Version 23 (modified by Jamie McClelland, 10 years ago) (diff)


Lowdown -- USSF 2010 Special Edition

Pages 4 standard

Size 16 x 22.75" Image Area 15 x 21" per page (printable)

Folding 8 x 11.375" (approx.)

One horizontal fold (to make four pages) Then one vertical fold (like NY Times or other broadsheet newspapers do)

Try for photo in each article -- please leave placeholders for now


While we're still working on all this stuff and are still fuzzy about layout, etc. we believe the following could be the panels.

Our logo, masthead, etc. Name of paper is "Lowdown -- Special Edition, USSF 2010" the special edition stuff can go on second line in smaller know how to do it.

About May First/People Link (Co-Directors' Statement, Statement of Unity, Member Principles)

Tech Principles -- One full panel -- largest type possible

MF/PL Members at Social Forum (list of members and workshops -- the attached document)

Tech Congress

Tech Innovations at USSF

Interest form that can be torn off paper (I think maybe this can go on other side of LC member masthead thing)

Here's the content:

Statement from our Co-Directors

We're May First/People Link, one of the largest progressive Internet membership organizations in the world, and we've been involved with the Social Forum since the first Forum in 2007. This year, May First/People Link volunteer staff and members lead the Information, Commumnications and Technology Working Group: the team that plans, installs, and maintains all information technology systems.

We do a lot of things as an organization, including sharing the resources to provide Internet activity for all our members. We have about 300 organizations and 100 individual members now; altogether our "member base" (based on email accounts) is over 2,000.

But what we do with the Social Forum is among our most important activities. We invite you to take a look at the list of workshops our member organizations are sponsoring during this Forum. That's part of what we do.

This Social Forum comes at a time of enormous crisis and opportunity. All the systems most of the human race has relied on for its survival are in crisis: government, economy and climate/environment. The human race is answering by developing movements and initiatives like the Climate Change movement and, of course, the Social Forum movement. And it has developed highly powerful and innovative technologies to allow it to build those movements the most prominent of which is the Internet.

May First/People Link considers its work intertwined with that of the Social Forum and we are committed to it and the many other iniatives arising world-wide. We are heavily involved in the World Social Forum movement, have done tech work at many Forums all over the world and serve on the Technology Committee of the WSF. We are also involved in the Climate Control movement out of Cochabamba, Bolivia.

This work flows from the decision, made by our Leadership Committee two years ago, to concentrate on a "hemispheric initiative" which recognizes that the United States cannot continue in the isolation we're existed in for so long but must collaborate with the rest of the Hemisphere as equals if we are to survive. And that's why our approach to technology mandates our sharing the technological resouces we have with the rest of the world and collaborating with technologists world-wide to further develop those resources.

Additionally, we are among the sponsors and organizers of the World Techie Congress initiative, an effort to bring together technologists country by country to forge a "Techie Document of Rights and Responsibilities", helping describe our responsibilities toward the rest of the progressive movement and the movement's responsibilities towards us. The United States Techie Congress is taking place at this Social Forum.

Finally, there's you. As a progressive activist you or your organization probably uses the Internet. If that's the case, you belong in May First/People Link. Not only do you become part of an organization that is doing the political work we've described but you get access to some of the best technology resources -- web, email, list, etc. -- available and it's all free. You pay your dues and get all the resource you need.

That's one way we're different; check out our website to find out more. During the Forum, stop by the People's Media Center and say hello (some of us are always around there). And, on behalf of the Leadership Committee of May First/People Link, welcome home!

Membership Agreements

All May First/People Link members agree on some points and accept a few responsibilities. These are included in our Statement of Unity and our Membership Agreement.

Statement of Unity

  1. We understand technology as the tools human beings have developed throughout our history to survive and move forward.
  1. We believe that people have the right to a peaceful and just world in which we have a decent life, can be productive, are free of exploitation and feel secure.
  1. We believe that we are denied that right in a world of social, political, and economic under-development, exploitation, repression, environmental destruction and war.
  1. We believe that today the conditions exists where we can finally reverse this situation and build the world we deserve.
  1. We believe that because technology is the product of collaboration by people all over the world throughout history, it rightfully belongs to all people and all people should control it.
  1. We believe the Internet is part of that technology and, as such, it should be accessible to everyone, used for everyone's benefit and controlled by all people.
  1. We believe the attempts by a few to commercialize the Internet, divert its development and restrict its use run counter to the collaborative spirit of the Internet and contradict the best interests of humanity.
  1. We believe that it is an important priority of humanity to assume control of the Internet, expand on it and use it productively.
  1. Because our beliefs and activities reflect a commitment to this idea of the world and the Internet, we believe that progressive and social justice activists must be at the forefront of the struggle to take control of the Internet, to use it fully and creatively to pursue our goals, and to expand its capabilities to enable our constantly growing and even more complex organizing and communications needs.
  1. To make this happen, we need a movement that reflects this thinking and approach to the Internet and unites all social justice activists using the Internet.
  1. With May First/People Link we want to begin and continue the creation of this movement.

