Where is alt-media and what are the issues in geek culture that stop it from having much effect.
There is no active working alt-tech and the open web that would be shaped by this open alt-tech is withering under the #dotcon push to enclose.
* 98.9% of alt-tech projects are obviously pointless.
* 1% are potentially useful but are killed by NGO/foundation funding agendas.
* .01% are useful but suffer/starve from a lack of geek focus abd funding.
There are some content projects in alt-media, but they have no working alt-tech to build out. All alt media relies on the #dotcons (Facebook, twitter etc) as distribution. Their websites are generally little more than branded portals, much like yahoo 10-15 years ago. The is minimal inter-operating between the different projects and almost no linking.
For the content producers a positive “alt-media” outcome is to play a role in old (legacey) media or move into the short lived dotcon news orgs. This is a complete failure in open web terms. In this we are fucked, and there is currently no path out within the existing projects.
Outside the existing projects, the solution to this is simple: the tech needs rebooting at a basic level. This is not a complex thing, being mostly social technology using existing open standards.
Booting up the Open Media Network (OMN)
The open web is being locked out of the closed web – with share this options replacing web-links and Facebook replacing most peoples blogs. If this continues the “open web” will wither and become dysfunctional and the closed web will grow to become the web for the majority of people. With this change the largest most successful experiment in social change by communication will die.
This is the movement we are supposed to have the LifeRay platform and linking project ready to surf http://edition.cnn.com/2013/02/25/opinion/rushkoff-why-im-quitting-facebook/index.html to quote from the article:
"The promotional leverage that Facebook affords me is not worth the price. Besides, how can I ask you to like me, when I myself must refuse to like you or anything else? I have always appreciated that agreeing to become publicly linked to me and my work online involves trust. It is a trust I value, but -- as it is dependent on the good graces of Facebook -- it is a trust I can live up to only by unfriending this particularly anti-social social network. Maybe in doing so I'll help people remember that Facebook is not the Internet. It's just one website, and it comes with a price."
As part of building the OMN we have 4parts that already exist:
* newsflash (embeds)
* link database (embeds}
* video player (embeds)
* funding site (networking)
And we have the new functionality in LR6.1 and social office to build new tools with. OK - is the a possibility on moving on this?
- The funding site has some images, needs the text re-wrighting http://fund.openworlds.info/
- The video embed pages are all in place on the channal pages such as http://headmix.visionon.tv/embed
You can't always get what you want
FAQ - why use open websites
We need to get activist to actually use alternative net infrastructure.
Q. Its to complex to use this geek software.
A. So was Facebook when it started, almost nobody understood what twitter was for for ages – all new experiences are hard. Its actually ONLY a question of motivation then familiarisation through repartition.
Q. Activist internet site are ugly – if they just look nicer people might actually use them.
A. After bad UI is put to one side (and this can be an issue) the is a direct correlation between full user functionality and bad looking sites – you can make site look nicer by dis-empowering the user or by shaping and controlling there interactions – but freedom always looks messy just look at Facebook its one of the more messy sites out there – it overcomes this issue by good UI and familiarity – people get used to “functionality - ugliness” after they use the software every day.
Q. My activist site has no way for the “user” to be part of the site beyond limited commenting.
A. Yes activist sites are generally in the stone age of hierarchical control freakery, use sites that are web02 not web01 the actually are some projects out their. Complain to admins if the is no peer -to- peer production on an activist site, then actually use the peer production tools they set-up such as wikis and forums.
Q. Why not just use Facebook groups/ fashionable web2 site, every one is on there anyway.
A. This way leads to the death of the open internet/society LINK
Q. Can i trust activist sites with my privacy.
A. On corporate site's that most activist use, such as Facebook you can only hide from your friends not from your enermys. This is generally true for the open web in general and is something we need to understand. If you have a secret take the activist to the garden and whisper it in there ear, do not rely on any fig leafs of corporate privacy settings or promise of activist client server encryption LINK
Activist social media suicide and its prevention
Organising on Facebook is suicide for the internet and the future of our society. We need to do different and we need to do this now, luckily this isn’t actuality a very hard thing to do.
