Rebooting Indymedia: Restoring the OpenWeb and Grassroots Technology

Hamish Campbell, looking at the past and future of “native” grassroots media.

In the last three decades, the digital landscape has undergone dramatic changes. I have witnessed its evolution firsthand, working in radical media and engaging with grassroots technology. But this journey hasn’t been without its challenges and setbacks.

The Dawn of the OpenWeb

The early years of the #openweb were a golden age. It was a time when the power of connectivity and innovation was shared and wielded by people rather than confined to corporate silos. This openweb we cherished was built at a human scale, with real conversations and decisions made not by algorithms or profit-driven entities, but by human beings with a vision for a decentralized and inclusive digital space.

However, those pioneering days of the openweb seem distant now. The landscape rapidly shifted, favoring echo chambers over open forums, transforming the dream of a participatory digital spaces into commercialized pockets designed to commodify our data and society

The Rise and Fall of .Coms

The term #dotcons, inspired by the .com boom, exposes the underlying deceit in this new era of the internet. Companies emerged with the aim of capitalizing on our online presence, turning every click and keystroke into a financial opportunity. Social media platforms like #Facebook—aptly dubbed #Failbook and others have become disasters for both our personal mental health and societal construct.

The Encryptionist Agenda

In response to the corporatization of the web, alternative technology, especially within radical grassroots movements, began to focus heavily on encryption. Yet this #encryptionist agenda, instead of fostering a true alternative, led us to a dead end. #Indymedia, which once stood as a beacon of open, participatory journalism, eventually succumbed to this closed technology approach.

The Plight of Progressive Technology

#Fashionista politics—those which blindly follow trends without questioning the underlying systems—have dominated the progressive tech landscape, often embracing the very platforms that stand contrary to open standards. The ideals that spurred movements and created spaces for change have been eroded, leaving us in a technological quagmire that stifles creativity and real progress.

Rebuilding from the Roots

Despite these challenges, hope remains for a resurgence of grassroots media. By revisiting the core principles that made #Indymedia a force in its early days, we can steer the movement back on course.

A Simple Federated Network

I consider Oxford IMC, which I co-founded, as a blueprint for this revival. Through a network of trust-based content sharing, we can create a federated model that allows information to flow freely yet responsibly.

Think of it as a series of nodes: activist news websites, Mastodon instances, peertube channels, and local blogs, all interlinked by trust and moderated collaboration, governed by a simple yet effective set of controls—including link subscribe, moderate/trusted flow, and rollback functions to maintain the integrity of our content.

Trust First, Moderate Later

By focusing on trust-first networking, where content flows are based on established relationships, we not only streamline communication but also protect against the pitfalls of a closed, controlled web. This approach allows for open, decentralized storytelling, with an organic curation system that respects the diversity and autonomy of each node.

Reclaiming and Reshaping Security

Recognizing the need for secure communication without sacrificing openness, the reboot incorporates both bridges to other network publishing and guidelines for pseudo-anonymous contributions through Tor.

These measures provide a balanced approach, enabling activists to share their stories without fear of repercussion while maintaining a spirit of openness and community-driven journalism.

Foundations of the Reboot

Central to this reboot are the #PGA hallmarks and the #4opens—open data, open source, open standards, and open process. This framework, informed by the lessons from #Indymedia’s past, will ensure that we do not repeat the same mistakes.

Moreover, by adopting federated databases and leveraging tags and flows of news objects, this network will function as a vibrant, resilient web of news, accessible at different levels and capable of adapting to the ever-changing demands of radical grassroots journalism.

Be Part of the Open Media Reboot

I invite you to join us as we embark on this journey to reclaim our digital commons. If you share the vision for an open, grassroots-powered web, visit and contribute your expertise. With a commitment to the and a collaborative spirit, we can usher in a new era of the fediverse centered on truth, empowerment, and community.

This is more than a project—it’s a movement. Let’s create a network that stands as a testament to our collective power, one that honors our past achievements while forging a future that lives up to our highest aspirations. Let’s make history, again.

The open web is not just a concept; it’s our birthright. Together, let’s bring it back to life.

This blog post is a call to action. It’s a bid to revive the original spirit of #Indymedia and extend a hand to those willing to contribute to the future of open, grassroots media.

# Introduction
– Hamish Campbell’s background in grassroots and radical media
– The open web’s early potential for alternative media

# The Failure of Alternative Media
– Rise of big tech like Facebook led to closed and monopolized systems
– Encryptionist agenda went nowhere over the past decade
– Climate crisis shows need for societal alternatives

# The Open Media Network
– Explaining the decentralized federated network model
– Trusted flows of content based on open standards

# Rebooting Indymedia
– Rebuilding the local community news site with focus areas
– Approaches for enabling secure anonymous publishing

# Why Indymedia Failed
– Early successes but internal disputes over openness
– Problems with incompatible customized systems
– Control desires led to user-hostile encryption

# Lessons Learned
– Open standards critical for networks
– Loose flexible processes over rigid bureaucracy
– Explicitly embedding the “four opens” philosophy

# Project Overview
– Building a web of trusted news flows
– Agnostic decentralized network via protocols like ActivityPub
– Get involved to help create alternative media



Why do people keep doing pointless self harm – news aggreation

There are hundreds (over the last 20 years likely thousands) of news, aggregation sites. It’s a common #dotcons model to inclose the “commons” people see free content and think I can capture that. The problem is news content looks like it’s free, but that’s because it’s “free” to spread, but it’s VERY expensive in human (and thus money) to produce the content. This side is never addressed in these failed projects.

