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 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.
Humm doing this expo project is unsettling.
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:
Looking back, looking foward, Village Hall or Church Hall
Am writing this for people who are actively leave the mainstream 9-5 society and move into disrepute subcultures to live their lifes.
Issues of group organisation crop up reugally and are generally badly resolved leading to a consistent life sapping churning of bad will and trails of failed groups.
For most people directly in these subcultures this is not an important issue as the majority just dip in and out of this shifting social soup for them the mainstream is a easy fall-back. They are less likely to notice and by the time they do notice the churning of growth and decay, they are ready to leave back to the (dulling) safety of the mainstream. Rinse and repeat is a apt description of the passing of each short generation, and the a causation of alt-culture haveing a bad reputation in the mainstream.
Over the next few posts am hoping to have a look at a few different groups am involved in that are at different stages of “crises”. Lets look at two concepts from the 19-20th century first:
Small groups of a less radical nature tend to use one of these organising structures for their spaces (the wikipedia links need filling out)
A village hall, is a non commercial space for community events that is a open space for for all the social/political/cultural activity a community holds in common. Its a “neutral” space for groups to build community cohesion. It will generally be run by a elected community of members of an active and open local group.
A church hall will share many of the same uses and structures but will have a tendency to be more narrowly focused in the areas the church has negative attitude. Ie. a Catholic church would probably not host a meeting of groups supporting abortion issues, more conservative churches would not host the young socialists or the anerakist black flag legal support etc they may have issues with other religions usesing the space. In general the would be “moralistic and idealogical” restrictions on the open use of the community space that would highlight some parts of the commnerty and disadvantage others. The final arbiter would probably be a the head of the local management committy reporting to the vicar would would be sacturned by the church hiracky.
The recsion we have overlapping Village Halls and Church Halls in most villages should be obvious for these two short paragraphs. In the 20th century both of these older institutions were supplemented by a third more modern institution that directly replaced the church focus and expanded on the role of the village hall in larger urban arrears.
The community centres grow out of the spread of ideas about social justice and the value of couture in the middle of the 20th century.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Community_centre (this link is more filled out and worth a read)
In the late 20th century these areas were then degraded by commercialisation, their community empowerment focus becoming lost (must pay way).
They also suffered from the suffocation of bureaucratisation with was a produced of mid 20th century thinking and organising.
We have 3 of the more traditinal mainstream approaches to a “space for the community” with the “romanisations of the past” thinking we are currently rebooting older ideas, the idea of a village hall is coming back (and in more conservative circles church halls are being re-introduced). Its good to think for a moment that they were products of their time and place and will need rebooting in a form that is appropriate for the different 21st century thinking/society we live in today.
Q&A of the OMN autumn 2015
A DRAFT (copy and paest of a chat useing realmedia as an example)
this needs a edit for sense, but my back ach dusent alow this so out it goes
We need an Executive summery of why visionontv failed.
- we didn’t de-brand fast anufe
- we went nimble anufe to be relaverent.
its going to be a struggle to reboot grassroots media with out highlighting both of these
its fine for brands to be "periphery"
the is no excuse for lack of nimbleness.
We built generations of p2p tech against the flow of failbook and its activist NGO takeup.
Now - we can only aggregate YouTube videos
yes but that's ok, in the interim, As our tools are broken
If we could spread the realmedia WP install up this would be easer to explain the p2p side of OMN
With out working tools - we can only build proxy sites to hold space.
Youtube play's list are one
Q. The question is: what can people do NOW
Its a chicken and egg - we have to use the tools we have while making clear the tools we need.
Yes YT embeds are a tool we have – Q. but they should not be attached to the 1400 video account of a particular media project
A. Get embeds from the visionOntv noid of the OMN with an explanation why is far from perfect.
Q. it looks like we're doing it to promote our work?
OK this is interesting
we're not, but that's what it looks like
need to avoid the whole branding thing for this
in terms of the interface, what's the difference between an embedder (of an aggregator) and an aggregator - is it a completely different UI or a different use of the same UI
Q2: If I as an aggregator like RealMedia's agregation, it would be natural to merge the two - or why don't I just add to RealMedia's? In other words, isn't there a desirable and natural tendency towards centralisation?
Other way up - as an aggregator, I like RealMedia's aggregation, minus their videos about endangered animals, so I take those tags out, and become a subset
Then I add a few tags which I think are missing, creating a new and I think better aggregator
but Real Media has a publicity budget, so no one knows about mine....
etc etc etc
Yep to last one, you can create a new aggregated but each stage in the line adds a delay. So Realmedia embeds will update before your one.
Its also based on trust - which you gain by doing.
Why trust a site that is slow and dues not add anything
The can be a badging syteam
I am adding stuff - taking away dross IMHO and adding content
Our site has 233 embeds, imports 124 feeds and exports 23 feeds etc
why don't we have mother ship that any aggregator has access to?
The new site will have lots of low numbers.
But the same content, 10-20 min to a few hours later.
Q. so the first and biggest always wins?
Only if the put huge amounts of real value into tageing and moderating.
Which had s work. With out that a smaller sight will be faster and better.
why wouldn't i want to better use my time by helping RealMedia's or mother ship's aggregation rather than creating my own?
You can - the is a tendency to specialise thus the will always be a better site than general news sites if you are pashernate (and peopulr who put the work into aggregation will be pashernste)
So Realmedia will likely stay a nich site for its subject - I can't read it for example.
but why don't people build their aggregation inside another aggregator?
The OMN has a "market" mechanism of checks and balances built in. Will be very hard to stop geeks "improving" these out...
If the aggregate allows it users (embeds) to retage with no or fast moderation then you can build a aggreater inside an aggreater. Just like we can post our stuff to failbook and theurtube.
If your passionate build your own.
The is a server/bandwidth/moderation cost for every RSS feed you add.
Q. archive.org has a centre - how is OMN different from that plus some aggregation tols?
so it's about shared cost
And trust and shared passion - the whole is bigger than the parts.
Its a leep for the verticals... Thus the resistance.
Like the open internet
"a leap for the verticals" - Im clearly trying to establish "a leap into what exactly?"
(btw i find realmedia's content incredibly dull as well!) but i was hyposthetising
ok im going to assume for now that this can't be explained
This n the 4 opens...
Which is the opens that the regional internet was built on
Portals are pre web.
Pre web is a failed strategy...
no one is thinking pre-web
Q. ok the data soup - stuff gets in there by api?
so it's add your stuff, and get the ability to filter out other peoples'
ok the aggregator closest to source is best....
closest to the general soup
Have been thinking about this
People think the is a centre yo the OMN that will look after things. The is none.
You are Completely responsible for who you link to and the data. The is no centre to take care of you or this.
The is massive redundant linking and data storage.
The is roll-back if things go wrong
You can put a feed on moderation if you aren't sure. But this will increase your workload and slow your updates so better to be sure.
Its a trust network.
Trust and risk are yours. The is no centre to meditate this trust
If you can't build trust then you will have a uphill struggle making aggregation work for your media project.
This is the hard jump for verticals.
Imperfection - is. Roll back in a complete failer or retag for a miss step.
Things happen you react to them. Rather than you reside first before things happen.
Its the original IMC of publish then moderate.
Of courses "verticals" can still use it, but they will be slow and plodding.
Just put everything on "moderation" and don't trust.
Or if your sensible a mixture of the two.
A good site will link well and let the data flow. Tweaking here or their. Unlinking if trust is broken and not addressed.
I find it hard to understand the verticality view point thus dearly directly address it.
Hope the helps, interesting for me to glimps the vertical view
To recap verticals can and will play a roll in the OMN but the exciting sites will be the ones that let the data flow through good linking based on trust.
The latency of layers of aggregation will push sites to specialise in subject - the best sites will be a group of trusting focused sites that each specialise.
Feeding a trusted middle site.
Top sites are easy to build but very hard to add value.
Bottom subject sites are harder to build and add a lot of value.
Easy to add value.
The latency is important as its the driving force to link to the site closed to the bottom you can trust
You can have a easy to site that has perfect content but is late to update.
Or you can have a fast updating middle site on a subject.
I would look more at middle sites
My mum would look at a top site.
So to recap the skill in running an aggreater is to link as close to the bottom as you can trust. For you core news feeds then maybe get tag based feeds off middle sites to widen your coverage into full news feed.
A valence of building trust/handling/moderation.
Archive.org is a top down categorisation of knowledge in a signal place. The is little flow.
It has no need for trust
Its an archive not a news site.
Do you rember the crap conversations we had about the hive website were they got rid if the network and whent vsck to a signal site. That's archive.org were is the value of a network, its hard for verticals to see.
On the subject of the OMN YouTube account - somebody would be responsible.
Q. With your top, middle and bottom sites, you're implying a topography, which can be drawn as a graphic, presumably
It's a hierarchy, without value attached to different ranks - hmmm
Yep the value is nebulous, just like the original internet nobody thought it would work because it had NI identity, no security and was completely based on open trust
Much like early indymedia
You could explain the projecting a way that verticals will understand. With moderation though out ect.
No centre/nobody responsible/built on trust
Its a good idea that's needed and will likely work well
Its hard to understand that the OMN is just open standards... Everything eles is up to the users/producers. The OMN dose/is nothing.
The outcome is a framework for linking, taging and outreach.
The framework is just structure, no content.
Q. so where is the content soup?
Yes it shapes how people cooperate. It Push greed and selfishness to the edges as much as it can
Q. what does?
The framework bounded by the 4 opens.
Its stored across hundreds of sites around the work, its backed up in many university's, archives and on your local hard rive if you wont it.
World (thousand, hundreds of thousands) and some one in this will keep a surviving backup. Thus nobody is responsible to do it. Though they can and will because that us what some people do
Couldn't be simpler
Has complex outcomes though...
Just like the internet.
Torrents already do this to an extent. But as the content is mostly stolen nobody keeps it.
Thus is fades.
This is of courses the text content and meta data. The video/audio/images
Would be more complex, a bit more "centralised" but still completely diy.
