Stupid individualism and Re creating the Soviet Union

Published Date 1/2/12 5:52 PM

This is from 07/03/2005

You can go on this journey and find these things out thus creating a possibility or you can push them under the surfaces, smother or bash them every time they spring or seep out of our subcultures.

The lack of any group memory

In activist cercals it is thought a good thing to constantly re-invent the wheel… it’s a symbol of belonging to not rock the bout.

* Tribalism – it’s symbols and seint markings – cercals and there disappearing spirals

* Ridged thought – political correctness and it hidden fidgety – re-creating the Soviet Union

* Stupid individualism

What do all these things mean?

Stupid individualism – is all bound up in the smallness of the ego that capitalism makes in us all. Me, me, me is a strong priority even in our most enlightened people.

Re-creating the Soviet Union – is an excellent way of describing the rigidity of much “thought” and clocking of real process. Just as the Soviet Union had a modeal constitution on paper, but acted in a very different way, activist are continually re-righting and re-righting paper utopias and then, actively working under completely different ways – this has been a continues problem for outreach of most projects I have been involved in. The paper ways fall over as they are never enacted by the majority of people. And the hidden ways though often surprising affective at getting things done are very disempowering beyond the small cleack at the center. If we keep re-creating the “soviet union”, unconsciously certainly, nothing can be achieved by this… they had the secret polices and a highly authoritarian polices state to make there paper constitution in to a big illusion and there hidden workings into an affective administration… we just have a paper illusion that confuses and a hidden minority who burn out and move on.

Tribalism – gives the sence of blenonging which for the majorty is the atractive part of the actavist project. The outcome is relativly uniportent to the majoraty of the peopule involved in any campine, they simpaly move onto the next issue as the poassion/creativerty of the last issue burns out. This churning ends with most individuals returning to the treditional tribes of consumerism and carrerisam.

An idea for internet TV from 2001

The green, world approach and local approach.



How this will work with broadband Internet TV




In the mainstream the mantra of who, what, where is not new, though with interactive consumption it is taking on a new importance. Profiling is big on the NET, everyone is after personal information to “personalise” the alienation of blind consumption. Looking into this can of rotting worms can we find anything worth composting to enrich our garden?


Proposal for a self-directed TV channel.


A global TV channel, starting small with the current technology and skills, in stages moving into an open universal global media outlet. The experience for individuals is that each has a channel of there owen, and you can sample others’ channels by amalgamating them with your own – you meet someone, and like their outlook… merge their profile into yours. You like a pop band, merge their channel to yours. This will create overlapping virtual community channels.

In its interactive shape the channel can be made up of tasters, with a list of viewing options, or can be set to play a more traditional no-interactive schedule. Instead of reaching for the TV guide, just look at the options available on your own channel – or any other global mainstream or counterculture channel.


You choose what to whach as any interaction will bring up a new list of content – much like a real-time review engine. The system then “creates” a channel for you [these will be made up of basic templates*]


* The templates will be baced on traditional TV scheduling the differences will lie in the content. An example would be the BBC 1 schedule. News and life styeal for breakfast, daytime soups, B films, early evening???? Local and global, News then mainstream drama and documentaries, music and such. The programs would be a mixture of live streams (news and sport), new productions and seareals mixed with archives. All profiled the majority to your inclananation, with links and a minority of conflicting views. This will be mixed in with a “random” selection of the “best” that others profiles are watching and some deserving editorial “gems”.


Your profile will be adjusted in real-time by your choices of program subjects, by your choices of what is in your profile and, finally, you can go into and directly edit your profile.


The content will be freely added by anyone, from more conventional channels or archives to new community or low-budget specials. Content can consist of local issues on council flower beds to the latest Hollywood blockbusters.


The individual or corporation who adds content, fills in a basic profile for the program. When submitted, this is first sent to “reviewers”, that is people who have expressed an interest in reviewing content. They then each add to the program’s profile and when there has been a large enough consensus the program is dynamically added to the schedule, with the new consensus profile. The reviewing process is open to all. The System is open to content from all over the world.


