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Re: [ox-en] Indymedia -- the journal of the revolution?


On Sat 23-Aug-2003 at 11:04:54AM [PHONE NUMBER REMOVED], Stefan Merten wrote:

Unfortunately I don't know Indymedia very much but from what I've
heard - which is very in line with what you are saying - I agree with
you. Indymedia for sure is close to the top in the list of interesting
projects transferring ideas from the Free Software world to other
fields. It's good you put that topic to the idea list for the next

Cheers :-)

However, there seems to be some criticism from proprietary journalists
in the concept on Indymedia. Even from some which otherwise like ideas
of Free Software. Until now I was not able to learn what it is about
really but I would be interested in this criticism. Any ideas on this

I don't know, but a proposed text for an Indymedia debate
at the Next Five Minutes conference caused a lot of debate
on the imc-europe list, this was the original text:

  The Indymedia Debate

  The extraordinary expansion of and
  IMC's could lead one to conclude that the Indymedia
  model represents the most successful example of tactical
  media to date. And yet in Switzerland and in Belgium
  Indymedia has been under attack for allowing
  anti-Semitic propaganda on their site. Some European
  indymedias therefore want to rid themselves of the open
  publishing principles, but they face fierce opposition
  from the U.S. In what sense does this transatlantic rift
  between activist communities reflect the transatlantic
  rift on a governmental level? And why do indymedias have
  to be organized at a national level anyway? The inherent
  problems of any open system are causing great tensions
  within the indymedia network and it is clear that the
  indymedia concept is in urgent need of public
  reflection. So What is the tension between the drive
  towards becoming a professional news medium and the open
  publishing principles? What are the merits of such a
  centralized web portal? Why not spit up and create a
  thousand new indymedia that no longer carry that name?
  What are the good and bad sides of 'branding' in the
  tactical media scene? And above all is not high time to
  question the over-emphasis on live reporting of summits.
  How can Indymedia and the IMC's move beyond summit
  hopping tourism and reductive definition of politics as
  a place where world politicians make decisions behind
  close doors?

And this annoyed a lot of people because it has a lot of
things in it which are not true, see the discussion on
this list:

Which starts here:

  I think, whoever wrote the n5m piece about indymedia,
  hates indymedia, but has absolutely no clue whatsoever
  what indymedia is.  I cannot find 1 statement about
  indymedia in it that is actually true. I think the one
  with a desperate need for public reflection is the people
  from n5m.  If I'm going to visit the n5m, it's to deliver
  exactly that.

And after discuission on that list, on irc and through
many people editing the text on a wiki page this was the
new version of the text:

  The Indymedia Debate 0.2

  A global network of more than 100 open-publishing
  news-websites run by volunteers using free libre open
  source software, Indymedia represents a successful
  example of tactical media. The scale of reporting and
  global collaboration is flexible. Individual websites,
  although "branded", are customised according to the
  needs of local collectives. A part from websites,
  Indymedia uses a wide range of old and new media from
  photocopies to peer-to-peer video and radio streams.
  However, the very diversity of indymedia and it's rapid
  expansion leads to contradictions, conflicts, and
  questions for debate. Is indymedia a model for the
  further development of tactical media, or has it
  reached its limits?

  Technology - the answer to all questions?

  Although imcs exist on all continents, the largest
  number is located in Europe and the US. Despite
  cultural differences, imcs manage to collaborate as a
  network by tactically using IT-tools. However, the
  availability of geographically independent
  communication tools does not lead to the dissolution of
  national boundaries. Most European imcs organise on a
  national level, although thematic (imc biotech, imc
  climate) and regional (Euskal Herria) sites are being
  set up. Imcs in Europe and the US have been on
  oppposite sides of internal conflicts - does this
  reflect the transatlantic rift between the US and
  European governments? Is indymedia a model for a world
  without national boundaries - or does it perpetuate
  these boundaries?

  News from the activist ghetto?

  Besides day-to-day local reporting, indymedia
  symbolically multiplies summit protests by
  collaborative live reports. But have the anti-summit
  protests reached their peak? Do they reflect a
  reductive definition of politics as a place where world
  politicians make decisions behind close doors? Should
  Indymedia use its powerful role in the movement to push
  a wider understanding of politics?

  Open Publishing - at what costs?

  Imcs are often critized for their approach to open
  publishing. Advocates of a radical free speech approach
  are worried about "censorship", while a Swiss group
  complained about anti-semitic postings in the "trash"
  of imc-ch. Imcs have come up with a number of open
  publishing models. None of them satisfies both ends of
  the range. Any restriction of open publishing
  compromises the claim to radical free speech, while
  many imc volunteers are not prepared to tolerate racist
  postings. Is the legal and political price for open
  publishing too high?

  Or is open publishing an integral part of the global
  "commons of content" (Wikipedia, Creative Commons),
  where the free software mode of production is applied
  to content production? Oekonux even considers this
  practice as a seed for a different economy alltogether.

  The Brand moves on - DIY Ideology Versus

  Indymedia is a successful brand - recognisable,
  adaptable, easy to franchise. Has the brand grown to a
  point where it restricts political, aesthetic and
  tactical creativity? Is it loosing its empowering
  DIY-character, is indymedia on the way towards a
  professional organisation, with project managers and
  fundraisers? Is it time to radically decentralise, move
  on to smaller, autonomous projects beyond the
  limitations of a vast network?

The last section (about brands) was left in because the
N5M people had this idea in their original text, not
because any Indymedia people agree with it.

A HTML version of the above text, complete with link to
Oekonux and the GPL Society interview can be found here:

And the conference web site is here:

It should be an interesting discussion :-)




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