Can boot strap by yseing wikicomns and aracive.org so can be put to back of mind for s year or two.
Because storing lots of text in a database is easy. Big media needs more work.
Not impossible but hard to boot up the project and deal with it in the same diy way.
So aggregation is text and meta data. Media is still stored on original servers. Can build sine simplistic caching in to keep it running and scaling at boot up as needed.
That become a issue if we are very successful, nice problem to have.
Media storage of video/audio/images are left "more centralised" in partner silos - wikicomes/archive. Just to start otherwise we gave bug technical issues of scaling at the front end.
Keep it KISS
For example archive can seed torrents so can be the bases if torrent streaming. But that's later. Just use youtuve vimio embeds to kuckstat. Don't make people jump to meany hoop to soon. And all thus stuff can run in parreral anyway.
OMN is much less centralised than torrents. But we keep media in cirpurate silies and friendly NGOs to help boot up.
In that the media will be more "centralised" than torrents
Can do torrents at the same time but s distraction for me.
This idea is based on computers and storage getting cheaper each year so people can host big databases. This is what's happening.
Thinking. The most underplayed part of the OMN is the 4 opens...
The rest is just KISS RSS aggregation
Q. How do you stop porn appearing on your site. You link to a site you trustvnot to put porn on your site
Hard sell... But visionOntv has and real media have both proven it can be done etc.
A world to win
A world to win
The possibility of building a better more just world is far away.
We have no alternatives to offer to the hegemonic neo-liberalisam.
Over the last 20 years we have a decay of left thinking and action.
From the 20th century hierarchical “stop the war”
To the 21st century anarchy of “climate camp”
The open internet which gave birth to the World Wide Web has fallen into the dotcom silos and locked in app echo systems of Apple and Failbook.
Our political institutions have been captured by corporations (Monbiot)
The left is little but shadow puppets playing on a cardboard stage, while Climate Change in hand with rampant neo liberal inequality are burning all that we ones held dear.
A world to win?
The are many of overlapping tributary’s to the wide river of sustainability and justice, the river is there for us to see.
The open internet is still their for a while longer and we have the tools to use it, just not the wile and co-operation to move anywhere.
Our “democraticish” political institutions are still in place (though leaning with decay)
Climate change is going to wash around the world, initially we in the rich west will be less affected than the rest of the world, this gives us a privileged place to affect the outcome of this wave of disruption and devastation. We will have power to challenge the outcome.
Moving to decentralised renewable power is inevitable (no matter what the neo-liberal fools do) this will mediate the eco-transformation climatechange brings.
The problem of the chattering classes in activism
All the quotes are from Oscar Wild.
“If you pretend to be good, the world takes you very seriously. If you pretend to be bad, it doesn't. Such is the astounding stupidity of optimism.” LADY WINDERMERE'S FAN
The chattering classes are a problem, they are a clear and present block on social change, they colonise successful grassroots movements. They take up dominant mind share and spend all of the institutional funding on pointless fashion/NGO projects.
Middle class privilege and education dulled by post-modernist “thinking” combine to make their voices loud and persuasive in the blandness of surtatety. They smother the creative sparks in the dampness of their passions, mind space is watered to a diluteness that kills the thinking of movements, the slightest change is dampened and reversed.
“Arguments are extremely vulgar, for everybody in good society holds exactly the same opinions.”
THE REMARKABLE ROCKET
The chattering classes while being generally lovely people are a problem for the very needed possibility of an alternative to our current society. And its hard to right or talk about this issue with out seaming petty.
“Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else's opinions, their life a mimicry, their passions a quotation.” DE PROFUNDIS
What is to be done? Think the can be overlapping strategy’s to address this, one would be small affinity groups working on different project based on common standereds so they interact and build on each other. The other would be the old left postative discrimination – though this it self is often “captured”. Ideas please?
“Never speak disrespectfully of Society, Algernon. Only people who can't get into it do that.”
THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST
Worthwhile grassroots “openspace” projects
The are two current worthwhile grassroots “openspace” projects am involved with. Both have a lot of potential but both are more likely to fail for obverses and avoidable reasons. Lets look at both in turn:
The Hive Dalston is an interesting hybrid project crossing the activist and corporate divide. Its a legal social centre using temporally empty buildings to build community projects. It came out of a long history of doing the same thing by squatting the same sought of buildings.
The Village Butty is a the shifting of an existing boater infrastructure from an individual to the wider community to make it sustainable. Its a village hall for the longest/friendlies village in the world, the London canals.
Why are the both more likely fail on their current course?
The Hive is a balances between the top down of the corporate worlds and the bottom up of the activist/community world. This could/needs to be healthy, currently it is not, the corporate world view is pushing over the community, thus pushing the community out of the space... currently its an echoing shallow space. With out the community having “ownership” in all its messiness the space will/is drifting into barren NGO land. And in the medium/long term NGO's need funding to subsist, with out funding burn out and failer is not far away.
The Village Butty is initially a more hopeful project. The issue it faces is the libertarian nature of the boater community, its hard to bring and hold boaters together to make anything permanent, its by its nature a shifting/money poor community. The nice couple who have take on on this task and starting to show the strain, lots of talk of support and mostly transient action is a course for burn out. In their crowed funding they are reaching out to the boaters themselves, were instead they need to reach out the wider mainstream community who “romanticizes” boaters. This “outside” demographic easily has the money to support the project were the cash poor boaters them selves do not.
So to recap my thoughts, both projects could/can save themselves from “burn out” by shifting structure/outreach. I will go and have a chat to them both and see what happens.
Being a Pirate - the CC'ers life
There are two keys to being a CCer
1) Don’t take the piss
2) Be a pirate
That’s about it, now they can overlap, let's look at examples of both:
Don’t take the piss.
* Move every 14 days, not hard, and if you can't regularly keep to this then you probably aren’t cut out for life of a CCer, time to think about getting a flat or a mooring if you can afford it.
* Clean up after yourself, your mum isn’t in your boat, thank god, not taking the piss comes down to you, so clean it up.
* Noise, you're up for a rave good on you pirate, but don’t take the piss by doing it in the middle of built up suburbia near lots of moored up boats who aren’t invited.
* Help your mates, the pirate code is mates rates.
* Don’t be a boss with a machete, a can of special brew, it's not friendly it's not wise.
* Am not sure were this goes "Don't tell me how to live my life."
Be a pirate.
* Fuck the system, fuck the bureaucracy, fuck the police, though sometimes smiles and giles are the pirate way, good to keep balancing this.
* We all love pirate moorings, make good use of them and spread the word of mouth.
* Invite all your neighbours to parties, we all love parties.
* Build you boat under a bridge, it's what they are for
* Pirates are horizontal, the captain gets voted in, remember this.
There are more but that’s enough to get on with.
* Renting you boat out is a fine balance between being a pirate and taking the piss. Going away for 6 months to India, sure be a pirate and rent it out. Have a huge brodbeam or a flotilla of 3 boats permanently rented on the open tow-path/wintermooring is taking the piss. The open tow-path is a commons that belongs to us all, don’t enclose it for private gain.
* Bridge hopping in a popular spot, if you need to for a while no problem, be a pirate. If you do this all year you are taking the piss and endangering all our lifestyles by pushing the enforcement agenda.
*Yarr! Be a pirate-recycle wood for fuel. Don't take the piss by burning it in front of people's homes.
* and a few more to come....
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.
Lets look for a moment at “sanity” in grassroots terms
The are a lot of “insane” people in activism and counter-culture, its what makes it exciting, dynamic and affective. However with everything its a question of balance, lets look at how a movement stagnates, fails or growes and blossems.
A short off the top of head list
NGO'ists push limited bureaucratic thinking over everything, they get into bed with anything that can be shaped to their mind set and is fashionably fundable. They take up mind space and squander resources. The vast majority of “institutional” money goes into this.
Encryptionists – service the paranoid fuckists, they have a strong tendencies to reduce usability and create dangerous fantasises of security and anonymity. The are a lot of these as this has been a dominate way of thinking for the last 5-10 years.
Traditional media panderers have there uses for a companion, but soon start to misshape the movement to mainstream agenda’s – hard not to have this outcome.
Horizontal dotcom'sts try to use our movement to jump start their dotcom, fine if its built with the 4 opens, if its not then distraction if failur and disaster if people use it – so bad outcome both ways.
Insecure and nasty lifestyles are endemic and are attracted like fly's to any successful grassroots project and they are feed by the felandering of the Traditional media panderist – this can easily tip into being a movement death spiral.
Hidden careerist are good for movement building as tend to be the competent ones, but start to drift to NGO and media philanders to build their careerer rather than the grassroots movement.
Paranoid fuckwists are the bedroock of most grassroots campines and in small doses help hold things together, get to many of them in places of responsibility and you have out of control infighting.
Dogmatic liberals are lovely people, but a strong force for blocking sustainable alternatives, its imposable to meditate the breakdowns with a few of these at the core of any counter-culture.
Now for a corresponding “good” list of activist “insanity's”
On this subject it helps to be a bit "mad" to stay in grassroot movement for any leaghnth of time
The hand's off NGO's the is a long (hidden) history of healthy NGO/atavism synergy
The user focused KISS per2per'ists are working on the uphill project of (re)booting the open web.
Traditional media outreach'sts are promoting grassroots media and technology by linking it into traditional media narratives to build the world rather than misshape it.
Horizontal dotcom's are working on “open” federated sustainability rather than closed client server “solutions”
Lifestyles are though opening up in the campaigning lifestyle flow and learning to let go and build healthy connected lives.
Open careerist, are bootstrapping the campaign while bootstrapping themselves, they take the open energy like a trosion horse into the belly of the traditional beast. Some one has to do this...
Secure organising crew is everyone job to keep it carm and focus, and help out with the very real “offline” security and communication that activism needs.
Liberal liberals the calm and the balance of “common sense” that’s needed to keep things from going horribly wrong.
Activism is a dynamic and crazy place full of “insane” people doing fantastic things, its a balancing act to hold it all together, to much of the top and not anufe off the bottom and it quickly slides into something few people wont to be involved in – then disappears with little trace.
