Links - some of the projects of the Open Media Network (OMN)
Some of the projects of the Open Media Network (OMN)
Breaking the frame gathering
I have decided not to get involved in this activist tech gathering even though it is completely on the subjects that are core to my work. I had tried to interact but with no noticeable affect.
The is a failer of imagination in almost all atavist tech that shapes a blankness in ideas and almost no real action. Its not that the ideas and campaigns are not important as some of them clearly are, it is more limited framework that these things are addressed with.
This gathering reminds me of the Rebellious Media Conference from a few years back which took up a lot of my time and had no affect what so ever. On balance the RMC damaged the declining alt-media by taking focus and energy, am worried that this gathering will lead to the same outcome.
If you wont to get involved in real alternative tech in action, and while doing thinking about the bigger picture try http://activisttech.org or the develoment side try this http://hamishcampbell.com/en/home/-/blogs/the-tech-manifesto-of-the-omn
Solar vagabond - Smart Phone
This is a setup which will easily charge and run small electrical devices up to tablets in size. The panel Weighs only 0.8 lbs (0.36 kg) and fold to the size of a book.
List of equipment: http://www.goalzero.com/shop/p/79/Guide-10-Adventure-Kit/1:1/
UPDATE: this kit worked very well, now off to a desert island for a month to test it out with some new battery’s and bigger phone.
UPDATE2: it failed the test see this post for more info
The Activists - FUCKED UP USE of corporate social media
It consistently amazed me how activists walked into the trap of corporate social networking. I can understand NGO groups narrowness of focus, its were the funding is. I can understand traditional media's embracing of Facebook, Twitter and the closed ecosystem of app stores as its a perceived as a “safe” place to run from the crumbling business markets they are part of.
Lets look at each in turn:
Corporate social networking is perfect for the less radical charity's as the company's running theses networks wont to be seen to be social responsible and charity’s are the perfect place to be seen to care with out the risk of upsetting sponsors, advertisers and investors.
The more progressive parts of the traditional media, such as the FT have realised the trap they leapt into when building inside Facebook, Twitter etal. And are now back to prioritising building on the open web using HTML5. The less progressive side are now negotiating from a weak postion with these new powerful gatekeepers.
10 years ago Activist media was a worldwide phenomenon, inventing and leading many of the technology and techniques that are now mainstream. But two things happened, firstly they got bogged down in “activist process” and on the other the “lifestyle of geek” open-source culture. These together slowed innovation to a stop, the functionality and reach of such new networks as Facebook and Twitter rendered this moribund activist media less relevant to new generations of activists such as the climatecamp media team. Leaving space for the NGO focus embracing of corporate social media on one hand and the manipulation of traditional media on the other as the main ongoing successful strategy.
Were are we now? I was at the party to cover the celebrate of the death of Margaret Thatcher recently in Trafalgar sq. The were hundreds of cameras both video and stills probably as many people filming and documenting as there party goers or police. But almost no radical media made it online, the was a smattering of wonabe mainstream media such as Vice and Demotix. What interested me was running into all the retired activist and the ones that now work for NGO's it struck me that the is no continuity, no new radical media, it had almost completely ended. Few small exception’s to this are ourselves (visionontv) and ONN who are both small fish.
As I sead at the time, we as activist's fucked up in two ways: in wholesale embracing of corporate social media and in the narrowing of activist tec into geek lifestyle. Can we learn from this? Its time to reinvent grassroots bottom up media – its not to late.
Hard or Soft is the question
The are two types of security in activism (DRAFT)
The is the outline of what am talking about here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soft_security
"hard security for traditional mechanisms like authentication and access control, and soft security for social control mechanisms."