The most simple/basic thing to do is to have a organising website hosted on a independent/activist server – you can ask such people as OMN for an social office organising site or network23 for a basic blog. Then to reach into (but not be controlled by) the closed walls of Facebook you can post links to your content FROM YOUR SITE to Facebook. With this you can kinda have the best of both worlds.
The second part is more ambitious and geek centred, read this link for some ideas on building tools LINK
Its important not to get engrossed in the geek/activist paranoia about security – the is non on the open web, it was designed that way and its why it has been so successful at tacking over the world in the way it has. If you wont to do anything secret or possibly illegal – do not do it on ANY activist or corporate website, that’s what physical meet-ups are for.
The is a potential small exception to this statement, will talk about Per-Per encrypted connections in an other post – BUT this is not a thing to use for 99% of activist communication so not relevant here.
At a minimum all future campaigns should be using the atavist hosting and post links to inside the walled corporate internet. I can help, leave a comment here on this activist hosted site. Or try this site out for organising
The Activists - FUCKED UP USE of corporate social media
It consistently amazed me how activists walked into the trap of corporate social networking. I can understand NGO groups narrowness of focus, its were the funding is. I can understand traditional media's embracing of Facebook, Twitter and the closed ecosystem of app stores as its a perceived as a “safe” place to run from the crumbling business markets they are part of.
Lets look at each in turn:
Corporate social networking is perfect for the less radical charity's as the company's running theses networks wont to be seen to be social responsible and charity’s are the perfect place to be seen to care with out the risk of upsetting sponsors, advertisers and investors.
The more progressive parts of the traditional media, such as the FT have realised the trap they leapt into when building inside Facebook, Twitter etal. And are now back to prioritising building on the open web using HTML5. The less progressive side are now negotiating from a weak postion with these new powerful gatekeepers.
10 years ago Activist media was a worldwide phenomenon, inventing and leading many of the technology and techniques that are now mainstream. But two things happened, firstly they got bogged down in “activist process” and on the other the “lifestyle of geek” open-source culture. These together slowed innovation to a stop, the functionality and reach of such new networks as Facebook and Twitter rendered this moribund activist media less relevant to new generations of activists such as the climatecamp media team. Leaving space for the NGO focus embracing of corporate social media on one hand and the manipulation of traditional media on the other as the main ongoing successful strategy.
Were are we now? I was at the party to cover the celebrate of the death of Margaret Thatcher recently in Trafalgar sq. The were hundreds of cameras both video and stills probably as many people filming and documenting as there party goers or police. But almost no radical media made it online, the was a smattering of wonabe mainstream media such as Vice and Demotix. What interested me was running into all the retired activist and the ones that now work for NGO's it struck me that the is no continuity, no new radical media, it had almost completely ended. Few small exception’s to this are ourselves (visionontv) and ONN who are both small fish.
As I sead at the time, we as activist's fucked up in two ways: in wholesale embracing of corporate social media and in the narrowing of activist tec into geek lifestyle. Can we learn from this? Its time to reinvent grassroots bottom up media – its not to late.
Kicking apart the illusion that social media is a friend to radical voices
This post is to highlight and make visible that using social media to promote radical voices is marginally affective at best and simplay dose not work at worst. This good quality and fun lively video http://youtu.be/yr7RoAmtQP0 has been pushed hard by 3 people for a day mainly on facebook
* Promoted on visionontv youtube account (2,571 subscribers)
* More than 50 shares on Facebook (small selection of shares here)
* 23 hours online (137 views)
* 2 days (178 views)
* 5 days (230 views)
* 1 week (271 views)
As this should make clear, social media has relevance algorithms based on advertising revenue of the hosting company and secondly user interest. What we post on facebook is LARGLY not see by other people. And the harder you push content the smaller your reach due to SPAM algorithms, so your content is lost if you don’t push it and in the end if you do push it. Social media is increasingly a lose/lose game for radical voices.
