page started following emails from AndMelb and others....

Conference Feedback

Introduction to email and initial thoughts

People ebbed away towards the end of the conference in dribs and drabs and we never got to do any assesment of the limitations/successes of the event. So below are some rambling thoughts, hoping to spark a few more and think about where we can go from here.

Over all, the event was great and it was fantastic to get together with a bunch of indy crews from around the region. Even if we were missing a few IMCs, it's still the biggest indy gathering we've had so far. -- AndMelb - 30 July 2004

Yay!!! I had a great time and was blown away by all the amazing folks. Thanks heaps for doing it, and!

-- StacyS - 31 July 2004

some things that we fell down on:

The core organising the conference was too small. We needed a core of 3 or 4 making it their main project and there was perhaps 1 or 2. There was a whole gamut of people who pitched in which i think was a amazing. If you include all the people giving talks, irene doing food, people organising benefits, radio carts, wiki workers etc. there was probably 40-50 people who contributed in some way which i think is great, a bigger core of people though and i think it could have been amazing as opposed to just great.

i don't say this to agrandise myself and discount other people's contributions but i think there was a major problem in terms of centralisation of knowledge (around me) and decision making. Organising to make yourself redundant is a very good thing and I didn't feel i could really do that here (i'm also a fucking control freak and need a food kick in the head sometimes too:). The problem is also that people start taking things on a lot and so others feel they are not as needed or that stuff is covered which creates a vicious circle.

What i am trying to say is that I think the role i played in terms of organising the conference was problematic in terms of a tendency towards centralisation. I'm interested in working out how/why that happened so that next time we can do better.On the other hand once people rocked into town people people innitiated a whole bunch of stuff for themselves, whether it was setting up computers, organising the wiki, painting banners, cleaning the space, doing propaganda etc. So the capacity is obviously there, how do we manifest that more often?

-- AndMelb - 30 July 2004

from the perspective of a new-comer to the oceania indymedia network, although not a newcome to imc, i found it quite difficult to know what was needed or not by the organising group. some examples:
  • there were frequent requests for participation, but no clear direction as to what needed doing;
  • i was unclear when (or even if) irc meetings were being held, and at best they seemed to be infrequent (although i know that they did occur);
  • there was a request for helping to decide the format for the friday. however, when i tried to draw up some kind of timetable on the wiki, i was told that it did not fit in with the plans for the day - the SoS RTS event.

i think the real problem was a lack of clarity about what exactly needed to be done. a non-hierarchical network is not necessarily meant to be without leaders, but without hierarchy. there must be the chance for everyone to be equal, to be treated equally and to learn and teach equally, but we are not all equals: we have different strengths and weaknesses and sharing these is what makes us powerful. thus, i would say that the melbourne collective did a great job in organising the conference, but unfortunately they were not that good in delegating out the responsibilities....

i apologise if that is overly-negative: it is not meant to be and i am particularly inspired by the initiation of this discussion.

-- GarconDuMonde - 01 Aug 2004

There are two issues here, 1) that there was too much work for one person, and 2) that there was a power imbalance between peers.

Centralisation happens around money. Generally it's better to have one person keeping track o' the bucks, but that creates a power imbalance. I'm afraid there's no way around this. Everyone trusts you, and, so it didn't become a problem. The only way to prevent corruption is to have open books (perhaps a wiki?) next time.

But that doesn't solve the problem of too much work for one person. Not everyone has the skills to organise stuff, so the tasks should be separated into areas of expertise: money, tech, venue, food, publicity, etc. This requires a really committed collective of talented people and that's where I always fall down when trying to organise events and projects. It's especially hard when nobody's getting paid for what amounts to a full-time job for a few months. In other words, it's a tough one and you did an admirable job of filling all those roles, and/or delegating effectively. I don't think you have anything to be ashamed of.

-- StacyS - 31 July 2004

There wasn't really any decisive end to the conf, or resolution - we all just floated away and stuff. While this can be seen as a good thing - ideas and thoughts continue to flow to our activities after the conf, it'd be good to have had a conclusions/resolutions session looking at some of the following to get some closure (thanks wowi) on the thing:

  • What we did & didn't do.
  • Things that worked & didn't
  • Where to next year?

