back to UkNetwork

Update: a new process was agreed at the network meeting] in July 2010 in London (agenda/minutes).

WORKING PRACTICES ON uk.indymedia.org/ version 1.1

Version 1.0 of this snapshot was sent to imc-uk process on 29 Apr 2003. An updated version 1.1 was sent to imc-uk-network list in preparation for the Sheffield 03 network meeting. The snapshot is an effort to describe the present shared working practices on uk.indymedia.org and the development of the new IMC UK mir site - i.e. the consensus that we have developed over the past few weeks/months. It's kind of a guide in the indyjungle. Oxford, Sheffield, Cambridge, Manchester and Leeds reacted to it. An introduction to version 1.1 is archived on [imc-uk-process].

note: due to editing of imc-uk-process, some of the links are broken. If you'd like to edit this "snapshot", please do so at UkNetworkSnapshot1Draft2 - thanks.

...in a nutshell

uk.indymedia.org is a DIY project based on collaboration of a network. If you want something done, read the manual (scattered across lists and twiki) and go ahead - sometimes this just involves "doing it", sometimes you'll need to make a proposal to the appropriate list. Sometimes you might not be able to "do it yourself" - in that case you'll have to convince someone else to do it for you. If you have a problem with the documentation of any aspect of imc, improve it or find someone to do the job. Same goes for the functionality or aesthetics of the site and for the communication within the network. uk.indymedia.org is a collaborative project of local imc groups who agree on some basic common grounds. Participation involves taking responsibility for shared tasks and gives each group access to the knowledge and resources of other groups. Transparency is crucial - especially on the tech side. uk.indymedia.org is run by volunteers, mostly attached to regional collectives. A part from agreed shared tasks, everything relies on the motivation of individuals or groups - a good reason to maintain a spirit of solidarity and support in our communication.

I. Historical bits

Since the Lancester network meeting in February 2003, and the subsequent anti-war reporting, imc uk has kicked off as a network. Visible result is the new shared imc-uk website. Based on the Mir Software, it allows for regional collectives to run their own pages in collaboration with each other.

In the first years, imc uk was mainly maintained by a group in London (more) - we simply could not find other imc groups in the uk who were willing to join in. Then the network slowly started to build. Bristol set up their separate website, Scotland is working on one. Imc uk temporarily hosted imc ireland while they were setting up their separate site. Manchester and Scottland asked for subsections on the UK page. Imc-London set up their own mailing list. We started to have network meetings (see minutes archived on http://docs.indymedia.org/view/Local/UkMirCommunication). Lancester, Sheffield and Leeds joined in. Oxford and Cambridge applied for imc lists. The contact page was updated to include new groups. There is no "imc-uk" entity a part from the regional collectives. Several groups started to share "housekeeping duties" like newswire cleaning, the editorial guidelines were updated (...add more to UkMirAboutDraft)

II. Migration to MIR - a collaborative project

The first major project of the imc - United Kollective network was the migration to mir, completed on 17 June 2003 after 3 months of working and arguing, mainly on irc. This was much more than just a change of software: It is the outcome of a years long process to establish imc uk as a network of local imc groups who work together on a shared website, to build a platform where people from all over the country can share information/news. The process of the move to mir is documented on UkMovingToMir. The final deadline for the migration, the choice of open publishing model, the looks of the site, and the way we set up the admin depended on the input of each imc group - and although the site is live now, it's by no means finished. People from Oxford, Sheffield, London, Cambridge, Scotland were involved, supported by one extremely helpful mir coder. The development of the MIR site worked and still works a bit like opensource software developing, very pragmatic. Some people do things, then it's wait and see if others take them up. At the same time, imc uk has elements of a more structured, collective approach, because there are some things that we have to find consensus about. Example: A while ago, Oxford made a proposal about a shared colour scheme on regional pages. It was possible that regional groups go for one of the existing designs. It was also possible that some groups come up with their own design. We could have tried to find a firm consensus about the colour scheme in the network. This would probably have taken a while, until all existing imc groups have discussed amongst themselves, decided and come to an agreement with each other. In this example, a solution for the proposal was found on the tech list, without activating the entire decision-making machinery - the decision was left to the regional groups. So it was a matter of finding a balance between motivation/autonomy on one side and "branding"/functionality on the other.

III. uk.indymedia.org Communication tools

The consensus process is non-hierarchical, there is no formal decision-making body of delegates. But some communication tools for sharing knowledge, discussion and decisionmaking have developed. Generally, things are being discussed in a variety of communication channels, before they come up as a proposal.

/1 face to face meetings

Although we are using a variety of electronic communication channels, local imc groups rely on face to face meetings in intervals that suit them, mostly announced on their publicly archived imc list. If they don't get round to publicly announce their regular f2f meetings, they make sure to also hold open and public meetings (more...).

