Why do alt/grassroots media fail
Stupid individualism and the visionOntv CJ video templates.
Our templates for video journalism are designed to simplify and empower normal people to make coherent video news pieces using the tools they already have. They are successful at this if people fallow the template's – it says this at the end of most of them. The issue that creates failure is a standard one for the possibility of an alternative “stupid individualism”.
Our shared western society is based on a hegemonic false senses of individualism, were the reality is largely faceless bland conformity thinly covered by a surface of lifestyle fashion. This is the bases of consumer capitalism our “wealth” is built on. The current world view atomises any possibility of building an alternative and shows up as a block in most attempts to build one. The disparity of wealth on the surface and poverty of the underlying human condition (some more hippy types would call this “spirit”) is striking to many thinking and feeling people.
Our templates boil down more than 30 years of experience of awarded wining fast turn around video journalism to a A4 cartoon sheet. The instructions are clear and complete, if you fallow these, after a few attempts you will likely have mastered the bases of audio visual story telling and from this point of basic mastery opens a whole world of creativity and real genuine “individualism” of the less stupid kind.
Over the last 10-20 years of teaching few actually get this far and we know this because we have trained thousands of citizen journalist over hundreds of workshops at both undercurrents and visionOntv. Why? I would put into view my old friend/foe “stupid individualism” as the explanation (though would admit the are technical challenges as well).
The impotence of the template is more in what it doesn’t say. The is much more information in the omissions, this is how it fits on a A4 with pictures. It distils what does work and explains this. And leves out much that people do by default that dues not work.
Simply, people do not fallow the template, often they do not even pick them up and read them, they then go onto do what THEY think is video making, they do all the bits that the template purposely omits and very few of the bits in them, the result is almost always a dis empowering mess. This is the same outcome with all groups we work with.
We live in an individualist society, were we are all “empowered individuals”. The problem is evident in that this is our empowerment is an almost all an illusion, we are all dis-empowered individuals with egos let lose on dispoling mode. We think we are empowered because everything around us that works is on bureaucratic auto pilot, we don’t actually have to create anything original and lack the base skills to so when the rare option comes round.
Our templates are such a rear opportunity, if you can take your mind out of dispoleing mode and fallow the instructions – the first step and a rare hopeful sign for us as trainers is a budding CJ actually checking the steps on the paper template as they go though the filming.
This is a example of “stupid individualism” a block on many parts of building an alternative.
Some background http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commodity_fetishism
A look at were alt/grassroots media is at
A look at some of the current alt/radical media projects
These guys are some of the most intelligent “idiots” I know. They produce good content and they produce a lot of it.
* FANTASTIC CONTENT
* HARD WORKING
* OLD, BROKEN AND DANGURUES NEW/OLD MEDIA ASPIRATIONS
You can see them trying to build themselves into the new Guardian/Buzzfeed/***media. The root problem am hoping is the limited understanding/interest of the open web due to them having built there careers inside the #dotcons of Twitter and Facebook etc. In this the is hope for these guys.
The now “old” upstarts who keep getting it wrong by building something that might have been the thing to do if they had done it 10 years ago and most importantly as a open network rather than a closed portal.
* REFUSE TO LISTEN
* FUNDING DRAIN
Hard to say if the is hope for them.
The tabloid of left alt-media, my thought is that am glade some one is doing these and its not me :)
* GOOD CLICK BAITING
* EXCELLENT OUTREACH
* HAVE HAD A TENDENCY TO BE ON THE EDGE OF FAKENEWS
* STILL MAINSTREAM MEDIA FACING
Now these guys would be valuable as part of a Open Media Network (OMN) partnering up to work as outreach for the more content soled groups. Its a nobrainer and not to far away from the funding model as a bigger alt means a bigger them, more revenue – everyone wins.
The fact that they are now linking after each story gives hope.
Built by the social media generation so little real understanding of the open web and limited interest in being part of the open world. Is this an unsolvable problem?
The granddaddy of the current alt/grassroots media, they are a niche publisher of trade union grassroots news. Good content that all the other groups should LINKING to and share BUT CURRENTLY DO NOT, this sums up the issue with current “alt” media.
With a bit of investment they should be at the centre of a OMN
* HARD-WORKING AND GOOD CONTENT
* TECHNOLOGY BACKWARD
* GETTING A BIT LONG IN THE TOOTH
Am going to take a little time to try and help them out if they need/except help.
Radical film network
Has been taken over by a bunch of career building academics. There events have been so pointless that I have never been to one of them, and, I was around at the setup. I have been one of the most prolific radical/alt/grassroots film-makers of the last 20 years its odd that isn’t it, that am alienated from something calling it self “the radical film network”.
* THEY LINK
* LIBERAL FUNDING DRAIN
Outcome – CHANGE THE NAME to #fashernista film makers and academic career building network
The Media Fund
Grew out of realmedia and share many of its NGO facing blindness. Good and needed project if it can refocus on 4#opens and the linking of alt-media.
