. The earbud in her left ear dings confirmation that the almost trapped group had gotten through. Only 53% of it though, her prism informed her.
Of course the software had detected early on that 70% was unrealistic and updated the alert request. These people loved to protest, Amy thought, but not all have the stamina for the runs!
Now the sat-view confirms everyone else is heading for her current location to rally.
She blinks away requests for help from the protestors who were caught in the police wave. Nothing she can do. Besides, they’ll at least make some money selling their point of view to whatever group or algorithm is compiling this story for the rest of the web. News aggregators always pay top coin for traumatic first person perspectives, brings in the clicks, taps and blink-views the advertisers pay for.
By now, a few dozen of Amy's comrades have made it to her location and are helping her make a hole in the barricade for the rest to escape.
The new arrivals force her to sit down after a while and take a break, which she does only after some coercion. This gives her more attention to focus on her maps and see the situation appearing under control, with a majority of the protesters having escaped arrest.
As the wall of cops closes around this side of the park through the haze Amy and her few comrades here set off to follow the freed mass of the movement.
Amy, still out of breath, broadcasts through text-to-avatar, “alright, looks like we're home free! Someone should start scouting up ahead, we can take another part of the city.” She hadn't even noticed how out of breath she was from running until now. In fact she really doesn’t remember running at all, but she had covered over a mile of ground from her previous position all while using her prism and her wits to save the day.
“I'm already on it” said... some guy. Honestly, Amy doesn’t even bother looking into her prism at his credibility score. She’s just happy for someone else to take the reigns. She takes her headset off and rubs the sweat out of her eyes. She taps at the little screen on her wrist and sends Topview admin privilege to the new whats-his-voice. The time was running out on it anyway since the coin had stopped flowing.
The remaining protesters who made it through the narrow exit Amy had orchestrated were now onto the city streets.
The new shepherd of the connected mob puts up a few locations to a vote. A business district in the Southwest side of the city wins after a few seconds of polling. The waypoint is set and the mob streams along to their next occupation site.
The day is saved! A quick search by Amy of her status on the various relevance algorithms shows her reputation scores have increased, but not nearly as much as they should have. The extreme negative comments and feedback blinked and dictated to the web by those unlucky demonstrators who got arrested hurt her average pretty bad.
“At least we're out,” Amy muses out loud to her remaining view-riders, “they thought they had us! Ha They'll never stop us!”
And a sudden wash of pride for her and her fellow protesters washes over her. “The movement will go on! We will triumph!” She text balloons to her now 6,390 and weakening following. She gets 17 acknowledgements and one reply that says simply, “*fist bump*”
Oh well, fame never lasts especially when everyone has the tools of celebrity and the media moment is counted by the second. 15 minutes of fame they used to say, if only people focused for that long anymore!
It doesn’t matter anyway, Amy is here for the movement - these are her people! The demonstrators have taken on a festive mood now as they flow toward their new waypoint. They should have broken out of camp sooner! Now they can spread their message to the city proper! Thanks for trying to roust us Pigs!
A quick look at the sat-view confirmed that the police in the park didn't seem to know the bulk of the demonstrators had escaped. So the Topview rental was let expire and people's prisms, screens and ears filled with share activity of ideas and arguments and gossip among the group and beyond to the whole networked movement. This particular protest movement had never scored very high on the various interest-ranking algorithms, so very few netizens had bothered to tune in before. Now though, the demonstrators were temporary social media demi-gods since they had provided the all-worshipped real-time action that the net so hungered for.
Amy and her rag tag band of rebels began chanting their various slogans and flying their flags as they headed toward the financial district. Time to take it to the man!
Of course, the police mob-prediction software had already expected this outcome. No one in Amy’s group, including herself, had panned the view wide enough to notice that a larger group of police were waiting to close a pincer around the demonstrators when they arrived in the business district …

Fractal Futures collection is live!

This is one of 19 original short stories, only a few ever seen before (thanks to my beta readers throughout the years)
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