[Imc-london] A few thoughts about groups and blogs.
maqui at syndicate.org.uk
Thu Dec 16 13:08:40 PST 2010
Yes, a very interesting discussion this is, and lots more to have in the
future. I won't write a novel here mainly because I am not too clear in
my head about what I do actually think and can say about all this ... I
need a bit more time to think it over.
But generally speaking I think that it is true that groups as they are
now don't come across as exciting as a wordpress thing (for example)
That's true, but I think that when mara talks about being able to offer
them as blogs, this entails a lot of work to be done on them. Stuff like
the url being too long, design matters, and embedding,
importing/exporting stuff are crucial if people are to start using them
as they would do when they set up a blog somewhere else.
But I agree in that a lot of what can actually be done in these groups
is pretty much the same as you culd do in a 'normal' blog. Probably the
key would be to think of them as a 'service' that can be offered in a
more restrictive manner that blogger and wordpress would do. And i use
the word 'restrictive' in a positive sense if this makes any sense. I
mean, they don't care about what content their blogs carry (unless it is
too extreme of course) because their main interest is having as many
people as possible using them. People setting blogs is what makes them
big bugs, and so they keep very open. For these companies to continue to
exist and expand, they need to have a very neutral and ambiguous stance
on things like 'free speech' and so on ... as in not tacking political
stances and positions.
Indymedia is a diferent ball game altogether, and I guess anyone
deciding to set uup a group (blog) in there weould start from a
political / progressive / social justice stand point. In the same way,
that I don't think indymedima's role is to be neutral and ambiguous. To
me it is not a matter of competing with the big bugs corporations,
Indymedia can never win that batlle, but in provading alternative and
autonomous spaces so people can decide if it is worthwhile using them.
The better they become, the more people will be attracted to them i
guess. I suppose, as anything else in the site, is a matter of try and
see. Like the groups where (are) a trial and after some time it's clear
they don't work as they were envisaged, and this has quite a lot to do
with the lack of explanatory texts Planet mentions. True.
Anyway, this is just abstract ranting coz I don't have more concrete
ideas right now, but yes lets talk about these issues in meetings, days
away, lists and so on.
It's all good stuff
On 15/12/2010 7:05, Mara wrote:
> I just wanted to write a quick response, but ended up writing half a
> novel. To sumarise: I'm not convinced by any of the arguments, although
> I'm keeping in mind a lot of the feature discussions we had that don't
> actually exist, plus other ideas of what we could to with groups, which
> kinda warps my perspective a bit. I do agree that the groups
> functionality needs some love and attention to reach its potential, but
> I also hold with the point that groups could be better than blogs
> (though they're not quite there yet).
> So here come the details....
> On 15/12/2010 16:11, planet-mail at aktivix.org wrote:
>> 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.)
> I agree, on both of these. As for explanations, I've started working
> over some of the text on the site, to make it easier to understand and
> improve that kinda thing. I'll try and look at that as well.
> There should be an about menu item, which would also free up some real
> estate as we could move some of the links to static pages in to the
> about section. A get involved text would be pretty neat. I've been
> wondering about the static pages, I think we are over using them.
> Especially if hyperactive keeps developing, we need to have a quicker
> turn around on some of them. At the same time it would be sad to loose
> any of them and we don't really have versioning or anything. Maybe we
> should post those static pages as articles in the Indymedia London
> group, then we could be more ruthless about deleting ones that are a bit
> out of date and writing new ones.
>> 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.
> Can you explain in what way you have less ownership over it on the
> London site?
>> 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.
> As for the banner, yeah we were planning to actually allow people to
> upload their own banner and potentially use a colour scheme and only
> have a Imc London link in the corner (although a bit more prominent than
> the wordpress or blogspot links on those sites). This hasn't happened
> yet, mostly because we need more volunteers.
> As for appearing alongside other posts, for me that belongs into the
> "but better" section. On your group page you do not have anyone else's
> articles at all. You got your content, period. Other than on blogs you
> get additional features, like a calendar and M3U playlist. Same as with
> a blog, the group page is *your* group and *your* responsibility in all
> content. But at the same time, your content can also be promoted to the
> frontpage, and reach a wider audience (serendipity factor) that might
> never hear about your blog. Albeit it may have to coexist with other
> social justice related information, it's true.
>> 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.
> There is no embedding, that's true. You can post links to other media,
> although that's a lot less nice. We did discuss for a while whether to
> take the Bristol option and allow embedding, but with a warning layer on
> top. Not sure how difficult this would be and it's something that would
> need some more discussion before.