All the profiling data is dynamic. If you give a program a good rating its whole profile will be merged with your current profile. Trashing a program will reverse this – it will subtract the profile. This process will be elastic in its effect – it will have a moderate immediate effect and a smaller long term effect. Thus if you are a sports addict and for what ever reason you trash three sports programs and chose a comedy program instead, for the rest of that day you will get comedy and “teasers” of other subjects, the next day you will get half comedy and half sport… on the third day you will get the majority of what you watched on the second, and some of any “teasers” you followed. This process works in reverse, with individual viewers’ profiles affecting the profile of the programs themselves.


The profiling system will work as a tree, with top levels and side levels branching off. The top levels will be decided by the user’s profile, and then dynamically adjusted.


Some profile categories could be:


Fixed: nationality (country/region); language (spoken/subtitles); type (film/documentary/news/sport/commercial, review; subject (searchable key words) etc.


Variable: quality (good – bad), accessibility (easy – difficult), violence (child – adult), erotic (conservative – liberal), ideology (progressive – reactionary) etc.


This approach would be modified for live streams and real-time news features which would work on a system of trust – that is on an registered profile of the organisation – which again will be adjusted by views real-time choices. Self profiling by active intention and passive consumption.


There are also interesting statistical ways of collecting and processing such information, which could be included.



User interface


The basic interface idea is simple, a single button that gives you the option of trashing content you are not interested in. Interface options vary in their level of interactivity, encouraging interactive uses rather than leaving the channel on autopilot.


1. Dumb – by trashing programs the user doesn’t like and rating those they do.

2. Basic interaction – by choosing from the cued up list of possible programming that is provided with any user interaction.

3. “What mood am I in?” Expressed by the web – sliders – the users can express an interest in certain areas by elastically/temporarily changing the sliders on their profile. (dynamically created by their profile, with one or two challenging additions)

4. Traditional key word searching (with or without the aid of their profile).

5. Directly changing their profile (this complies with data laws).




1. You can make your own, or organisations’ profile public so that other people can watch it and you can watch other’s… Undercurrents, football stars, NGO’s, Channel 4 etc.

2. You can “merge” others profiles in to yours, such as an organisation, famous author’s or popstars. Which will provide an easy way of getting an interesting personal channel, and seeing the world from different points of view.

3. You can bookmark TV series and news services, so that they always appear when a new content comes out.

4. Key words can form part of your profile, such as a city, person or brand.


It is important to realise that any large “outside” change will soon be personalised by your own interactive choices reshaping your profile to represent (and challenge) your point of view. A Universal TV Channel is not about dumming down people, it is about taking away the dull bureaucratic routines needed to choose “quality” and “truth” in our heavily commercialised and consumptive world.



Is flexible and from a number of conflicting sources. It is interesting to note that the content providers and viewers can choose which revenue funds their viewing in real-time, and this will also control our revenue flow. In this the project is one of a viewer/producer workers co-operative.


Funding roots


E-commerce’s commissions

State money (grants/regional funding)


Donations (PBS)

Pay per view


Advertising is very problematic, but the money has to come from somewhere… we could accept advertising and feed this to people’s profiles – for the mainstream this is the goldmine of revenue, and just like goldmines it has the problem of wide spread pollution. The adverts would directly pay to the content providers (video makers) a commission on each viewer with a cut for us as the provider. This is the dream of mad consumptives, though we live in such a world.


Links to commercial sites – both mainstream and counterculture – the balance is decided by people’s own profiles. We take the standard Internet commission for referrals and any purchases that these create. It is important to note that adverts are profiled just like programs.


Public service? Government money? If this was possible, we could then pass this onto content providers and take a more respectable running cost commission. A good source of funding.