Citizenfour – hiding behind Oscar
Here is my persional review of a good film to watch (DRAFT)
Its a feel good movie about brave people changing the world, and they are and they do. But its not a movie about the world changing.
The film reinforces my view that strong digital privacy like DRM in music, software and books is “broken” just like the 20th century copyright world. We as a culture need to get over this and move on. Many people knew this already. It's simple logic and lived experience to know that anything digital is open to copying and passing on. Your communication/identity is digital, so it's “open”.
The Snowden leeks, and the film about them, is important for the pre-digital majority who did/do not understand this, the head-in-the-ground worldview. The issue for me is that the film does not actually communicate the nature of open. It's probably why it won the Oscar, in that it allows people's heads not to move, which like many things in the modern world is a dangerous denial of reality we live in.
We need to pull our heads out of the sand and learn to live in the open, because that is where we are and where we will continue to be. Think for a moment: all the state spying, and power, goes out the window, when WE have the “open” knowledge and connections to self-organise. You as an indiviual can only hide from your friends, no matter how you try, and by doing this you're empowering your enemies and disempowering your friends. This film won an Oscar because it lets a whole generation of people keep looking the other way. They don’t have to turn to look at “open”.
For the technically curious, on the end credits it give a list of privacy tech that lots of people know are broken. Just takes a “google” search:
* The tor project – is not secure http://www.infosecurity-magazine.com/news/tor-is-not-as-safe-as-you-may-think/
* Tails – uses Tor http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tails_%28operating_system%29
* Debian/linux is nice, and being open source could be more secure, maybe, who actually knows?
* Off-the-record messaging – being p2p security might work, but equally vulnerable to screen/key logging etc.
* GNU privacy guard – being p2p can work https://vimeo.com/56881481
* Truecrypt – failed in a public way, like most open projects nobody knows if its secure or not http://www.enterprisenetworkingplanet.com/netsecur/opinion-truecrypt-the-nsa-and-the-myth-of-open-source-security.html
* Securedrop is you guessed it based on our “friend” Tor
Traditional media loves them because they don’t make traditional media think (no head turning involved). Yes, with P2P encryption you can get a limited privacy, anonymity is more vapours, and actually the film knows this, but it isn’t the message, if it was it wouldn’t be Oscar material.
Grassroots media - Building affinity
In the last few posts I have looked at a failed organising strategy realmedia gathering, outlined a positive way out of this failer, the focused unconfrunce. But for wider understanding I think the content so far is lacking some background, lets look at an old post http://hamishcampbell.com/en/home/-/blogs/the-21st-centery here I outline how we ACTURLY organise alternatives rather than how we pretend/think/do, this is important for a good outcome.
Grassroots as it's very nature is small, we grow from this smallness like grass, savannah and wide plans, we have loots of entwined grass's making up the whole. From this distributed and federated ecosystem we compete with the monolithic traditional corporate media.
The link above highlights the ways we organise, only 3 have rarely good outcomes:
Open affinity group
Opaque affinity group
Invisible affinity group
The top is the best, the bottom for its limitations still works, the top is the hardiest to hold in place, the middle the longest lived, the bottom the easy fast/transitory root to social change.
With this understanding in mind, how are the all important affinity groups formed?
The Laboratory of Insurrectionary Imagination http://www.labofii.net/ spend most of their time forming such groups
Good squats form them, most successful direct action grows them like weeds.
The can come from workshops like LOII which lead to direct action, or from repeated direct actions. They can come from long term working relationships, affinity springs from people interacting around and in places of action, try to do something together and you will know who you have affinity with.
How would we use this knowledge to kick start the (re)growth of alt-media?
* We don’t organises speaker events with top down platform speakers – this is deadening.
* We don’t organise passive workshops were knowledge is thought one to many.
You seed events, with questions and processes then grow DIY
What we do do is get people to do practical things together were ever possible, most useful outcome happen from chopping vegetables in the kitchen than at a big hall event.
We have go rounds at the beginning, middle and end of every workshop were feasible. This is to bring confidence, but most impotently to allow each other to hear each's voice/sense and sensibility repeatedly over the weekend.
The practical workshops are were the afererty is formed into connections then networks.
Cross fertilisation is needed for grassroots growth this like pixie dust can be liberally sprinkled by thouse who have an art (hart) for it over the weekend.
The weekend will plant seeds, some will grow some will fall on fallow ground, the ones that sprout should be watered with publiserty, conections and funding.
The event should be rinesed and repeted in different areas/diffrent groupings and lifestyes etc.
The whole organic network is then held together by a the 4 open on the web. Do not fall into the trap of failbook at this point.
This is the first time I have seen tredtional media talking about this http://www.forbes.com/sites/stevedenning/2015/01/26/why-do-managers-hate-agile/
Organise the 21st Century
Lets look at how we acturly organise.
Garssroots alternative streams (and mainstream river with more complexity) can be split into a number of streams
* The horizontals
* The verticals
In the horizontals the organising is actually pretty opaque – lets look at the tributary’s
Organic consensus – this is rare and generally fleeting, a working example is the rainbow gathering, generally as the project settles into place organic consensus is replace with one of the bellow organising strategys. The organic nature comes form shared myths and traditions.
Bureaucratic consensus – common but this tends to be only a surface layer obscuring the actual working practices which would be one of the others. It leads to ossification, see late climate camp process as an example of this. A current project is looking likely the “edge fund”.
Opaque affinity group – the is a group of people who are doing it but you don’t know how or how to take on a role. A lot of alternative are actually run like this, middle/late climatecamp is an example.
Invisible affinity group – the thing just appears as if by magic – lovely as far as it takes you. Given time this will burn out and morph into one of the other forms. Early Climatecamp is a good example of this as is early Indymedia
Open affinity group – the is hope in this hard to sustain one an example would be the tech group at Balcoby anty fracking camp. These are hard/tiring to keep open “naturally” falling into a different strategy.
Then the verticals are more in the open
Democratic centralism (SWP etc) top down and corrupt, good for the nasty crew at the centre that can last a long time by draining new blood from the alternative. Big noise and little effect.
Bureaucratic democracy (NUJ) good as far as it goes but endless meetings and heavy use of cross subsidy to sustain the sluggish process, problematically reactionary dues to glacial adaptation to changes around it.
Career Hierarchy – most trade unions and the labour party, conservative and sluggish, can be captured by functioning opaque/invisible affinity groups and then used for their own ends – an example the new labour project.
Generally the way things are on the river surface bears little relation to the undercurrents bellow the surface. Almost all organising that achieves social change is by opaque or invisible affinity groups. The more permanent static alt infrastructure is Democratic centralism or Bureaucratic democracy. The parts that merge into the mainstream river are career Hierarchy.
We live in turbulent times, enjoy your ride on the choppy river.
What would an open media network (OMN) look like?
Lets do some grounded/blue sky thinking ;)
The internet has been (unbelievably) successful because its libertarian/anacist open/trust peer to peer network with very light centre and governances. How do we (re)build an grassroots-media to flourish in the 21st century remains of this open web?
What would an open media network (OMN) look like?
Ps. this actually already exists in part in the visionOntv project.
Peer to peer is the long term goal, but the whole internet is now largely based on client server and alt-geeks love control, so let's take a half first step from this spot.
We need to activate the already existing client/server federated scalable human aggregation content network.
* Based on RSS (98% implemented)
* Based on current CMS's (90% implemented)
* Second tier embed option for legacy sites (80% implemented)
* Constructed with the 4 opens.
1) Content producers are all the current sites – they have to put out a RSS feed of content (98% do all ready)
2) Second level - subject/region/ideology aggregation are run by small groups and individuals. These can be based on current CMS's with RSS aggregation modules (50% implemented)
3) Top site takes feeds from the subject aggregation. Same CMS as second sites.
Producers/subject (1,2) can take embeds for (3) etc. to help to bootstrap the network tech.
Thus the content is published at the bottom and make its way up to wide distribution on the top sites.
Important to realise that NOBODY is in control of the network and it is completely open to setting up nodes at different levels. It is governed by the 4 opens and a light bit of agreed "set-in-stone" process.
In this set-up we have a horizontal media where everyone is in charge of their publishing, and the different communities organically create their own content flow. Some sites will be highly linked and aggregated and some will be ignored, the whole network will organically split into streams and tributaries of data/content flows. These can and will become communities. If one fails it will be replaced organically with another, the best will rise and the worst will fall, they will criss-cross and settle into a multitude of flows.
The whole network will be based on duplicated synchronised meta-data – the source will reside at the publishing site. Davie Winar has done work on how this is achieved (we can implement some caching into the network to deal with scaling issues when needed).
SPAM is dealt with by trust, as each site makes a decision to trust the sites it links to, If you let spam into your network, people will drop YOU. A data roll-back can be implemented for removing SPAM flows that get though this trust network.
The friction (delay/server load) of the RSS object aggregation is actually a feature driving content consumption to close to the bottom. Each server can have traffic light flags for load, add too many feeds and it goes into the red, drop feeds and it goes orange to healthy green. This accelerates the diversity of aggregation sites – if you don’t wont to be an aggregate you just take embeds from a site you trust.
The top sites are easy to create but slower/hard to add value to, this drives the creation of second(2) sites to build out the wider network.
The successful top sites will grow to compete with the failing traditional media. The health of the network will be at the second level sites that feed the top sites. The content will come from the bottom, rejuvenating blogging and community websites. The closed dotcom's such as Facebook and Twitter lock them selves out of content production by not supporting RSS – they become declining dumb pipes for OMN distribution.
As the OMN takes off we can create peer to peer encrypted object flows to move this away from the client server paradigm to make the network more robust against disruption by states and corporations.
The outcome is a distributed data internet of flows. Like the internet itself, it will simply flow round damage/censorship and is open to all.
Hope you found this useful
Rainbow gatherings - where we are
40 years of one of the most active and largest non-organisation's in the world. A modern working example of traditional nomadic life an sustainable example the world can be different.