Encryption and anonymity, hiding communication so that people can trust that there interaction is with the people they think it is with and nobody eales. in activist cercals this has a strong tendency to centralise activist infrastructure and activity around a small "shadowy" group. And history tells us this is the easiest place for state, and corporate spy’s to live in these encrypted/secret shadows. Examples dailymail and Guardian
"Soft security attempts to discourage harm and mitigate any damage, while quality control attempts to improve a product and weed out non-conforming output. The social controls on the production of Wikipedia documents demonstrate both principles, using discussion pages, accessible edit histories, policies and guidelines, in contrast to traditional document control mechanisms such as workflow and authorization, to achieve both soft security and quality control.
In commercial security, soft security is often achieved through training of staff to manage the environment (1) to make disruptions more noticeable, (2) to make disruptions less socially acceptable, and (3) to create a perceived vested interest in the public."
Openness, activity streams, bring communication into the open to building trust. Using open tools so that you have a very direct and continues inside into what’s going on so you can actual see and trust the popule you are working because you can see them. This builds a secure working relationship and dynamic and effective community of action. Pleapole who have something to hide stand out and are easey to see.
The is a case for hard security in activism and we have tradition to facilitate this - phone, meetups, affinity groups etc. the problem am highlighting here is the online infrastructure that we use to implement so called hard security in activism are almost all based on clinet server infrastructure which in hand with the geek obsession with hard security makes the admin of these centralised services into a fatel weakness - if I was a modern police spy i would be an activist syes admin running the group website and e-mail list and it is very easy to take on these responsibility and stay int he shadows.
For hard security in activism the is a much better model of peer to peer model were the is no centre, it is horizontal web of trust. this is not popular amuncest geek activism for a number of resions probably the most important (unspoken) resign is one of control. An example of a workable open source tool that activist could use is http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Retroshare would be good if a group of activist tried to work with this.
The ideas behind soft security is that the open web is simply not an appropriate tool for "spiky" organising and that most of the client server "secure" tools are pseudonymous at best and blatantly open at worst, this would be fine if people understood this but they don’t and these tools are pushed on less techy people as the right this to do. This is both dangerous in a very practical sense and damaging as it makes activism much less dynamic and flexible. The tech tools activist use dampen there effectiveness and lead to a continuation of top-down working practices.
Activist hard security is currently both damaging to the movements from its dysfunctionally and from it pseudonymous. So if soft security is a much better model for MOST activist organising and is actually what the HUGE majority of activist are doing when they use facebook for organising - the question of facebook opens up a hole other connected can of worms.
Very good DRAFT wright up of these issues here http://meatballwiki.org/wiki/SoftSecurity
End of the internet as a open-platform comes much closer
Communications Minister Ed Vaizey anoucment means that the end of the internet as a open-platform comes much closer http://bit.ly/cpDh2j can't help feeling we are sleep walking into this. Though as the undead of the corporate media is riseng from its coffins - we are seeing the peasants with burning torches in the streets #demo2010 but will site such as #fitwatch still be accessible when we lose #netneutrality and do you think your ISP will allow tools like this http://tcrn.ch/c7Ah15 #Adblock any more? As paula at @fossbox says "well, they're just handing the entire UK infrastructure to corporate empires - no discussion, no appeal :( "
Its a HUGE problem, at http://visionon.tv we wont to be at the centre of the open-internet debate do you wont to help make this happen – if you do join the site and make it real the DIY way.
Many films on the background to this subject here http://visionon.tv/plugandplay
The way forward - some simple social/technical solutions
* Nurture basic journalism/story telling skills in alt-media to make better outreach media. LINK
* Linking is key, link to alternative resources where ever you can, the easiest way of competing with corporate news sources is by building a web of connecting linked alt-news sources.
* Aggregation is a way to make decentralisation work.
* Have the main way of inputing to any alt-project at a local level then let the content work its way up to the top of subject/geographic aggregation sites. While always keeping the valid link back to the original source. I know its hard but try and avoid building consensus/bureaucratic publish from the top sites/projects where possible.
* QUOTE “content is just something for conversation” This opens the question of where does the interaction around content take place – this is still a unresolved issue and needs more thought and technical work – for now a diversity of strategy is probably the best way forward. While always keeping the valid link back to the original source.