We need our own media http://visionon.tv/mission
Digital utopia digital dystopia (DRAFT)
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: http://www.theonion.com/articles/google-responds-to-privacy-concerns-with-unsettlin,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.
Technology and Social Change - Working with the Facebook Generation
Issues working with the Facebook Generation. In the activist tech/media world the is a paranoia against those who should be your friends and a naive trust of those who ARE your enemy’s. Currently all your social interactions are available to the bad people, both offline and on. The only issue for radical groups, is are you going to withhold this information from your friends and political collages, the bad guys already have it. Hiding your politics is hard and if you use any of the modern social tools, especially mobile phones or drive a car or live in a city with CCTV then you are very visible and trying to hide just makes you less useful for your friends and more interesting to your foes. For more about this subject http://hamishcampbell.com/home/-/blogs/hard-or-soft-is-the-question
The way forward - some simple social/technical solutions
* Nurture basic journalism/story telling skills in alt-media to make better outreach media. LINK
* Linking is key, link to alternative resources where ever you can, the easiest way of competing with corporate news sources is by building a web of connecting linked alt-news sources.
* Aggregation is a way to make decentralisation work.
* Have the main way of inputing to any alt-project at a local level then let the content work its way up to the top of subject/geographic aggregation sites. While always keeping the valid link back to the original source. I know its hard but try and avoid building consensus/bureaucratic publish from the top sites/projects where possible.
* QUOTE “content is just something for conversation” This opens the question of where does the interaction around content take place – this is still a unresolved issue and needs more thought and technical work – for now a diversity of strategy is probably the best way forward. While always keeping the valid link back to the original source.
* This is a controversial point - ONLY use the corporate social media solutions for link building and feeding people into contempery media projects – corporate social media solutions should be avoided as much as possible as original sources of distribution. DO use them and abuse them but its a common mistake to build real companies and communities solely within them. Its easy, publish on a alt-newsite site/blog then publish a link on facebook and twitter, you can use tools that do this automatically.
* Be open to using all tools, but try and come down on using free/opensource and open standards were possible. For two reasons
1) there is an opportunity for people to build things with opensource and openstandards using your project that you DIDN'T think of – this is actually where almost all innovation on the web comes from.
2) all corporate tools are bound up with the need to create profit before functionality and user experience so in the end they all have to sell out and focus on profit before users/content, its just a matter of time, the ones that don't follow this line run out of funding and all your work vanishes anyway.
* RSS and Creative Commons are your friends, use them well in every project you create.
That's really it, let's work together to use the “digital hole” undermining corporate media “to replace it with something nicer” its really not that difficult. Let's all Link and Aggregate based on open standards.
Hamish Campbell, (typed while) camping in the forest at the beach in the bay of Biscay.
The web as political ideology
- Facebook is capitalism – capturing the commons and shaping it into a delusional tool for private profit.
- Twitter is socialism – making everyone equal but keeping power at the centre and falling for the problem of making some people more equal than others.
- The internet – libertarianism, creating a space for freedom of every action, but built without the tools for the free-market capitalism that often goes with libertarianism.
- The world wide web – anarchism, radically horizontalizing access to knowledge and communication, building a commons for us all.
- Old media – zombies clothed in the rooting flesh of the world of scarcity, gatekeepers holding the world from change by the fear of there stench.
- Dot-com's – parasites that pray on the necessity leavings of the old world, leeches that suck and suck from the vitality of the new.
- Torrents – the greedy happy tool of the hippies, affluence without responsibility.
- Youtube – a prison for our collective visions with no bars on the cell windows.
- Goggle - is Judas – the one who betrayes us all.
- You – what are you in the digital world?
Activist (media) strategy is broken
This is the state of the #stopG8 twitter account as the main convergence center is raided by hundreds of police:
Using individual Facebook accounts - who sees the content they post is decided by the advertising driven algorithms of Facebook and everything they post is sent strait to the corporate and governmental agency’s they are fighting against.