Its important NOT to get caught up in talk about the big picture of what a Rainbow Gathering is, as its a Rainbow of many colouers, a gathering of the tribes, each brings its own myths, traditions and sadly sometimes "rules". The man (and it uselessly is a man) dressed in “sacred robes” proclaiming this or that is rainbow, should be acknowledged by a sigh, it's human to smile and walk away to get a cup of tea, taking the person next to you as well. That’s the rainbow way they have facilitated a rainbow connection ;)
Rainbow is a traditional society.
This is an important statement, because a rainbow gathering only happens if we come together motivated by the myths of Rainbow and enact the traditions of Rainbow. Its a misguide not to do this otherwise its just another festival, not a Rainbow Gathering.
It is “Babylon” energy to ask “how can we do this better”, instead you should ask “how dose the Rainbow do this”. The is a Rainbow humility here, a touching the earth. The gatherings have good working traditions that cover almost every thing that happens at a Gathering. And they are traditions built and tested though time and experience – they are what makes a Rainbow Gathering.
New “ideas/newways” destroy traditional society’s all around the world. In traditional society good change is slow and organic. This new/improved rainbow “Babylon” energy is surging through the European gatherings the last few years. Its is probably a USA issue as well.
An example of this
At the European gathering in Greece (2013) The gathering was “organised” by a group in darkness, it become the empty home of invisible individuals that make things happen. Were the Rainbow way is in the light of visible circles, transparency and foculisers not organisers.
The gathering happened but for some it had a emptiness, an example of the outcome of this was the poisoning of the water supply for the local village by the kitchen builders – many people could see what was happening but darkness surrounding manifesting the kitchen meant nobody could stop this from happening.
The solution to solve this is not by “improvements” but by remembering/honourer the Rainbow spirit manifested in its myths (care for nature and peoples) and its tradition, don’t build gray water pits/compasing near water supply’s.
How to solve this “new/improved/organising - Babylon” energy is to call a circle for kitchen, magic hat, water etc. the “invisible/shadow” individuals will likely not come into this light. This circle will generate ideas, connections and trust. The shadow/invisible individuals will likely come directly to you (the one who called the circle) as an individual (in the shadow's) – give them feedback and invite them to the next circle. When they come then their role can THEN be passed into the light. The power of circles is lost if not used so a hart song circle on water, wood kitchen etc. Might help to nurture this circle power before trying to fix the shadow workers. And as the gathering is just a big circle the spread of light will brining a grater shine to the whole rainbow.
The myth of care and the tradition of circles and openness sole most problems, have a shiny Rainbow and see you in the kitchen.
Where are we - an example of what works
An example of what works.
At Balcome the anti-fracking camp last summer we built a “visible affinity group” to do the power and tech for the camp. This was successful in providing working off grid energy for the camp of more than 200 people for 2 months.
However it wasn’t with out problems and did fail to build on this success when the time came to reproduce this open working model at the next camps over the winter.
How we made it work, a time line:
* Clear the space of the dysfunction by imposing open working practice's.
* This opens the space for functional working which has been excluded by the dysfunctional pushy minority.
* Open working practices nurtures talent and energy the space growers and blossoms, good shit happens.
* A tiny minority of seriously dysfunctional individuals will actively try and destroy this flowering, some emotional violence will inshuew in process of excluding them.
* The wider camp will become used to a working tech space and normality will settle back into place, at its best this is rinsed and repeated for each part of the camp.
* People will start to forget the open processes as artificial, constant vigilances is needed here to keep openness relevant and in place.
* As the camp is packed down a open meeting will bring this amnesia to the surface as everyone has an equal voice and the focus (affinity) that created the flowering will be trampled under the widening of the groups members.
In the horizontal alt the are only two successful working practices, most organising happens by “invisible affinity groups” climate camp and RTS are examples of this. Rarely “open affinity groups” are also successful, examples would be early Indymedia and this tech at Blacome.
Art, money and socierty - some notes
Went to a workshop at spacestudios on digital money and the arts. Here are my notes of the things I thought about/covered.
Forms of money
* LETS – works for liberals (the Brixton pound is a current example, at the meeting)
* Digital – works for the Geeks then Capital (bitcoin and its clones)
* Gift – works for the community (London boaters and the Rainbow Gathering are examples I give)
* £££ - works for the state and thus capital (what we have)
* Flatter – works for a practical digital utopia (other examples?)
The key point to get across is Don’t - repeat - use existing projects.
- Everybody has to re-create thus you have hundreds of implementations of the same limited fashionable idea and non of them are federate to each other, thus value is lost in the mess. Rinse repeat and move on. Both sad and bad.
The issue of arrogance - who is pushing out who, space is value.
Colonisation of alternatives – capital markets need to expand or die so the things we value are being consumed – gentrification is ripe and spreading is tentacles into every space.
The world used to be regulated
The fall of the soviet union and ripped up money confetti in the parks – the replacement of the old with new temporary currency – old money changing to new – you have to change the money to change society.
Artist reshaping the world, what is art what is tart. The “chattering classes” are they vampire or do they have value – articulates of exclusivity? Curating the conversation – the outcome?
Were douse value come from?
Example - The rainbow gathering – gift – global – everywhere – nomadic
Are you focused on community or on capital - making for self or community, abstract or use – within the art space or outside it – the use space.
Alienated from the establishment – the gate keepers
Attention is currency if we decentralise the current, hierarchy will crumble to an extent. Bravely independent – federated is a solution.
Have to fight against the colonisation of alternatives – capital markets need to expand or die so the things we value are being consumed – gentrification is ripe.
The poverty of the alternative
Was looking at this site/project http://occupydemocracy.org.uk here is a reaction:
The tools we use for activism are dominated by top down vertical thinking - the horizontal tools are left at the bottom of the tool box when we reach for a digital front for our grassroots campaigning. Our organising mirrors this right-wing reality – most activism is organized by invisible/opaque affinity groups. The words (wind) are often hippy peace and love or dusty revolution - the reality is far blunter, just open your eyes and look, the isn't much of an alternative. This obvious realization is surprising as we actually have the most open and radical time to move in/ to create real alternatives. The tool box for horizontalism is overflowing with tools, the organizing process are a bit more complex.
To answer briefly two replays to this, for those who say “we just need to love each other”
For those who think dialogue alone will solve this issue
Q. What works and what dose not work?
Journalists generally don't understand what journalism is
Journalists generally don't understand what journalism is especially amongst the trainee and starting journalists.
For many enthusiastic youngsters it is heroic individualism finding and telling the story and of course this is part of journalism but it's a just a part. What they often miss is that news is a flow as Dave Weiner says news is a river and the stories the journalism produce are the water that fills this river.
Why do I say this? If we think of news as individual items, isolated stories, one-off events then we miss the very power media plays in influencing and shape society. If we think of news as a day in day out flow of information through our society then we realise how powerful it is at shaping us. Just as a River given time will carve its way through the largest mountain, news over the years stories and world-views carves and shapes our societies – and thus creates the very young and enthusiastic fledgling journalist this short blog post is about.
The power in journalism is in shaping and directing the flow of the rivers, as am stressing here the water that fills them is only a part of the story. The fledgling journalist's fixation on the water and ignorance of the impotents of the rivers is part of the failure of contemporary per to per journalism and the strength of traditional media.
In traditional journalism you have the binding of wages and hierarchy to hold the river of news to an agenda. In contemporary journalism in the Internet age we have cooperation and aggregation to build our rivers of news. The challenge we have today is getting young and aspiring journalist to realise this and not to be seduced into the money and hierarchy of traditional media. But rather build their own independent media where they can truly have a voice and create rivers of news which both are sustainable and truthful and shape society in a more open idealistic and sustainable way.
The 5 levels of gentrification
The 5 levels of gentrification
1 – a poor area has a new transport link to mainstream society, interesting/creative people move in for the cheap rents and the real indigenous culture.
2 – the first enterprises open, islands in the indigenous normal, a second wave of interesting people arrive and create a community around these spaces as well as colonising the indigenous business that are shifting to there spending/focus.
3 – the area is at its hight of interesting, being a healthy fusion of the old and the new, the first wave of business become the foundation. This fusion of the old and the new lasts for a while.
4 – a dulling wave of more affluent people start to arrive, new exploitative business open and push the remaining indigences business out by raising rents. The original social enterprise creative business either have to commercialise or close.
5 – the indigenous community can no longer afford to function in there home and start to be pushed out by rent increases and alienation. The conservative affluent start to force the creative areas to quieten and conform to their norms quickly/slowly killing creativity in the area. Property prices rise agen in reaction to this.
Gentrification is complete, the area is now in the mainstream. Rinse and repeat.
For the comady version of this post
The tech manifesto of the OMN
In tech development the are many paths and some of these lead to much more fertile ground to cultivate for the open internet/open society path that the ONM is taking.
We clearly reject:
* Client server relationships.
* Closed security culture.
* Geek only designer aesthetics and vanilla geek culture in general.
* Data ownership and closed licensing.
We vocally support:
* Peer to peer relationships and crossover federated client server infrastructure.
* Open security culture, with appropriate limited closed peer to peer security.
* A balance of geek usability and outreach simplicity – the ability to switch in the same app between the two.
* Geek embracing and mingling other cultures.
* Open data formats and CC licensing.
The OMN is open to any open-source/open-data/open-licence project free software projects. The are a number of a applications we like:
Liferay.com – Completely built in the right way from a standardise based approach, but owned by a controlling agandered profit/survival driven company.
Retroshear – an open source Peer to Peer client, dose pretty much all we need for personal security and communication.
Would it be possible to tide these together into a open globel – peer to peer secure cross over platform based on the retrosher app and the liferay API?
Popcorn time - Torrent streaming, can we use this with archive.org API to host and seed the torrents to provide video distribution and hosting.
OMN - RSS mashup network, for us this would be base on the Liferay platform and the video distributed vier the popcorn time app.
The clever use of HTML5 webapps on smart phones.
Wordpress, friend or foe for activism?