Essentially, the stuff that this wiki page is about, but at the end of the conf, when things are fresh in our minds.

I've felt the same way about SoS the past few years, and I guess that for such a broad conf as SoS this is not a big problem, but I'd like some kinda closure session followed by a MASSIVE party next time we get together for an Indymedia gathering.

-- PaulWise - 03 Aug 2004

pre-organising

a lot of the pre-conf stuff like fundraising, travel stuff etc could have been far more decentralised and was a task you didn't have to be in melbourne to do. We failed in getting terry and yerry/bowo out to Australia though i think the conference was originally proposed back in November of last year and a lot of visa stuff was done at the last minute. More and better communication was definetly required and having more people taking on these tasks would have definetly helped. Melbourne fell down on doing enough publicity to get large crowds to stuff. For me transmission was the only event that had the crowd i was hoping for, perhaps i was imaging a lot more SoSers turning up to the other stuff.

We also never managed to get the audio stream working or even get some of the people who weren't able to come to hang out in irc. i think jong was the only one hanging around in irc.

-- AndMelb - 30 July 2004

some of this is covered in my points above. i think there were offers of help, but it can be difficult to take the initiative from afar. perhaps if some of these jobs had been delegated out by the organising collective (and i don't meant melbourne, here, i mean the few people who were actually involved in organising... although i guess they were all really from melbourne) it might have been easier.

i also really liked the idea of having 'buddies' to help people through immigration - wowi's idea? these people could have been from anywhere in australia....

another thing that we should all, perhaps, work on is skill-shares in our local imcs - for stuff like irc and the wiki. there was only jong and perhaps z2ltod that i saw in irc (apart from pabs and finn) so that wasn't much incentive to really spend more time in there, but it would have been good.

also, about streaming etc. i had a discussion with and_ about projecting the irc. he was against and i was pro - i really do think that we should try and do this sometime, or at least have one person at the conference specifically trying to do irc stuff so that 'others' can contribute. [will explain more if needed]

-- GarconDuMonde - 01 Aug 2004

clash with SoS, organising around/during other conferences

I think the fact that the conf, was organised close to SoS was both good and bad. Good because having a large indy presence at the conference hopefully put the idea into the minds of a bunch of people, though very little media was uploaded from the conference which is pretty bad really and generally i felt very scattered and disorganised as SoS which partly had to do with the fact that the space we were supposed to have didn't come through till wednesday and was in the arse end of the uni. we really should have been encouraging people at SoS to be uploading their reports/documentation/thoughts/feelings of the event. Having a couple of people really following up the space a good month or so in advance would have helped greatly.There were also obviously problems with the thursday and friday and SoS which also meant we were a little scattered but we needed 3 days at least and in the end it turned out to be too few. It also would have been nice, as was originally invisioned, to have time to actually sit down and start working on the projects we were discussing. Again a problem of time.

-- AndMelb - 30 July 2004

yeah, the problems at SoS were pretty bad but, in actual fact, i don't think they were our fault. for some reason, i was not aware of the SoS website until shortly before the conference (like, maybe, a couple of weeks?) - this was probably my own fault.

the fact that the room was so far away and so problematic (no internet access until late tuesday afternoon - and only after we had hassled some poor university admin to get the 'real' technical staff down) did not help anybody. plus there was the fact that there was a huge computer lab just behind the registration point, so it was easy for people to get on a computer anyway, without indymedia involvement.

i do agree, however, that having someone to liaise directly with the SoS people would have been great - as well, if they could have been there from the beginning (monday) and ensured that the room was set up and signposted etc. we live and learn.... - and shane and brandon now have jobs for next year!!

-- GarconDuMonde - 01 Aug 2004

Good stuff:

I though the documentation of the conference via the wiki was really fantastic. Thanks to gdm and others who put so much work into that. getting to know people was also really great, i learnt a lot from the conversations and gained a lot of energy and sense of a collective project. casio nova at the benefit was a highlight. i thought the discussions on saturday were of a really high standards and were very productive. Despite the major difficulties of dealing with the problems in brisbane i felt people came at the problem very well and with a great deal of maturity. This process was never going to be perfect but it was great to see the will there to really pull the network together and take up the challenge of a pretty boring and horrible task that could have so easily just been ignored until the whole collective folded and that was that.