Donations, the old PBS projects. May work for special interest groups, again we have the opening of taking a small commission in the middle.


It is important that a proportion from each revenue stream is cross subsidised to all viewed work. Thus the mainstream movies advertising would pay for the counterculture response. Creating the liberal (and free market) ideal of “perfect knowledge”.


History of The European Newsreal

Published Date 1/2/12 5:32 PM

Hamish’s history of The European Newsreal

The has been much talk about doing a European wide video newsreal for the last 10 years or so. Undercurrents, which grew out of the UK anti-roads movement was in its latter additions an attempt at covering geographic wider story’s. However it wasn’t till the digital camcorder revolution and the communication revolution of the internet made video documentary work at a grass roots level sustainable.

I was working with undercurrent in Oxford covering demo’s and teaching the actional video activist course at Ruskin collage. The European Newsreal came out of 6 months of funding I wangled, which left me free to …. I had been thinking of doing a European video production/screening network for some time, had raised the issue at a number of European manifestations and alt-gatherings. Had meet many good and committed video makers, B- of CannalB (Berlin) in Genoa had impressed me with her work ethic, Marion from Munich had translated the 9.11 film I had brought back from NY IMC. I visited croater were I meet Iva and Oliver who were making original videos and organising screenings. With such good committed and driven people something should be possible if they could all be connected together and a common spark ignited.

At the time I was supplying short edited news stories for World in Crises a weekly 30 minute report for Freespeach TV in the states. While chatting to Eric by e-mail one day the subject of a European news program came up, FSTV had been running the Indymedia Newsreal for the 6 months at this point. Eric had some development funding which had to be spent before the summer so the European wide news project was pushed into fast gear with the help of Anna Bragga (who was planning a new alt-media magazine) and Paulo we organised the Islip gathering by inviting all the nice people I had meet that summer to Oxford.

The idea was to produces a “Europeanised” version of the American project. Keep it very simple with the minimal of rouls and constraints, build it up slow from the core (and committed) group bring in new people as the project grows. The project was to be firstly very simple with no aimless politicking (the pain of progressive IMC type projects) to consist of a page of structure and a paragraph mission statement. The dynamics of the group and regular face to face meetings would keep the project on the productive path. With this in mind it was decided to make the project affiliated of the IMC rather than a direct IMC project, making its out look much more open to non activist ghetto ideas and techniques. For me it was very important that these simple processes need to be agreed from the very beginning then changed by experiences of producing the half hour video. Being very aware of the problem of all talk and no action from the endless activist dream world of East Oxford.

One of the core ideas for me was that we would use blagabel video CD’s for screening and distribution rather than VHS as this would allow a non-centralised and most importantly robust distribution network. VHS being analogue doesn’t work at all well as a non hieratical distribution medium. Its is difficult and time consuming to copy VHS on a small scale. With latter practical but (blind) desion to use VHS we were committed to uncontrolled DV masters being distributed, unrestrained exploitation of others work being a re-accruing problem and is one of the main sources of paranoia in the activist ghetto that I felt we need to avoid this (or at least mediate it) from the beginning. But with most of the innovations I had in mind they only surfaced latter as people directly experienced the issues. This agen is a damming theme from the ghetto that experiences and innovation is seen as a threaght rahater than encouraged. In the ghetto the is little respect for the hieraceys of knowledge involved in knowledge and craft production, this childish attitude is both a blessing when it challenges the existing power structures and a damnation when it undermines real solid alternatives.

We set up the Islip list as a means of achieving this early consensus so that the gathering itself could be the place were we got to know each other and actually share the practical skills of producing a pilot issue of the project. Very few alt-projects are sustainable, the ones that are sustainable tend to be focused on small and closed cleacks, almost all of the IMC networks embody this. In such projects it is generally a small tightly nit core who do most of the work, surrounded by a shifting periphery.