A open standereds based network
* THEY LINK
* #4OPENS PROJECT
Still worthwile as a video part of a network but pointless with out this wider linking project.
* THEY LINK
* "KINDA" #4opens project
Power Politics of the "undead left"
I have found memories of fighting the Power Politics of the "undead left" during the London Social Forum many years ago - lots of knotted strings of organic garlic around the top "taking the power table" to highlight the uncomfortable "undead left´s" grasping for power.
Then the ad hock crew taking away the top table altogether during the lunch break and arranging all the chairs in a circle. Their faces were a delight, coming back after lunch and it kinda/might have worked... but the splits of "not thought of here" took over and the undead were permissioned to take back the space at the next meeting.
The ESF movement faded and now is a shadow - no alt was built.
The use of cultural myths and traditions will mediate and disempower "power politics" but it's a chicken and an egg to get these embedded in groups that are already ensnared in "power politics".
The rainbow gatherings used to work this way till they were "disrupted" by the digital shift and capture by the #dotcons now the gatherings themselves are broken due in part by being organized through #failbook
The #OMN could fail from the same issue. The myths and traditions are in place PGA and #4opens. But the project does not have deep roots to weather the inrush of success. And on the other hand will likely not last the slow growth needed for the roots to dig deep.
Starting/Doing the "Risistence Expo project is unsettling for the same resion.
The idealogical swing
In the 19th century we had a fight between the conservatives vs fundamentalist liberalism fighting/feeding inhuman industrial growth which lead to a human backlash in the 20th century of social democracy – that is a mediated democracy to push humanan growth (progressive liberalism). The late 20th century neo-libreal (fundamentalist liberals) pushed us back into a 19th century world view which has brought with it the balenceing ideas of conservatism of trump and brixet.
The idea is to do it different. Socialism and ecolagisam spring to mind. If we can bring the progressive liberals back it can open the space for these other world views. If conservatism takes over then we have the revaluation of “communism” as a balance as Neo-liberalism is a inhuman deadend that we should not be repeat.
The conservatives (trump) and the radicals are both pissing on liberals for good resions. Though it might turn out that a renewed progressive liberalism (Corben etc.) might be the best path. Pee in moderation can be a good fertiliser :)
For a view of neo-liberal dealing with a political created ecological disaster this podcast is a good direct reminder http://irishhistorypodcast.ie/podcast-directory/famine/
Building alt/grassroots media networks to challenge the traditional media
Our current groups doing alt/grassroots media are to limited in there idea of what media could/should be. The is either a naivety or a dishonesty to all the current grassroots/alt media. They act and think they can be “big media” with out controlling the distribution of there content in any real way. This is in no way unusual the mainstream media is continually making this very same mistake. All of them rely on the the #dotcons which nowadays is largely the Facebook algorithm for the there content distribution.
Our current grassroots/alt media have web sites so already have one foot in the openweb, but non of their sites prominently link in any meaningful way to each other. They do podcasts so anther foot in the open web, but all their effort for outreach is inside the #silos such as Apple itunes etc. it's hard to directly blame them, though we should and will, for this sorry state.
So why are we here? On the one hand we have the #fashernista embrace of the #dotcons which most of the current crew built there careers inside. On the other we have the suicidal embrace of #encryptionists complexity and parallel “standardisation” into a pointless/shrinking in to nothingness alt-tech ghetto were our alt-geeks are.
With these issues in mind I have been outreaching to these groups for the last year, and building real working openweb linking tech as part of the #OMN project. This currently is not been getting far past their naivety/self interest/career focused thinking. Fair anufe if that is as far as there imagination/aspiration goes, but this is a clear problem for working alt/progressive/left media that urgently needs to be addressed. I will keep outreaching, if you wont to help with this outreach get in touch.
They link to meany alt-media crews at the end of each story which is nice, but no links on front page yet.
They have no links on the front page to alt media crews. They used to have a linking page inside there site, now I cannot find it? If anyone can find links can they send me a URL please. They are looking like going backwords to a more tredtional 20th centery view of what media is?
They have no links on the front page to other alt-media crews and I cannot find any links inside their site. They have source links in there story's which is not much of a step. This is a clear a failer in alt/grassroots media turms.
Open letter to 4 alt/grasssroots media groups about the openweb
DRAFT (please comment)
Building up alt/grassroots media would be nice to get a reply :)
Good to get a reply about this project from you.
OMN is a network of Open Media Sites. Its a push to #reboot the openweb that most “value” you currently use has been built upon in the last 20 years. Your careers were built on the destruction of the digital commons its time to pay this back. The cost to your career is light and the openweb can and should be run in parallel to your current use of the #dotcon distribution.
The currency (value) of the web is the link without linking content (no matter how good) has little/no value online and will likely not be seen offline.
