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

My videos are on these two youtube channels visionontv 3,832,876 views and undercurrents 22,689,976 views

 

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Entries with tag media .

Trust and Media Flows

Am thinking trust needs to be brought back into media. We have been trained like Pavlov dogs to push out stuff on the #dotcons as articles catch our fleeting interest.

The are so many agendas pushing news - who is pushing it becomes as important as whats in it. We need to hold back on click bait - find a source of news we/you "trust" and push that.

If we/your not part of the solution you/we are part of the problem, "click bait" pushing is the/a problem. Trusted (new) media sources a/the solution.

 

Looking at the tech and organising of UK alt/grassroots media

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.

Silo

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"

Portal

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.

Dotcons

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

Link

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.

RSS

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...

Geek

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.

Fashionista

The unthinking desire for new/innovation/conformity. A wider subculture that churns the growth of alt/grassroots so little can grow beyond seedlings.

NGO

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.

Network

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.

4opens

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)

the canary

http://www.thecanary.co/

Has a RSS feed, regular updates, copyright group silo, it has no outside linking

Reelnews

http://reelnews.co.uk/

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.)

Real Media

http://realmedia.press/

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.

Novaramedia

http://novaramedia.com/

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

Counterfire

http://www.counterfire.org/

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

https://thebristolcable.org/

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

http://www.porttalbotmagnet.com/

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

https://newint.org/

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

https://theferret.scot/

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

http://strikemag.org/

looks like a archive of a print mag? Has a RSS feed :)


 

Positive News - based in London

http://positive.news/

Dated looking site, hard to read, no RSS feed and a copyright notice. A silo.

Slaney Street - Birmingham

http://www.slaneystreet.com/

Did not load

Manchester Mule - Manchester

http://manchestermule.com/

 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

http://www.thenews.coop/

Nasty looking site and no RSS, copyrighted, its a silo

Ethical Consumer

http://www.ethicalconsumer.org/

No RSS, copyrightish, old looking site.

Marlborough News Online

http://www.marlboroughnewsonline.co.uk/

no RSS, copyright

West Highland Free Press

http://www.whfp.com/

no RSS, copyright, its a silo.

Star and Cresent - based in Portsmouth

http://www.starandcrescent.org.uk/

No RSS, no copyright notice? Its a silo.


 

Morning Star - based in London

https://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/

Has a RSS feed but its empty, copyright, silo.


 

Cambria Publishing Co-operative

http://www.cambriapublishing.org.uk/

publishes paper books?

Zed Books - London

https://www.zedbooks.net/

paper books and online reading lists, no RSS I can see.

Sheffield Live!

http://web.sheffieldlive.org/

copyright, has a RSS feed, looks bureaucratic open.

Blake House - based in London

http://blake.house/

no RSS, fashionable calling card website with out content, probably copyright?

Media Co-op

http://mediaco-op.net/

Calling card website with out content, no RSS, likely copyright.

Ignite Creative - based in Oxford

http://ignitecreative.co.uk/

Calling card website with out content, no RSS, copyright.

Shedlight Productions - based in Southampton

http://www.shedlightproductions.co.uk/

calling card website with out content, no RSS, copyright.

Steel City Film and Media Co-op - based in Sheffield

https://www.facebook.com/SteelCityFAM

its a #failbook page, maybe open?

Trafford Media & Communications - based in Manchester

(mostly a printer, but also do film production)

http://www.traffordmc.org.uk/

 calling card, no site.


 

The Community Channel

Community Channel

The granddaddy of NGO media, no RSS feed, likely copyright silo.

Jammu Kashmir TV

http://www.jammukashmir.tv/

it has content, silo?

Open Audio

http://openaudio.co.uk/

Has a working RSS feed

Inform My Opinion

https://audioboom.com/channel/informmyopinion

Has working RSS feed but it fails in my pod catcher, its a page on a #dotcon?

Mydylarama

http://mydylarama.org.uk/

has RSS feed, copyright, silo?

AMP Worcs

http://www.ampworcs.co.uk/

calling card.

A Television

http://www.afro-media.org/

Half finished calling card site.

Salfordstar

http://salfordstar.com/

Hastings independent press

No RSS, no copyright/CC notice, a silo with no external links.

http://www.hastingsindependentpress.co.uk/

Copyright, no RSS feed, has some old school widgets which might show external links. Its a local news silo.

Corporatewatch

https://corporatewatch.org/

Has RSS feed and CC licence, no external links on front page, its a silo but better than most.

bellacaledonia

http://bellacaledonia.org.uk/

Has a RSS feed, its a silo but the is hope for it.

voxpoliticalonline

http://voxpoliticalonline.com/

its a blog in the old school sense, has RSS

evolvepolitics

http://evolvepolitics.com/

its a silo with no RSS and no external links


 

A lot of the original links came from https://www.facebook.com/jdaviescoates

 

Media - why do names matter

Grassroots media

Media made and distributed from the lower part of society, made DIY for, from, too, the grassroots. And at its best outreaching beyond.

