wiki:USSF_newspaper

Version 8 (modified by Jamie McClelland, 9 years ago) (diff)

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MFPL Newspaper for USSF 2010

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, we lead the technology team: the group 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 about 2,300.

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!


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.

2 -- 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.

3 -- We believe that we are denied that right in a world of social, political, and economic under-development, exploitation, repression, environmental destruction and war.

4 -- We believe that today the conditions exists where we can finally reverse this situation and build the world we deserve.

5 -- 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.

6 -- 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.

7 -- 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.

8 -- We believe that it is an important priority of humanity to assume control of the Internet, expand on it and use it productively.

9 -- 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.

10 -- 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.

11 -- With May First/People Link we want to begin and continue the creation of this movement.

Members agree

1 -- With the Statement and Principles of Unity and try to apply them in their practical and political work

2 -- To pay dues and other support payments to MF/PL in a timely way

3 -- To use the Support Ticket system for all questions, including technical support questions, unless there is a security issue

4 -- To assist, when possible, with answers to tickets on the Support Ticket System

5 -- To promote May First/People Link as both as organization and an alternative Internet Service provider

6 -- To support, whenever possible, the use of Free and Open Source Software

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

Never has our work 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, we are also often alienated by the progressive movement's dismissal of our politics, thinking, perspectives and experiences.

In addition, much of the movement doesn't respect our work choosing to under-pay us or to hire large, flashy companies whose work doesn't build the movement.

Finally, most of the movement has no respect for the principle of Free and Open Source Software.

As a result, too many of us shy away from movement work. "Burned out" is now a common condition among prgoressive techies. And our political work has now been divided from our tech work.

And the movement loses the political thinking and leadership of a group of people who are the leaders of the largest mass progressive movement in human history: the Internet.

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 will be together, in one place, in June, 2010, 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 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
  • Peoples Media Center Description
  • Web Streaming
  • SMS

List of Workshops by MFPL members

Attachments (11)