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

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Entries with tag gatekeepers .

“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.”

Volunteer structures

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”

Hard 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.

Soft organising

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.

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.

An example of this is when the are two clear points of view, both valid and valuable, in a group. Typically, the horizontalist view is blocked procedurally until there is no time left in the process. Then the more vertical view is pushed through at the last moment to “save the process”. The outcome is very bad feeling between the groups/indiviuals and the more (dysfunctional) authoritarian view is implemented. This is problematic as it gives a clear signal to everyone involved that progressive ways of working cannot work, which feedbacks to the next process and left/progressive project stagnates. 
In general, building radical media needs to have no gatekeepers to the overall structure (just like that hugely successful progressive, horizontalist project, the internet). We need ideas of how we can work our way out of this progressive cul-de-sac and we need them soon. It seems to me that progressive organising is based on trust, and authoritarian organising is based on a need for control (and the distrust that this breeds). So does the answer lie in leaving enough time for trust-building in progressive organising as a core part of the process?

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..

Geek Manifesto (DRAFT)

VisionOntv is a project to move people from being passive consumers to taking more of a role in production/curating and hosting news media. Its a project to empower the producers of media. So from a very broad-brush perspective:

Has to be easy for normal people to browse, with a constant pull towards people being more involved – even if this has a balancing affect on the ease of use. Consuming of content isn't social change rather conversation leading to community self action is. Our mission is a hard one to use content to catalyse this change and this is a little harder for users, our website won't run away from this issue.

Has to not be pulled into the Geek ghetto on complexity and obfuscation , even if this on balance affect security and efficiency. The command line and professorial server infrastructure may have advantages but the project will use desktop servers and GUI were ever possible so as not to disempower the producers also taking on the many of the roles of the sysadmins. With out this movement we end of up with a small cartel off Geek gatekeepers rather than a broad empowered community.

So consumers pushed into producers and producers pushed into sysadmins is our core Geek mission. We don't wont to replace one media class with a another, we instead won't to democratise and level the media so that it is a much wider and more embed in community's that it covers.

To do this technology it self and the people who create it have to change.

Who do we trust?

Those we see as trustworthy are Liars, cheats and swindlers. The bankers and bureaucrats at the moment. I think we have always had this backwards view of the world, is it a failure of the education system or a failure of our collective imagination - the needing to belong.

The 20th century has been the century of advertising driven consumerism. The 19th that of the racial mission of empire before that we had the certainty of religious dogma. In each we trusted and were constrained and betrayed.

We have a backwards view of the world today, though today we have potential way out of this (historic?) limitation or perhaps its hard-wired?

Lets test this and see:

The internet is a revolution in per-per connections in everything that can be digitised.

* we can make and distribute powerful, truth, filled media, we have the tools in our pockits and the open internet is still in place to carry this.

* we can build universal access to education, again the old gatekeepers are still currently not blocking this.

* we can make our own political institutions up from the grassroots – this will be harder.

With these we have the possibility of shining light and action on the Liars, cheats and swindlers – and by doing that we have a possibility to know who to trust and if we know that we can make this world of ours a more humane place.

I am visiting my parents who are of the newspaper reading age

I am visiting my parents who are of the newspaper reading age, it's an interesting revelation/reminder to me of something I have known for a long time. That the people in newspapers are trailing edge, their thoughts and opinions are a week old, their news stale even before it is printed on paper.

IP based news is gatekeeper frictionless, instant as it happens and its up to you to build your own network of connections. If you haven’t done this then you are back in the world of gatekeeper flow and even lower “quality” news world. The IP world is not a panacea for lack of action on your part, it's just an opening of possibility that you can build a news flow that is not gatekeepered and/or a week old.

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