/2 Lists

Every local imc group currently liaises with some uk lists: imc-uk-network for information, imc-uk-process for discussion, developing proposals etc, imc-uk-tech to sort out how to do things. If things go well, consensus emerges from [imc-uk-process]. If it doesn't, things can be further discussed or eventually be brought to a face-to-face network meeting. The migration to mir, for example, has been "in the air" for more than a year, but it gathered momentum when a critical mass of imc groups agreed to it at the Lancester network meeting. Every imc worldwide is committed to be in touch with some global imc lists. Reports from global lists are fed to [imc-uk-process]. Sometimes, global lists are asking for feedback. It is important to be aware that silence on the lists is generally read as agreement. When a proposal goes up and nobody objects or amends, it is usually assumed that it can go ahead. But again, this is not a fixed rule. If I propose tomorrow to close down imc uk, silence might simply mean that people assume that I'm mad.

/3 Network Meetings

Every local imc group can propose a f2f network meeting. If a critical mass of local groups agrees that a network meeting is needed or that it would be fun, time and place are being sorted. Probably, the network meetings generate the most firm decisions, people tend to stick what they say at f2f meetings. Minutes are being published on [imc-uk-network]. Network meetings were held in Manchester (14/15 September 02), Lancester (22/23 Feb 03), and Sheffield (18/19 Oct 03).

/4 irc (internet relay chat)

Some imc uk people are hanging out on irc.indymedia.org, channel #uk. For 3 months, the customisation of the MIR software was a main project in the #uk channel. In June 03, it was used for the timeline-reporting on the G8 summit protests in Evian, in September for the reporting of the dsei protests. The channels on Irc.indymedia.org are helpful to work on specific projects, discuss things, establish common grounds, work out how to proceed, share infos, knowledge and resources (and be silly). Irc logs are being archived on the appropriate list and collected on UkMirCommunication. Irc is a forum to sort out practical details, to coordinate working groups, to share skills and knowledge. While major proposals often develop on irc, it is not a decision making channel, because so far, only few imc uk'ers use it.

/5 twiki

imc uk uses the indymedia twiki, our startpage is http://docs.indymedia.org/edit/Local/ImcUk. Twiki is a piece of opensource server software for collaborative content management. It allows users to create and edit Web page content using any Web browser. Everybody can register on the twiki and start using it. Like irc, twiki is not a decision making body, because not many imc uk'ers are using it so far. Important twikis should be emailed to the resp. lists from time to time.

ImcUk contains a list of contents. A special site, UkMovingToMir, was used to document the migration to mir. It contains links to discussions the the email lists or irc logs, tools for the development of the site and regional pages, documentation of technical and admin details. Hopefully, it will develop into a manual for admin, customising local sites, coding and the new imc process.

IV. Shared tasks

imc uk has developed a supportive attitude. People help each other out with major and minor questions, and generally respect each others work and listen to each others points of views. Although people often disagree, they tend to be able to find solutions. Some tasks are shared between all local imc groups who work on uk.indymedia.org:

/1 Liaising with 4 uk lists

crucial for each collective from the beginning: liaising with [imc-uk-features], [imc-uk-network], [imc-uk-process], [imc-uk-tech].

/2 liaising with global lists:

Every imc worldwide is committed to be in touch with some global imc lists: imc-finance, imc-process, imc-communication, new-imc. (complete??) There are a few other useful lists, like imc europe. Since imc uk is a network, we can share this workload between the local groups. Each group should be prepared to take on a global list for some time and occasionally forward reports from those lists to [imc-uk-process]. Sometimes, global lists are asking for feedback.

/3 list admin:

The administration of the shared [imc-uk] lists rotates within the local imc uk groups, both to share the workload and to make sure that power is decentralised. Presently, the network uses mainly [imc-uk-network], [imc-uk-process], [imc-uk-features], [imc-uk-tech]. For a list of all uk lists and their uses see the contact page.

/4 newswire cleaning

On the old imc uk active site, every newswire posting went straight to the frontpage. Moderators from local imc groups then screened the newswire and hid postings if necessary according to the editorial guidelines. For the present MIR side, we decided to use the same model. But it is possible to implement a different open publishing model (dutch model, german model). Example: imc-germany publishes newswire postings on the frontpage only AFTER the moderators have screened them, every posting goes to the "open posting newswire" which is NOT on the front page. Moderators screen the open newswire, and "promote" postings, either to the frontpage newswire, or to one of the topics, or to a "feature" (middle column). Some postings are hidden in a non-public database.