In tech the successful part of the corporate internet is building peer-to-peer(ish) web projects. This is after the wholesale failure of the top-down hierarchical internet that went bankrupt in the dotcom boom. facebook and twitter, 4square and instagram, youtube etc are all built on horizontal(ish) peer production. Activism is still in the sterile and narrow dotcom boom of vertical knowledge production and distribution. The perfect tool widely used for this is the wordpress blogging platform. It's a tool for a single voice, for the top to speak to the foot solderers. Beyond its commenting system the is no peer production in a wordpress setup.
The hierarchical corporations are doing peer to peer production, the horizontal activists are doing top-down hierarchical. If the wholesale failure of activism wasn’t important I would laugh at them. Here is an advert from frackoff:
"This spring, Frack Off are sponsoring Wordpress training for a dozen new local anti-fracking groups across the country and are looking for Wordpress trainers who will work for train fare, money for a pasty or two and of course the good feeling of doing something worthwhile for a really good cause. Frack Off need at least three or four tech activists who know their way round Wordpress to deliver the training in various parts of the country.
At the risk of overselling the project, this will be a great opportunity for someone to do a spot of travelling and meet some of the local campaigners and grassroots activists who are giving hell to the frackers and working to get this destructive practice stopped before it gets started in the UK."
This represents a failure in every way imaginable, a failure of ideology, a failure of strategic thinking, a failure of leadership. And a failure of social change. Tech activism is currently not going anywhere.
There is nothing inherently wrong with wordpress. It's a fine tool for nice looking top-down single voice web portals. Where the wrongness lies is in the activist media use of it as the "tool" to build an internet site for activist campaigning. It is the wrong tool for this.
Activist peer to peer tools would be wikis http://en.wikipedia.org
Sites that have activity feeds such as http://visionon.tv
Aggregating sites http://globalviews.visionon.tv
Ps. I use the (ish) for corporate peer to peer production as it is ONLY the face of P2P. Underneath it is a solid controlling hierarchy just like it always was.
Balcombe Protection Camp has a working solar power station
While summer lasts we aspire to camp electrics being completely powered by solar power. Currently the kitchen, massage/meeting tent and the media/tech tent are working. We have LED lighting and can power 3 laptops and charge around 30-40 phones each day. Other structures have LED lighting running from fixed battery’s.
Hamish looking tired in the Balcombe tech tent at the end of the day (photo Dik Ng)
Today’s observation is the tech tent has become quite boring last few days – the issue is that it simply works, the are no blown fuses, sparking wires or smocking components. The is just working laptops, phone charging and mostly working internet. This is a good thing of course, but I still have to spend my time in the space to stop people dismantling this working set-up. Here are some example bad energy's that make this necessary:
* I would do this better, rip appart and plug to gather in a way which is likely not better and then leave everything broken and burned out
* I need this now for this very important – screening – music event – personal project – ripaprt and leave key parts missing/broken.
* Pilfering, I wont this component, its an open space, I will take it, lots of adapters and cables go missing every week.
* External saboteurs, its well documented now that most successful radical campaigns have had paid corporate spy’s, agent provocaturs and undercover police/police informers and that these roles often ambiguously overlap.
* Internal Sabotage, I hate you because you told me in public not to do something I wonted to do so, I will make something you are doing fail. Some people think these overlap with the external saboteurs...
This last one is more prevalent than you would imagine and I don’t think many people doing it actually understand that they are.
Back to a positive note, we have a working tech tent, YEHA!!! and a good crew (would like to name them here but have to ask first), Sean Peatfield
I love affinity group organising
A ruff DRAFT
I love affinity group organising, its a very effective way of getting good stuff done. Lets look at the highs and lows of a few such inspiring groups.
First 2 years climatecamp were affinity group organised (manifested), it worked very well, the was no “democracy”. Process grew and smoothed this in-till the project “ossified” into the naive mess that you see in the film “just do it”, it went down hill when bureaucratic consensuses process brought a highrahcky into existences run by people who had no idea how to do real/horizontal things.
The first few years of London hackspace were afferently group organised (hacked), it was a exceptional frendly and open space, with few fundemental problems. Only later has it started to fall into the arms of “bureaucracy” which some naive people might call democracy. The common space, decision making and creativity are now “ossified” and the trolls are breeding and dispoling the decision making e-mail list.
In both cases the transition came about because of the limitations of affinity group organising – that small close nit groups, while nimbale/very effective move on. The resulting spaces are then filled with less imaginative/creative/lovely people who leave the space open to trolls and blind ego wankers.
Affinity group organising is the best we have for anerkist/libertarian/horizontal ideas about life, but the is no working horizontal process for passing on responsibility to new affinity groups – thus they are annual flowers, they fade and die too soon to be a real alternative to traditional society. What can we do about this?
The same happened to UK indymedia, though that was also different in some ways.
How to build an effective protest camp
A look at the parts that make it happen (DRAFT)
Lets look at the groupings first that balance helping/hindering a campaign. These are of course B&W images to highlight issues, on the ground things are always complex with many overlaps.
The “family” - what is most important to them is having a senses of belonging, brining safety, warmth and meaning into there lives which they do not have in the outside world. This is good in as far as it creates a warm and carrying centre to the camp. But it is eqauley bad as it creates a unfriendly shell around parts of the camp “you haven’t been here since the beginning, you cant tell us what to do”, “he is a police spy”, “the newcomers are eating all the food and not doing any work” the tends to be a growing rejection of people who arnet part of the “family”. This leads to a decline in camp/campaigning effectiveness as people who are good at campaigning tend to not be interested in the continues internal sqwobals of this fractures and dysfunctional “family”. The is a increasing tendency to push out new blood and sougheded people from core parts of the camp. The family then repeatedly shrinks and implodes often trying to take “there” camp with it.
The party people – there garate when they organise regular fabulous party’s for the space and campaign. They are much more draining when there party is for them and involves lots of alcohol and late night music while the wider camp are trying to sleep. The mess this creates in the camp and in peoples heads drags the camp energy down.
The hippy’s, “all you need is love” this might be true BUT anyone who has live on a camp will know you need working water, a functioning kitchen, lighting and regulate wood for the fires etc. In camps these things generally/often end up being provided by angry people and at meetings you regaluly her creys of “you need to clear up after yourself” “who is bring the water” “last night some one eat all the XXX and messed the kitchen up” “can we stop playing load music after 11.00”. The hippy answer of a hug and kind words becomes thin after this has been repeated for the 3ed time with no real practical hands on help. You need love AND respect AND equality AND practical work to keep a camp functioning “all you need is love” is hippy crap in this context and if this is out of balances then no amount of “love” will save your camp or larger campaign.
The me, me , me, narcissistic Christ figger. At every camp the are young men who have father issues and messianic complexes, you can tell them by there holy clothes and obscurantist language. Not surprisingly These guys generally end up abusing young women and having fights with older men. They then drag the camp energy down by building sides to defend these actions.
The you, you, you, Christ figger are the invisible santes of camp life. At balcome the was one guy who cleaned the compost tolits for the whole time, in the morning oftern clearing the shit off the seats from the drunken party people, replacing the toilet role that the hippys dident have time to do while rushing off for important crystal harmonising and herbal tea... in the kitchen the were a group of older women who cleaned and cooked and cared, each morning clearing up the mess of the late night kitchen party crew before breakfast could be made... in both cases these people/groups were frayed and burned out as the camp came to a close.
Napoleon complex. The best that could be said for this issue was at least Napoleon was a good general, at protest camps this competency is rarely balanced with the damage done.
NGO bods. the tendency to be lots of them visiting the camp during big days of action if the are media opportunitys, campers should be a little cynical to take care that the give and take in such situations is balanced.
Empire builders. Have there place if the empire is open and competency based, horizontalism tends to keep reasserting it self as nobody is paid to do this work.
The SWP's. the undead of activism, they always bring the plaque with them so best to dissuade them if at all possible.
Campaigners, are key to the campaign (; but their agenda often conflicts with the more direct action crew focus - this has to be mediated as both startatergys are key to a good outcome.
Grassroots media team – Individualists. God could I talk about this one....
Direct action crews. At protest camps we love the SPIKY and the FLUFFY the problem lies in how to keep the love flowing.
Mainstream media team (corporate cock suckers) have a lot of power and responsibility, they ALWASE fail in the responsibility part so real focus is needed to keep them focused.
And more to come...
John Hoggett Or, Mental Health Patient - someone who has clearly been sectioned recently and sometimes spouts bonkers nonsense but proves to be a star, reliable, not phased by the police (even if they do talk about them in weird, almost non-senseical ways) and always happy to lend a hand with cooking, cleaning etc
- Natalie Lamb The control freaks. Who like to control but not be controlled. They want things done their way only... and when it's not they get very upset. So they find a way to control, and insist on doing it their way without remembering how it felt when they were treated that way. When they have the power, they feel right. Thus perpetuating the cycle.
Fixing protest camp problems (and there back lashes)
Remember everyone is a volunteer, nobody at camps is payed to do the hard work.
At Balcome when I arrived tech was a disaster, all the power was brought in by car by taking 12v battery’s to locales houses brought back by car drained till flat then repeated each day. This both rapidly destroyed the lead acid car battery’s and meant the camp was actually running on fossil fuels.
I like a challenge so set out to fix this, it wasn’t a difficult thing to do, took me half a day to gather and assemble all the pieces, by the evening I was tired but prowed the was a solar power set-up that would permanently charge 2 phones for the length of the camp as long the sun shone. It was relative simple to carry on building this out to make the whole camp work in the same way.
In the morning the sun came up, I got out of bed to plug in some phones and what did I find, my days work had been pulled apart in the night because people “needed” components to play music in the party camp. A frustrating day gathering up the parts agen only to find that the battery had been destroyed in the night by running it flat.
It wasn’t a easy technical problem, it actually was a more complex harder to fix social problem. The was no shortage of competent people at the camp, but they weren’t involved because they had experienced variations of the problem above – that nothing could be built – everything was transitory and broken.
The social solution?
Push the few apsultute loons out of the space, this tends to be emotionally violent, we mediated by giving one loon the equipment he needed to set up his own space. The second one, when challenged, pushed him self out of the space and took his stuff with him. Short and (emotionally) violent in both cases but they did both go away and allow the space to grow and function.