The website they have built is not only dysfunctional (it only allows corporate embeds of video all opensource or activists embeds are blocked - only google owned youtube works) it's a control freaks love affair and a re-creation of the Soviet Union.
UPDATE: the video embed whent up in the end https://network23.org/stopg8/media/video
The state of video aggregation on the web
There is an issue of centralization around a single portal for different types of content on the web, and the withering of diversity of outcomes that this entails. There are a few successful implementations of p2p web structures such as blogging and RSS but they are exceptions, we have total domination of video (youtube) social networking (facebook) and micro blogging (twitter). Still audio, music, and images are less locked down, and text news is still a open platform.
One way of avoiding this locking and control is the use of aggregation, the are examples of video aggregators such as http://vodpod.com and http://www.mirocommunity.org which we both use. And the visionontv project it self is an aggregating project (with a strong focus on production to balances/editorialise the output).
What is the Open Media Network?
It's about human co-operation working with machine aggregation tools.
It's a stupidly simple social project using largly existing basic web technologies.
- RSS in and out via tag (with de-duping and field-matching).
This is it for the technical side of the project.
Then there is the social side: open licences, open data, open source, open process.
* open licences generaly means creative commons for content and GPL for software.
* open data means that all the core data of the projects can be exported into other node databases. This can be done via the basic RSS in and out or with an export option to a basic XML file.
* open source: that all the core software of the project is free to be edited and be changed.
* open process means that the organising of the network is done in public wikis and using public tools. Activerty strems makes projects transparent to user involvement.
The idea of the OMN is to re-build the vitality of the open web. The problem it hopes to overcome is HUGE.
* Applications like Facebook and Twitter have closed off the majority of people's online interactions and privatised/controled them for private gain and social control.
* openweb tools have withered from lack of use and resources.
There is currently little possibilty of an alternative to the polished world of google, facebook, twitter, amazon or e-bay etc. Many people are now talking about these issues, but the solutions they come up with are single sources, not networks. How do we make visible the value of cooperation?
The technical side is relatively easy. It's the social side that is the biggest barrier to revitalising the open web. The problem with all the failed pre-open networks is complexity and their proprietorial nature, This together with a failure of social cohesion (co-operation) has lead to an almost complete meltdown in the radical media space.
Why is the OMN different?
This is in no way a new project. Its innovation is purely in an understanding of the limitations of past projects. Over the last 10 years there have been many projects that have attempted the same thing.
Why will this work now?
It is built with existing standards - nothing is new or untested. It has an understanding of the failure of the social side of such networks. And aims to overcome this:
* the geek problem of "improving" projects and thus running the risk of breaking the simplicity is overcome by insisting that nodes support all of the open RSS standards to be part of the network. Thus if an improvement is useful it will spread and if it is not it will fade without breaking the underlying fallback tecnologies. The idea is that the network will be resistent to the failure of improvements and open to the sucess of innovation - while being robust if this for some reasn fails.
* The social problem - the network is built by trust, thus will scale organically with no overarching control or hierarchy to block innovation or accress. There are no hardcoded APIs that limit and shape user involvement and data flow.
* too big and distributed to fail - opendata and node redundancy will help the network to be robust and resistent to the failure of large nodes. Also, the trust nature of the network will keep nodes honest and reliable without a central controlling athority. One part's decline is actually an opportunity for another part's growth.
* the issue of state repression. The network is a part of the open web using only open web standereds. This makes it part of a project that is currently too big to fail. As long as the open web is needed by state actors and corporations the technology of the OMN cannot be shut down without shutting down the open web. If one node is shut down its job is simply taken up by another. Data duplication means that little, if anything, is lost.
* Too much concern with security limiting open process is a real danger. The unspoken question is: open process for whom? - currently we use facebook which is open procees for governments and corporations and fundamentally a closed process for the rest of us. Without open process, the trust which the network relies on is very limited. thus the growth of the network will be stunted, and it will likely wither. Open process will not appeal to everybody. But as it is fundamental, people unhappy with it should not get involved.
