Control freak s DRAFT

Published Date 9/21/11 5:23 AM

(Psychology) an obsessive need to be in control of what is happening This has been an issue with many groups and individuals I have been involved with in activist organising.

It was key to the decline of the project and the ossification the climate camp process and static nature of the climate camp website My most destructive experience of this till recently was the organising of the London European Social Forum, and the central role of the SWP and Ken Livingston’s office in this. Currently I am involved in the organizing of the and I would like to highlight how this process is being damaged by Control Freakery during the on going process.

RMC (Peacenews) process and “pushing the agenda”

During the first meeting I attended a single speaker talked continuously for ¾ of the meeting, constantly expressing the lack of time and the need to move on – this is called “pushing the agenda”.

Taking charge of the minutes – and constantly not reporting the views in the record of people who do not fit into this pushed agenda.

Packing and controlling the agenda of each meeting, then pushing through this agenda, leaving no time or space for differing views.

Then when the inevitable rebellion happens blocking this procedurally in till it becomes irrelevant to the outcome of the project. Nitpicking might be a good way of describing this blocking. is used as weapon to stop productive open organising and to shut down process outside of the “pushed agenda”. 

Its hard to put your finger on what is wrong at the start of this process but as you go along it is soon made clear that it is a deep intolerance, a lack of trust and narrowness of vision that verges on stupidity.

As one of the core organisers of the RMC conference highlighted it is very hard to change this behaver, some back ground reading on the problems 

Issues that make this behaver more of a problem:

* Lack of solidarity among the organising group

* Unbalance of knowledge of the core differencet approaches in the RMC this has manifested as lack of understanding of technological change.

Am going to start blogging more about process in activist groups am involved in

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

How to build an interactive website

Published Date 9/11/11 9:00 PM



  • At the moment the site layout is quite confusing:

> How do you navigate back to the top page from the sub-pages? > You can’t always navigate between the pages: eg. from I can’t press the “organise” button (a green arrow comes up instead)

hamish: There are some minor issues with navigation which will be fixed by a process of user feedback. The major issues you highlight are actually only issues in the admin interface so are not urgent to fix – normal users (non admins) use the top menu buttons functions.

> not clear what the relationship is between:


Hamish: this is an issue with the 2 sites design, normally the organise page would be the home page – but as the home page is on a different website… The organise page is the introduction page and the getorganised page is the action page. This issue would be mediated by merging the two sites, till then we are stuck with an overly complex setup.

  • Which pages will be visible to the general public and which only to participants? At the moment anyone can look and see the names of all of the “members”.

Hamish: all pages are by default visible to everyone, BUT you have to be a member to edit a wiki page. The current exception to this will be the members page which will only be viewable by logged in members as we will not bring in the full functionality of this page till after we have signed up the members – currently the site is focused on organising

  • How do members browse / search through the other Conference participants?

Hamish: this functionality will be added, current we are focusing on usability and organizing

  • The Wiki and Members areas are quite hard to find. Ditto the page where you and propose a “self-organised” space

Hamish: there will be extensive interlinking inside the site in reaction to user action – this will bring all the widely used pages into prominent visabilerty


Some people may want to browse the entire programme (ie. the titles, speakers & descriptions) on one page, in the same way that one might flip through a printed programme. I think we should accommodate this, as well as having the individual web-pages (which will also include the lists of resources, feedback from participants etc…)

hamish: that’s a good idea, and we can implement it – but for now we are keeping the user experience as simple as possible, so will add this functionality to the site after the program has been added – its very easy to implement, but the issue is more about user interface (UI) and how it fits together, we will have a much better idea about this when we have the program in place.


This button doesn’t currently lead anywhere

hamish: it links to the old site


How will media items be listed on eg.

Hamish: in a number of ways, the most basic will be an auto updating show player with a playlist of items (this will have an embed code so can be placed on any website)

Is the plan to embed media for each session on that sessions individual page?

hamish: yes each session page will be configured with all the media items, links, resources and a user/organiser wiki page. The session pages can be active, running upto, during and after the conference.


  • The default mode for the discussion forums is that stuff is visible to everyone (including passing web-browsers). This needs to be made clear to folk + a clear explanation given about what folk need to do in order to limit the visibility of posts to other Conference participants. Who will folk contact if they want to change the settings of a post? I don’t want to have to deal with phone calls from folk about this!

Hamish: that’s a good point, we need a clear statement that the site uses an “open security modele” and link to what this means.