The second issue was less challenging but probably created more resentment, this was that the equipment and space was held in “common” for the camp and everyone could use it as THEY thought fit. This was at the root of the destruction of battery’s and regular burning out of equipment – the was a big box full of broken stuff, each day expensive replacements were ordered and the day after it arrived most of it was in the broken box – camp spending on tech was completely out of control because of this.
To fix this we had to shift the control of the equipment from the “common” to the smaller growing tech team. How do do this was simple, sitting in the tech tent all day asking people what they wonted stuff for. This was a gentle and helpful thing to do BUT behind the sean it was building up a pile of resentment from the “crew” who were used to using and bracking tech equipment freely and it being replaced at camp expense.
After this successful transition the tech space became boring, it worked, phones were charged, laptops powered, media and legal work done, peopule could check there facebook. The wasn’t much to do but sit in there to make shore the “loon” energy did not come back to dominate.
Though it did came back to bite later.
Attempted Putsch at Balcombe
The camp has to move after the drilling stops every one agrees with this, I do, the only useful question/decision is when and were to next. What am documenting here is one groups decision and action that happen this weekend at the camp. Read this with a smile (or you might cry) Its been interesting to be in the middle of a attempted Putsch at #balcombe anti-fracking site.
I have been oncamp for more than 3 weeks, On Friday in the morning I got up early to go off site to get the main battery bank charged otherwise the camp would have no power for the next 3-4 days. After I got back the camp was quirt I got some tea mosed around said hi to the people I met, everything was working fine on the temporary power in the tech tent. By the late afternoon it was time for a sester in my tent, on waking I found a strange decision had been made. The same thing happened to a number of people for example Marina Pepper was doing legal support for the court case and was constantly phoning up people at the camp, this decision making was not mentioned, Prajna was off site doing arrest support he was not informed etc.
A decision was made to close the camp down in front of the fracking site and move all the infrastructure and tents 5-10-15 miles away (the location was not revealed) This visible wrong agenda was pushed though a exhausting 8 hour meeting by majority vote of the people left in the meeting after 8 hours.
* You can never get a good decision after an 8 hour meeting!
* That we would be evicted on Monday – actually the court process starts on Monday and as many experienced people pointed out this will be a long process with many delays. It should be possible to stay till the drill is removed in 2 weeks and then leave as we wont to not forced by a court process.
* The main argument was if the whole camp left before the court case they could turn up at court and say “what camp” and the injunction would not happen. This is a fantasy in that we would have had to evict the half of the camp that refuses to go to meetings and would reject this imposing of a nonsense agender by a meeting they ignore. Even if this could be done this would not have stopped the injunction as they would have argued that the camp would have just returned so they would need the injunction to stop this happening.
* Then the was the very understandable argument for the mental health and physical health of the core camp crew here since the beginning – the call to support the “family”. This is the only valid argument, but when looked at it is thin and self inflicted. The camp has collectively allowed a tiny minority of people to continuously hold stressful roles for month's with out rest, this could have been mediated by the offered respite in locales homes or sharing roles with the large number of competent people at the site. The separate camp is going ahead anyway with out the camp moving for people who need time out this is a good thing and solves this issue if people take the time out they need.
The next day the was a very violent/bad tempered meeting where it was repeatedly coherently argued that the day before decision was damaging and wrong headed. Each point was refuted – the answer was imposed that we should STILL DO IT AS IT WAS DECIDED this wasted the whole morning till a tea break helped to clear the air. During the tea break the people arguing strongly for the camp to be taken down actually started to take down structures. This angry energy faded as the majority of people ignored them and didn’t take part in this.
The afternoon meeting was much calmer, apart form a part were the original decision was tried to be re-imposed by violent argument by a minority. The issue now (Sunday morning) is that online the original decision/agenda rolls on and locals with cars are turning up to take things, and owners of structures are reclaiming them still thinking the eviction is happening on Monday.
This ill timed and wrongly argued ripping apart of the camp might make it hard to move forward on a tactical agreement to leave when the time comes. This is the problem we have created and now face.
How far is Balcombe camp a responsible alternative?
Its interesting to be in the middle of camp life doing something that is core to the camp functioning. Am one of the crew responsible for the tech tent, we run a solar power set-up that charges the camp phones, runs the laptops and provides shaky internet for legal, media and wider camp community. This is currently working pretty well but we have a number of issues that need addressing, lets briefly look at each one:
We are completely reliant on a single source of power – solar – this as anyone knows is unsubstantial as people are finding out on dark rainy days – as we move into the autumn/winter this will stop working in a meaningful way. The is a blindness and intolerance to addressing this issue that is worrying and the wider camp is not taking on the responsibility for this issue.
The majority of people while expressing green views treat camp infrastructure as if it was normal mainstream home infrastructure. The is a tendency to get angry if they can't plug their phone in when they wont to or use the internet after dark, or watch videos over our shaky internet connection. You can explain to them all you like but when you leave the tech tent to get a cup of tea often when you get back you will find 3 extra phones charging and the laptop left on with nobody using it etc.
The solution being pushed is HUGE increase in battery’s and solar panels and tech so you can treat natural resources power as if it was home power. This is a surprising and shocking unthinking indictment of our culture, its why fracking/dangerous energy is happening in the first place. It seems people are un-willing to move closer to nature (even though they are living on a road verge in the rain) rather they unthinkingly continue to use technology to bend nature to there convenience.
We still have individuals who are ripping apart working camp set-ups see my last post for motivations for this LINK The camp is not taking collective responsibility over damaging individuals and there actions, the camp meetings are dysfunctional and fractures, the only way most things are decided is be mob rule or attrition through boredom. Consensus is failing through a lack of trust in the shifting camp crew.
If you wont to challenge fracking and dangerous energy extraction in general you need to be at least able to offer and outline of a working alternative. How can you build a green/alternative with out looking at this issues/mind set in our own camp.
Greenham women talks about protest camp life
This is a message from my mum who was an original Greenham women - she is wrighting in reaction to what she is hearing going on at Balcombe Community Protection Camp.
"I was on the original women lead march from Cardiff to Greenham Common. 36 women and six men marched from Cardiff to USAF Greenham Common in September 1981 to protest at the arrival of first strike, Ground Launched nuclear cruise Missiles. There was no plan to stay but when our request for a debate on TV was ignored we decided to stay living in the open in all weathers for almost 20 years. it was a new way of life aa amazing experience but with with many difficulties. wonderful world wide support. but personalities, money, infiltration evictions all had to be resolved.
Money at Greenham.
Anarchy - Greenham was amazing despite difficulties , When the camp was set up who ever got to the postman first opened the letters and took the money. One women used it to pay her mortgage. We opened a women’s peace camp coop bank account with two signatures who allocated the money each day. With discussion, so everyone knew where the money was spent, otherwise everyone considered their need was greatest. The camp belongs to everyone.....never forget our experiences with the security service infiltrators..new recruits with MI5 and MI6 in practice missions.
Whilst Greenham Women were facing eviction in the 1980s Mrs Thatcher changed the law, Eviction notices did not have to be given to the person but could be fixed to the premises. At greenham this meant nailed to a tree like in the wildwest USA . We found out who owned of the land around the base. Some belonged to the local council, some to the ministry of transport, other land to the military and some was common land. When women were evicted They only had to move a few yards to land owned by another authority and the eviction process had to start all over again. often there were vague descriptions of women not even a name. when the polce carefully described what we were wearing we all the swopped clothes .The first evictions were in Newbury district court. and later in the high court. we just ignored our evictions.Many of us had a high court order banning us from as many as five counties which we ignored. There were so many of us from all over the UK and all parts of the world we could ignore the courts decisions some women did go to prison. WE WENT INTO THE COURTS IN SHORTS AND VESTS WITH BABIES WHO WERE BREAST FED AND HAD NAPPIES CHANGED IN THE COURT.. VERY DISTURBING FOR THE MALE LEGAL PROFESSION; jUDGES WIFES AT THE BACK OF THE COURT WERE ADVING THE WOMEN. The judge Jupp retreated so fast after evicting us..."
If you would like a pack of post cards from Greenham (and some contempery ant-fracking ones) ask Thalia for her address and sender her a donation (:
“Just because work is invisible dose not mean that it dose not happen.”
Some thoughts about organising contempery media production.
In current world the spread of cheap and easily available technology opens up the production of knowledge and culture to a much wider group of people than in the 20th century. The issue is no longer the “hard issues” of access and gatekeepers – it is one of the “soft issues” of craft skills and storie telling. Along side this for co-operative production the most important issue is organisational.
“Just because work is invisible dose not mean that it dose not happen.”
Half the people won't tern up or will be useless
Half the equipment wont work or will have pieces missing so dose't not work.
The failer of the 20th century is “hard organising”
The working of the 21st century is “soft organising”
Work out a rota and fill the roles before the event. Put people into fixed times and place, then panic and start from scratch when it all changes on the day and half the people don’t tern up and there equipment fails.
Have fun role-plays and hands on set-ups to learn the skills, put people into broad groups – and only fill the completely central hard roles the co-ordinators. The rest are left open and fluid so that the most competent people can move into the key roles and the less competent can hang onto them or drift away, and best to let them go, its an open process and they have the opportunity to comeback later.
Some ways to think about why this is important
If you have a volunteer structer and few resources hard organizing will likely lead to 100% failer of a good outcome. Soft organising will likely lead to 70% success of good anufe outcome. One will leave everyone bicking and blaming over who’s fault is is for the failer and it will split and demoralise the crew. The other will nurture success and build trust so as to grow the pool of talent so that next time the outcome can grow.
In a contradictory way “soft organising” is the way to grow a “hard organising crew”. The 20th century 'professionalism' is now the clear and imedate danger to the success of the 21st century working. We are in the middle of a transition if people who aspire to work in the 20th century way won't to be useful they have to jump ship - or get a dwindling paid job in the traditional media.
