[IMC-UK-Propose] PROPOSAL: syndicated front-page process
imc-london at indymedia.org
Tue May 4 12:27:21 PDT 2010
This email from Indymedia London contains some background text and a set
of proposals to the collectives of the Indymedia UK network.
First, a bit of background.
For many years, there has been a desire on the part of people in the
local collectives to feed content from local sites into the front page
of Indymedia UK. This would achieve a few different goals.
It has always been the case that Indymedia UK is a network of
collectives. However, because of the technical divide between Mir and
non-Mir sites, there has sometimes been confusion about what “Indymedia
UK” is – is it a website or a political organization? Imc-London
strongly believes that Indymedia UK is a network of collectives joined
together by a desire to confront the lies and distortions of the
corporate media, and to present a self-managed, autonomous alternative.
Our thinking about the syndicated front page has always been guided by
this, and keeping that in mind, we want to achieve the following aims:
* make the reporting work done by local collectives more visible
* promote closer ties between the otherwise quite disconnected
projects in a technical sense
* strengthen the relationship between the collectives in the network
in a political sense
* provide the best possible experience for Indymedia users
* make Indymedia a better weapon in the hands of social movements
throughout the UK
* Encourage new volunteers to set up new collectives and revitalise
old collectives – by bringing readers to local sites and encourage
At the most recent network meeting in Bristol (April 2010), the assembly
decided to empower a working group to put together a proposal for how
the syndicated front page could work, and present the proposal to the
next network meeting in July. It was the understanding of the London
people in attendance that this would be both a technical and political
process, where we would work with people from all the collectives of
Indymedia UK, as well as with individuals, to articulate a vision for
the syndicated front page and work together to make it happen.
This had been our experience of building our own CMS. During the
construction of Hyperactive, we have had a continual cycle where people
in our collective would articulate what they wanted, the technical
people would present options and possibilities, and the collective would
decide which course of action to take. Sometimes it was the case that
the process would work in reverse, and the technical people would
present possibilities that others hadn’t thought of, and these would
also be accepted or rejected by the collective.
It has always been understood by people in our collective that the techs
need to have the freedom to do things and ask permission afterwards,
although there has also conversely been a strong sense of responsibility
on the part of the techs not to do anything which they knew large
numbers of people would disagree with. The process has always been
helped along by the strong mutual trust which all members of the
collective feel for one another.
The UK front-page syndication process so far has not exactly conformed
to these expectations. While it may have been the case that it was
easier to execute changes on the live server, given the level of mutual
mistrust evident in the network recently, this was an extraordinarily
bad decision. It has shifted the focus away from the political and
technical possibilities, and the exciting things we could achieve, and
into yet another cycle of mutual recriminations.
The situation as we see it now is: one collective (Northern) has already
expressed a desire for the site to be reverted to its original
condition. At the imc-london meeting last Thursday, there were proposals
in the London collective for exactly the same thing. If the basic aim is
to federate content and strengthen ties within the Indymedia UK network,
then the process has already failed. To lose the confidence of half the
collectives currently outside Mir in the first few weeks means that
something is desperately wrong.
Now, to our concrete proposals. As a result of the work done so far, it
is now the case that we have a working technical implementation which
does partially fulfill some of the goals expressed at the outset of this
email. Content is currently being fed up from two local collectives into
the imc-uk site. While we have some suggestions to make about the
implementation, and as noted have concerns about the process so far, it
would be a shame to throw away the work done up to this point.
Our proposals are as follows. We would like to keep the changes made to
the Mir site so far, with the following changes:
PROPOSAL 1: LINKING: article titles on the front page newswire should
link to the site of origin rather than to content on indymedia.org.uk.
We would like the Mir link removed as we don’t think that it displays
our content in the best possible way.
PROPOSAL 2: NORTHERN: We would like to ask the Northern England
collective if the implementation of PROPOSAL 1 above would answer enough
of their concerns (some of which we share) to allow them to re-join the
feed structure. We think that if the Northern collective can bring
themselves to re-join the feeds, then some of the most basic ideas of
the syndicated will have been achieved and we can proceed with more
radical visions (see below).
PROPOSAL 3: PROCESS: we think that the process so far has been a total
mess. Despite some attempts to ask for some structure to the discussion,
the process has been overwhelmed by personal vendettas, bad feeling,
mixing of issues, distrust, and the sheer volume of emails. It has often
been the case that individuals are more anxious to score points in their
ongoing arguments than to think up the best possible way of redesigning
the indymedia.org.uk front page with the aims articulated at the
beginning of this email.
We are unwilling to continue with the syndicated front-page proposal
process on this basis as we do not believe it has any chance of coming
up with any result at all.
We therefore propose the following:
* attempting to reach a decision among individuals on the tech and
network lists has comprehensively failed. Working group(s) wishing to
make proposals about the indymedia.org.uk front page should identify
themselves to the network list, give some summary details of their
proposed solution in order to allow other people to join with them, and
self-organize a process for working on their proposals. This will
hopefully untangle the mess and allow some forward motion, although it
may come at the cost of some duplication of effort.
* we believe it is appropriate and necessary for working groups to
set defined boundaries on their membership.
* because the most basic functions of a syndicated site have been
met by the work done so far, we believe it is appropriate for working
groups to make proposals which are not constrained in any way by what we
already have – merely by what we might realistically do. This may seem
obvious but we feel it is worth making it explicit.
* the goal of this proposal is still to make one or more working
implementations which can be presented to the upcoming imc-uk network
meeting in July, adopted at that meeting, and implemented immediately
These proposals are addressed to the active collectives in the Indymedia
UK network. We would like to get a response back ideally within the next
week so that we can ask for an implementation as soon as possible on
PROPOSAL 1 and move into the process described in PROPOSAL 3. Please
inform us as soon as you can if this is not possible for your collective.
The proposals are not mutually dependent on one another, although we do
believe that there is some logic to the whole package.
ps there have been some emails sent to the tech and network lists
recently which were based on outdated proposals. These are not the
wishes of the London collective and we apologize for any confusion
caused. If it's no trouble, please put our feeds back in the list of
feeds that were pulled.
More information about the IMC-UK-Propose