* This is a controversial point - ONLY use the corporate social media solutions for link building and feeding people into contempery media projects – corporate social media solutions should be avoided as much as possible as original sources of distribution. DO use them and abuse them but its a common mistake to build real companies and communities solely within them. Its easy, publish on a alt-newsite site/blog then publish a link on facebook and twitter, you can use tools that do this automatically.
* Be open to using all tools, but try and come down on using free/opensource and open standards were possible. For two reasons
1) there is an opportunity for people to build things with opensource and openstandards using your project that you DIDN'T think of – this is actually where almost all innovation on the web comes from.
2) all corporate tools are bound up with the need to create profit before functionality and user experience so in the end they all have to sell out and focus on profit before users/content, its just a matter of time, the ones that don't follow this line run out of funding and all your work vanishes anyway.
* RSS and Creative Commons are your friends, use them well in every project you create.
That's really it, let's work together to use the “digital hole” undermining corporate media “to replace it with something nicer” its really not that difficult. Let's all Link and Aggregate based on open standards.
Hamish Campbell, (typed while) camping in the forest at the beach in the bay of Biscay.
StopG8 website - Activist web organising tools are broken
The web is fundamentally a peer to peer network, as are human relationships. Let's look at a recent activist website built for the G8 protest in London https://network23.org/stopg8. It is a one way approach – a directing tool for a small minority of unknown and unknowable people to direct the majority of people, with limited ways for the majority to talk back or take part in the web organising.
Wordpress the tool used here is a a top-down tool, original a single user blogging platform, thus its useful for hierarchical opaque organising, which goes hand in hand with “closed security” minded geeks and activists - the problem oveasuly lies in the fact that such tools restrict peoples online involvement and this leads to a dampening and shrinking of offline involvement or the moving of open organising onto the closed web of Facebook etc. Wordpress is fine for a noticeboard site or personal blog but not for any form of self organising or group networking, its broken as a way of building a dynamic social moveme
A more obvious activist approach would be to use opentools such as wikis and forums, and self organising web spaces to build a creative movement “open security” model were people could could build “trust” by activity feeds. A tool for this would be single sign in site built on liferay such as http://visionon.tv
“Closed security” gives the dangerous illusion of anonymity were non exists, this both gives control to a small group of unaccountable activists and dampens self organising – the life blood of activism.
“Open security” widens ownership and builds spaces for creativity, its based on transparent trust networks. It builds security as the is no foles sense of anonymity – if you wont to organise something “spiky or norty” you whisper at the back of the pub.
The is no security in centralised activist infrastructure as you don’t know who actually runs them and you don’t know who is upriver of their hosting providers. The is a clear danger that this pseudonymous is mistaken for true anonymity and this danger comes at a clear organising cost. At the moment we have a clear failer of activist web culture, which can be seen in the shrinking of activism ( and its replacement with clicktivism) – post a comment if you would like to have a go at fixing this.
Lifeboat to liveaboard conversion
Am thinking about getting one of these to covert into a live-in open media centre. They vary from 7-9m in length and have seating (like sardines) for 30-60 people.
Proposed mission would be to:
* remove most of the seats to open the space up
* paint it so it wasnt bright orange (need a good weeks dry weather to
* put in some very basic live in space, bed, table etc.
* fit some basic solar panels, batterys etc.
* steam punk it up a bit.
This would be done wombling style if anyone wont's to help.
They are fresh off oil rigs so should be in working condition with all survival gear in them. It seams that one of the reasons the is a lot of surplus lifeboats is that oil rig workers are getting fat (PDF) so the current lifeboats aren't large anufe.
Am going up to Scotland to have a look (and maybe buy) end of the week, then put it on the river lee/canal to do the rest of the fitting out over the summer.