We currently have #traditionalmedia all round the world pushing to be paid for aggregation and even search of their “product”. At #OMN and #indymediaback, we get round these issues as we add “value” by the #DIY labour of the meany people involved in the shared “commons” space. We are producing rather than “stealing” in the #mainstreaming view.

It’s normal that the top-down news aggregators are seen as parasites, and the bootm up aggregators as adding value. For a few years of #indymedia growth, #traditionalmedia was using #indymedia as a “news” source, this shaped the #mainstreaming agenda, adding value to both paths.

When the #openweb we were building was ripped apart by internal and external pressers and agenders, the #DIY value was captured by the #dotcons such as #Facebook and later #twitter (when it left it’s open’ish path).

The first step away from the current mess is to recreate the “commons” to bring the value back from the #dotcons capture, this should be more possible now as we are building from the #Fediverse where this has already happened. What we do with this recreated “commons” is up to meany different groups/people, but let’s hold the and #PGA strongly in place to stop “common sense” enclosing attempts, which are constant pointless damage we need to work around.

To sum up, a key part of the #OMN is to recreate the data “commons” then it’s up to meany other groups to find useful things to do with this free to use non-commercial value. And yes lots of people will see the stupid path of enclosing this to capture the value for themselves, this is damage.

In capitalism, any non-owned value is seen as an opportunity to capture, enclosed and profit from. This is why we have copyleft licences in code, which is visibly failing and why we extend this to the to fail less 😉

This all comes down to the question of what we value. And for meany people, this is a blindness.


What is the #openweb

While the commercial web is dominated by large corporations, the #dotcons are what most people are familiar with, there is another side to the internet – the #openweb. In this article, we will explore what the #openweb is and why it matters.

The #openweb refers to the part of the internet that is not owned by corporations. Unlike the commercial web, where large tech companies like #Google, #Facebook, and #Amazon dominate the landscape, the #openweb is a decentralized space where people can create, share, and access content without restrictions.

The openweb is built on standards and protocols, which means that everyone can develop software or services that work seamlessly with existing tools and platforms. One of the primary benefits of the openweb is that it fosters humane creativity. Because we can all contribute to the open web, it encourages a diverse, liberal, range of voices and perspectives. Openweb technologies like blogs, wikis, and federated social networks have enabled people to connect and collaborate, leading to the emergence of new norms and social movements.

Another important aspect of the openweb is its commitment to transparency, it is a critical tool for promoting #freespeech and #democracy. Because it is not owned by any single entity or government, the openweb is a place where people can express themselves without fear of censorship or repression.

In recent years, the openweb has come under threat from the rise of the dominating #dotcons of the commercial web and the growing power of big tech companies. The commercial web is dominated by a few large corporations that control vast amounts of user data and use it to extract profit. This has led to concerns about, social control, and the concentration of power in the hands of a few tech giants and their agenders.

Despite these challenges, there are many organizations and individuals working to preserve the #openweb. From #grassroots groups such as #OMN to #NGO’s like the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) an international community that develops open standards for the web, while #mainstreaming organizations like the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the Google funded #Mozilla Foundation are dedicated to promoting a liberal #mainstreaming open and accessible internet.

In conclusion, the openweb is a critical part of the internet that promotes, creativity and free society. It is a space where anyone can contribute and participate without restrictions, and it has played a vital role in social movements and democracy. While the openweb faces many challenges in the face of the commercial web and big tech, it is essential to work together to ensure that the internet remains an open and accessible space.


Talking about grassroots media as a step away from the current #techshit

Hamish Campbell, a veteran in radical media for the past 30 years, discusses the failure of current technology and mainstream culture. He highlights how the #dotcon boom commodified our data, resulting in closed technology silos like #Facebook and #Instagram that capture our attention and data for their own profit. Campbell argues that alternative technology built around an #encryptionist agenda has gone nowhere and that the world is dominated by these tech giants. He argues for the importance of the #openweb, which was born open but is dying closed over the last 20 years, and advocates for rebooting grassroots media as a solution. Campbell uses the Oxford #IMC as an example of how a simple federated network can work by sharing content, using trusted link flows, and allowing content to be moderated or rolled back. He believes that the beauty of the #openweb is based on free flowing links, unlike the #closedweb of our current dominating technology. Campbell concludes that the #OMN project is more important for what it does not do than for what it does, and highlights the need to take small steps towards a solution by rebooting grassroots media as a example project.

What you can do

In the last few years there have been events and gatherings in the US, Portugal, and Madrid, discussing the possibility of #rebooting #Indymedia. The current history of Indymedia has been primarily written by academics and is very Americanized, so there is a need to retell the stories and provide a wider perspective. To successfully reboot Indymedia, I think it needs to return to its open and serendipitous roots, rather than the bureaucratic and closed structure it became. Fortunately, most of the technical tools needed for a decentralized and federated system, such as ActivityPub and Scuttlebutt, already exist. To maintain its radical grassroots philosophy, the principles should be used to ensure openness and accessibility. To get involved, one can search for #indymediaback or “reboot Indymedia” and find useful links #OMN