Membership agreement

May First/People Link is a very diverse organization and our Statement of Principles and membership services reflect our goal of uniting all progressive and social justice activists. In that context, our members expect some things from each other and our staff.

What members can expect of our organization and staff:

1 - Our organization will upgrade, maintain and expand all equipment and software based on members' needs and our capability.

2 - Our organization will assure that all our networks and systems are functional and that, in the case of an outage or problem, our staff will prioritize repairs, fixes and substitutions when necessary.

3 - Our staff will provide full, responsive and respectful technical support as described in our FAQ.

4 - Our directors will communicate with the entire membership regularly and openly on organization issues and developments and report any emergency situations, their status and what we're doing about them to the entire membership when an emergency arises.

What our organization and staff expects of our members:

1 - As members, we respect the boundaries of taste, decency and respect for all peoples in the content of websites and other communications.

2 - Members pay our dues in a timely fashion as one of our key ways of supporting our organization.

3 - Members support each others work when and however we can given our own programs, strategies, goals and resources.

4 - Members treat our staff with respect and sensitivity to the enormous amount of work they contribute to our organization.

5 - Members participate in the growth of our organization by encouraging other people they know to join.

Principles for Developing Technology for the US Social Forum in 2010

[Formatted as large, poster-like page]

The following principles were collaboratively drafted on March 26, 2009 in Detroit by approximately 30 representatives of the local organizing committee, local anchor organizations, the National Planning Committee, and May First/People Link. These draft principles were proposed for approval by the National Planning Committee as a urgent initial step to developing the technology for the social forum. Over the course of 10 months, these principles were edited into their final form with input from countless organizers. The World Social Forum Charter of Principles has been referenced where appropriate. Not only are these principles of technology for guiding the organizing work of the Detroit US Social Forum, but can provide a political platform for organizations and individuals with a strategic approach to online organizing.

  1. We provide free and open access to all, including people unable to travel to the forum or organizing meetings. Ease of use must mitigate the online technology divide in addition to the incorporation of multiple means of communication. (consistent with Charter of Principles 3, 8 and 14)
  1. The technology that is collectively developed in this environment is useful beyond the Forum itself. It will continue to provide the means to collaborate and share information among participants and their organizations. (consistent with WSF Charter of Principles 2)
  1. All technology users and developers commit to transparency, thus empowering cooperation and collaboration at every level of the organizing process. (consistent with WSF Charter of Principles 11)
  1. Technology decisions implement and build free and open source software, which is free of corporate control, non-proprietary, and owned and maintained by communities of developers and users. (consistent with WSF Charter of Principles 4)
  1. Technology is integrated into the process of organizing. USSF organizers recognize technology as an organizing process in itself. Technology is integrated with offline, face-to-face communications whenever feasible. (consistent with WSF Charter of Principles 14)
  1. Multiple languages, handicap accessibility, and cultural expression informs our decision-making. It is essential that people of color and directly-impacted communities have access. (consistent with WSF Charter of Principles 9)
  1. Technology and media is organized by a culturally diverse working group of the USSF, empowering the collaboration across gender, race, class and geographic region. (consistent with WSF Charter of Principles 9)
  1. Technology decisions promote a safe participatory experience that allows broad contribution and respects diversity of opinion and experience, while doing no harm to others. (consistent with WSF Charter of Principles 8, 10)
  1. Online outreach between participants and their organizations strategically proliferates, shares, and exchanges information about the USSF with blogs, document libraries, FAQs etc. While critically using popular culture and applications such as Facebook, Twitter & YouTube, the USSF commits their energy to developing free and open source alternatives.
  1. Information is power. Participants must have control over their own data. Data policies guide how contacts collected for the USSF are made available for organizing purposes.

Techie Congress

[As inset]

Come to the May First/People Link Assembly! Thursday, June 24, 1:00 pm - 5:00 pm Cobo Hall: W2-58

[end inset]

Never has our work as progressive technologists been more important.

A system struggling for its own survival, at the expense of humanity, greedily seeks to turn every idea into a distorted profit-making caricature of what it originally was.

The Internet humanity has built, under our collaborative leadership, is now threatened by a morass of profit-making schemes, rabidly self-protective proprietary software, and repressive laws that obliterate the spirit and letter of the First Amendment from on-line activity.

With their avalanche of limited, glossy and ultimately entrapping social software, corporations are profiteering on human communication while fencing it into a superficial, choiceless chorus line of faces and self-descriptions.

All the while, the human race continues to make and change history by using the Internet for the reasons we created it: the massive communication of our ideas and knowledge and the collective, collaborative search for the truth of our world and its future.

