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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Open Media Network

The project

The Open Media Network is a project to play a small role in revitalising the open web. It uses the tried and tested technology of RSS, taking it out of a basic personalised mash-up of feeds into an open metadata social network. Its initial focus will be around alternative media, enabling projects to grow and cross-fertilise independently of the social media corporate giants.

Rationale

The #dotcom silos are completely dominant in terms of people's identity, for publishing and for networking etc. At social events you once gave your phone number, then your email address, and now you friend on facebook.

By contrast, the open web has plateaued or is already in decline, depending on your point of view. To fix the issues of why the open web is failing we first need to look at why it succeeded:

  • KISS throughout
  • no identity checking
  • no security

The internet/web was a KISS trust-based network that took over the world we have been living in for the last 30 years, and it was no accident that identity checking and security were missing from the original internet/web.

To reboot the open web will take many overlapping streams of open projects. Here we are proposing a KISS project to that end.

Let's look at a small, once healthy stream. Alt/grassroots media used to play a large role in the world. Now all that remains is a few sprigs of green in a polluted/dry river bed. In its heyday the global #indymedia (link broken) network rivalled the BBC and CNN in its scope and coverage on the big days of action and international summits. Now all that is left are some strongly branded small projects (http://novaramedia.com), that grew from #dotcom social media and are only networked within them, and a handful of big legacy projects (http://www.democracynow.org).

The problem we face is a pre-web problem, that of silos. That is each project is a small pool in a empty/dry river and there are very few links or shared data from one to the other (link to 3 projects). The currency of the web is the "valid link"to build networks. Alt-media's growth is severely limited by this lack.

Open Media Network

The OMN is one project to fix this problem.

It is a project of the 4 opens. It is a human-based project at its core, as opposed to an algorithmic project.

Quite simply we want alt-media sites to link to each other and share content, to become a healthy network rather than isolated drying-out silos. 

The outcomes needed for it to work are easy to achieve, and they have a large possibility to grow/empower projects as a network.

The project uses RSS as a data object exchange format, using a tagging folksonomy as a way of shifting the data flow between federated sites. It uses both native code plug-ins and javascript to “embed” links to this tagged data flow in open web sites and blogs (working example visionontv side bar on http://newint.org)

RSS aggregating news portals are not new, which is a major part of their strength for the realizing of the Open Medium Network. Taking this tried and tested tech into an open metadata social network is new. Another thing which will be new to some of the media side of the project is the 4 opens.

Each participant in the OMN will embed at least one news river in their sidebar. 

The plan is to build synching aggregating portals / hubs (based on existing CMSs) that feed those sidebar rivers.

Human networking based on trust is key.

Aggregators choose to link RSS feeds into their hubs.
Users choose the tags for the link streams from the hubs into their side bars. 
To facilitate trust, basic security is built in.

  • flows can be on auto or moderation
  • there would be a feed-based roll-back for when spam gets through the trust network.

User embeds, either native or JS, are boolean tag based and have metadata editing rights based on trust (hosting hub gives them this), with 3 levels: auto/moderation/rollback.

NOTES for Developers:

This project uses technology to build a human network. There's a sense in which the simplicity is as important as the code. The project can grow to work in many different ways but the base has to be KISS. 

NOTES for journalists and media makers:

You retain complete control of what appears on your site. As the trust network builds, it will become higher quality and faster to administer.

Outcomes

From simple springs big rivers grow to feed the sea.

In my 30-year experience, I have seen too many alt-media projects grow, flower and fade away, without aggregating or archiving themselves into a state of permanence.

This project can play a crucial role in solving this, as hubs will not only be able to moderate the flows of news, they could achieve it, with no extra work, in a massively redundant distributed way. 

The same basic project and tech will work fine for the blog-rolls of sites, creating more “static” dynamic linked side bars. This will reboot the idea of “webrings”. 

It can also form the basis of identity. People are just a tagged data object that can be sorted into “flows”. This opens up social networking to creative thinking. 

Sites link to each other both though trust, the human side, and through links, the machine side. Both are a good opportunity for the open web to compete with the closed silos.

The networks of hub sites become portals in their own right, driving traffic to the root news orgs/blogs that feed them.

 

300 words

The Open Media Network is a KISS hybrid client server/peer2peer project to play a small role in revitalising the open web. It uses the tried and tested technology of RSS. Its initial focus will be around alternative media, enabling projects to grow and cross-fertilise alongside the social media corporate giants.

For the full background to the project see this http://hamishcampbell.com/en/home/-/blogs/open-media-netwo-1?

  • Stage one (6-12 months) basic linking and embedding programming, basic beta roll-out – the outlandish funding.

  • Stage two (6-12 months) is synchronising and meta-data editing, then expanding roll-out.

When we have basic working code, set up a number of exemplar hubs to beta test the project in the real world and push out embeds to existing real world alt-media sites.

This project is largely social technology. The tech part is configuration and repurposing existing CMS's and their plug-in architectures.

Pre-programming - there is a need to look at the existing code/plug-in base and spec out a number of roots to working aggregating CMS to seed development.

List the parts that need scripting/programming/configuring.

Work out the basic meta-data format (RSS/atom) 

These no exclusivly act as “seeds” for the aggregating hubs. They already have some of the basic functionality needed. Take this list to open source programming projects such as LINK etc.

As an open project built peer2peer, the core is to get a lot of people at different levels of expertise working on each bit and run them all in parallel. There is no right answer and no signal point of use/failure.

 visionOntv project can offer to match the funding coming from outlandish.

I take this comment from a famous programmer as a complement "feels dated in the language and tech" that’s the point ;)

--------------------------

Briefly describe what support in addition to funding you would require to make your project a reality. This could include people with other skills, or office or event space.

The funding is nice to keep focus, but the core help is the links and knowledge network that outlandish provides. The content and media side we can handel. The running of aggregation we have been doing for over 20 years, over many generations of failing alt-tech. At the moment we only have youtube play lists and embeds, this is a crap situation, not to say embarrassing state of alt-media.

We face a digital cliff, the open internet may be over



Here are two views on this subject:

We have Phil Windley who thinks the open internet was a historical fluke http://www.windley.com/archives/2016/02/decentralization_is_hard_maybe_too_hard.shtml here he is talking about the very real view that the internet is finished, that the commons have been enclosed by the dotcon silos and what remains outside are terminally withered and dieing.

Then Dave Winer http://scripting.com/liveblog/users/davewiner/2016/01/26/0936.html who argues that the open web comes in waves and what Phil Windley is arguing is but the drawing back of the water before the next wave of open washes in.

My point of view is that both are right, the open internet was a historical “mistake” and with Winer that the are a few waves left, the storm is not over yet. The is a logic to the digitisation of everything and the web was a living example of this let loss, it was a tsunamis that crashed over every part of our cultures and the storm is not over yet.

The commons opened up by the early web are enclosed by dotcons, but their sea defences are low and weak and the digitisation storm still rages.

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 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.

My Media

I live in a functioning contemporary P2P media world. For a few weeks I have tried going back to the traditional media. Its an eye opener to (re)realise how narrow and right wing the progressive traditional media is. I live in a world of RSS aggregation for my “newspaper”, podcasts for my “radio” and torrents for my “TV” and “Cinema”. With a unhealthy dose of #failbook for organising the social world.



Its winter time so am spending more time in cafés working and charging laptops, in this space am picking up traditional paper news. On the boat I had some internet downtime so plugged back into radio 4 and every so often look for interesting Tv on iplayer etc. What I find when going to traditional media is a narrowing of my world view, its a dumbed down world on paper/radio and TV. Its actually worst than this as its a strongly propagandist in it choice of voices. I find that the “liberal” traditional media is a slow steady drip feed of poison that dulls the wide possibility’s of social and environmental change that is transparently needed and possible.

I advocate wholesale that people leave this world view for their mental health and the health of the wider human/natural world, the liberal traditional media is making you ill (at ease).



But I hear cries “were is this mythical alternative” and in a limited sense you would be right to ask this. BUT it would be a circular discussion, the alternative has existed for the last 20 years – the issue is chicken and egg you have to use it for it to exist.

