Software Summit in WhitechapelTagged as: culture facebook google indymedia social_struggles surveillance technology
Neighbourhoods: larc whitechapel
Published by group: Indymedia London
The first Hyperactive Summit was held this past weekend, 7-9 May 2010. The meeting was a mix of politics and technology centering around issues of free code, autonomous/anarchist social movements, grassroots reporting, and state and corporate surveillance. It had a special focus on the Hyperactive content management system used by London Indymedia, which was built by the London collective over the past few years.
There was vigourous political debate and discussion throughout the weekend. The summit was held one week after the 10th birthday of Indymedia UK, and the opportunity for "what are we going to do next" navel-gazing was combined with immediate practical concerns about the shape of the Hyperactive code to spark up some good arguments. The keynote speech by one of the Hyperactive developers asked some questions about what the next moves should be, for both the Hyperactive codebase specifically and for Indymedia and other political media projects more generally.
Indymedia was started a decade ago by media activists who were worried about the negative social effects of broadcast forms of corporate media. It was a form of media direct action which went past criticism and attempted to circumvent and overthrow the political power of the state and private media corporations. Operating under fairly adverse conditions, during local insurrections or national rebellions, Indymedia has had many tactical victories; however, the institutional pressures of modern society mean that there will be powerful corporate-owned mass media until the capitalist system can be replaced with more participatory institutions throughout the economic system. Indymedia cannot win until everybody wins.
As a whole, the global Indymedia network is still busy responding to the institutional problems identified ten years ago, working to create a counter-power to the corporate broadcast media. In the meantime, the media landscape has changed dramatically, to the point where one-to-many broadcast media forms are only one among a set of other problems, whose social impacts are as of yet somewhat unclear. Mobile phones, text messaging, corporate email systems, and social networking websites now form an interlocking set of communications systems used by a majority of the population, and a large proportion of peoples' everyday interactions happen via electronic media. A vast infrastruture of phones, wireless access points, routers, switches, and computer processors has spread out through our entire society, one credit-card purchase at a time - but under the conditions of a profit-making, data-driven economy, the software running on this infrastructure is a DIY corporate and state surveillance system rather than something that empowers people to connect with each other while respecting the limits of their privacy. Facebook and Google are not particularly interested in owning the one-to-many media that Indymedia is worried about - they are busily putting themselves in a position to monitor and control the one-to-one communications of the vast majority of the population.
The main political discussion of the Hyperactive Summit was focused on these issues and the question of what the Indymedia response to this new set of problems could be. The keynote speech tried to set out these issues.
Related article: Non-corporate Social Networks
This item requires Macromedia Flash Player 10.
To get the latest version please click here.