A river that needs crossing political and tech blogs - On the political side, there is arrogance and ignorance, on the geek side there is naivety and over- complexity

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Where is our media?

Climate camp is a example of the transition from alternative media to social media. At the beginning of the Climate Change Movement Indymedia was declining. At the first two camps there was a healthy Indymedia centre providing internet, sustainable power and computers

There's always a stress between alternative media and outreach to traditional media. They're in competition and to a certain extent they ignored each other at climate camp. But for social change it is important for the two to go hand-in-hand. The outreach to traditional media should support the production of alternative media and alternative media should feed the best of its production into traditional media to amplify its voice. At climate camp there was only lip service to this happening, in reality the two groups split apart quite soon. Originally the groups were supposed to share the same physical space, but this did not last.

The agenda of traditional media outreach was about the shmoozing of traditional journalists.* Whereas alternative media was bogged down in providing real services in a field which to an extent is always dysfunctional. Like oil and water without a conscious emulsifier to hold them together they separated and throughout the life of climate camp the two never really came together. This happened to a certain extent because radical activists, and I use the word “radical” with "" marks, were prejudiced against people who do what is perceived as soft works such as media production. This is part of activist lifestyle. The spikey/floppy debate.

For a time activist/traditional media outreach ploughed separate paths both playing a role. With the growth of blogging and then most importantly social media - Twitter and Facebook. A new group of NGO focused careerists**  championed this initially successful new tool. The traditional media crew ignored social media***, mirroring the attitude of traditional media to social media at those times. The more naive alternative media embraced social media as an effective tool for social change. The realistic alternative media reluctantly embraced it as another form of media outreach, a form of outreach that bypassed the gatekeepers of traditional media.

The growth of social media impacted grassroots alternative media in catastrophic ways. The software NGO careerists**** championed social media and for the naive alternative media people this was the panacea, the future, the one way to gain a voice. Interestingly the traditional media outreach initially saw social media as a threat but they soon with reluctance embraced it. The few remaining radical alt media people struggled to work wih declining relevance, their tools ageing and disintegrating. With the problems of geek culture they had no way to compete with traditional media or the new social media.

Social media took over activist media. Traditional media still had a role as the traditional media belatedly embraced social media and learnt how to use it.

As I highlighted my other article the problem of geek culture damaged radical alternative media. The failure of traditional media outreach to complement activist media led to radical activist media being sidelined. The growth of individualistic blogging while temporarily bolstering individual voices inevitably led to a decline of of our cultural voice. The final blow the wholesale embracing of social media pushed by the NGO careerists.*****

In all these failures we have come full circle to where we started with a dominant hegemonic gatekeeper media world. If we are to rebuild an open media we have to learn from these mistakes and make sure that we do not continue to repeat them.

Lessons to learn

* Work out how to overcome the limitations of geek culture for activist media. Open is the solution here.

* The politics of media. We need to make sure that there is emulsifier in place between radical grassroots media and traditional media outreach. To achieve this the social movements need to rein in and refocus the traditional media message. Media production IS “spikey” and core to activism.

* Radical grassroots media is always incompatible with NGO careerists.****** We need to build in strong enough foundations so that our architecture cannot be subverted by these privileged people. This is for their good and our good.

Conclusion, the most difficult part of successful radical grassroots media is social, cultural and political. In this it's essential that it is not technologically led. Actually technology is the easiest part of radical media. The tools and standards that we need always already exist. What is missing is the willingness and the common-sense to use what we have.

Comments
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The main arguments of this article are interesting and really worth considering. Unfortunately it is marred by some unjustified personal abuse, which really undermines the article. I should point out that the comments and questions below come from someone who was present and working in exactly the places cited in the article.

The asterisks refer to notes I have added to the text above.

* "Agenda" and "schmoozing" are loaded words with a negative connotation - what on earth is wrong with outreaching to mass media?

** It is completely unjustified to characterise these hard-working activists in this negative way

*** No, they didn't.

**** I'd like you to name names, then they can sue you for libel - it's cowardly to accuse an unnamed group of "NGO careerism".

***** Who are they again? I mean, is anyone who has a job with an NGO a "careerist"? - that would make it easier to know who was being fingered. Or are there some people who work for NGOs who are not careerists? Are you confusing "careerism" with "having a job with an NGO"?. Please clarify.

****** See my questions above.
Posted on 1/26/15 2:10 PM.
I need to wright a post on this subject - coming soon.

My critique of people who build careers in NGO's I think is valid and if you talk to meany of them over a pint they would wholeheartedly agree the the NGO world is deeply problematic for meany resions.

To work for a NGO for any time is to be shaped by the NGO Agenda, you have to be otherwise you would not get funding and further your carrear. To fight that agenda would likely drive you out of the NGO.

"Schmoozing" My all time faveret quote from a climate camp media team meeting is honest self reference to "sucking corporate cock" which is what they did, to do, a very good job for the climate camp movement. Some one needed to do it.

I didn't, Yes they worked very hard and were successful, I liked um all, that dosent mean what they did was good for movement building. Look at the climate camp at on the Black heath for an example of this.

The traditional media for years was in denial of social media, it only embraced it with a generation change in the organizations.

Rich, the history is spoty, we are useless at achieving our seces and failers, activist memory is largely a black hole - its why we are now working on a open achieve project - lets see what comes out of that.

I think the affects wernt by active evil as you are implying, more by useless activist memmy holes so that we keep recreating the same shit outcomes decade after decade. This post is addressing this subject - piling shit over it even if well intentioned might not be the best thing to do or maybe am not shore maybe it will make it better lets see.

They are the people who drop in organize "good things". Its fuckup rather than conspiracy, few people are actively evil.
Posted on 1/26/15 6:01 PM in reply to Richard Hering.
"piling shit over it even if well intentioned might not be the best thing to do" - if you dish it you've got to be prepared to receive it.
Posted on 1/26/15 6:16 PM in reply to Hamish Campbell.
Shit is the bases of compost and all life is built on top of that, so as I dithered, maybe its a good thing emoticon
Posted on 1/26/15 6:20 PM in reply to Richard Hering.