Left wing and progressive sites DO NOT LINK and share content with each other. This leads them to have little or no value outside the bubble/echo chambers. And we are surprised and depressed when we keep looseing, there is nothing surprising about this, but there is something depressing about it.
Why is the OMN different to all the other activist tech failed projects.
The top 5:
1) It's based on the #4opens, meaning it doesn't have the buy-in (sell out) issue of NGO's and dotcons and can spread as wildly as the original world wide web (www) if people start to use/build it out.
2) It's KISS, that is simple and standards based, so open to be built-out in unseen directions and open to wide creativity. It galvanises and empowers openweb projects.
3) It's not under the control of one group and is a “universal/standard based so can build and link many niches to link and thus build a real alternative.
4) It solidifies a morality of co-operation and trust rather than fear and compation. Its left wing rather than right wing. All current projects are products of right wing thinking in structure and expectations.
5) It gives the tech/grassroots #fashionista's something useful to do and promote at their events. Its hard to express the pointlessness of all the current alt-tech.
reply from one of the alt-media/grassroots groups
Aren't “existing” doing this anyway, linking all media groups together? Afraid I'm not techie enough to understand what OMN is, how it's different, or any of the points you've made, but I'm happy to go along with what everyone else decides if it can be explained in plain English!
We have done some "user story’s" https://github.com/Openmedianetwork/OMN/wiki/user-storys hope this helps get away from the tech :)
This is a part list of current working roll-out https://github.com/tomspost/OMN/wiki your content already appears as links on all these sites as you post it.
All current successful projects are networks or in the case of the #dotcon social networks (closed) sudo networks.
Currently the OMN is the only bud of a network we have in place in the alt/progressive.
What dues the OMN mean for the your org
Nothing has to change in what you do if you don’t want to do more.
To be part of the network you add a easy OMN sidebar/section/page to your existing site with the content flow you are interested in from any OMN site. You control what appears on your site.
At the moment the is just the one/first that covers the best of grassroots media from a UK and a bit of globle news focus so use that one http://omn.openworlds.info:8080
That’s it, you can do more if you like but don’t have to.
What this means is that your site will link and share content with other grassroots/alt media sites on there sidebar/section/pages.
Your content as you publish it on your site will appear (you do not have to do anything for this to work) on many other OMN sidebars/sections/pages on other sites and blogs.
It will play a role in “aggregating” the viewership of alt-media, everyone gains from this.
What we are talking about is building expanding distribution outside Facebook/twitter. You can, and should continue to use Facebook etc. what the OMN dues is start to build independent and horizontal alternative that run/expands in parallel, its working now and easy to use.
Am more than happy to help set-up the embeds in your website, will likely take 20 min.
Just in case you are worried about security of your site all scripting is striped from the articles and links and the embed is a standard plug-in that comes from the dotcon markets that 1000's of people have been using for years with out any issues.
Its mature and safe tech that just works.
Ps. if this outreach duse not work its looking like time for a bit of a kicking.... phwww..... crap.
Stupid individualism and the possibility of an alternative
Stupid individualism and the visionOntv templates.
Our templates for video journalism are designed to radically simplify and empower normal people to make coherent video news pieces using the tools they largely already have. They are successful at this if people fallow the template's – it says this at the end of most of them.
The issue that creates failure is a standard one for the possibility of an alternative, I call it this “stupid individualism”.
The disparity of wealth on the surface and poverty of the underlying human condition (some would call this “spirit”) is striking to many thinking and feeling people. Our shared western society is based on a hegemonic false senses of individualism, were the reality is largely faceless conformity thinly covered by lifestyle fashion. This is the bases of consumer capitalism our “wealth” is built on. The world view atomises any possibility of building an alternative and shows up in as a block in most attempts to build one.
Our templates boil down more than 30 years of experience of awarded wining fast turn around video journalism to a A4 cartoon sheet. The instructions are clear and complete, if you fallow these, after a few attempts you will likely have mastered the bases of audio visual story telling and from this point of mastery opens a whole world of creativity and real genuine individualism.
Very few actually get this far and we know this because we have trained thousands of citizen journalist over hundreds of workshops at both undercurrents and visionOntv. Why? I would put fowered my old friend/foe “stupid individualism” as the prime explanation (though would admit the are technical challenges as well).
The impotence of the template is more in what it doesn’t say, the is much more information in the omissions, this is how it fits on a A4 with pictures. It distils what does work and explains this.
People do not fallow the template, often they do not even pick it up and read it, they then go onto do what THEY think is video making, they do all the bits that the template purposely omits and very few of the bits in it, the result is almost always a dis empowering mess. This is the same thing with all groups we work with.
We live in an individualist society, were we are all “empowered individuals”. The problem is evident in that this is our empowerment is an illusion, we are all dis empowered individuals with egos let lose on dispoling mode. We think we are empowered because everything around us that works is on bureaucratic auto pilot, we don’t actually have to create anything original and lack the base skills to so when the rare option comes round. Our templates are such a rear opportunity, if you can take your mind out of dispoleing mode and fallow the instructions – the first step and a rare hopeful sign for us as trainers is a budding CJ actually checking the steps on the paper template as they go though the filming.