The building of greater solidarity with asian imcs was also good through the process (even though only alex made it) I think there are better communication channels now. hopefully the asia-pacific stuff will come along soon but i guess this will depend on people putting in the work. imc-jakarta needs help and people were talking about a bunch of asian imcs wanting to come online. How/who is going to facilitate that happening. next wto meeting is apparently in hong kong. there is also a fairly strong asian people's global action <http;//www.agp.org> network that might be worth tapping into. the oceania 'common ground' is more less a rip off of the pga 'hallmarks'.

-- AndMelb - 30 July 2004

personally, i thought the conference was fantastic: my whole attitude to doing stuff (including work!) has changed, i feel really empowered to know that i am working with great people all over this continent and really feel a part of this movement, this network, this 'third way' - as the Zapatistas describe, of not trusting the (mainstream) media, but not being cynical and ignoring it, but creating our own. i met some fantastic people (all of you!) and saw some great things being done. i am inspired by the video collectives learn to do that, i am inspired by the techies to really get to grips with the practicalities of the network, i am inspired to see so many people participating and doing the stuff that i am also doing... and i was particularly impressed at seeing new faces (to indymedia) turn up to the conference and old faces (to indymedia although new to me!) trying to do and learn new things....

most of all, i was inspired to see faces. with love and solidarity,

-- GarconDuMonde - 01 Aug 2004

outcomes

so hopefully a lot of the things that were dreamed up will happen. I am very excited about the idea of getting a space for high quality online video and i think the linking up of more tech support will also bear fruit, be interested to follow the development of open editing stuff. it's great to see the oceania site already with long rss working. What other solid outcomes were there apart from the building of solidarity (it's really nice to have faces to nicks and emails).

-- AndMelb - 30 July 2004

GDM has set up an experimental drupal site for cat/sydney indy smile I've subscribed to imc-process, imc-global, and imc-legal

-- StacyS - 31 July 2004

next time?

so if we were to do such a gathering again some changes to make would be:

  • making it longer. In the end 3 or 4 days was not enough. We didn't
get down to actually starting to build many of the things that were talked about which was one thing i was hoping for. I like the idea of a whole week camp (maybe near the beach and during summer next time!!). That could also be more isolating if it wasn't also combined with some other conference though also. We lose the advantage of trying to get other people involved perhaps. The idea of the european transhack meetings might be away around this http://trans.hackmeeting.org/

  • *participation of asian imcs*
a few of us were questioning the allocation of so much money to the asian imcs for travel when that amount of money could do so much there in terms of helping the whole collective build more ongoing infrastructure. I think there was also a problem with exporting a western, individualist ethic to other imcs by forcing collectives to choose 1 person to come. This seemed to cause problems in manila for example. At the same time i think Alex's perspectives were really important for building the network and if the other imcs had come i think the feel of the conference would have been quite different and much more representative. Is this unavoidable? It's definitely something to think about if we do it again.

-- AndMelb - 30 July 2004

This is a problem that comes from the tyranny of distance and the fact that the airlines charge more for international flights than domestic ones. I think having people here face to face is invaluable, and if we want to define ourselves to include them, then we take on the responsibility and the burden of cost to overcome the borders which have been imposed on us by the western ethic we live in. That said, there is only so much we can do. The visas have to be organised at their end and they need to be responsible for finding out time-frames for getting them.

-- StacyS - 31 July 2004

that's all i can think of at the moment wink congratulations if you made it all the way through.
and.

-- AndMelb - 30 July 2004
-- GarconDuMonde - 01 Aug 2004 - ran out of steam for adding more comments in this last session! maybe later or tomorrow....


Emails in discussion...


-- GarconDuMonde - 01 Aug 2004
Topic revision: r5 - 03 Aug 2004, PaulWise
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