[Imc-uk-network] reviving/restructuring indymedia uk
shiar at riseup.net
Mon Dec 3 18:43:24 PST 2007
I've been silently following the recent heated discussions on various
lists. Unsurprisingly, they often made me feel bad but also got me
thinking about the present and future of Indymedia UK (and Indymedia in
general). So here is a summary of what i think is the way forward. And
forgive the long email but i think it's all quite important (of course ;).
Although we're sometimes reluctant to acknowledge it, Indymedia, in my and
others' opinion, is facing many dead ends: structurally, technically,
politically and in its once-revolutionary presence and relevance to the
movement(s). So unless we acknowledge these problems and seriously think
of ways forward, we can only sit back and sadly witness it dying slowly.
Behind these various problems, though, there is imo a bigger 'problem':
the fact that the project has grown so much since it started 8 years ago,
and that the world has changed so much, that Indymedia sometimes feels
like a real maze (or mess). Different people seem to want different things
from this great project. I have often noticed that people mean different
things when they say "Indymedia". So it is time, i would humbly propose,
to 'break it up' and think differently.
But before that, let me stress what i think can keep Indymedia
"revolutionary" and "relevant":
2.the politics (radical, grassroots etc.);
3.the collective, collaborative way of working.
None of these is able to create an Indymedia or hold it together without
the others. If one goes, what remains is a masquerade.
As I said, Indymedia has grown so much and there are already so many
projects within it. However, some of these projects are imo fundamentally
different from the others and have a different logic. It seems to me that
keeping them 'in the same house' is the core problem.
So my proposal is to break up Indymedia UK into sub-projects, or
sub-sites, each with its own aims and editorial guidelines, target
audience, dynamics and everything. And here is what I personally think is
the best way to do that (of course, it's all up for discussion and
1. Indyspatch or IndyNews
We've already seen Indymedia dispatch and phone services during big
actions. What i'm thinking of is a permanent dispatch facility, made
easier and more open and widespread. Think of it as an alternative,
grassroots, open-publishing news agency.
I've thought about this quite a lot and it needs a separate discussion
(how it would work, what kind of news etc.). In principle, there would be
permanent number(s) and email address(es) where people can call, text and
email their brief news as they happen and these go up automatically after
some sort of confirmation (which would be the job of Indy
admins/volunteers). More importantly, concerned people can receive these
news on their mobile phones in order to go down, act etc. It would
obviously have topics and regions, i.e. separate newswires or feeds.
Anyway, the main point is: reporting on big actions is not enough any more
imo; we need to think bigger and really be everywhere. It also restores
the main function of Indymedia as a grassroots news 'service'.
The typical action reports and middle-column features. And we've already
talked a lot about a non-linear design. No Comments would be allowed (this
will happen elsewhere); only Additions.
Regarding Features, I would argue that experience has shown that, unlike
the Newswire, open publishing (or depending on activists) doesn't really
work for features. So what we need, it seems, is a committed Features
Working Group that sews reports together and is trusted by the rest of the
collective to represent the views of Indymedia UK where it has to say more
than mere facts (the process of feature-writing will still be public and
open, of course).
We've kind of talked about this when discussing the proposed Other Press
topic. But, in addition to commentary on and links to reports in other
alt. media and blogs, this could be the place for what i call Edited
Reposts (i've done it quite a lot): reposting mainstream news after
stripping it from the editorial distortion and manipulation; in other
words, re-writing news we don't normally get from a radical, grassroots
The idea is that, while action and community news help cover what the
mainstream and corporate media ignore (censorship by omission), this
would help challenge them in their own game as well, i.e. in the things
they do cover but in a biased or distorted way.
Middle column Features could be, for example, Indymedia 'critiques' of
mainstream coverage of certain events.
4. Indyscussion or Indymedia Discussion Forum
We have discussed comments a lot and tried to come up with solutions, but
they remain one of the biggest and most annoying problems for admins and
'target readers' alike. However, we can't deny people's need to talk and
comment, and i personally think it's a good thing and sometimes
good/useful results may come out of it. So the idea is to provide a sort
of open discussion forum for people to discuss the content in other Indy
This could (or should) be moderated on a more user-based basis (like
people voting if a comment is offensive etc.). We could also have such
features as the "most popular", "most fruitful" etc. which would help us
get a better idea of our readership, interaction and so on.
Apart from a Photoreports Wire, this could have other interesting features
like Photo Features; featured photo(s) of the day; collections of pics on
certain topics etc. etc.
Similar to IndyFoto. It would also be nice to have a built-in player (like
YouTube) and some encoding/decoding code (like G8 TV, i think).
Ideally, there would be dedicated video-makers piecing together videos to
produce more Indy 'video features' or films.
More important than producing radio shows by certain committed
individuals, in my opinion, would be allowing people to record and post
their own audio reports and commentary. Then we could easily have 'audio
features' pieced together from these audio reports and comments.
8. Indy Calendar
This already exists (thanks to Yossarian) and would ideally become the
'calendar of the movement'.
9. IMC UK History
This, too, was created by Yossarian and others a while ago. However, i
can't see much point in it if we don't really use it to eagerly document
what we do and use this to reflect on and research what we do ourselves,
rather than leaving it to alien academics.
10. Collaborate Workspace
We haven't really worked hard to promote the collective/collaborative
production of media, the way Wikipedia has done, for example, although we
do have a vast wiki site (i'm not talking about dedicated IMCers). Even
features are often written wholly by one single person, with the others
not even bothering to fix typos.
So I propose we have a section on the UK docs.indy (or even a separate
wiki) as a Collaborative Workspace for 'normal' contributors, where they
can collaborate on writing articles and other things.
11. Have I forgotten anything?
I am aware that all this is very ambitious and needs years of work to
realise. I am also aware that we already have a shortage of techies and
we're hardly coping with what we have now. But i am hoping that these
proposals would re-awaken the interest in our techies and bring some news
Also, there's already a lot of work and thinking being done on new Content
Management Systems (CMS). But IMO we don't really need to have one CMS for
everything; it just makes things more complicated. A lot of these things
already exist. We just need to feed them into each other where necessary
and make sure we keep them under the same umbrella (mutual links, similar
The startpage of Indymedia UK could simply be nice links to these
sub-sites, perhaps with a startpage-special for a big current event or
As for regions, I would propose non-linear startpages with sections for
each of these projects. For example, regional newswires could be split up
into two: regional IndyNews and IndyReports (articles from the
corresponding wires that have that region ticked). It is, of course, up to
the regional imc's what they want to do with their sites.
Well, endless discussions on lists then a network meeting where these
proposals are blocked or, if decided, working towards materialising them
over the next 10 years ;-).
P.S. Please forward to your local IMC's but all discussions should take
place on the imc-uk-process list.
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