For the more tec motivated here is a old rightup:
The activist problem of failbook
Almost all of Activism is organized on one corporate network and its run by this man
"Mark Zuckerberg’s new political group, which bills itself as a bipartisan entity dedicated to passing immigration reform, has spent considerable resources on ads advocating a host of anti-environmental causes — including driling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) and constructing the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline."
its the magnitude of the failure of the alternatives that is at issue - for many people the web is facebook - this is now true for almost all activist online organising. The man who controls facebook is an elitist tosspot right winger and controls all this activist organising. What other tools do we have?
Couple of points: FB is a trap, that has been sponge to close the open internet - to take us back to the days of mediated media and communication. The reach is not huge (just do a search to find out how your messages are already filtered) its actually very small for any message that does not further facebook's advertising/money making plans. Yes, it has revolutionised activism and it has enclosed it and pushed aside all alternatives... inclose and privatises then exploit... its an old story. Facebook like all dotcoms is likely to fail, but it has shifted the web towards closer and the next round of corporate social networking will consolidate this shift. With the open web (and digitization project) we have a once in a century opportunity to reshape our society, we are fucking this up big time
Damping down alternative voices
This is an interesting example of why visionontv is needed in the world of social media domination the video was pushed very hard and was shared extensively in Facebook and to a lesser extent in Twitter but has only 750 views - which isn’t rarely anufe to motive the continuing production of news reports (most videos get much less)
Facebook has algorithms to push up content that is advertising/branding friendly and twitter is building them. These will have a strong affect of damping down alternative voices. Traditional Social Media is no longer a way of distributing alternative voices - its time to build our own http://visionon.tv (need a link for the OMN)
We ran into the trap of corporate social networking
We ran into the trap of corporate social networking, and now it is going to be hard to get out and if we do have we learned the lesson not to do it agen or will we run to the worm embrace of the next fashionable thing?
This is a good post on the full scope of the project http://dangerousminds.net/comments/facebook_i_want_my_friends_back
As this post on facebook points out - only 7% of your followers will see what you post and facebook will deside which 7% see your content based on what they can hang adverts on...
Facebook as news?
A post on Facebook:
the entirety of my news input comes from facebook these days. i prefer it this way. you lot got a delightful wonk on.
This is a (invisible) problem as Facebook has algorithms that choice what you see as news based on maximum ad revenue not news values...
Failbook Activist's and the hamster cage
http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-57471570-93/facebook-scans-chats-and-posts-for-criminal-activity/ read this and think about activism.
Why have we built all our activist networks using Facebook over the last 2 years. Leading to severe neglect and decay of our own networks. Answer please.
The trap of small thinking and using Facebook.
if you walk into a private owned walled garden, tend the ground and grow the bounty, and they close the gates. You have to pay to eat the produce. The moral - do not walk in to the walled gardens in the digital world, the are huge trakes of free land on the open web, inhabit it and grow your own utopia. Failbook has failed you, why are you asking them to open the gate agen? RUN!!! RUN!!!!
What can we learn from the film #kony2012
I must admit I haven’t watched the film yet, waiting till the uproar die's down so can concentrate on the context around the film which for me is more intresting. A conversation on failbook:
We already know this so why do we have to wait for the right wing to teach us this, its frustrating http://bit.ly/Ajbe63 #kony2012 #actavisam
The Internet is dead! Long live the Internet?
The blind activist stamped into corporate social networking silos for political campaigns (DRAFT)
The blind activist stamped into corporate social networking silos for political campaigns, just don't do it http://www.internetevolution.com/author.asp?section_id=1192&doc_id=234607&
Or you will end up like this http://www.allfacebook.com/facebook-engagement-punish-2011-09
or with no account at all http://blog.ucloccupation.com/2011/04/29/over-50-political-accounts-deleted-in-facebook-purge/