This “stupid individualism” is a block on many parts of building an alternative.
Looking at the tech and organising of UK alt/grassroots media
How meany sites link to anuther alt/grassroots media sits. from this list of 38 UK sites only 2 link to anuther site.
Many people find it hard to understand the underlining understandings that push projects based on flow and linking such as OMN and openweb. Here is a short list of activish projects.
Is a place for holding/hoarding closed data – this is used by the #dotcons to extract funding form “free users” when mainstream/alt silo projects finish, as 99.9% do, the data varnishes and is lost, and in this the effectiveness of any alt building is diminished. Silos do not use open licensing for content re-use. Just about every alt/grassroots media project is a silo. It's about capturing data. Its obvious that this is a unthought through issue of "churning"
Is an idea that you can be the big one, all the small fashionista websites aspire to be the big one and by doing this they are working to the logic of the #dotcon and working against the logic of the openweb. They are building a project to lock there users into their project. Portal and silo are overlapping (but different) ideas for building web projects. In the mainstream, Apple is a prime example of this working. In the alt/grassroots almost all alt/grassroots media projects are portals. It's about capturing users, just as silos are about capturing data. For a left wing group this looks much like "recreating the Soviet Union" the one party to rule the state.
Are for-profit data silos in the old days working as portals, more recently they are building out siloed networks as a pseudo networked portal. Its both sad and bad that many alt media projects unthinkingly aspire to be #dotcons
Is where ALL the value is on the open web. Without links content has NO VALUE. This is a obvious statement, its hard to understand the the lack of understanding around this simple thing.
Is a grassroots web standard that is still at the base of many of the dotcon world but is being pushed into the background of the openweb by building silos/portals in the grassroots/alt. RSS is like an open LINK with added data, thus adds value to the web. Its a powerful open tool that we still have. An API is like a geek control freak super power of RSS - the problem is in the complexity/control freak bit...
A subculture that is control/obscurity and more recently technical solutions to trust (wraparound right) this has always been a closing force on open projects. This helped to strangle the original successful alt/grassroots media projects and is pushing for the shrinking of the open web.
The unthinking desire for new/innovation/conformity. A wider subculture that churns the growth of alt/grassroots so little can grow beyond seedlings.
Are greedy dispoling of resources both human and money. The liberals that use bureaucratic funding to push out the geek/fashernista agendas over alt/grassroots projects. These are uneasy friends and clear (invisible) enemys.
Is both a technical thing of wires and frequency and an understanding of mutual aid and of “diversity of strategy”. It's native to the openweb and should be at the base of any alt/grassroots media project. In the closed #dotcon the widespread use of A/B testing is a pail controlled shadow of this.
wikipedia is an example of this. It's basic stuff open source project stuff. LINK
Looking at the tech and organising of UK alt/grassroots media. Do sites link to other alt-media projects? Do they support/display openweb standards (RSS)
First DRAFT (please message me with corrections/info)
Has a RSS feed, regular updates, copyright group silo, it has no outside linking
UPDATE: site back online, no visible RSS but can find a hidden one. Its likely copyright and a silo.
(Their website is hacked/down so posted the #failbook link used to have RSS and regular updates. Anyone know what's happening? Update they hope the site is back online soon.)
UPDATE: website back online copyright, no visible RSS feed but you can find ones. Its a a bit of an aggregater but has been suffering from poor spam control. Its pretty much a portal/silo – but could be more.
(They used to have an interesting website for the tec used, but it ended up being just a silo, they look like they are rebooting? Maybe a another silo? we shall see.)
Update they are rebooting as a linking site, lets hope its not a silo.
Has regular good content, RSS, they are a product of the #dotcon social media wave and good at it. Copyright/CC is not stated. The site is a silo with no outside linking
No RSS feed, starting to look a bit “old left” regular updates, no copyright/CC notice. A silo with no external links
The Bristol Cable - Bristol
No visible RSS feed, it kinda probably tries to obey the 4 opens maybe. It's a WP blog site in this it's a media silo with no external links.
Port Talbot Magnet
no visible RSS feed, it mostly fails the 4 opens due to copyright, data and organising. It's a WP blog site, in this it's a media silo with few if any external links.
New Internationalist - based in Oxford
Has RSS feeds, it kinda passes the 4 opens using a CC licence for its content. It links to the visionOntv project.
The Ferret - Scotland, based in Edinburgh
Looks like the old media transitioning to the new media. No visible RSS feed or copyright/CC notice. Is trying to be “open process” looks like a WP site.
Strike! - based in London
looks like a archive of a print mag? Has a RSS feed :)
Positive News - based in London
Dated looking site, hard to read, no RSS feed and a copyright notice. A silo.