Alt- media

Media made from an ideologically different perspective to the mainstream (invisible) ideology. And hopefully, though often not, made in a way that can speak outside this narrow idelogical view.

Indymedia

Project that embodied both grassroots and alt-media pushed on a wave of open web. It was VERY successful in its time before being killed by internal ossification of process and the encriptionsts pointlessness. Might be time for a reboot of this project, but maybe something has to lead the way before this can happen.

Radical media

Is a term that is sometimes picked up by the NGO's and dogmatic control freaks, it tends to be empty and the trademark is owned by a advertising company.

DIY culture

Describes many projects growing out of the UK direct actions movements of the 1990's to the end of the century. A lot of alt/grassroots media projects grow from this spring of energy.

In summery

grassroots and alt media are different things though they often overlap in a good way. Indymeda is a project that embody them both but is ossified and needs a reboot to be relevant agen. Radical media needs a scare warning as the history is not good, DIY culture simmers in many small forms, maybe media could bring it back to the centre to make a difference that’s needed in the world?

 

News - Ideas for ethical aggregation of content

The way forward for aggregation is to break away from the current failed strategies, and to make it “ethical”.

This will need the technology that Dave Winer is pushing, amongst others: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Markdown

We need a clear separation of display formatting and content. In other words, content is published and formatted on the home site and displayed there, but it is aggregated to other sites as metadata. The content is still loaded from the home site, but the formatting is “hinting”, not finished formatting – the finished look and feel is defined by the aggregating site – the content (and hinted formatting) is loaded from the home site.

Thus the content is viewed from both the aggregating site AND the home site. Any edits or comments are published to and loaded from the home site. How they are displayed is up to the viewing site.

*** some temporary dynamic caching can be implemented to make scaling work, as needed ***

It's simple technology that makes aggregation real rather than stealing. How does current “bad aggregation” work? A number of ways:

1) Content is simply republished onto a new server. Comments and views are separated – the content is “stolen” from the host publisher site. This is the favourite parasitic strategy for the dot-coms like huffingtion post etc.

2) Headlines or excerpts are republished with a link back to the full article on the host site. Kinda OK but limited.

3) A silo is created and people are encouraged to publish their stores directly there, as done by projects such as Oximity. This is the most common and worst outcome.

How would what I am proposing be different? The outcome of this simple technology would be a widespread explosion of different sites full of content with radically different looks, feels, interfaces etc.

Content would spread organically. It would be placed in niche sites and good content pushed to the top sites to much larger distribution than you can get on any platform at the moment.

In my opinion, all current distribution is broken, we have to reboot.

Tools to use

Use RSS as the basis of the network to get 98% coverage of content from the project launch. And to give an easy output for other projects to build on. Existing CMS's like wordpress etc can then be used as sources and with plugins can become full members of the network.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Markdown

 

What would a new book on “grassroots media” look like


A thinking allowed DRAFT

Was sitting on me boat roof with a bottle of wine talking to me publisher friend about the video activism book, with a refocuses she would be up for helping to publishing it.

From my point of view it need to be based on the complete lack of current grassroots media.

So needs to start by answering what is grass roots media.

* DIY culture, bit of history
* balancing the wider picture, voices balancing, roots, steams and flowers.
* this means majority but not exclusively from the roots to balance traditional and NGO media.

Building networks (ecosystems) - (the flower medow whole)
* the value of the open web (the soil)
* use and abuse the spiders web of corporate “social media” and hosting (the bugs)
* linking and embedding aggregation (openmedia network project) (the growth)

How dose it differ from:
Traditional media
NGO media/Community media
“new media” and “social media”

[we need to briefly slorter each of these]



Then all the video templates and how to's etc. The body.

Then at the end a chapter on sustainability in the “sharing age”
* monetisation is distributed and DIY (not centralised) sharing gets you distribution its up to you to sought out motorisation if you wont.

Then need a concushern  rallying cry that people can/should  rebuild a “unbranded” network.

To recap as a old testament biblical epic

Build a alter to the grassroots

Saluter the failings of the past as a blood offerings

Then temple workshops on the “cult” ways

Concluding with a fable on cult responsibility’s

Ending with lift our voices in song to a courus of how the world should be.



The is a possible schizophrenia here were it makes sense to dull the book down to expand the audience to the NGO's and education as they have the cash – but then the would be little difference to the other 3-4 failed pointless books out their facking and selling out “grassroots media” to “publishers”. That would be both sad and bad outcome.

After thought:

ie.we need to nurture from were our good come from - thus a rebalenceing of values
the grassroots


 

What would re-booting grassroots media look like?