Not sure that “outcomes” is a good term to use, as their are lots of potential outcomes for the Conference that aren’t listed here. Maybe “take action” (though we might want to include some more “active” actions if we do this). The main text on to be redrafted and agreed so that (a) it explains where folk can easily access the info they need to follow through on the “outcome” in question; and (b) it doesn’t look as though we’re talking down to people.

hamish: outcomes is the wording used in the RMC process, This is simply a draft page the outcomes were circulated for feedback to the list, if needed we can temporarily hide this page till it is further filled in – or just have a prominent DRAFT heading which is more web02

How does relate to ?

hamish: the first is a static page (which only admins can edit) the second is an open wiki which participants can add to

We need to draft and agree texts fo the buttons on the LHS.

hamish: not sure what this means?


  • Need to have clear defintions: “self-organised”, “meet-ups” etc.. won’t be clear to a lot of people
  • Difficult to find the “meet-ups” section

hamish: prominent interlinking by user interaction will make the important pages more visible, we will adust after some user feedback to make shore the is a good balance

  • Impossible to evaluate further without knowing what the process is going to be (I think this is the “conference guidelines” bit). Clearly this is the heart of the “self-organised” spaces, and should include clear timelines etc…

Hamish: this should be available soon

  • Who is going to moderate this process?

Hamish: as has been outlined the majority of the work will fall to hamish, richard and marc, though everyone with admin access – all members of the organising group who ask can take part if they want to.

  • How will the agreed “self-organised” sessions be publicised?

hamish: they will be published on the RMC mail out and on social networks

Digital utopia digital dystopia DRAFT

Published Date 8/11/11 3:56 PM

The 20th century view of privacy is no longer valid for the 21st century world. The digital transition has ushered in a world of complete surveillance – the questions now are more about who watches who – who is empowered to watch you, not ‘should you be watched’.

Let’s briefly look at where we are at. Who are we hiding from?

Do you carry a mobile phone?

– Your service provider will have a record of your movements to within 500m or better every minute or so that your phone is on.

– All the texts and phone conversations can easily be recorded by a 3rd party.

– If you have a smart phone it will be broadcasting a unique wifi and blue-tooth signal to all receivers as you carry it around.

– If you “lose” your phone, it will give details of all calls in and out, all texts, all web pages visited by web history and cache. It will give access to all your social networks, both open and secure, by apps and via the ‘save password’ option in the web phone browser. Thus someone has access to all your friends’ social networks as well as your own, all the documents saved and, of course, your contacts book.

Do you surf the web?

– Every website you visit will have via your IP address a record of your location within a few km’s.

– They can uniquely identify you through the browser configuration collected every time you visit a site.

– If you use a social network, then your life is an open book for both the corporations and any police government agency they provide the data too. They will know you and your social circles better than you do.

Do you go out in public in a city or town?

– Your image will be recorded on CCTV meany time’s on each trip

– Do you use public buildings? All on CCTV

– They can use face recognition to identify you and track you

– Number plate recognition will track your car

– Everyone has a camera in their pockets – you are in the background of some of these millions of shots and many of them are on Facebook and Twitter.

Do you use a store card, credit or debit card?

– Every transaction creates data that tracks your movements and habits.

Do you go to political meeting or demonstrations?

– The police Fit team have many images of you from unflattering angles

– The police spy in your group has video/stills and audio from your meetings

– As does the corporate spy: any group that is worth anything will have one or more of them.

Do you use encrypted communication and secure activist websites?

– The keylogger has already captured your passwords for your encrypted/secure e-mail communication so that it is open to those you don’t want to read it.

– The nice site admin who helpfully builds all your secure activist websites is employed by MI5 or Special Branch, just like the helpful man with a van who drives you to the demonstrations.

– And if you think you can hide by obscuring your online life, the pattern matching algorithms will connect the dots – to reveal who you talk to, who they talk to and what you/they do.

For a comedy look at all this, the Onion is a good sources of news:,16891/

As you can see all the “bad people” already watch your every move. When you try to hide in the modern world you are hiding from your friends, not your enemy. There are some cases where you can have a have a “semblance of privacy” – such as a teacher hiding their Facebook updates from the children they teach. Such limited privacy is mediated by the whim of the corporate owners – and in Facebook’s and Google’s case this is constantly changing.

I think it is too early to have a solution to this privacy debate, but it is high time to bring it into the wider public view. We hope this post is a vaccine that will make you a little “ill” so you can have the antibodies to fight off the worse social disease that is growing all around you.

Sparking a twitter torrent

Published Date 7/24/11 11:29 PM

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.