Published Date 27/06/13 09:59
I'm going to continue within my own blog because I don't want to detract or distract from Hamish's posts by putting comments there, and to my mind this is more polite if I am essentially having a conversation with Hamish, albeit publicly.
And also because I am challenged even by navigating this whole site and it feels safer to stay here for now. When I say that, you should correctly assume that I am not a "geek activist" - apologies if that is not the right term. Again you should see from that, that I find there to be alien terminology and cultural norms on the tiny bit of site I have explored, and you should therefore regard this post as like a conversation at a border crossing between different countries. That is certainly the feeling I came away with after reading the links on the hard/soft security post Hamish, and especially that meatballwiki thing. I haven't seen anything like that before, even though I poke about on many different sites, and have done for many years.
I'll tell you what meatball made me think. First I found it just annoying, because it seemed to be trying to be funny but I wasn't sure. Than I thought well, it's clearly an interesting project, with people trying to make interactions better by devising rules of conduct. But, importantly, if they were offline they could practice those same interpersonal ethics more easily and I suggest more productively. Then I thought : would I recommend that others come and have a look at any of this? Because although I am non-geek, it is actually the case that out of the "activist" people I interact with, I would be the most geek; I would be the one pointing them in the direction of new things online. That's what I have in mind when I say this conversation appears to me like a meeting in the jungle between different tribes to establish communication. So, I went away and thought about my reactions to meatball for a few days, asking myself chiefly: maybe I should just undefine myself as an activist.
So I need to say a bit about what I think is meant by activist, to me and to those in my circle: someone who chains themselves to trees, does the camping at protest sites, gets arrested, is young, probably unemployed (like myself) but dresses in a readily identifiable "activist" way. If that's an activist, I'm not an activist. But neither would it describe the geek activists I have seen. (Which is why I went to check them out, visually, in real life. I thought maybe that is some tribe I might have more affinity with in terms of activism. I now think "not", because of their trust in technology ). But surely the measure of activism should be its effectiveness?.....in which case the non-geek, old, religious, letter writing, share holding, lobbying, donating, employed, retired, aging hippy people I can think of are better, as in more effective, activists. The sense in which I eventually decided I am in fact an activist is that I pass on to others my "research" into various issues, and they kind of process it into groups I am not part of. I am an interface between "readily identifiable activist" and other groups who don't even call themselves "activist" but who do effect change. You can dismiss that as useless activism on my part, or passivity dressed up as activism.......and yet, why am I then bothering to read info and watch videos on your site, and most of all, why am I bothering to try to give constructive feedback?
I came to the site via Hamish's G8 video (and I remember purchasing undercurrent vids). I find the meatball type of thing alienating and possibly not relevant, though I will persist longer with looking at it, but I won't recommend it to anyone in my non-geek league, because I know they won't wear it. I found the look ups from your post hard to understand Hamish. I think difficulty level and style are barriers to entry. I will read stuff that's above my head and try to understand it, my friends won't. Also a mystifying thing to me is why you don't use a spell check? I considered that it is possible that you are doing it on purpose to prevent machine word searching ....but it doesn't seem key word oriented. It is however giving me a problem understanding what you mean in many places eg "syes" in the sentence that says if you wanted to be a police spy you would ... It seems perverse to not use a simple computer thing when you are a technical person and at the same time "ask" me to look at that difficult retro thing. I don't mean to be offensive - please find mistakes in what I have just not checked myself! - but when other dyslexic people email me without spell checking, I have never had so much difficulty guessing their meaning.
My initlal reaction to the hard/soft security post is that you (frustratingly for me) have returned straight into how to solve the brokennesses you identified, but solve them online or in technical world. I would have said "come off line" is the most important step to fixing the brokenness. I hear you that you are saying much does happen offline. But I think online activism is a trap, in at least two senses: that it is only attractive to those who have invested themselves in that sub culture (thus cannot recruit outside that subculture), and that it is transparent rather than secure. Did activism pre-date the web? yes it did. Will it survive the web. Not if it is structurally or socially on the web.