Slaney Street - Birmingham
Did not load
Manchester Mule - Manchester
Has RSS feed but last article end of 2015 so not an active site. Probably for fills the 4 opens.
Co-operative News - based in Manchester
Nasty looking site and no RSS, copyrighted, its a silo
No RSS, copyrightish, old looking site.
Marlborough News Online
no RSS, copyright
West Highland Free Press
no RSS, copyright, its a silo.
Star and Cresent - based in Portsmouth
No RSS, no copyright notice? Its a silo.
Morning Star - based in London
Has a RSS feed but its empty, copyright, silo.
Cambria Publishing Co-operative
publishes paper books?
Zed Books - London
paper books and online reading lists, no RSS I can see.
copyright, has a RSS feed, looks bureaucratic open.
Blake House - based in London
no RSS, fashionable calling card website with out content, probably copyright?
Calling card website with out content, no RSS, likely copyright.
Ignite Creative - based in Oxford
Calling card website with out content, no RSS, copyright.
Shedlight Productions - based in Southampton
calling card website with out content, no RSS, copyright.
Steel City Film and Media Co-op - based in Sheffield
its a #failbook page, maybe open?
Trafford Media & Communications - based in Manchester
(mostly a printer, but also do film production)
calling card, no site.
The Community Channel
The granddaddy of NGO media, no RSS feed, likely copyright silo.
Jammu Kashmir TV
it has content, silo?
Has a working RSS feed
Inform My Opinion
Has working RSS feed but it fails in my pod catcher, its a page on a #dotcon?
has RSS feed, copyright, silo?
Half finished calling card site.
Hastings independent press
No RSS, no copyright/CC notice, a silo with no external links.
Copyright, no RSS feed, has some old school widgets which might show external links. Its a local news silo.
Has RSS feed and CC licence, no external links on front page, its a silo but better than most.
Has a RSS feed, its a silo but the is hope for it.
its a blog in the old school sense, has RSS
its a silo with no RSS and no external links
FAQ - why use open websites
We need to get activist to actually use alternative net infrastructure.
Q. Its to complex to use this geek software.
A. So was Facebook when it started, almost nobody understood what twitter was for for ages – all new experiences are hard. Its actually ONLY a question of motivation then familiarisation through repartition.
Q. Activist internet site are ugly – if they just look nicer people might actually use them.
A. After bad UI is put to one side (and this can be an issue) the is a direct correlation between full user functionality and bad looking sites – you can make site look nicer by dis-empowering the user or by shaping and controlling there interactions – but freedom always looks messy just look at Facebook its one of the more messy sites out there – it overcomes this issue by good UI and familiarity – people get used to “functionality - ugliness” after they use the software every day.
Q. My activist site has no way for the “user” to be part of the site beyond limited commenting.
A. Yes activist sites are generally in the stone age of hierarchical control freakery, use sites that are web02 not web01 the actually are some projects out their. Complain to admins if the is no peer -to- peer production on an activist site, then actually use the peer production tools they set-up such as wikis and forums.
Q. Why not just use Facebook groups/ fashionable web2 site, every one is on there anyway.
A. This way leads to the death of the open internet/society LINK
Q. Can i trust activist sites with my privacy.
A. On corporate site's that most activist use, such as Facebook you can only hide from your friends not from your enermys. This is generally true for the open web in general and is something we need to understand. If you have a secret take the activist to the garden and whisper it in there ear, do not rely on any fig leafs of corporate privacy settings or promise of activist client server encryption LINK
Power polatics and the race/gender card
Deal with issues, allowing them to be pushed under the carpet has a cost.
The are real issues round gender/race politics. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Identity_politics Then the is a the sad and bad playing of the race/gender "card" that is sometimes used when real issues become stressful.
This happen to me a year ago at the Good Social Centre in Dalston. The was a "monster" dominating process by talking over everyone with a steady flow of power politics. I was confronting him about this at a project meeting.
Activists strangely tend to have issues with direct action when it happens in there community's, they sat around looking from one "monster" to the other "monster (me)" making no judgement between the two. In the end he played the Asian "race card" and that was the end of that.
He terrorized and wrecked the space for a year before he was final excluded from space meetings. Sad and bad...
Yes playing the race/gender card can highlight a real issue but sometimes its just more power politics. And if the issue is down to power politics in the first place then this is likely the second not the first reason the "race/gender" card is used to block.
In the case above it turned out that he was a mentally ill, druggie, control freek, with a MBA in bullshit. Sadly he did have real talents, that were key to the project if he could have been helped/supported out of the nasty power politics. This was only fully understood a year latter after he was excluded from the meetings.
Ps. Truth is good, he could have played the "mental illness" card, every one would have agreed and helped him.
Alt-geek culture is broken - indymedia
An introduction to a "unspoken" problem. Everything is "pointless" in till you do something "that is not", if we keep repeating the pointless stuff were/when is the "that is not" going to happen?
