When Do New Social Media and Political Activists Converge/Match?

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Facilitated by Mayo Fuster Morell

The goal of this session is to analyze different cases of building tools for political participation and democratic organization. The scope is to identity among other things: “wrong/false” expectations; possible organizational and cultural limits in appropriating/using the new technologies of information; patterns of online interaction; ways of combining democratic organizing and governing with the constraints implied by the medium; conditions for an online community formation. In the context of the Web 2.0 explosion, social movements appear to under-utilize the potential of multi-interactive technology and are no longer at the forefront of innovation in the use of the new media. On the one hand, the efforts to build intentionally techno-political tools from the movement of movements had, in general, limited success. On the other hand, there is a proliferation of “successful” experiences of online communities that appear to share some values and organizational principles (connecting diversities, organizing distributed participation, a spirit, mechanisms of sharing and collaboration, and openness) with social movements, along with many differences. Furthermore, there appears to be a disconnect between the open knowledge “movement” and the movements of movements.


mayo -

building techno-political tools in europe.

world social forum movement - started in 2001, seattle wto gathering one of the different catalysts different movements being brought together. started in brazil, then been in india, africa. always in january, because that is when the world economic summit happens. there has been a european social forum. last year there was in atlanta the first US social forum.

building of tools to support, keep connections going. not just for when people are gathered at a forum, but also in between gatherings.

social movements do not do much with the potential of the technology. used in some occassions and not in others, but not clear why.

innovation of the use of new technologies and provisions of the use of new technologies has been provided by companies. strategy of having our own infrastructure has been loosely enforced. benefits of things like facebook is reach, popularity. but they have a tradeoff, loss of privacy, etc.

what kind of alliances can we build with the nonprofit sectors in order to provide technologies with a not-for-profit perspective?

rabble/evan (montevideo) - lots of tech work for indymedia and other anti-globalization efforts all over the world.

discussion about the challenges between the communications between the on-the-ground folks and the techies.

two initial examples are much bigger scale. smaller scale issues are about adoption. bigger scale is about planning.

people eager to adopt technologies, know they want to use facebook but don't know how. technology is not just this thing that you use, it is for something.

orgs now need person in charge of online media in order to be competitive. some groups just do not have that.

seems like there is a base cultural context - putting people in a box

need to start with a goal and then find the tech to get you there.

indymedia - not able to generate a sustainable system. so then we go to the corporations. we need an intermediate solution. we need institutions whose elements are towards social service, second element to be sustainable. not just fundable,

barcelona has strong history of cooperatives. with the access to funding being more difficult, more feasible the rise of non-profit software...

wikimedia - anti-commercial. around wikimedia is growing some communities. see some non-profit models of sustainability.

problematic when we have no control over providers. alternative model of governing tools.

have much does the nonprofit software sector compete with commercial firms?

serving the needs of nonprofits inhibits the flexibility to create infrastructure.

not inherently problematic. move towards hosted services, only innovation is in commercial firms, very problematic.

openplans.org - run like a startup. potential model.

indyvoter - privavcy vectors. died after the election. league of pissed off voters, using this initially, is now using facebook.

mybloc.net - funder dollars, nice tools, no users

chris hughes - co-founder of facebook, ran social network site for obama

citizenspeak - built it, how to find the constituency was the challenge. now we do have the means to talk to one another, to reach our audience that is so scattered.

as technology becomes more complex, we treat some of it as utilities. need to focus on your thing and use the utilities.

need to figure out who has facebook, text messages, etc. how to get messages to people. division into techno-niches.

networked politics - seminar in bay area dec 6-7. world social forum, social researchers, techies.

utilities is a good analogy. sale of airwaves in US did not get the people much, but it did create huge wealth for corporations. now the internet infrastructure will make corporations LOTs of money and we need to participate, weigh in, get involved.

among techies, doing tehnology work to make revolution possible. the tools we build have an embedded ideology built into them. we need to build other tools to match the ideology. dotcoms built the tools with the values without the goals.

barcamps come from ruckus tech camp model.

belief that using google api you are using the morality of google.

why rewrite the phones? skype did. asterisk did.

change the world thru taking power, changing the world without taking power. here we also think that we can change the world thru making enough money.

youtube did change the world.

morality of software - what impact does it have...

activists just want to get their work done.

at some point you will have to compromise.

use it while it is here and do your best to insulate

feel - much more optimistic. there is a space for change.