DRAFT

A series of un-conferences - focussed weekend events.

Intro to the event

Un-confrunces are called for a reason and are about a subject, generally with an idea of an outcome.

Invite all the existing groups and most importantly representatives from past groups to tell their stories and outline their ongoing projects. Invite groups from outside the activist/NGO ghetto such as London JAVA and hackspaces and many more etc.

The preamble:

Our culture is broken. Start with these two critiques of the failed grassroots media/geek culture and the failings of the NGO solutions to such issues.

A defining of open industrial standards and federation, a look at peer to peer and client / server.

This intro is to set the atmosphere of the event, to increase group feedback that question these streams in the workshops over the weekend.

When people arrive, a brief over view of the event and goto it http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unconference Then everyone has their workshop/say.

The event would tend to split into 2 streams, Media Creators (story tellers) and Geeks (tool builders). “We” as the “organiser’s” would continuously gentley push to keep the streams entwined as they both need each other and need an emulsifier to combine for any length of time.

The outcome would be wide, we have a note taker (strait to public wiki) and audio recorder for each session (uploaded soon after)

What I would think important is:

* how to make media so it is part of a flow, rather than for a silo.

* Importance of linking, just getting this working would be a big step forwarded.

* using the corporate dotcoms as dumb pipes – not original sources – build peer pressure here - no sin by only posting to failbook and bird seed world.

* recognition of the problems with the widespread use of WordPress as top sites, fine as a blog/source, disaster as top down centre controled group/campaign site.

* importance of seeing media production as a production of media objects to be shared across the expanding network – not to be held as lost in personal silos or spent purely in the dotcom world.

* recognition of the danger and damage from closed (encrypted) working practices in activism/being pushed by some NGOs. The positive possibility of open working on the open web. Encryption has a limited role, encrypt everything is a clear and present disaster and the people un-reflectively pushing this need reasoning with, then pushing off a cliff ;)

At the end have report backs based on the 4 opens. How do the projects/groups meet these.

Concrete outcome:

* Get everyone to front page link to at least 3 complementary groups.

* Get peopule to review alt-media projects based on the 4 opens to spark off wider social debate.

A list from our perspective on good outcomes:

Put out the (existing) visionOntv video embeds, sign up some more moderators – they are a semi working example of the world we want to create.

Look at the newsflash, linking embed and funding site projects.

Find non-loon geeks to help build out the OMN tools, make links to other projects view the tools and micro formats

nourish a non sectarian single sign in for activism and beyond (look at https://www.grc.com/sqrl/sqrl.htm)

A geek view of this world

Am going to link to some existing “complex” projects that overlap to THE OMN KISS” project, examples:

https://tent.io/docs is the same project, just too far forward to be adopted, that is its not based on the past so would need to much of a jump to adopt, this is why we use RSS as that steping stone.

http://scripting.com is working from a “single user” perspective on very usable micro formats and standards-based projects. The technology being ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Node.js and RSS) used has good peer to peer strengths.

https://indiewebcamp.com same project but again from the “libertarian” camp, making it of limited use for outreach beyond this camp.

Just about all the parallel projects are about individuals first and groups second. For our more communitarian project we need to tweek/expand these code bases to make them useful. Also there is a strong geek start-from-scratch approach which means that their projects cannot lead any change but could become part of the change as it flows. We need to be the flow, otherwise we are all standing around in puddles – the sate of alt-media today.

Stopg8 and a media spun story of suicide

Interview with the "media spun suicide" man attacked by police on the roof of the @stopg8 building.
 
Find out more https://network23.org/stopg8
 
UPDATE: New long interview:
 

StopG8 Convergence Centre - Talking to the police before the eviction happens:

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..

They own the Media .We've got the Message

This first banner  was made for Greenham Common Womens Peace camp in the 1980s to counter their vilification by main stream media. It was used during the 1984 miners strike and the Poll tax Riots too. Its now in Malta used by their Labour party in a general election. In the 1980s before the Internet got going we had to use banners,  post cards, posters  and word of mouth ...

This Second banner was going to be a replica to use  here in UK... but  of course the message needed  to be different . They had the media.We have got the Message.
And the message now uses the internet.

Banners by Thalia Campbell

ClimateCamp Media

The Ratcliffe Swoop prosecutions caused a backlash against activist media that reverberated around the Edinburgh climate camp. We were not present at the Ratcliife Swoop, and played no part in the gathering of video there. When we saw footage posted of identifiable activists doing criminal damage, we were astonished, as throughout the history of video activism this has been an absolute "no no", without the express consent of the activists pictured. We immediately took this material down from visionOntv accounts where it had been posted, and told the Ratclifffe media team why we did so. Regrettably the footage was later re-posted by the producers to accounts outside of our control.  Having said that, as of writing, we have been unable to find out any details of the prosecutions and exactly which footage was used.

