Sorry, am not very used to using these. Not so much an edit as a comment - I agree more and more with the opinion expressed last night that we shouldn't be forcing a consensus through ox-imc - I don't even know what I think yet. I think it would be more effective if we gave our personal opinions to the list(s), rather than throwing at the rest of uk a big weighty ox consensus.
I think your document is excellent, Jack, by the way, for the way it summarises what tentative consensus there was last night, and principally for how it expresses some of the philosophy behind it. I just feel it's too early for us to have any kind of consensus. For my part, I've been researching, and think pretty much as before. The only other imc in the world that does (de)centralisation like the UK is Argentina, etc, etc. I'll be contributing this stuff to the uk-process as soon as I've got something coherent.
I think it would be great if you sent some of this (whatever you're happy with) to the process in a personal capacity. Or perhaps we could say that these were commonly held views amongst a number of us, rather than the big consensus hammer thing. But I basically think that we should contributing in a personal way at the moment, rather than as a surly band of Oxford trouble-makers! It's interesting that so far there's been absolutely no movement towards our way of seeing things, so we have to go a step at a time.....
What do people think?
- 21 Dec 2004
Oxford IMC met last night to try to formulate a response to the adverse comment in the uk-process list regarding our views on the structure of the United Kollectives. We were unable to concense on much that could be described as a proposal; however there was a remarkable unity of sentiment to the effect that the structure of the UK website(s) draws focus away from local kollectives, and that this should be changed. We spent a long time considering the details of such a change; but the issues are complex, and we don't have all the answers (or any answers, really).
We would therefore appreciate the help of the UK network in coming up with a reasonably solid proposal that has a chance of gaining consensus support.
There is one practical proposal that we were able to agree on. The UK network has already agreed that the automatic posting of local newswire reports to the UK newswire should be changed; this was agreed more than six months ago, but it has not been implemented. [Insert archive link] We propose that this change now be made, with a deadline of the end of January 2005 [?].
Returning to the broader issues: the points on which we clearly agreed are generally 'philosophical' in nature, being concerned with the purpose of Indymedia, the significance of virtual networks as compared with 'real' local networks, and the proper function of a national Indymedia website.
- Indymedia is about grassroots reporting ("Make your own news"). It is therefore important that visitors to Indymedia websites should be driven down to the original, local news article as early as possible during their visit to Indymedia. Feature articles, whether on a local site or on a national or global site, should link directly to the raw newswire articles from which they were assembled (and these links should push visitors directly to the local site). Feature writers should always include links to local newswire articles and features. Where a national feature is assembled from features on local sites, the newswire links in the new feature should link to all of the newswire articles that the component local features linked to. If local newswire articles are to be mirrored on the national site, only the title and abstract should be readable on the national site; to read the full posting, visitors should be directed to the original local newswire article.
- Reporters should be encouraged to post to a local newswire, rather than to a national or global newswire. How best to do this is not clear - suggestions included eliminating the IMC-UK newswire entirely, so that it would become a features-only website; making the UK newswire read-only (i.e. an aggregation of posts to local newswires, whether filtered by humans or just a raw aggregation); or simply making it 'less easy' to post to the national newswire, perhaps by making the 'Publish Your News' link on the national site harder to find. We considered the French, American and Greek models: the French and the Greeks have no national site at all, and the US national site is essentially an aggregator.
- A number of people posting to uk-process have said that they 'have no local collective'. We felt that these claims have no merit - there are more local sites in the UK per square mile than anywhere else in the world. Indymedia collectives organise using the internet, and geographical distance should not prevent anyone from participating in a local collective. Note, for example, that GarconDuMonde participates in UK organisation from Sidney, Australia.
We are looking for compromise; but at risk of provoking more adverse comment, we feel that it's important to make clear our true feelings. The core sentiment in IMC Oxford remains unchanged - that the UK site is misconceived, representing as it does (or appears to do) a nation-state model of organisation, and consitituting a centralising 'magnet', for both social and technological reasons. Socially, people wanting to make a 'more significant' contribution are naturally drawn to contribute to the national project, or the global project. This is in conflict with the grassroots ideals of Indymedia. And technologically, the way the UK site works draws visitors away from local sites towards the UK site, which is the opposite of what we think should be happening. We feel that these aspects are harmful to the network, to a greater or lesser extent.
However we appreciate that the UK site has been the focus of a lot of work, and that the UK collective has every right to continue to operate. We have struggled to arrive at a draft proposal embodying a compromise that had a chance of gaining consensus support; but we are a long way from achieving that, because the issues are complex, and require (we think) much more discussion and broader participation.
So we are appealing to the UK network to discuss these issues with us constructively, hopefully with a view to drawing some definite conclusions about what can be done - maybe in Bristol, in the spring.
IMC Oxford is not interested in any kind of separatism - on the contrary, we are enthusiastic about participating fully in United Kollectives. We think it would be a good thing for as many collectives as possible to go through new-imc, but not as a means to becoming somehow independent of UK - rather to strengthen it.
- 21 Dec 2004