Islip was a faler at creating such a functional core… it instead instutuanlised a fundamentalist and paranoid muddle which the project is now struggling with. The project dose exist but it suffers from a lack of clarity, dignity and warmth that very much questions its long term sustainability. Perhaps after the meeting in May this might be opened up as the paranoia and megalomania of activism may have died down anufe for a solid, practical and interesting project to grow from the current weed racked ground.

Myself am getting on with a more defined project from the start – European wide video activism traing caravan. Funded and role defined from the beginning.

Hamish Campbell, Oxford 2003

ENR the foundation report

Published Date 1/2/12 5:07 PM

Report on Islip Gathering

June 14th to 17th 2002




The gathering in Islip attracted an impressive attendance of representatives from a variety of alternative media organisations and independent video activists. Some had travelled from as far afield as Croatia and Germany. Eric Galatas, from the US-based FreespeechTV network, the event’s sponsor, had travelled from Colorado.


The days were organised around a series of meetings and workshops, the agendas of which were decided and agreed by the attendees themselves.



The first item was to establish the goal of the project. Everyone present contributed their thoughts and the outcome was a distillation summed up thus:


Create a video structure (network)


  • Enable production and screenings of a regular monthly Newsreal: CDs, video tapes, cable, satellite

  • Online co-operative network resource

  • Decentralised

  • Cafes or local nodes

  • Resource sharing

  • Global distribution

  • Use multiple formats and approaches

  • Establish European satellite and cable channel, screening programs 24/7



  • Connects and empowers local and global (virtual) communities and groups

  • Distributes existing programs

  • Facilitates the creation of new groups and programs

  • Enables information (skills, clips, events) exchange


Connected to existing movements, shall bring about positive social change.



The group then split up into sub-groups to discuss strategies and problem-solving for three crucial areas:


  • Production of a monthly Newsreal (a complilation of segments from around European)

  • Distribution systems and publicity

  • Organising and fundraising



1. Production of monthly Newsreal

The workshop proposed the production of a monthly Newsreal defined as a compilation of segments of 5 minutes or less each totalling a maximum of half an hour (). Segments should be gathered and edited by a different group in different European countries each month so that workload and ownership of the project is shared. Countries outside the UK to provide English translated versions and all raw versions to go to non-UK countries for translation.


It was proposed that the Newsreal be made available in two formats: moultymedia(VCD) and VHS to accommodate different needs and facilitate wider distribution.


2. Distribution systems and publicity

The workshop proposed a three-stage plan to test and build an effective distribution system.


Stage 1: Test pilot the Newsreal using existing 5 minit segment to creat a news reel to be distributed to the current group. And locally screened. Usfull for fundraseing and explaning what the project is about.

Stage 2: Start posting out info on IMC video lists, Make a second “proper” news reel to be screened to sympathetic local groups. Assess feedback. Build a database of contacts of sympathetic groups and other interested parties who may be new to the concept of alternative media and conduct a second round of pilot screenings. Assess feedback and make any recommended changes to Newsreal. Assess and deal with any issues arising from production system. Make the project part of the IMC network – ie. Get it on the video IMC page.

Stage 3: the big lornch has to come after lydon as the main contacts will come from lydon…International launch of Newsreal. Proposed to coincide with the PGA (People’s Global Action) conference in Leiden, Netherlands and the World Summit??? at the end of August screenings to take place in Leiden, other key European cities and possibly the US. Big publicity drive incorporating stunts and liaison with sympathetic journalists, aiming for national (as well as local) coverage in the mainstream media of all participating countries. Produce flyers and posters to advertise screenings locally. Post up info on Indymedia website.


3. Organisation and fundraising

The workshop proposed that participating organisations co-ordinate the production of Newsreal with independents sending their segments to the relevant group for that month. Each group should work on it for two or 3 months so they can get up to speed. Undercurrents can do the produces the first two pilots then I would sergest Cannal B produces the lornch issues and possebaly then the corations… its important that groups doing the production have a history of producing and segments (would argue that they should have produced 2 or 3 Newsreel segments before they take on responsabilerty for producing the news reel.


