[IMC-Boston-Discuss] Re: Working List

contextflexed at juno.com contextflexed at juno.com
Thu Aug 25 18:46:48 PDT 2005

Fellow Members,

Due to the evolutionary nature of Indymedia, the structure and membership are under constant change.  This process is guided by necessity and user input.  The process remains largely ambiguous.  It was noted on many occasions that the ambiguosity was beneficial for members in the control of site content and membership.

Some of this bears striking resemblance to policing and stands in stark contrast to the widely stated ethics of openness and tolerance.  In fact, some of it is downright anonymous and whimsical constraint of opinion.  A number of policies were written ex post facto and a number more are about to be written regarding new members and structure.  There is discussion now to privatize the list and create a new class of crypto-members.  I cannot advise strongly enough against this NSA black box course of action.

Here are several relevant quotes from the Wikipedia entry on Indymedia which I think will be useful to consider in our organizational development.  I have commented on some of the quotes:

Source: http://www.outship.com/articles/Indymedia

1) "The politics of Indymedia users tend toward the left wing of the political spectrum often being of anarchist or socialist or left-leaning political inclinations. It aspires to operate without an overbearing editorial hierarchy and operate in a decentralized manner, however the editorial decisions are generally made by a secretive central group."

--Of note here is that bias exists at Indymedia and this bias can only be journalistically acceptable if some of the members have starkly disparate opinions.  Such disparity can never be cause for prejudice against new members.  It is abhorrent that a secretive central group controls opinion in our organization.

2) "Indymedia itself censors to a greater or lesser degree depending on which IMC collective is involved."

--Specifically, Boston IMC censors to a greater degree, and censorship is the enemy of openness and tolerance.

3) "The Indymedia project was started in late November at the WTO Meeting of 1999, to cover the protests of the anti-globalization movement against the World Trade Organization in Seattle, Washington."

--A personal note here:  I have been involved with Indymedia from August 2004 to present, which equals one-sixth of its history.  During this time I have noticed these other things which I am now bringing to light.

4) "The content of an IMC is determined by its participants, breaking down the wall of separation between "news makers" and "news consumers". "

--This means that anyone who wants to participate shall not be relegated to a "lower class" by current squatters.  This includes telling people to shut up at meetings.  More importantly, no one should be told to shut up and consume Indymedia as it is has been presented to them.

5) "corporate media models as they become ever more concentrated operate more as forms of mass manipulation, "opinion guidance", and news omission and less as a form of "objectivity" or unbiased professionalism which allows a form of education for democratic input."

--I have personally witnessed mass manipulation, opinion guidance, and news omission during my time at Indymedia.  No one here can deny it.

6) "Local IMC collectives are expected to be open and inclusive of individual members of a variety of different local left-wing, anarchist, Communist and other leftist activist organizations, whether or not these have any overt political labels, so that even those without internet access can participate both in content creation and in content consumption. Editorial policies, locally chosen by any Indymedia collective, generally involve the censoring of articles written from right-wing or conservative perspectives"

--As descriptive, not prescriptive law, Boston IMC and IMC at large tend to accept Communists as members but not centrists or "reg'lar americans."  That is just plain wrong, and I shall do all I can to encourage moderate, centrist, even overtly capitalist Americans to work and post here.  I am a great advocate of the First Amendment.  Unconditionally.

7) "The structure is non-hierarchical in terms of political power relationships, though there do exist de facto hierarchies, due either to control over physical resources (e.g. servers); access to funds; accuracy determination; the fact that certain "global" functions are needed; or simply because it makes sense to coordinate within geographically close regions, without any formal link to geographical borders. Some say the existence of numerous redundant communication channels (such as publicly archived mailing lists lists.indymedia.org, wiki pages and local face-to-face meetings) makes it difficult for those at the top of these limited hierarchies to have much coercive power."

--IMC is under constant risk of increasing the coercive power of a limited hierarchy.  It has led to unresolvable conflicts, libel, slander, and old members attacking new members.  It is such an embarassment that some members are now considering making a new caste of uber-members who communicate via secret list.  It is a cabal of disgruntled members standing in the way of openness and tolerance, not to mention journalism.

8) "[many] IMC local collectives are totally informal without any formally-defined membership and very minimal policy and organizational structures."

--To begin increasing the membership restrictions would clearly be in line with other forms of xenophobia and border patrol.  It overlooks the basic fact that Indymedia is like MENUDO, and the membership varies over the years.  Let's recognize the attempt to bar new members for what it is: a bulwark against the development of IMC and a slap in the face to the people of Boston.

9)  "Some feel that membership includes only those actively doing organizing or other IMC work, while some feel that it actually extends to every IMC participant, from techies to facilitators to media-makers to users commenting on an article. That is, the concept that Indymedia is comprised of its thousands of media-makers, in addition to those doing infrastructure work such as keeping the servers online."

--In other words, IMC has NOT decided whether Labor or Squatter Theory of Value apply, and therefore it is best to assume that IMC is as open as it represents itself to be in the CURRENT WEBSITE which merely says to come on down to general meetings and "be the media."

10) "[wikipedia,] deletions are not anonymous, as they often are at Indymedia. A de facto hierarchy develops at Indymedia, where a small group of people control passwords and administrative access."

--This hierarchy is of limited value and is pernicious at best.  Further, when members advocate "more anarchy" while at a general meeting and "more rules" while in listserv, it is purely hypocritical.

11) "In practice, most such bans are perhaps mentioned, at least, and may even be discussed, but there is little if any indication that such discussions at indymedia are conducted publicly, nor is there any indication that such discussions are in any manner published. Thus, what is public at Wikipedia, and subject to full debate and dissent, is, in essence, quasi-secret at Indymedia."

--In other words, the secretive blackballing (and biting) has gained our organization a bad reputation even on Wikipedia.  I would be embarassed except for the fact that I do not advocate quasi-secretive blackballing anywhere.

12) "Posts of a "hate-speech" nature - racist, sexist, homophobic or similarly proscribed - are at times difficult to distinguish between harshly worded criticisms which should not be deleted. Another source of complaints are deletions of posts which do not necessarily violate "hate speech" proscriptions. The UK site has acquired a reputation for such deletions, and became the target of a campaign to change that policy, as have some west coast US IMC's."

--Our IMC also has this reputation.  I wholeheartedly support a new perspective against broadly interpreting "potential hate speech" which is a grossly neoconservative and preemptive act.

13) "Indymedia has no prohibition against POV postings and in general, criticism toward Indymedia tends to pertain to point of view issues."

--This is news to me.  On my watch I would make it the case.

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