An example of the geek problem can be found in the flowing and fading of radical alt/grassroots media at the peek of the #openweb
The basis of any new media is the technology it is transmitted/mediated by. In the case of newspapers this is the printing press, and for radio and TV it is access to the transmission spectrum. The open internet changed this "traditional" media which was based on a world of (vertical) analogue scarcity. As the accessing technology improved, it created a radically (horizontal) digital media space.
This was intently filled with (naive in a good sense) alt-media such as the Indymedia project (IMC). In this post I am looking at how this was killed off by internal geek/process dogmatism at the same time as its space was colonised by new/mainstream such as blogging and social media.
We are now coming full circle to where we started with closed client/server, algorithm-determined, gatekeeper, for-profit networks dominating media production and consumption. The corporate gate keeping venture capital driven (and invisible ideology) algorithm is the new printing press/broadcast spectrum that we started the century with.
What part did radical geeks play in this?
Let's look at the successful global indymedia project, which was based on open publishing and open process through a centralised server network. Before this the radical video project undercurrents, while not so open, was again based on a technical hub. They had the only free digital editing suite for production of grassroots video, thus anyone wanting to produces radical content was funnelled though this grassroots gatekeeper. With IMC, it was publishing to their hosted servers.
The indymedia network was setup in the very avant-gardist open model that was to dominate the internet for a time. Like undercurrents it succeeded because of its technical centralisation – the server was the ONLY place citizen journalist content could be published without hard technical knowledge. This monopoly was later lost to the growth of individualistic blogging platforms and later corporate social media. But what I want to argue here is that it died before this due to internal (process) pressures.
Indymedia was set up on the open, open, open, open, pseudonymous model.
* Open source (free software)
* Open publishing (post-publishing moderation)
* Open licence content (non commercial re-use)
* Open process (everything was organised on public e-mail lists, open meetings)
* Pseudo-anonymous (you didn’t have to provide an e-mail address or a real name to publish)
Let's look as some of the pragmatism that allowed the project to take off:
* The project was initially pragmatic about open source as it used the closed realmedia (RM) video streaming codec and servers. But the core project was committed to the free software path where technically possible.
* Open publishing was the basis of the project, things could only be hidden (not removed) because they broke a broad public editorial guideline. Even then they were added to a background page so were still public. In this the publishing process was naïvely open.
* Open licence stayed with the project to the end.
* Open process was gradually abandoned, a clique formed then fought and split, this was the main reason the project ossified and could not adapt to keep its relevance in the changing world of blogs and social media.
* (Pseudo) anonymity was part of the abandonment of open process and led down many of the technical dead ends that finally killed the relevance of the project to most users.
Lets look at this final one in more depth
Firstly, it's important to realise that any attempt at anonymous publishing in a client server relationship even at its most restrictive and paranoid would produce pseudo anonymity. ie. you might be able to hide from your mates and your employer but you cannot hide from the “powers that be” if they are interested in subverting your server and its internet connection.
The internet is inherently naïvely open, its built that way, this is why it works. The recent Edward Snowdon leaks highlight this to the wider public view.
- the integrity of the ISP and hosting was always based on trusting a tiny anonymous minority of geeks
- the physical security of the server could never be guaranteed.
- as the project process closed the identity of these core geeks became tenuous/invisible.
In activism just as the man driving the white van repeatedly turned out to be the police/corporate spy, the invisible server admin is the obvious opening for the same role – am not saying this is what existed, rather just trying to highlight how you cannot build a network based on this closed client server infrastructure/culture that IMC became. Given the open nature of the internet, it became dangerous to push IMC as an anonymous project.
There were four fatal blocks:
- the repeated blocks and failure and delay of decentralisation of the servers to the regions.
- the blocks on aggregation, then the closed subculture aggregation that final happened as a parallel project
- the focusing on encrypted web hosting and self-signed certificates put a block on new non-technical users that proved termanaly offputting.
- the failed "security theater" of not login IP address locally on the server as a limited security fig leaf. They could simply be logged on the ISP/open web instead.
These, together with a shrinking of the core group, led to the project becoming irrelevant in the face of the growth of more openly accessible blogging and then social media.
Let's get positive and suggest some ways the IMC project could have flourished and still be a dominant grassroots project:
* The base level of the project should have actively decentralised as the technology matured to make this feasible. Every town needed its own DIY run server.
* Then regional aggregation using RSS (really simple syndication) would make this grassroots media presentable as outreach media.
* A national aggregation site could then have compete directly with the (then) declining traditional media outlets.
* Recognising that the IMC project was pseudo-anonymous at best, IMC could have built a parallel encrypted peer-to-peer gateway app/network to feed into this to provide true(ish) anonymity for publishers to this ongoing open media project.
* The decentralisation would have been a force to keep the process open by feeding though new people/energy – this would have naturally balanced the activist clique forming/closing in the centre.
* As blogging became popular and matured these could have been “ethically” aggregated into the network to build a truly federated global open media network such as http://openworlds.info is working to be.