It was recognised that a large amount of translations would be required and that money should be sought for this.


Money to be raised by:

  • applying for grants (not-for-profit status of the project to be established beforehand)

  • profits from sale of Newsreal at screenings, through universities (People and Planet to distribute), festivals and other outlets

  • income from sale of Newsreal to FreespeechTV for monthly screenings and sales to mainstream media in European countries

  • we need to think about – sponsorship from ethical companies



Who are we and what is our purpose?

Participants agreed that we need to be able to define who we are and what our purpose is for those who may wish to get involved and for fundraising purposes. A number of definitions were proposed and this is still an area to be agreed on.


What happens next

  • Pilot Newsreal to be produced ASAP and copies sent to all participants to arrange small scale local screenings

  • Separate working group e-groups to be set up to facilitate ongoing discussions and organization – this is tempery – we need a new working websight.

  • Definition of project and purpose to be discussed online (Islip list) and agreed on

  • Grant-making bodies to be approached for ’emergency’ funds ie small amounts, to cover production and administrative costs of pilot screenings

The European News real project and being relevant

Published Date 1/2/12 4:55 PM

This is a DRAFT of a text i wronte 09/08/2002

The ENR was a global alt-media production/networking project in the USA it whent out on TV. I was reponsable for bring this project to europe after it had been runing in the USA.

This is my (failed) attempt to stop the project becomeing irelevent.

Every time this project takes a step I cringe, a shudder of shock go’s threw me. If we don’t ask the people who have done this before – and the are a number – then we are DOOMED to make the same mistakes and I for one don’t have much hart or spirit to go threw this sad alt-movement ritual.

So here is another go at wrighting up what I think the project is:

* It’s an indymedia style project- that is it is fundamentally decentralised and non-hieratical based on open publishing and non-re-editing of other peoples work.

* it’s a grass-roots project, that is it is about encouraging, faciliting and training people who wouldn’t normally use video as a tool for social change. In this giving them there own voice.

* it’s a project that is designed to link and strengthen existing video production groups and help to create new groups both within the indymedia network and outside it.

* it’s a project that at its bases is about creating a public focus for activist groups to facilitate and strengthen local campaigns and link these local campaigns together.

*** it’s a TWIN TRACK PROJECT, the euronewsreal it self is a tool for internal communication with in the movement. In this the existing video activist groups are mentors of the newsreal rather than creators – of course we will all produces segments but that isn’t our first priority.

*** the second track is OUTREACH – this is were the editing comes in, and our current higher production values are used to the best affect. The Newsreal is the opening segmemet of the screenings, ie. The first half. The main-feature is where the power of video as a tool for social change comes in, and it is this main-feature that we as existing video groups should concentrate on producing. Our job is to produces the main-feature such as globalisation and the media from Undercurrents, CannalB’s Genoa film, TroshenTV’s Europe film etc. This is the outreach social change part of the project.

* That is the newsreal itself is a tool for networking and training for the movement, its about strengthening connections and bring new people in, and hopefully (funding permitting) training them how to hold a camera steady (:

So fundamentally for us existing groups its more of a mentoring job. A good opportunity for thoues who need funding to apply for some to run training and networking meetings.

We will produces segments, but that isn’t the end all, of our job. The half hour newsreal is actually about creating a distribution network.

We will kill the grass roots nature of the project if we add a higheracky of editorial, not only will editing store up trubbal it will also take a much higher level of commitment – which I for one don’t have.

So at its base it’s a very simple “open publishing” system with no perment central higheracy. Its about expanding the alt-video moment at the grassroots and consolidating it at the level of existing production groups. It’s a low-level project to get us all co-operating. An internal networking project not an external social change outreach project.

