MAG-Net Membership Application

Provide a brief description of your organization and the constituency you work with:

May First/People Link is the largest progressive Internet technology organization in the United States and among the oldest providers of Internet services in the world. With over 550 members, about 400 of them organizations, MF/PL brings to users of the Internet an alternative approach: members pay dues, which are pooled to purchase equipment and pay maintenance costs, and all members share those resources by hosting their websites, email accounts, and mail lists with us. An MF/PL member does not pay for any of these resources, no matter how many they use.

MF/PL has also revolutionized the concept of technical support as a "shared responsibility" of members. Our approach is to organize and develop a special team of technologists who work on the organization's infra-structure. We are a member-run organization with yearly membership meetings and an elected Leadership Committee making key strategic decisions.

Aside from our basic mission, to share and protect members' Internet resources, May First/People Link is active in many campaigns and activities principal among them the World Social Forum and the U.S. Social Forum, for which we are members of the leadership bodies of both and provide extensive technology support and resources for the organizing processes and forum events. We are also very active in the international Climate Change movement. MF/PL is a member of the Association for Progressive Communications and sponsors and does workshops in about a dozen conferences and events every year.

How do you see the intersection of social change and media justice?:

Our work is primarily Internet focused. The Internet is among the social justice movement's most potent communication tools. The Internet has already played a critical role in combating disinformation, expressing new ideas, delivering truth, and bringing committed people together.

Many commercial providers and corporate interests don't want the Internet to belong to everyone. For them, the Internet is a way of selling products and services and that vision tries to dictate people's use of the Internet through the development of, often proprietary, Internet technology. Corporations have attempted to block political email in the name "fighting spam," prioritize commercial traffic over non-commercial traffic, and otherwise limit the use of the Internet as a tool for distributing information vital for our movements for social justice. And we can't forget that large proportions of the population have difficulty even getting online. Access remains a serious challenge that crosses rural/urban, economic, racial and gender lines.

We believe it's important to develop the Internet and Internet policy in ways that expand access and empower progressive movements and communities to develop technologies and approaches to services and tools that both address our specific needs and enhance our communications and organizing potential. We believe these principles are fully aligned with those of the media justice movement.

What strengths and experiences can you bring to the network?:

As a membership organization we bring a collective energy of organizers who have already identified the Internet as a critical political issue and support the existence of an alternative and progressive communications infrastructure. Additionally, our own membership in and connections with international networks will strengthen the global, grassroots response to policies and practices on many levels. We bring our technological experience and expertise to issues of free and open source software, tools for collaborative democracy, and policy questions around technology and communications. We also bring our commitment and dedication to the principles of media justice.

What would you like to get out of being a member?:

Though much of our international work addresses serious questions about technology access and infrastructure, we have been less specifically involved in many of the day-to-day battles and debates over Internet legislation in the United States. To better serve our members, it's important that we involve ourselves in policy and campaign work that groups like MAG-Net are actively working on. Our decision to request membership comes after discussions about a commitment to deeper engagement in MAG-Net and its members' conversations and efforts. As a membership organization ourselves, we are aware of the power of networks and so look for opportunities to engage and connect with issue-focused organizations. We look for both potential MF/PL members and collaborative partners. It is not surprise to us that many members of the MAG-Net community are MF/PL members already. MF/PL's membership in MAG-Net is an opportunity to take those relationships deeper as well as build new ones.

Last modified 9 years ago Last modified on Jul 23, 2011, 4:41:28 AM