But as a response I (perhaps naively) thought it might be helpful to try to do consensus/affinity group process with activist film at the Edinburgh climate camp. To kick this off, we showed a sneak preview of END:CIV on the Saturday to a crowd of around 50-70 people which sparked off a good and respectful debate about aesthetic of activist film and the old spiky/fluffy debate about effective action. People came away challenged and thoughtful.

The next day after the action on the RBS HQ we showed the rough edit of it to get feedback and make sure it was OK to put out. It was enthusiastically received but there was also a very forceful verbal attack of “you must do this” “do it now, or you are endangering activists” and a refusal to answer simple questions about “why” in exchanges with one person. Finally, after some bad feeling, I found out that she had seen an “object for causing criminal damage” being held by one person in the film. OK, that is a genuine issue, so I agreed to look at it again. I asked her to show me where it was in the film but instead she rushed off to tell everyone that climatecamptv had refused to remove the “weapon” and that we were putting out films that were endangering activists. This led later to many different groups and individuals coming along to have their say over the next day about how the film should made.

See later where this led.

I had watched the film 3 times during editing for legals, and had shown it to to a number of other trusted people. After we had packed up the screening we looked at the “object” on the video and found it to be a plastic horn not an “object to cause criminal damage” at all. Humm... a storm in a teacup you would think, but read on.

Let's briefly go through it - the film of the action had a few legal issues.

* The pushing on the bridge (possibly assault) leading to the earlier dressing-up sections (unmasked) being possibly incriminating of this possible assault.

* We had no video of the breaking of windows (criminal damage) thus this was less of an issue in the film. Nor did we have film of any identifiable possible perpetrators.

* There was one additional shot which could potentially have been "creatively" used by police to prosecute an activist.

* The bridge-pushing was problematic as all the activists were unmasked, with all the FIT team on the roof and 3-4 corporate media TV/photo actively filming. Many photos/images would be available so on the one hand it was clearly done in the open, and therefore accountable. On the other, if they were charged, our video would likely be used in the prosecution, both for and against the activists. It's an issue we face many times and it unless we know otherwise we have to have to err on the side of caution. Without the opportunity to ask them whether they were accountable thus OK to show it or not, we decided to blur this section – rendering the need to blur the early stuff irrelevant as we now had no incriminating video of this “crowd” action.

The other potentially incriminating shot was removed, at the request of the individual filmed.

After running it past the affinity group made up of CCTV/visionontv crew and some trusted legal support we left it to a volunteer to polish the final edit for showing that evening before putting out to the web. In my experience you can never run a film past an audience too many times before it's finished from both a legal and an aesthetic point of view.

The day of action was very busy, and we were all running around filming. While we were out and about a number of people came in to look at the earlier action video being edited and asked the editor to make changes – he responede to their requests and made a lot of changes to hide and obscure many details throughout the film.

When we saw the film in the evening just before the screening we were shocked. Editing a film by committee is always a disaster and the film was now an incoherent and sinister mess making climatecamp look like a bunch of criminals. We now had a film we couldn't put out. This wasn't our volunteer editor's fault, it was a problem with the process we had begun but were not around to control. To top this, at the end of the day the editor had found the people who were at the front of the bridge-push and they had made it clear that they were unhappy being blurred out as it was the best thing they had done in ages. They were willing to be accountable for their actions, so we didn't need to thus put any obscuring in the finished film.

We now had to re-do the film from an earlier version. It was dark and we were late for the nightly screening, we had one computer to gather all the films up and convert then to the right format and re-edit this film – we decided it wasn't possible to screen the action film and concentrated on showing the other 9 finished but less exciting films we had ready. We started the screening with non-action films to cries of "we want to see the action". So an old version of the action film was rush-encoded and was ready half-way through the screening. Unfortunately this contained the ptoentially incriminating shot we had earlier taken out, and was screened to about 40 climatecampers. NOT good. Another person had a very solid go at us...

What did we learn from this?

Should protesters never trust any video/photo on an action OR should they trust video activists as THEY know what they are doing?

For me, not trusting experienced video activists leads to the very real danger that through bureaucratisation it pushes the working affinity group structure underground and renders it ineffective – the option of bureaucratic/consensus process isn't an option with film which is at its best a skilled creative story-based process.

But now we have to deal with the rumour mill which quickly churned around the "weapon" / plastic horn issue. Rumour has more power than truth when there isn't a functioning media. I heard the misinformation that we had put out footage of window-smashing weapons three times while leaving the camp to get home. And that's why I wrote this post as this rumour could distort the very real pro/anti-media debate in activism which needs to happen in a constructive way.

On the subject of social media and underground/wannabe mainstream film-makers/photographers, there are very real dangers that is the subject of another post.

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