> You can share your content using the share button, not sure what the
> other social networking features are. To allow other people to
> contribute, you can make them a member of your group.
> To have an easily accessible RSS feed from a group would be pretty neat.
> I imagine it could be fairly easy too, there's been quite a lot of work
> done on the feeds recently. We could have the feeds next to the "link to
> this group" thingy in the right sidebar. The other way around, you can
> already pull two feeds into the group from elsewhere, which is a neat
> feature, especially if you have more than one site.
>> 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
> Well, you can't update your blog without logging in to wordpress or
> blogger, can you? Also corporate sites can take down your content,
> though that currently happens more on youtube than blogs. They can also
> delete the whole thing. And you have a lot less access to them and it's
> harder to challenge their decisions. We may hide stuff, but it is still
> accessible when we do. When corporates remove content, it's gone and
> you're fucked.
> As for editorial guidelines, yeah, I'm not interested in offering a
> platform to racist stuff or other things that breach our guidelines. I'm
> interested in offering this function to groups working for social
> justice. Also in terms of the danger of hiding, I think you have to keep
> in mind that the first option to deal with content on groups, that we
> don't want on the frontpage is merely to not promote it. Which doesn't
> impact on the group's content at all, as their post will still appear on
> their group page.
> The two things here that make groups less nice is the clumsy and long
> urls and the lack of design thought and work we have put into them so
> far. We would really need to do something about that to get them to
> catch on.
>> 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.
> Hm, yeah, just off the top of my head, they had to start by getting info
> out and spread that url. On imc they would have had to do the same
> thing, but would have gotten extra exposure through showing up on the
> front page, plus the uk site, plus any site that is pulling feeds from
> imc already. That is in addition to any promotional work they put in.
> They would have been able to use one platform for videos, articles and
> events, rather than using youtube for videos, then going back to the
> blog and embedding them, etc... It's a login less to worry about.
> Plus, obviously, respecting the readers privacy.
> Our twitter was just set up and hasn't got a lot of followers yet, but
> if we keep maintaining these things, potentially there may be the
> additional followers of the london stream getting info about each post.
> We could even try to come up with some way to be able to connect a phone
> number to a group so people can text to their groups. Though that would
> require some good thought and privacy warnings. We can probably also
> think about some way to link up groups with indy.im accounts (which can
> be linked with twitter accounts) so people can use statsnet and twitter
> apps to update their groups.
> I guess one thing I always have in mind are all the past discussions
> about what we could do. We do need another development push to make
> things work properly, and it would be great to pick up on some of those
> things. I wrote that email because I think we need to put some love into
> groups. And you haven't convinced be at all that an indymedia group
> could not work better for something exactly like the uni occupations.
> These are exciting times and there's already been some cool new
> devlopments. Yes, obviously groups are NOT blogs. But they might just be
> better than blogs if we put the love and effort in.
> We already have a list of things that would be good to do. Like allowing
> people to put up their own banner instead of the imc one, and we should
> get those feeds going. Also a calendar view of their events only would
> be great. And being able to export a groups content in xml could be
> pretty nice, that way people can back up their own content.
>> 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.
>> 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
> I think most of this is a usability issue. The functions of the groups
> aren't very accessible. So we need to put some work into account pages
> and that, really.
> As for the lack of updates, I guess some way of sorting them by
> activity, in terms of how much are they being used, as well as by
> creating and last post dates could be pretty awesome. And help around
> the issue of inactive groups. I mean, most of those set up once type
> groups don't even link to their websites or give any contact info. This
> might be helped with some work on the groups publish form (there I said
> it. I know it's a hassle, but it might be really helpful to have some
> optional fields like contact, website, meetings etc...)
>> 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!
> Here there is a bit of a problem with the groups name again. If we would
> rename them, someone like rikki might be happy to set up a group and use
> it exactly this way. And who wouldn't like to get all of rikki's great
> reporting collected in one spot? So while that use of groups is working
> fairly well, the name really stops them from reaching their full
> potential here, as it makes people think they have to be in a collective
> or similar to participate.
>> 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.
> Indeed, well put. Now this almost could kickstart another rant for me
> about how we need to syndicate content into the site, and extend other
> media and change that name too...
> But I'll leave it at that for now, if anyone actually made it through
> this novel, congratulations! Sorry for the length of this email, but
> there are so many discussions we have to have!
> Looking forward to hearing more around this issue,
>> 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.
> Interesting. Yeah, when we originally talked about groups, we wanted
> people to be able to add other posts into their group, as a kinda "like"
> function. I think this would be pretty neat as well!
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