* Social networking could have been added as an organic part of this flourishing federated network.
If this had happened, it's not too much to say that the internet would have been a different place to where it is now. The IMC project highlights some of the failures of activist/geek culture. If we are to (re)build the open web we need to learn from this and move on.
(find photo of indymedia Sheffield masked up photo)
This is sadly not a metaphor for an open media project
It should be obvious to people now that even the most paranoid centralised closed internet is only pseudo-anonymous at best. We need to learn how to live with "open" to build the world we want to see. And our geeks fighting for closed are actually a problem for us, just as much as "them".
Moveing through/past "blocking" in activism
The 4 opens
Open data – is the basic part of the project https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_data with out this open it cannot work.
Open source – as in “free software” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_software this keeps development healthy by increasing interconnectedness and bringing in serendipity. The Open licences are the “lock” that keep the first two in place, what we have ain’t perfect but they expand the area of “trust” that the project needs to work, creative commons would be the start here.
Open “industrial” standards – this is a little understand but core open, its what the open internet and WWW are built from. Here is an outline https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_standard
Open process – this is the most “nebulous” part, examples of the work flow would be wikis and activity streams. The project is built on linking trust networks so open process is the “glue” that binds the links together. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Process
Outline of 20 years ups and downs of grassroots activism in the UK
In my expirence the flowering of the indymedia networks followed by the first years of climatecamp were the high points of activist culture. The end of climate camp was the low point of activist culture, after this the drift to NGO and fashion was wide and dissipating.
Occupy was a break in activist culture, it was the first mass “internet first” on the ground manifestation that happened disconnected to the past of activism because of the use of #dotcons tools as prime organising space. The old couture has been discredited by the failings of climate camp, the new dotcon tools had been celebrated and used well by Ukuncut etal. Were Ukuncut was a reboot of old climate camp crew, Occupy was a project of the #failbook generation in all its wide reflective madness.
Were are we now? The old left is rebooting with a broken mix of the blairite right and the Stalinist/toxic left both pulling at the radical liberal centre. Alt media content is being rebooted but the network it needs to build, to stop its drift to NGO burn out is missing. The right is ideologically bankrupt and visibly grasping, but stronger than ever.
In activism currently we are full of the biter taste of occupy and NGO worshipping of dotcoms and careerism. The working of the 21st century is potentially different to the workings of the 20th century the are groups, networks and individuals that embody this and a larger group/individuals who fight for the past century working practices.
The “certainties of the 20th century” are grasped in our frail and trembling hands, the first stage of a “network” reboot is to let go of these “certainties” one constructive path to this is to fill in the gaping activist memory hole by looking at what works and what dose not. The lost and flailing progressive alt needs foundations bridging this gap to build on.
The IS NO SHORT TERMISM HERE but the is speed and nimbleness, plenty of fun, creative motivated building to be done. Many of the foundation problems can be built in parallel as a “network” so it can happen faster than most can imagine.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
Am currently working on two projects to take steps to medate the issues I ouline here:
The use of language and writing by activists has an impact.
The use of language and writing by activists has an impact.
Possessiveness "us-them" is a root failing in open structures that cant be avoid, BUT, best not to feed it.
"Bring your flyers, posters, leaflets, newsletters, news clippings, video footage, photographs, banners, artwork and disobedient objects, and display them in the open spaces."
"your" is possessive the sentence makes just as much sense with out it.
"Bring flyers, posters, leaflets, newsletters, news clippings, video footage, photographs, banners, artwork and disobedient objects, and display them in the open spaces."
In the second one this is less "us and you" and "one telling the other what to do."
When working with/in open structures best to just take all the "pointing" words out. Sentences generally work fine with out them.
Just had a "discussion" about this for the expo.
participative facilitation teaches thisparticipative and inclusive
Activism and flaring egos go hand in hand
Activism and flaring egos go hand in hand
Well that almost went well with editing the headboards for the activist project. Shame on us all for it degenerated into shit behaver for the last 45 min.
Its understandable X wanting a say on the project – an open way to do it would have been to say lets make some changes to this KEY doc and discus it for a bit. Then do it.
The doc had been though at least 4 drafts and was waiting for a polish at this stage. This drafting had shaped it as a “open process” with out the “you-me” that often peppers language. The definitions (subjects) were all outside on the boards rather than in the intro. This left open and inviting space to take part.
At this stage while all ready over time the way people acted was like lighting a match to a messy explosion. When Y attempt to mediate then closed the job half done, with Z coming in blind, a nasty mess was (hopefully) resolved in a nasty way. We did not need this to happened.
Open process is not a solution but it helps.
Open Spaces and words we use
Why do all alt/grassroots events have the same speakers
I start to understand why all alt/grassroots events have the same speakers. Looking about you send out invites to everyone who has done it before. To reach out to new people would be taking a risk, would be hard work to hand hold them though the process. The lack of time and resources leaves little focus than to just repeat the past. This is a hard realization and incite into poverty.