And it continues to look to us for alternatives, information and leadership.

But, while our importance has never been greater, the principles of a free and open Internet are not yet recognized as a critical part of the progressive agenda.

Now is the time to change this.

We want to build a set of principles that we can all share and that the prgoressive movement will agree to live by. We want to write and ratify an "agreement with the progressive movement" that is a commitment the entire movement will live by.

And the entire movement is here, in one place, at the Untited States Social Forum in Detroit.

So we are making this call to all techies who support the principles of the Social Forum to gather in Detroit at the Forum for a four-hour Progressive Techie Congress that will wrap up a four month process of discussion and thinking on-line around these principles.

After that Congress, we will distribute the principles to everyone at the Social Forum and propose them to the USSF's People's Movement Assembly for ratification. On that basis, we will begin to build the kind of relationships inside the movement that will move us all forward.

Technology Innovations at the USSF

Website suite

This year's USSF makes innovative and unprecedented use of the World Wide Web and related Internet capabilities.

We have over a half dozen interconnected web sites, including: the primary information site (, the registration and donation site (, the organizing and workshop registration site (, the Assemblies, Brigades, Caravans, and Detroit Expanded site (, the video site ( and many more.

Putting together this suite of websites was a central project of our ICT team for almost a year -- planning, exploring, researching capability and then finally doing the coding and testing. When the sites were launched, they went into immediate use as thousands of people began registering and Social Forum organizers began publicizing and announcing.

The USSF's approach to technology is based on an understanding that a significant part of our life in this country is the result of a vicious and consistent exploitation of the labor and resources of the rest of the world. This has given our society technological capabilities and resources that can be used by the rest of the world to rectify these injustices. Our development of these website resources not only serves the USSF's needs but provides a resource and technology that is shared with the rest of the world.

Peoples Media Center

Reflecting an alternative vision of media -- that everyone creates news and everyone should be able to record and report on it -- the People's Media Center (PMC) is a centerpiece of Social Forum thinking and innovation. Developed jointly by the Communications Working Group and ICT, the PMC contains video and audio editing areas, computers for storing media, blogging and other communications, quiet rooms for on-site interviewing, training areas and a distinct briefing area for daily press briefings about the Forum.

It's also expected to be a magnet area for journalists, media activists and anyone else interested in media work.

All the dozens of computers in the PMC have been donated to the Forum by supporting organizations and have been reconfigured with only Free and Open Source Software, one of the Forum's hallmarks. And ICt Working Group members are on hand to provide technical support when needed and training when scheduled.

Web Streaming

The concept of "Detroit Expanded" takes on a whole new meaning at this Social Forum which is being broadcast live for 8 hours a day to the entire world via the Internet. This is the first Social Forum to do this and we are taking the lead from the recent World People's Conference on Climate Control and the Rights of Mother Earth during which May First/People Link members Jamie McClelland, Mallory Knodel and Maritza Arrastia collaborated with techies from various countries in the Hemisphere to put together a consistent live streaming via the Internet.

Part of the Social Forum's task is to put together a system for arranging, managing and creating programming for what is, effectively, a live broadcast TV station. Much of that task falls to the Communications Working Group which is arranging scheduling and producing the "TV Guide" page on the USSF's website.

While there are obvious "programming choices" being made, like the opening ceremonies and the nightly Plenaries, many other choices are being made driven by the idea of truly encouraging "people's media" -- shows by participants, on the spot interviews, special programs, multiple workshop shows, etc. All that is part of the ongoing work of the Forum.


"Short Message Service" is a protocol that allows for the transmission of short messages to any on-line device, including cellphones. At the USSF 2010, we are using SMS to provide a user-configured "announcements and reminders" broadcast system.

Using a special form on our website, you can select which workshops and events you are interested in and the system will send a short reminder message to your cell phone before the event takes place.

In combination with our searchable on-line calendar of USSF events, the SMS system connects everyone with the day to day goings on at the Forum.

Leadership Committee

Our Leadership Committee is the primary decision-making body of MF/PL responsible for setting priorities, developing strategy, approving budget and appointing the Co-Directors. It meets face to face once a year and is in continuous contact by email. Its members:

  • Alfredo Lopez, May First/People Link
  • Amy Dalton
  • Christy Thornton, NACLA Report on the Americas
  • Daniel Kahn Gillmor
  • Louis Head, Cuba Research & Analysis Group
  • Hilary Goldstein
  • Jamie McClelland, May First/People Link
  • Josue Guillen, Progressive Technology Project
  • Linda Thurston,War Resisters League
  • Liz Mestres, The Brecht Forum
  • Mallory Knodel, May First/People Link
  • Makani Themba, The Praxis Project
  • Sam Anderson

List of Workshops by MFPL members

See attached file

Attachments (11)