How to stop “hard organising”
This needs some thought – as it is clearly the problem we face in the digital age of voluntary production. See my DRAFT post on de-professionalising the media about why this is core to thinking about this.
Balcombe - power use
I have been at Balcombe anti-fracking camp for two weeks now (DRAFT)
Broken inverter box of shame
We have come a long way in the tech tent in helping to change the mindset of the camp to be more environmental. The camp is moving more slowly towards being in tune with the wider natural rhythms of the seasons. Our next challenge in this is to get the camp to recognise that there are seasons and that autumn is coming. As a natural shift, power generation will start to move from sun to wind and other more experimental energy generating.
What have we achieved:
We moved peoples' perception on to be aware that where power comes from affects when you have it. The current power is solar and it comes from the sun so any power we have is available when the sun is brightest and strongest – so we have power between 11-4 o’clock to use laptops and charge phones. Before and after this only core and emergency use is available.
We managed the transition from inefficient inverters powering 240v AC hungry household appliances to native 12v DV low powered equipment. This is a basic green issue of energy use: use less and use it better. The inverting is costing more then 40% of the power coming in when you take into account battery efficiency.
WHY? It's about the efficiency of the battery/wire/voltage converter technology. Storing the power then retrieving it has a cost. We decide not to pay this cost. We use the power as much as possible directly from the sun. The batteries are used as floats, they buffer/moderate the power. If you use the batteries as floats and buffers you can use this power with little loss. As soon as you shift use of the power to other times you have the energy cost of charging, storing and retrieving the power – this can be as much as 40% of the total coming in. When you add to this the inverting (DC-AC-DC) of power which we were doing at the start this makes no sense at all unless you are connected to a coal or nuclear power station. The reality was that the batteries in the camp were shipped out by car each day, charged on the grid then shipped back by car, drain and repeat.
We are still working on the respect and longevity of the environmentally damaging batteries that we use and are donated. 6 have been destroyed so far and most of the rest damaged/degraded. This is a ecological cost in polluting with dangerous lead and acid. It's a mission that we will have more time for after the basic set-up is in place.
We cleared the tech space of the mad rip-it-apart-every-night energy and replaced this with more clear and safe sorted people (well, as sorted as you get at protest camps). This led to semi-permanent working set-ups rather than the draining of energy of having to re-build everything from scratch each day. It's interesting that it's hard to move people beyond the black and white thinking of solving problems to the more holistic thinking of respect for diversity of strategies. This mad creative/destructive energy has a space in the camp – and we have to nurture a space for it, rather than try and use a lot of energy failing to exclude it.
We face the basic green issue of energy use, use less and use it better in the case of batteries. The core space is now working, the next challenge in power is diversity of sources. Can we move investment away from solar as the summer comes to an end and the daylight hours shorten and fade.
For any power you take out in the evening about twice as much power has to be put back in the morning, so it's a bad way of borrowing shifting use times. It's an education building a power station at a protest camp.
Balcombe - the missing solar Panels
I have been at Balcombe camp for nearly 2 weeks working in the tech tent. The campaign is a positive experience and the issue is very winnable. But the internals of the campaign and the camp that is now at its centre is like many in the past dysfunctional anufe to help undermine this likely victory. The are a lot of hidden agenda’s amongst the #Balcombe anti-fracking which can make a very dysfunctional campaigning space. I am sitting this morning in such a situation.
If my solar equipment isn’t here (which at the moment it isuant, as I though the new 450w had arrived) the camp has one 27w solar panel which on a sunny day can power a small laptop or charge 4-5 phones. This has been going on for a month or more. For a time I brought extra panels and got us up to charging 20-50 phones a day including all the legal and core camp phones. Was a happy time that was crowned by a offer of local funding and a morning on the pub wifi, £600 ordered 450w of solar panels and controllers. See post (LINK)
It was going to take 3-4 days for the gear to arrive so I left the camp with a working basic solar phone charging set-up for core camp phone's for a few days to do some work in London. Keeping an eye on social media I noted that the process of installing the solar panels had got stuck somehow so decided to come back to the camp to finish the install.
Arriving back to a poisonous soup of clashing agenda’s the panels were stuck in a locals house and are still there now 4 days latter.
The is a sorted tech crew, but no consensus on how to move on from here. So days are spent rasherioning power and argueing over fantasy plans which are beyond the power we have and beyond the 450w of power we will have at some point.
Its interesting to experience the internal dynamics inside the tech team -
On one hand we have pragmatic realists – who recognise the lack of control, creative and destructive power at camps. They deal with this by:
Building set-up's to include clear separation of different systems so if one fails the other continues.
Put in simple work flow to minimise the competing needs on scares resources the different groups will demand.
Separate the different user groups into core camp, legal, media and events so that they do not compete for the same pools of limited resources
Of course the is nothing to stop the different working groups co-operating and helping each other, what this avoids is the competition and ego-flaring that envehrtably happens in the highly stressed camp life.
On the other hand we have obdurate realists who while right in what they are saying are ignoring the circumstances of where they saying it. I can give you an example: in the last 24 hours the solar phone charging I set-up has been ripped apart and scattered, then re-built 3 times. To keep this working today I sat in the tent all day this is not a sustaining way of running a key camp technology.
This is the reality of camp life with no working consensus.
Balcombe - anarchist and conservative
Interesting to think about the things you are involved with and the things you do. Important to understand am not talking about the sciences or polatics of fracking here, am lifting the lid to see what I can see under the hood of both camps.
I had been staying in the Balcombe Protection Camp (BPC) for a week and was walking back from spending a few hours at the climate camp (RCP) along the beautiful bridal way, this seamed to sum up my feelings about the two camps. "#Balcombe protection camp is conservative and anarchic #reclaimpower is anarchist and conservative, thoughts on #frackoff camping”.
In the BPC we had a dysfunctionally colourful collection of disparate groups with the stongist being different “conservative' voices. But the overall process was arcnerkic in a creative way. Then at RTP we had a very functional mono-culture over all young and progressive lead by a affinity group of ex-arnercists who now largely work for NGO's.
Why would I call both camps conservative? Looking at the ongoing power struggles of BPC it becomes easy to see that the strongest voices are thoughs who have the lest progressive agenda’s – underlining it all are the squirearchy, they have the hands and fingers on the money, media and web sites. Then the is there natural allies’s the disempowerd working class who control the welcome centre and share responsibility for the money. Added to this you have the family history of occupy who some how fill this country space...
In the climatecamp (RTP) we have a odd mixture of old school lifestay anarchists and new professionals moving up the NGO pole. The meetings are slick, and all the decisions are made before the camp starts – this works very well as a one off and with funding might continue. Though am not shore if the few remaining “anarchists” will continue with this? Excelent actions, soughted pro tredtional media team, food, power, tolits and grhate legal backup. What more do you need? yes... that is a Q. a few peopule were asking...
My second comment a few days latter “Came back from #Protest #Fracking with the feeling of a Brothel of media prostitutes and corporate (media) cock suckers. Where is the balance of the (alt) contemporary media today?” both camps are hungry for traditional media coverage, the seams to be little belief or understanding left for alt-media or even social media.
A reply from Richard Hering “Where is the alt media? You could start here and watch all the videos http://grassroots.visionon.tv/fracking and if you want the latest, embed the player in your blog or site...” is like a cry in the dark and is ignored by both camps.
So neither is very progressive, but both have space for much more progressive input, you can turn up at both camps and as long as you are not relying on centralised resources you can have a big impact so both are relatively open as progressive spaces. In this seance they are both still temporary autonomous zones in the old anarchic speak.
I would like to make alt-media really work at such spaces. Todo this you would need:
1) a sorted team of people (3 would be a start)
2) own solar power and basic equipment
3) a big tent/small markey/carport
4) a budgit for transport and expesise
Then turn up and make things happen – we did this very successfully at Kingsnorth Climatecamp.
10 days at Balcombe Protection Camp
Photo: Katherine Stanley
My experience at the camp was over all positive, and came away feeling that fracking is a completely winnable campaign.
I went to the camp to spend a week making media about the people, issues and organising of the #fracking protest camp. In stead of this media/video making, which am very good at I spent 10 days living on the camp trying to sought out many core issues.
* the dysfunctional camp meetings
* the draining camp fractions/dynamics/power struggles
* the tech tent
I will start with the tech tent, when i arrived the camp had no working solar power and all battery were charged (by grid electricity - fossil fuel) offside and driven in by car each day. No care was taken for the effective life of the battery’s so they were disintegrating rapidly by being excessively discharged each day. With 12v battery’s it is much more efficient (and safer) to run the camp on native 12v then use fragile/inefficient and potently dangerous 240v inverters as was happening.
The tech space was being ripped apart and trashed (by persons unknown) every night, leading to the problem that nothing permanent could be built or sustained, this lead to all the competent people leaving this core space. Each day new equipment would arrive and by the next day it would be broken, the solution was to then order more new equipment, the tech spending was spiralling out of control.
When equipment was ordered it was always the wrong type because of the politics/opacity of shopping - this was very damaging as it lead to more equipment failer and the strong possibility of electrical fire. This repeating power politics and unspoken agenda’s was the root of many issues.
I spent much of my 10 days on this problem, and by the end of the time we were charging all legal/camp/media/visiter phones on 12v solar power and had finally ordered the equipment to run the wider camp on solar power.
This was on order when I left:
Core permanent power for the tech tent
100w 12v x2 semi-flexible solar panels permanently affixt to the roof of the south facing tent
water/shock profer controller x2
strong water prof connectors
heavy duty cabling
Then we had politics - Experimental event charging (this was a political choice rather than technical)
1x250w 24v glass facing solar panel
Voltage regulating Controllers to bring this huge 24v panel (20KG metal and glass) down to the 12v needed
This experiment system saves around 50 in cost but is a HUGE problem as its heavey and frigile if it is mixed up with our 12v set-up as this will lead to equipment failer and possibly fires.
The camp is in a permanent state of chaos with out some one in the space to mediate this chaos, and at time the will not be, then this experimental system has to be (at a minimum) installed/looked after in a physically separate space to the core stable power set-up.