Am starting to feel slightly ashamed of not knowing this before. ideas please, we do need to fix this.
"To be honest you should be commended for putting it all together in the first place. No one else is doing it and it's essential. Every form of direct action is worthy and amazing given the world we live in."
"1 a bit of mentoring goes a long way
2 offer expenses and look for some funding - either grant funding or crowdfunded
3 offer speaker training events"
Your idea would work if we had the time and the funding, time is relative but funding for alt/left is tiny and hard to get. Almost all left'ish funding is dispelled in #NGO and #fashernista pointlessness. Ideas for diverting some of this waste might be a start? Actually it is a good time to try this, who is up for it?
Find and Join the OMN
How to re-boot grassroots media to help to re-boot the open web to create real social change
We need to get our current dispurate and weak activist sites to link to each other, then get NGO's to do the same. Then push out news river embeds to more mainstream sites to expand the network.
This project needs to be run as a non-branded open network based on open social and technical standereds.
The social side is based on linking flows of information.
Of course you can and should be all of the above, but to aid expansion and growth this is not insisted on.
The first two paths are easey, the last more complex:
* Producers, this is any web site that puts out an RSS feed, this is most sites on the internet [tick]
* Aggregates are slightly more complex as they will need custom codeing, this all ready exists in a basic form for Drupal and Wordpress and the miro project. [needs work]
As the production side is already solved and the consumers side is relatively trivial this only leaves the Aggreaters as a steep path to take. We have a small budget to kick this off and is technically feasible.
The second part needed is actually the more complex one, how to get groups and individuals to implement open cooperative working practices. The issues that have to be bypassed/addressed/ignored:
* Geek culture is infeactured with encryption and fake technical privacy, this is fading with the victory of failbook and its fellow dotcoms and the disintegration and fading into obscurity of the geek privacy projects. But this will comeback and bite at the OMN as it grows out and builds the basic open tech. So we have to harden the project against this agenda by codeing the opens into the foundations of the project.
* The Trots and the Authoritarian tendency left jumping on the band wagon, this is solved in the same way as the geek problem as they actually share the same pathology of the 20th century illusion of control.
* NGO's this is solved by moving to fast for them to react, if we get bogged down this might become an issue of co-option. Keep moving fast.
To sum up build soled open foundations and keep moving fast.
How would the project look/feel
The open web and the sites that make it up would look much like they look today.
But the OMN project would socialise linking and sharing to create a network out of all the small disparate bits that make up the remains of this fading open web.
Production and consumption sites would gain a sidebar containing realtime updating links to “tag” based rivers of relevant content.
Aggregating sites would contain rivers of subject based content that they would sive and add value to be re-tageing. And creating meta articles linking to original sources. The feeds that production and consumption sites display would come from one of these aggreating sites.
The network would grow out organicly based on subject:
* a aggregating site could only handeal so many feeds before the human moderates are overwlemed this would lead to specialisation and a hirakey of subject aggreaters that would organicly mirror the existing real social interest groups.
* we would end up with specialisation, and a shifting network of overlapping bottom, middle and top sites which would all find ordnances and drive traffic back to the producing sites that feed the network.
* bottom sites would aggregate mostly original producer sites, middle sites would aggregate a mixture of original sites and tags from subject based bootem sites, finally the top sites would aggregate tag based feeds from the middle sites.
How would this look to the “users”
* It would be much easer for “normal” users to find relevant content on subjects that they are interested in, they would be introduced back to the open web by links on #failbook and #juduceserche engine. This growth of traffic would re-energise peoples websites and inspire the upgrading of meny moribund website projects and a move away from current hegemonic dotcom aggregation of #failbook and its siblings.
How would it affect “producers”
* publish ones and your content appears on 100's of sites driving traffic and commenting back to your blog/website and away from #failbook atel. The open web is being straggled by the pay to view throttling on these copurte silos, its a no brainier to move to escape this now. With the increased trafic you can put energy into upgrading your existen website to make it more relevant, the OMN would be active in providing the open tools and plug ins to make this happen.
What would this look like from tech prospective:
KISS open industrial standards based on trust and redundant data roll-back back functions to Handel the breakdown of trust that will happen some times.
RSS will be used as a database object exchange format, a tagging taxonermy will be used to shift and create the flows of these objects. Subscribing to tag based RSS feeds will be the bases of the trust network.
Open databases will hold duplicate meta data linking back to the original source of the RSS object.
RSS feed aggregation would be base on trusted, strate through or moderated ie adding to a moderation cue in the aggregating sites.
3 months to build the seed aggreaters and basic javescript embeds/plugins
6 months to build out the seed networks
9 months to major launch
12 months to being a real alternative and play a role in saving the open web.
Food for thinking:
If you think this sounds oldfaserned you would be right it is, its the basics that needs to happen to create a pool of metadate enhanced media objects. What happens after this? for ideas will add some links: