I'm writing to reflect a bit on the process we currently have for making a website appropriate for the RMC, an interactive website which genuinely builds radical media. This proposal also reflects, to be honest, my great anxiety about it. My position comes from the fact I really care that this conference produces concrete and measurable results in building radical media. My passionate position for proposing an interactive website comes from the following:
1) I have been to an awful lot of conferences where interaction between participants relies on the happenstance of meeting someone in the corridor and exchanging a business card. The first problem with this is the individualistic and random nature of it, which is surely inadequate for those of us that believe in collective ways of working. The second is that it favours existing power structures, where one person's contribution automatically counts for more than another's because of their pre-existing status. Thirdly, it doesn't achieve measurable outcomes.
2) It would be absolutely futile to set up a conference on that basis, where subscribers were unable to organize themselves before, during and after the conference, in a horizontal way. Modern media conferences do not organize themselves in that way. See this important conference in New York: http://contactcon.com/
3) That therefore the current site http://radicalmediaconference.org was to be a pro-tem site which would allow time for the development of a proper interactive site.
4) We have worked very hard to produce an exemplar of a such an interactive site, which is here:http://live.rebelliousmediaconference.org/
This website replicates the functionality and look & feel of the current wordpress site, and adds interactivity
This interactivity is grouped into three simple categories:
1. Ask a Question (Give an Answer / Join a Discussion)
This is for participants to ask questions and give answers to EACH OTHER, not to "organizers" of the conference! The text accompanying this page will make this very obvious (it doesn't yet!). This uses the standard web community called a forum.
"Is anyone willing to subtitle videos? I know French and Portuguese.
Response: I speak Arabic, and have some time to do that, yes.
Response: OK I have set up a wiki page for people to leave their details (linked), and booked a time and space for us to talk about it at the conference (linked)."
2. Get Organized
This uses wiki pages for people to introduce themselves to each other, to organize meetups at the conference, to book an open space, and to work on radical media projects.
3. Radical Media Projects
Links to all radical media projects which sign up. This info is then an automatically-updating resource, easily embeddable on radical media projects' websites.
There will be comprehensive help files for people to be able to organize this themselves.
There are a number of things that need to be sorted out before launch - see here: http://visionon.tv/web/rebelliousmediaconference/wiki/-/wiki/Main/Website These changes are important, and all of them will be achieved before a deadline of 27th August. Please read the link above, and tell us what else should be improved.
5) The timetable for the development of this site has long been established: it would be discussed at the meeting on 17th August with a view to full implementation on 1st September. We remain absolutely committed to the completion of that schedule, which we see as both necessary and practical. The demonstration of this mock-up is to allow discussion and feedback before the 17th August meeting. Subject to its acceptance, the site will be visible as fully functioning by 27th August, ready for review before going live on 1st September.
After going live, the forums will need moderating, the wikis will need a "fairy", and participants will need help and guidance. Richard, Hamish and Marc Barto are committed to this work. I propose that administrators of the site should be all members of the organising group plus visionOntv's Marc Barto, so that he can moderate and offer help, a role he already carries out for visionOntv. Other administrators should only be proposed and consensed. Content on the front page should be drafted, emailed out then posted after "a period of time" for amendments. Maybe we should have "super-admins" of the site - I would propose Mil and Gabriel - who can post immediately to the frontpage, for urgent announcements. Feedback welcome.
There is £200 left out of the original £500 of the RMC website budget. This would be spent on design / css work. Then the matching £200 funding from visionOntv pays for the server costs for 3 months, over the busiest part of the conference, when it is needed. Traffic will carry on beyond that, but not at critical levels, so this will be enough.
7) There is a debate between substitution of the current site against merely adding interactivity to it. I would like to say that, in my opinion, the development of the current site was useful, in that it looked nice, and we only had to copy its content and its functionality. There is no sense in which this work is wasted. The vital point is this: if the current site remains as the portal to information on the RMC, it will be extremely prejudicial to the essential new functionality. If we did this we would lose a massive amount of interactive functionality (comments on blog posts going elsewhere, activity streams not functioning, division of the google juice = less visibility of the conference on the web). To achieve our goal we simply must have a switch-over to the new site on September 1st. I am very interested to hear any comments, and any counter-proposals, and the reasons for them.
Richard Hering, Hamish Campbell