[Imc-london] A few thoughts about groups and blogs.
planet-mail at aktivix.org
planet-mail at aktivix.org
Wed Dec 15 08:11:06 PST 2010
been thinking about groups. The groups thing, like much of indy
london, has been experimental, which is a good thing.
I do agree that many ppl don't know what they are, including ppl and
groups that have them. Often they are not maintained regularly, ie
they are not valued.
They're not really explained properly on the site anyway and it feels
like I have to search for info on this. If I click the groups button,
it doesn't tell me what they are. (btw i still think there should be a
main "ABOUT" link at top of page - the "info" list buried below is not
very obvious. I mean it strikes me there's no simple "get involved"
text or basic explanatory texts on the site, only the full versions
"using the new site" etc.)
Anyway, it seems the groups function tries to do several things, some
better than others. And I think the time is right to look at them again.
Groups as BLOGS: "Think of it like a blog, but better!" - Sorry I don't agree.
They are soooo not blogs. Don't take this the wrong way, but the
functionality is way different. If i am a campaign (or individual) and
I set up a blog, I have complete control over my blog (political
corporate ownership and security aside) and the content I put there.
It does not appear alongside posts for climate change protests or
animal rights postings, it does not appear under the banner of
Indymedia, but it is _my_ blog, which I care about and update, and it
is _my_ responsibility for its public appearence. I can embed what I
like there (photos, video, audio) and do a bunch of nifty corporate
social media sharing things to allow ppl to contribute to and share
content easily. I publish an RSS feed so if people want my content
they can have it.
If I want to use the groups function as a blog i am pretty constrained
in what I can do. My blog posts are in fact Indymedia newswire posts,
which therefore kinda have to adhere to the ed guidelines of
Indymedia. My posts may also be hidden. And I can only update them
through logging into Indymedia london. None of this is a criticism
btw, just how I see the current functionality. I would also not have
most of the basic functions that i'd expect from a standard blog
In short I see very few reasons why someone would want to use groups
as blogs. "All the occupations set up old school blogs" - yes they
did, and they worked really well for getting infos out and gathering
support. I'd like someone to give me a list of reasons why they should
have been on indymedia instead. (btw AFAIK only one website set up an
aggregator of the occupation rss feeds, but it was a great help in
So re-naming "groups" to "blogs" is I reckon just asking for trouble.
If Indy london wants to provide (what everyone nowerdays understands
as) a blog functionality, or even an anonymous blog function, then it
should set up a blog platform, and not try to pass off one thing for
OTHER "GROUP" FUNCTIONS:
In another way they're a "Directory Listing" of London Groups. You can
have your blurb about your group and an rss feed displayed (max=2).
But that function's not really valuable unless it's someway towards a
comprehensive list of london groups. And as any member can post stuff,
delete and edit, if you are an actual existing campaign group that may
be a problem for you. Plus a lot of use of the groups facility is like
a "set up once and forget about it" thing. Most don't actualy post any
content as their group. And importantly, directories need maintaining
- eg the Cinema Libre group is advertising regular nights at
Ramparts... That's not to say a list of political campaigns and groups
isn't a good idea, but the groups functionality doesn't seem to be the
best way to do it.
In another way they are "Reporting Groups" - allowing a list of all
content published by that group of reporters to be displayed, as well
as allowing a group to set up its own timeline for reporting actions
(without full site admin access). This is a really great feature! I
think it should be promoted more. The main groups that have
functioning pages are all in this category: DI / cuts reporting / indy
london / imc london features. The Climate Camp Documentation group
worked in a similar way.
This aspect of the group function is about directly increasing
participation in the project, and that can only be a good thing, and
in fact, is quite needed. If some more thought is put into this
function and it's promoted, then I see a brighter future for it.
End thought: a lot of this relates to the current issue of free
corporate platforms vs indymedia / autonomous infrastructure. As we've
said before, Indymedia won the arguement for participant led reporting
years ago, now there's tons of people producing content. Indymedia
cannot compete with millions of £ of technical development budgets,
but it can still have a valuable role. The challenge is how best to
promote, encourage and amplify radical DIY media making.
PS I think the linksunten proposal is also something to do with a
reblogging function too, where users get to select content to go into
their secondary wires.
(PPS the link to ed guidelines on the register page
(https://london.indymedia.org/register) is broken
Quoting Mara <mara at aktivix.org>:
> Hi all,
> Recently, Indymedia Linksunten asked for two additional indymedia
> subdomains for blogs. I just had a chat with them, and it turn out they
> basically use those subdomains to redirect to the equivalent of groups
> pages on linksunten.indymedia.org. That got me thinking about our
> approach to groups.
> When we called them groups, we were coming from a political background.
> It has become quite clear that people don't really understand what they
> are and mostly don't use them all that well. For one thing that is
> connected to some of the usability issues we have been talking about.
> But by now, I think it also has to do with the terminology. There aren't
> really groups online. That's wrong there are, but they are different
> from our groups. Mostly a group on the web is used to group content as
> navigational aid, to create a pool of information. And most of the time
> they are either free for everyone to join and contribute to, or they are
> used for internal communication within a group of people. Our groups do
> Really, our groups are blogs. We did say that from the start: we wanted
> to offer people an alternative to blogs. After the experience of the
> past few years, I think if we want people to use them as blog, we will
> have to call them exactly that. Otherwise the confusion will always stop
> people from using them. Does anyone see any political problems in
> renaming them? At least on the user interface level?
> It would take away that level of "get organised". But with people not
> using the feature enough, that education element is getting lost anyway.
> The other thing are the domains. We have simplified the urls, but
> compared to major blog sites, they are still way to long and
> complicated. The easy answer would be to do as Linksunten has done and
> just get another domain. Although all indymedia subdomains have the same
> problem: they are already too long. So, we could just get a short one. I
> can't come up with something too great, but e.g. indy.cat is available
> (requires one catalan page every 6 months, I guess we should be able to
> do that, no?). So as lindy.me (the me being a bit solipsistic for my
> taste). This would enable us to provide groups (or blogs) with a url
> like : group-name.lindy.me or indy.cat/group-name
> So, basically what would you think to change "Groups" into "Blogs" and
> provide them with a short url that redirects to the london site?
> All the occupations set up old school blogs. So it would be great to
> offer a real alternative to that (or rather make them aware of the
> alternative we are already offering).
> Let me know, I'm excited to hear your thoughts.
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> imc-london at lists.indymedia.org
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