wiki:aboutus

Version 7 (modified by alfredo, 12 years ago) (diff)

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Here are some questions people ask about our organization. We want you to add any questions you might have and we'll try to answer them. Note that we may wipe questions that are repetitive or inappropriate.

What is MF/PL

May First/People Link is a membership organization of progressive people and groups who use the Internet. We have joined together to pool our resources to assure ourselves quality equipment; mutual support; Internet tools that meet our needs as activists; and secure, reliable communications.

As an organization, we believe that the Internet is critically important to the future of humanity and therefore must be a priority for the progressive movement in this country. For that reason, we are involved in many activities and campaigns to improve access to the Internet, enhance its function as a tool for mass communication and organizing, develop new technologies and uses for it, and help progressive movements use it effectively to communicate with each other and with the world.

You're an Internet Provider

No. The resources we share are those a commercial provider will sell to you but we're not a provider: in fact, just the opposite. We are a resource sharing organization.

A commercial provider is most interested in one thing: your money. And that provider will do what's necessary to get it but, in order to survive, must limit it to that -- only that which is necessary. Maximum profit for minimum service. The relationship is, even in the most respectful and productive forms, money-driven.

May First/People Link is built on the idea that, to build the society we all need, all our movement's organizations must be able to function well on the Internet. This means assuring maximum capability and we think the best way to do that is through sharing and collaboration.

Isn't that just rhetoric?

It's very practical.

Nothing is sold in our organization. Members pay dues and they take from the pooled resources anything they need and want: as many websites, email and mail lists they need. Never a charge for any of that.

Technical support is provided by members through on-line system designed to encourage the involvement of any member in posting issues, questions and problems and in answering those issues, questions and problems.

And all decisions are openly discussed on our public tracking system.

Two principles drive our work: the principle of equality and the principle of collaboration.

Equality

The concept of equality if almost a cliche in our movement and we prioritize bringing into every aspect of our work the vitally important notion of equality among people as a way of combatting racism, sexism, classism and all other group-specific oppressive thinking.

But within the Internet equality can mean a lot more. For our organization, equality means that all members' work is of equal importance so that the work of our techies and their organizations (as members) is as important as, say, the work of a community group specializing in housing...as important and no more important.

This radical thinking about members' work affects and changes not only the way we plan and execute our daily work but the way we relate to each other in that work: for example, in technical support situations. Nobody in MF/PL works for anyone else. Nobody is anyone's boss. Nobody's wish is anyone's command.

Collaboration

While members enjoy all the services commercial Internet providers offer, the stress we put on collaboration makes us a unique kind of organization.

For example, at MFPL, members don't pay for services. Resources are a central part of the collaboration and mutual support our members engage in. We pay yearly dues and purchase equipment and other necessary resources and then each member takes as much from the shared resources as the member needs. There is never a charge for extra services within the list of basic membership benefits.

Technical support is another instance. Here we have systems members use to get help with specific problems that are affecting their work, general technical issues, questions or discussion of the organization itself and its work. And any member can answer. Our tech staff is our members; whoever knows the answer to an issue can log into our system and answer it based on their knowledge and involvement. Obviously, the issues about system software and hardware are most often answered by the members who are in charge of our server system but even here other members will often chime in.

While this approach may seem dangerously unstructured, it not only works but has made tech support one of the things for which MF/PL is best known and respected.

And member-driven work is the centerpiece of MFPL's work in coalitions and campaigns and events of all kinds. From our work as leaders of the technology workgroup (37 strong) at the United States Social Forum to our internet rights workshop presented at events like the Grass Roots Media Conference, to our Statement of Internet Rights, to coalitions like the one we're building to develop ways to work on political technology hemisphere-wide.

Note: not fully written but please add and/or change

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