Most of the real existing alternative is based on a “stupidly simple” technology created by the practical tech visionary Dave Winer. The format is RSS its the based of my news reading (feedly) and my radio (beyondpod) I have been working (and failing) to make it the bases of my TV and cinema for the last 10 years (visionOntv).

You too can shift to/build your own contemporary per2per media world and reclaim your mental health and power to shape your life and the community/world you live in. The traditional media is a slow steady poison, its well past the time to brake free, its not as hard as you think.

Turning off the comments?

This is a video response to Dave Winer's post on Scripting News about why he has turned off commenting on his blog.

Winer was using the comment platform Disqus and discussed with the developers to have some options implemented. He got frustrated at the end when he realised he could never get from them the right functionalities and turned off the comments.
 
At visionOntv we have ideas about how to deal with comments and we'll give practical proposals very soon in the videos to come.
 
Meanwhile we'd like to hear from you on this subject. Is it still a blog if no comments are allowed? Where is the conversation and debate then supposed to happen? What solutions have you tried on your blogs? Are you using an external comment platform or any form of moderation? And do you have a specific strategy for Youtube comments to bypass the daily abuse, auto-promotion and trolling? 

Sparking a twitter torrent

A normal morning in Dalston, London. The visionOntv crew are slaving away over their laptops, as usual, on a Sunday morning, when I notice a very angry tweet from Jeff Jarvis, a professor of journalism in New York. Clicking on the hashtag I discover a torrent of impassioned truth-telling, of rude and direct passionate truth-telling, because the tag, which is "#FuckYouWshington", is the portal to a deluge of public fury.

"My dream is a virtual chant rising up in volume hour upon hour; FUCK YOU WASHINGTON!" Jarvis said originally, in a twitter post, before one of his followers (@boogerpussy) suggested turning it into a hashtag "#fuckyouwashington" (without the spaces and capitals). And, almost immediately, it turned into a catch-all hashtag, which people started using to share their thoughts about the media, the wars and other social issues.
 

"#fuckyouwashington making it easier for a kid to go to war than it is to go to college, making it easier for a kid to die than get a job" (@labgrrl)


"#fuckyouwashington for turning politics into sport, more important for your for your team to win than for the country to do what is right" (@alienrasta)


"#fuckyouwashington for telling us you don't torture and continuing to do it". (@LiberalPagan)


Sitting in Dalston we have a brief discussion about the equivalent hashtag for the UK. Deciding, we tweet:


"#fuckyouwestminster we need to take the social media conversation to the streets, UK joins #fuckyouwashington".


The results are instant.


"#fuckyouwestminster for scapegoating benefit cheats while claiming for moats and porn" (@realsociology)


"#fuckyouwestminster for selling off out public services for peanuts so your mates can make big profits at our expense" (@casi_insurgente)


"#fuckyouwestminster for cutting the taxes of corporations while rising VAT hitting the incomes of working families the hardest" (@jjarichardson)


"#fuckyouwestminster for unleashing uniformed thugs on defenceless students" (@ravensrod)


Though it wasn’t so much Jeff Jarvis' tweet, it was more Dave Winer's ☮  tweeted reply that set me in motion.


“Political action on twitter is meaningless. Shut off the computer, @jeffjarvis, get on amtrak, and camp out on the mall in dc. (@davewiner )

Get off the computer and onto the streets.

Is it to late to save the open web?

(UPDATED)

This is still well worth a read, it’s too late to save the common web from Scoble and an answer from Dave Winer

This is something I have been facing for the last few years, and its why i have been working on the visionOntv open web project. Phwww.... but as you may have realised this has been an uphill battle which has become bogged down in the trenches and the mud.

If you care about the open web, pass some amunition... and a flask of hot choclet and rum.

Escaping the Hamster Cage - re-thinking Geek culture

Fascinating discussion about alternatives to the corporate net. Talk radical media at http://live.rebelliousmediaconference.org http://visionon.tv/plugandplay

Part 2 of this discussion on alternatives to the corporate net.

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