Its power for changing the world is focused on the co-operation it creates rather than the half hour of monthly video. In this the video will have a much powerfuller affect than any highly produced project that founders on disagreements and the enevertabil burn out lack of support brings.


Some Old Photos

Published Date 12/18/11 8:20 PM

Have been looking through an old hardive with the though of updating the Greenham film and came across lots of old photos from the activist world through the 1990’s – they would make a good bases for a series of articles. To set the seance here are is the camera man.

In the undercurrents office, Oxford in 2003

Oxford carnival 2003

Oxford, Europn Newsreal gathering 2003

Escanda 2003

My Room in Oxford

Edinbough 1999

Edinbough 1999

Brussals in 1999 I think

The role of blocking in horizontal projects

Published Date 12/16/11 6:00 PM

Mannequins dancing to barely visible strings (DRAFT)

This is an attempt to understand how blocking is used to stop/slow positive social change. By blocking I mean many things, refusing to address core issues, pushing everyday agenda’s to hide more systematic issues, and confusingly using big issues to distracts and fog everyday needed changes.

Outcome-driven horizontal projects are hard to sustain. I understand climatecamp process ossification better now – there is a strong blocking to process change – the continuing pushing of the needed change is blocked thus the change gets harder (more vertical) until it ossifies and becomes non-functionaly strong enough to break the block (thus breaking the horizontal process it is trying to achieve). End up with a broken structure that cannot move or change.

So the issue is “blocking” which largely is a psychological fear of losing non-existent certainty – ie. the false consciousness (cf Marx) of capitalism – Thus the moniker “stupid individualism”. The root out of this is to work a way round this “stupid individualism”.

Rainbow Gatherings manage this – by forcing scarcity, in visionontv we don’t have this option, in Rainbow you are moved into a world where all the normal options are simply are not there – thus change HAS TO HAPPEN – it’s an intentional community. “Stupid individualism” simply becomes too dysfunctional in this situation to stop change. This is at the heart of rainbow process. In our situation, on the internet, in media there is no scarcity, so “stupid individualism” reigns supreme and unstoppable. 

An issue is that many people will self-define what I am saying at this point – BUT will not engage with it – The writer is being a “stupid individual” and this would be the case if the writer was not actively engaged in a real social project.

“Trust networks” are the solution to “stupid individualism”. With this understanding I have a more sympathetic view of climatecamp process. The derided “process people” suffered from ossification as much as the wider camp. And I am arguing that this is a re-occurring issue, so the individual who were left pushing a empty agenda are less at fault than the systematic issues that they haven’t addressed. 

Its important NOT to take personal responsibility for this as the is a dead end block in using this as a solution to this problem. Maybe more useful to seeing us as mannequins dancing in a circle twitching to barely visible strings. And the circle we are in – is not the right one. We need a new circle with some different strings (some of them more visible) and to start a new dance.

The blocks: what participants feel are the tangling of strings, the process they are trying to unravel so as to make a new circle to dance in. We are all attached to strings, so get untangling. It’s the strings NOT the messenger that stops you. Help is needed trying to untangle and re-set some strings, perhaps the messenger is trying to help? try not to shoot

In this post I attempt to untangled a string (climatecamp process wasn’t as bad as i thought it was). Which string are you going to untangling? “Stupid individualism” is the trap we have to avoid, but we are getting more and more snared in it – on all sides.

The danger is that we are talking about parallel things and more tragically – thinking along parallel divergent lines – “stupid individualism” is strong and kicking and the more we kick the more entangle we become – leaving little hope of a new dance – by the way dance is a metaphor for process and strings are a metaphor for the very human senses of belonging that we need for society to hold together.

Does it end well I wonder – it never has in the past, but one can keep coming at a problem from different angles. Maybe this time it might. Thus am NOT taking any personal responsibility – just seeing us as mannequins dancing in a circle twitching to barely visible strings. And the circle we are in – is not the right one. We need a new circle with some different strings (some of them more visible) and start a new dance.