Outline cost of liveaboard in the UK
BSS costs (4 years) £150
insurance (1 year) £120
Gold licence, all rivers and canals (1y) £643 (less for only rivers or canals)
Craning off truck into water on river lee £142
Red diesel Propulsion is about 0.75ppl
Licence initially would be continues cruising - Optional cost Mooring £1000-5000 (1y)
Here is the law on continues cruising – you can stay for two weeks in many spots http://canalrivertrust.org.uk/media/library/633.pdf
Here is the width of canals - Red and blue are good for the lifeboat size wise - Gray likely not http://www.jim-shead.com/waterways/mwp.php?wpage=Inland-Waterways-of-England.htm
The is breakdown cover for boats like the AA - river rescue
Things to look at:
Lifeboat dft (PDF)
Working on the boat - insulation
Insulation is importent for comfort and to stop rot/rust issues with condensation on boats.
The will have an added effect of absorbing/dampening engine noise - as I have herd that the lifeboats can be very noisy. Its going to be expensive - around £500 http://www.foamseal.co.uk/diy-spray-foam/index.php?cPath=3800006 but can leave this till the end of the summer.
Parasitic traditional media
Its interesting how parasitic traditional media is, an idea or a news story will come out in a sub-culture (contemporary media) weeks or years before it becomes a “story” in traditional media. This time lag – together with the general lack of connection in traditional media to where story’s come from/break is noticeably dysfunctional in our new connected world.
This parasitical behaver will continue in-till we solve these issues in contemporary media:
* financial support for the production of grassroots per-per media – something like flattr is an example of an attempt to solve this problem.
* Ethical norms of linking and aggregation in per-per production need to solidify and be coded into contemporary media projects. An example of this would be the OMN project.
* a general discrediting of traditional media as a reliable source of information – shifting peoples behaver of linking away by providing better working contemporary media projects. An example of this would be the http://visionon.tv project.
The current connections between contemporary and traditional media are largly broken, do we try and fix it or not is the relevant question? Do we actually need these old gate keeping institutions and if we do, are they flexible and lean anufe to survive anyway? I think diversity of strategy’s are probably helpful here.
Apple’s Middle finger: It’s Pointed at You
The problem of people falling for lifestyle marketing.
DIFFERENT TYPES OF SOLAR
What’s the difference between solar panels tecnolaguys?
-Made from single silicon crystals
-Works well in any conditions
-Made from multi-crystal silicon
-Looks like fish scales or shattered glass
-Simpler manufacturing process
-Easy to manufacture
-Weak: break easily
-Work well in shady conditions
-Typical use: solar calculator
A presentation of the idea of the Open Media Network and where it currently is
A presentation of the idea of the Open Media Network and where it currently is
The OMN is owned by nobody and run by nobody. It is merely a set of "stupidly simple" open standards, open databases and working practices.
We are building some hubs to flesh the network out.
How can you get involved? What is there at the moment? Let's highlight some of the applications you can currently use:
http://link.openworlds.info is an open database of links to radical projects. These can be added as an embed on websites to create the interlinking that is so important to the open internet’s health. This will be federated.
http://news.openworlds.info is a newsflash service to widen our networks outside facebook. It is building into an open data and open access federated network. You can grab an embed for your site sidebar.
http://visionon.tv Auto updating quality controlled video embeds with playlists (eg http://globalviews.visionon.tv/embed), drawing from a huge database of radical video. This is a working federated network.
http://blog.openworlds.info This is the first stage of an open blogging network.
http://fund.openworlds.info Open funding network – is a place for media activists to get small amounts of cash for their projects and equipment.
All of these applications actively need development work.
Please have a look at these links for more information and background on the network.
Here's an entertaining piece of polemic on the problem we face.
Here is an outline of possible OMN solutions
Why ethical aggregation and conversation?
It's all based on an ongoing understanding of the political history of the internet
A bit of humour
Why are conversations about technology, privacy and social change so difficult?
Over the last 10 years I have found a lot of intolerant and prejudiced attitude toward the impact new technology will have on our work and society. A recent conversation sparked off this thought. Our society has foundation myths - and they aren't the bible any more - consumerism and selfishness/paranoid narcissism it seems to me – we are Thatchers children.