Is saveing a small amount of money worth adding to this chaos?
Because of camp politics this essential equipment was not ordered.
GOOD CAR “cigarette lighter” connector banks x2 (branded)
6x double 5v USB car adapters (branded)
3x laptop 12v power supply’s with tips (branded)
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.
Trust and control and the role of gatekeepers in blocking
Everyone understands the role of “gatekeepers” in traditional media. I want to look at how there are very similar issues with radical and progressive media. Most blocking and authoritarianism in activist organising is not conscious, rather its roots lie in psychological traits rather than ideological thinking. Everyone might be a professed horizontalist, but some are clearly not acting in the accordance with the way they think/speak.
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
The memory hole in activism
The is a churning of the wheel in activism, it is part of the explanation of why campaigns tend to tern in cercals, the social change we push is often bogged down by these muddy memory’s. The churning of the ground is mistaken for real movement, then activist get bored and move on to the next campaign. Its rare that the cart of activism moves any real distance.
Of course what is needed is for someone to innovate, get straw or wood under the wheels, leaver the cart out of the hole, organise a rope team to pull together, this gets the cart further along the road to where people really would like to go. Its a spark that dose it, but sparks that fall on muddy ground are soon snuffed out.
The memory hole keeps us all in the mud, it dampens the sparks that make things happen, its a churning that moves the mud in a facsimile of progress – and many people mistake the churning of mud for the moving of the cart. The failure of inspiration leads many to drop out of the activist path. The cart abandoned mired in the mud for the next group of idealistic and eager but forgetful crew to push and pull.
So the morel of this muddy and forget full fable? Please add your thoughts in the comments.
Power politics - In activist organizing prioritizes self-interest over outcomes
The is a lot of self destructive behavior in left/progressive organising, an old example the Monty Python sketch
Am looking at concepts that describe this. Power politics is a state of international relations in which sovereigns protect their own interests by threatening one another with military, economic, or political aggression.
Power politics is essentially a way of understanding the world of international relations: nations compete for the world's resources and it is to a nation's advantage to be manifestly able to harm others. It prioritizes national self-interest over the interest of other nations or the international community.
Techniques of power politics include, but are not limited to, conspicuous nuclear development, pre-emptive strike, blackmail, the massing of military units on a border, the imposition of tariffs or economic sanctions, bait and bleed and bloodletting, hard and soft balancing, buck passing, covert operations, shock and awe and asymmetric warfare.
Can people think of examples of how this manifests in smaller world of activist organising?
Control freak's (DRAFT)
(Psychology) an obsessive need to be in control of what is happening http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Control_freak This has been an issue with many groups and individuals I have been involved with in activist organising.
It was key to the decline of the http://indymedia.org.uk project and the ossification the climate camp process and static nature of the climate camp website http://climatecamp.org.uk My most destructive experience of this till recently was the organising of the London European Social Forum, and the central role of the SWP and Ken Livingston's office in this. Currently I am involved in the organizing of the http://rebelliousmediaconference.org and I would like to highlight how this process is being damaged by Control Freakery during the on going process.
RMC (Peacenews) process and “pushing the agenda”
During the first meeting I attended a single speaker talked continuously for ¾ of the meeting, constantly expressing the lack of time and the need to move on – this is called “pushing the agenda”.
Taking charge of the minutes – and constantly not reporting the views in the record of people who do not fit into this pushed agenda.
Packing and controlling the agenda of each meeting, then pushing through this agenda, leaving no time or space for differing views.
Then when the inevitable rebellion happens blocking this procedurally in till it becomes irrelevant to the outcome of the project. Nitpicking might be a good way of describing this blocking. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Micromanagement is used as weapon to stop productive open organising and to shut down process outside of the “pushed agenda”.
Its hard to put your finger on what is wrong at the start of this process but as you go along it is soon made clear that it is a deep intolerance, a lack of trust and narrowness of vision that verges on stupidity.
As one of the core organisers of the RMC conference highlighted it is very hard to change this behaver, some back ground reading on the problems http://www.ec-online.net/knowledge/articles/control.html
Issues that make this behaver more of a problem:
* Lack of solidarity among the organising group
* Unbalance of knowledge of the core differencet approaches in the RMC this has manifested as lack of understanding of technological change.
The de-professionalising of media (DRAFT)
The de-professionalising of media
Digitisation is re-shaping many forms of media production and news is one of these. The business model the print press was based on scarcity and physical distribution. Old media is being forced to transform under the technological imperative of digitisation, and most will fail. From the forced change of digitisation there are two possible outcomes:
1. A continuation of the move to churning PR as news, which is the growth/sustainable area in traditional media.
2. The de-professionalising of media production. This is a huge growth area in media production over the last 10 years.
Professional non-PR media is under attack by the search for profit by companies that have the will to survive. The ones that don’t join this savage chase to the bottom will likely not survive in their current forms.
What do I mean by de-professionalizing?
In the Victorian era the “amateur” was held in high esteem and the “professional” was looked down upon. This was based on values coming from a leisured elite of society, the logic of valuing a gift economy over the narrowly commercial. In contemporary society the digitisation project is shifting much old commercial (scarcity) work into leisure (gift) work. Witness the rise of the blogger, the age of wikipedia etc.
At this point I just have to make a quick detour to demolish the mirage of fragile hope that many of the old “professional classes” cling to. Advertising is FALSE information, and social media sees through it – the world of the “free” makes its intrusions more obvious – and people will ignore these images, use adblockers etc. The poison that is embedded in lifestyle advertising will move into PR-driven news production.
The outcome of this transition is not at all clear. At the recent E-G8 conference, Lawrence Lessig talked about the problem of incumbents or gatekeepers and how they distort investments and push to keep obsolete models in place. They are helping to distort and misshape the logic of the digitalization process.
To finish this work in progress
Critique Victorian “amateurism”
Talk about how the will still be a (smaller) role for “professorial journalists”
Fill out the Background on these ideas..
The ecology of hash-tag organising (DRAFT)
A look at ideas around Ukuncut, which grew from the winding down of the climatecamp movement.
Activist media and the Value of the URL link
The currency of the web is the link, so by linking to something you are adding to its value.
Regrettably, activists endemically link to corporate media and social networking sites thus adding value and power to these large multinational corporations they are in theory fighting against.
As a recent example (but I could pick almost any), at the CRUDE AWAKENING event on October 16th 2010, video producers put out links to alternative video sites:
And these links were re-posted for a while, but soon most re-postings and linking were direct to youtube rather than to the real producers' websites.
Why is this a problem? Just to repeat, linking is probably the strongest currency on the web, and anti-corporate activists are too often spending it in the mega-stores rather than the much better social/political experiences of their local cornershops. We CAN build a powerful alternative to the mainstream if we spend our linking currency wisely.
LINK to alternative media whenever and wherever you can, with a valid link (includes http:// - www is no good). If you like a film, see if you like the films around it, and LINK to that flow of films, rather than a single video. There's much more value in a flow, for viewers and for producers.
You can also embed alternative media players on your blog or website (for instance http://visionon.tv/embed) and LINK to the urls of those. This is more useful than embedding a single film from youtube.
Valid LINKS and LINKING to flows help to build alternative, non-corporate infrastructure and it's free.
“create the world you won’t to see”
The web as political ideology
- Facebook is capitalism – capturing the commons and shaping it into a delusional tool for private profit.
- Twitter is socialism – making everyone equal but keeping power at the centre and falling for the problem of making some people more equal than others.
- The internet – libertarianism, creating a space for freedom of every action, but built without the tools for the free-market capitalism that often goes with libertarianism.
- The world wide web – anarchism, radically horizontalizing access to knowledge and communication, building a commons for us all.
- Old media – zombies clothed in the rooting flesh of the world of scarcity, gatekeepers holding the world from change by the fear of there stench.
- Dot-com's – parasites that pray on the necessity leavings of the old world, leeches that suck and suck from the vitality of the new.
- Torrents – the greedy happy tool of the hippies, affluence without responsibility.
- Youtube – a prison for our collective visions with no bars on the cell windows.
- Goggle - is Judas – the one who betrayes us all.
- You – what are you in the digital world?
A bit of spell casting from the greek rainbow gathering - how to make this work in visionOntv
We are made this way
Many try to heal on different paths
Most Stumble from the individualism of there path
“all you need is love” sing the rainbow
“all you need is social/economic change” shout the activists
Both drift into baroness with out the balance of the other
To birth a world
Rituals build and sustain community’s
Rituals bind together the individualism’s
Roots grow from these bindings
Roots hold the earth agenst the weathering of time
And from these rituals a forest grows
And shelters us from the elements (time)
Beauty grows from seeing each the same in the performance of the rite
The harmony of the Ohm
The chaining together to stop the nuclear train
Balancing beauty, unerty, grow the bindings
That make life beautiful
Truth grows from the light and dark of the touched world
Truth is beauty balanced with social rites
Truth is from the forest, with out the forest the is no truth
Activist (media) strategy is broken
This is the state of the #stopG8 twitter account as the main convergence center is raided by hundreds of police:
Using individual Facebook accounts - who sees the content they post is decided by the advertising driven algorithms of Facebook and everything they post is sent strait to the corporate and governmental agency’s they are fighting against.
The website they have built is not only dysfunctional (it only allows corporate embeds of video all opensource or activists embeds are blocked - only google owned youtube works) it's a control freaks love affair and a re-creation of the Soviet Union.
UPDATE: the video embed whent up in the end https://network23.org/stopg8/media/video
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.
Is the value in stirring up the past?
looking at the actavist groups I have been involved with. Its interesting to try and record your view of what happened and why it happened. Though as most people will have internalised a different view to yours this can be painful for thoughs who lived through this history. This rises the question of is this a useful thing to do?
"those who forget their history are doomed to repeat it" George Santayana
The is deferentially a problem of circler behaver in media activism and wider issues:
* Problem of liberal views of activist history
* Problem of activist memory hole - our web resources are transient and the backups disappear. The mentality of activists tend to be “we invented this – this is new – we are the first”
* Academics will work with authoritative sources – this is inherently biased