The main point for the imc-uk website is that all regional pages continue to share one database for newswire postings. The regional imcs take responsibility to look after the main newswire, not only after their own. We are working on ways to make each regional imc as autonomous as possible, without giving up the shared project.

/5 features:

Presently, features for the imc uk middle column on the imc-uk startpage are being proposed on imc-uk-features. All local imc groups are responsible to look after the uk middle column. Presently, there is no general concept as to the format of features - some are very long, some short, some have lots of links, others don't. Each regional imc group with their own page produces their own features. These can be promoted to the uk-startpage through the features list. Other options to generate uk.startpage features would be: - to generate them automatically from the local middle columns = each local featue goes to the uk startpage (needs tech-work to implement). - to generate them manually, for expl by a dedicated startpage features group, a dedicated list, individuals or a mix of all.

V. Setting up a regional page on IMC UK mir

To run a regional page on IMC UK mir means to be part of a network. Each local imc group that runs a regional page on IMC UK mir positions itself on the common grounds of the uk network, agrees to the "principles of unity" and takes on some of the shared tasks. The following paragraphs refer to those groups who are working on the uk.indymedia.org site - I assume that separate sites like Bristol have their own process. So far, applying for a regional page on imc-uk was rather informal. You send an email to imc-uk process or network, say that you have the resources to run a page, set up your template, assisted by the techies on #uk, and off you go. The result was mixed - some pages update regularly, while others remain unchanged for 2 months (expl.Westcountry from July til September) The degree of involvement in shared tasks and communication is being negotiated as things emerge, depending on specific situations.

/1 common grounds

New imc uk groups should

* agree with the UK Mission statement

At the moment, we are using the old imc uk mission statement. A proposal to work on it went to [imc-uk-network] on march 26. UkMirMsDraft includes all the changes that have been suggested in response to this proposal, it was uploaded on June 26 03.

* Agree with the current working practices of the site [link] The paragraphs on communication (III) and shared tasks (IV) sum up some of the current working practices of uk.indymedia.org. It would be good to work on and discuss a document which can be approved by the uk.indymedia.org network.

* Agree in Spirit to the http://docs.indymedia.org/view/Global/PrinciplesOfUnity The global indymedia community shares a set of "principles of unity". For the UK, these could be re-written to be a bit more user friendly!

* Have open and public meetings This is to make sure that indymedia uk has a presence outside the virtual world of digital communication channels, to encourage local participation, transparency and face to face contact. (...more?)

* Participate in outreach of uk.indymedia.org to local groups, encouraging more people to understand and use the site.

2/ steps towards a regional site on uk.indymedia.org

* make sure you have enough people to run the regional page - and to keep in touch with the uk network. Please be aware that imc is a global network, i.e. every imc group should keep track of what's happening there.

* tell the process list that you are interested. Somebody will get back to you.

* customise your regional page. Manuals and documentation are on a twiki page [http://docs.indymedia.org/view/Local/UkMovingToMir] - incomplete but better than nothing. Check also mir.indymedia.org. When you've RTM and get stuck, you can get more tech help on [imc-uk-tech]. There are also regular uk irc meetings, and it's helpful to hang out with the global mir coders on their irc or check their list [mir-coders]

* if you want your local imc group listed on the global linklist of all imcs, i.e. have your own localgroup@indymedia.org URL, you have to go through the new imc process via the global [new-imc] list. More info on the new imc process is on a Twiki page. We are thinking of moving this process to the UK, so that you don't need to go through the global lists, but this is only at the beginnings

3/ principles of unity

Tony proposes to amend the global "principles of unity" draft for the UK - here is his draft:

[1] Indymedia UK Network is based on principles of equality, and local decentralisation, made up of self-organised autonomous collectives that recognise the importance of developing a union of networks.

[2] IMC-uk considers open exchange of and open access to information a prerequisite to the building of a free and just society.

[3] Contributers and readers can use the open web based publishing to express their views freely, based on the trust and aderhence to the Editorial guidlines.

[4] Indymedia is a non-profit network

[5] IMC-uk recognises the importance of process to social change and is committed to the development of non-hierarchical and anti-authoritarian organising.

[6] IMC-uk is committed to the priciple of Consensus decision making and the development of a participatory democratic process that is transparent to its members.

[7] IMC-uk is commited to sharing of resouces including skills, knowledge and equipment where possible.

[8]...


-- IonNec - 19 May 2003

-- IonNec - 08 Jun 2003 added g8 reporting to irc projects.

-- IonNec - 30 Sep 2003 updated for Sheffield meeting 03.
Topic revision: r9 - 19 Jul 2010, MaRa
This site is powered by FoswikiCopyright © by the contributing authors. All material on this collaboration platform is the property of the contributing authors.
Ideas, requests, problems regarding Foswiki? Send feedback