Many of the conversations about the impact of the open web and corporate social networking with people are like a conversation at the edge of a cliff. Its high and the cliff edge is crumbling into the maelstrom of the sea far below, am on the edge of the cliff looking out and the person am having the conversation is standing on thin air. Our foundation myths are about not looking dowen which make this issue invisible, and explains the reaction, people don’t what to see, if they look down they fall, not a nice feeling.
How to work through this will-full/wishful ignorance driven by narcissistic fear and denial? Its clearly unhealthy for us as a society in the medium and long term, but it is a useful coping strategy for the individuals and organisations in the short term.
Ethical aggregation and conversation - OMN
What is ethical aggregation?
Always link back to the original producer hosting site. The exception to this is when the site is a corporate hosting site such as YouTube, then linking to an embed on an OMN site is preferable linking to that site. The content should be consumed where the producer of the content likes it – this should be built into our open CMS's as far as possible.
Reactive permissioning: the producer of content should be empowered (as far as technically possible) to decide how their content is consumed on sites. Eg, via embedding a simple title link, excerpt, or full content. This is by trusted feed not by genearly ristricting the content of the RSS feed.
Our databases should be open to exporting of content by simple RSS aggregation or by a XML export option.
Metadata should be synchronised across the networking to enrich all media content.
- link back to the source
- reactive permissioning
- no reposting
It's OK to add additional hosting options for media files – but the original publishers hosting/views should be respected. In the RSS feed, add content file URLs as fallbacks rather than as default media sources. A good aim is to back up media sources tohttp://archive.org and as a torrent file. If new open hosting options come along then these can added. Then only fall back to the original host if the corporate hosting source errors or is censored (respect for producers hosting desion and for reasons of scaling).
Where is the conversation?
This is an unresolved issue that is looking for a good solution. Some key points:
- Move it off corporate hosting and networking sites as much as you technically can such as FB, twitter and youtube. Use such sites to post links to OMN content and sites.
- Can we move the conversations with the RSS feeds? So that the conversations happen across sites and
appear across sites in activity streams? This is probably technically possible within the RSS02 spec – let's implement it.
We are rolling out some sites and applications that work within the OMN
The OMN is owned by nobody and run by nobody. It is merely a set of Stupidly Simple open standards, open databases and working practices. We are building some hubs to flesh the network out.
What is there at the moment.? Let's highlight some of the projects:
http://fund.openworlds.info Open funding network – is a place for media activists to get small amounts of cash for their projects and equipment.
http://link.openworlds.info is an open database of links to radical projects. These can be added as an embed on websites to create the interlinking that is so important to the open Internet’s health. This project is federated.
http://news.openworlds.info is a newsflash service to widen our networks outside facebook. It is an open data and open access federated network. You can grab an embed for your site sidebar.
http://visionon.tv Auto updating quality controlled video embeds with playlists (eg http://globalviews.visionon.tv/embed), drawing from a huge database of radical video. This is a federated network.
http://blog.openworlds.info This is the first stage of an open blogging network.
History of progressive media over the last 25 years
This is a NOTES for a DRAFT of a long post on history of progressive media over the last 25 years.
I have been working on subjects of technology and social change for over 20 years. It all started while I was at university and coming up to my final MA dissertation.
I was involved in live studio produced streaming internet TV in the early days “pirate TV” at undercurrents.
LIST the projects (many of them are linked from my old blogspot)
Around 15 years ago it became obverse that we had a looming crises in the funding and relevance of traditional media and a flowering of the possibility of a more open contemporary media by the internet.
I started to plan a project to fill this gap and build a better media. It started out called “offlineTV” as it was a internet distribution of the video from a prier CD-ROM based project “ruffcuts” the idea was to make the distribution of video by the web work in a simple and horizontal way. The consumption of this media was to happen offline at public screenings rather than on the web it self as the early web was still not a good place for reasonable quality video viewing.
Funding for this was not forthcoming... at the time as the was a general rejection of the scale of the upcoming digital transition crises in the traditional media ecosystem. I built a no-budgit version of the project bases on the applications built by the PCF a web server called Broadcast Masion (for torrents and RSS) and a offline torrent client, original based on azurease before moving to the miro client that PCF built. At this stage more people came on-board and we received some small funding to build a custom version of Miro client (making it less geeky). As we started to actually implement the project we came across the fundamental flaw in the possibility of a good outcome. The Miro client was customised 6 months after we decided to do this and by then the version of the software had moved on so we were working with out of date buggy code that could not be supported – it proved to be a dead end.
The main problem we faced was inertia – in the internet technology world things change very fast thus tasks have to be abstracted into big ideas, medium term goles and short sprints. The long term goles have to be simply recorded and change very little – there job is to keep the focus sharp on the medium turn goals so that the sprints are focused and worthwhile. The medium term goles have to be looked at at least every 3 months to keep them relevant. The short sprints should be just that short and preferably time constrained – otherwise the is a strong danger of them drifting into becoming the medium term goles and then settling into replacing the big ideas leaving the project itself barren and irrelevant. This has happened repeatedly in the visionontv project.
We found a opensource corporate CMS that was built with the DIY ethos of open collaboration and most impotently was built with open industrial standereds rather than transient fashionable activist technology. With this we built the hashed together the first version of our proposed site and looked to get the key missing technology created
* RSS in and out by tag
* A universal media player based on RSS as a feed language.
Then the is a open mindset based on co-operation and building a common wealth that is important.
Creative taging - some work practice notes
How its CORE to the project that you push aside something you don’t like in the information flow. Note I did not say remove it rather push it to one side this is important as this is the bases of the understanding of human nature that is embedded in the visionontv project. The act of pushing aside by ADDING meta data is a creative one as it will push it into the view of other people who will simulely push the object into view of other people intill it reaches the people who do like it. The problem we have is that people do not get beyond thinking about themselves. The instinct we have to change is that of BLOCKING that is inaction/disengagement or the active removal of content by censorship or wherewithal from the bigger project. This is a normal reaction in the “stupidly individualistic” world we live in and in no way surprising or unusal outcome. BUT it is clearly damaging to good outcomes we need.
If content is posted “within the broad guidelines of the hosting environment” YOU remove something you don't like by adding to it, not by removing it.
Limitation of the people am working with
- those coming from Newmedia suffer from the fashions of corporate controlled new media they relay on.
- those coming from activism are bound by the activist mindset – which often merges into a lifestyle
- those from the NGO world are bound by the limits of funding and careerer building.
Have been involved in many alt-cultures over the years and understand there limitations all to well. To have a hope of making this project work we need a core crew who reach outside these roles or at the minanem bridge them in a creative way.
Digital utopia or dystopia crosses to the real world - close to decision time you part of the conversation?
Many have dreamed and worked for makeing the internet into a digital utopia which spilles over into the realworld. But while this has been happening a darker future has been building.
The geek answer to this has a tendency to see the world in B&W terms and to dive into a darknet of encryption and secrecy,. this is a dangerous geek mindset that we have to not knee jerk into. So this discussion is both useful for projects such as visionOntv as it highlights the need for them but also bad for such open projects as it drives energy, codeing, and users into a darknet solutions and we all know that it is not healthy for human beings to live in the dark.
Portable power pack
This looks quite usefull, next time we get some funding in I will get one to try, has anyone used one?
PortaPow Premium Dual Emergency USB Battery Extender External Pack here
The capacity is 6600mAh, 203g and 110x88x15mm
The pack outputs 2.1A from one socket and 1A from the other, a total of 3.1A of power which will alow fast chargeing. the only issue seams to be that it whont pass charge through (need to test this).
Q&A of the Save the internet session at #rebelliousMC
Excuse the dodgy framing at the start, it gets better.