Changes between Version 4 and Version 5 of ussf_book_chapter


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Timestamp:
Sep 22, 2008, 1:33:01 AM (12 years ago)
Author:
alfredo
Comment:

inserting suggested edits by dkg and Jamie into the text

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  • ussf_book_chapter

    v4 v5  
    3030Several weeks later, when Josue Guillen became Communications Committee Chair, we learned that very little had been done to prepare the technology for this Social Forum. The website was under-developed. One person was in charge of all of it and little thought had been given to how to integrate basic functions like registration and program scheduling into the website.
    3131
    32 While it was clear to us that technology would be critical to this event and would help define its character and democracy, the leadership had given precious little attention to this area of the forum. Given the fact that much of our movement views technology as not much more than a useful tool and views techies as mere mechanics, that didn't surprise us. But it was grounds for concern.
     32While it was clear to us that technology would be critical to this event and would help define its character and democracy, the leadership had given precious little attention to this area of the forum. Given that much of our movement doesn't see that communications technology itself represents a struggle for control of our society and culture and therefore needs to be addressed politically, that didn't surprise us. But it was grounds for concern.
    3333
    34 There was a vacuum and we wanted to address that problem in the best way politically. Communications Committee Chair Josue Guillen puts it best: "We didn't move to fill the vacuum; we organized into it."
     34There was a vacuum and we wanted to address that problem in the best way politically. Josue Guillen puts it best: "We didn't move to fill the vacuum; we organized into it."
    3535
    3636Once the commitment was made, the challenge was clearly defined: how do you organize the technology of a Social Forum?
     
    4040        "It was an amazing experience, actually. It was totally collaborative, I learned a lot, and helped others learn. It was a bit high pressure at times, but that was actually a good thing - it really fostered and fueled that collaboration."
    4141
    42         --Michelle Murain
     42        --Michelle Murrain
    4343
    4444There are progressive technologists all over this country. They work individually or in small collectives, often isolated from each other and always grappling with the problem of how to provide our movements with the technology they need to do their work.
     
    7474To complicate things further, registration cost money and that money had to be collected on-line during that registration process. When you realize that this was being done for over 10,000 people who needed to be confident that the data on participants and payments was being collected flawlessly, you get a picture of how daunting this was.
    7575
    76 A team of techies from the ICT group took that task on and developed a system that fit the Forum perfectly and was, in fact, unprecedented. The source code was, following the FOSS policy, open to anyone and has been shared with several organizers who've requested it in the intervening year.
     76A team of techies from the ICT group took that task on and developed a system that fit the Forum perfectly. The source code was, following the FOSS policy, open to anyone and has been shared with several organizers who've requested it in the intervening year.
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    7878Similarly complex systems were developed and put into place for event proposals. There were over a thousand of them and the program committee (which made decisions on approvals) needed an on-line system that would allow people to describe their event fully and then allow the Committee to review and approve events.
     
    8080The logistics committee then needed a system to schedule those events and to display the event schedules before and during the Forum.
    8181
    82 Working in teams, the ICT workgroup did all that. The way we approached it allowed the various other workgroups to be as open as possible with approvals and sensitive to particular event sponsors' needs in doing scheduling and venue selection.
     82Working in teams, the ICT workgroup did all that and the way we approached it allowed the various other workgroups to be as open as possible with approvals and sensitive to particular event sponsors' needs in doing scheduling and venue selection.
    8383
    8484The ICT team developed other features like a ride board for people seeking and offering transportation, a section for housing and numerous other resources.
    8585
    86 While all this work represents an impressive, and sometimes unprecedented, achievement by the ICT Team, the most important achievement was its relationship with the rest of the staff and leadership of the Social Forum. From the start, the Techie/Organizers communicated constantly with each of the special committees and the National Planning Committee (through the Communications Work Group). The Team published all meeting notes, decisions, discussions and just about everything we did publicly on the web site, operating in a truly transparent way, seeking to anchor our work to the Social Forum's democratic culture and to expand that democracy.
     86While all this work represents an impressive achievement by the ICT Team, the most important achievement was its relationship with the rest of the staff and leadership of the Social Forum. From the start, the Techie/Organizers communicated constantly with each of the special committees and the National Planning Committee (through the Communications Work Group). The Team published all meeting notes, decisions, discussions and just about everything we did publicly on the web site, operating in a truly transparent way, seeking to anchor our work to the Social Forum's democratic culture and to expand that democracy.
    8787
    8888But the real challenges were to come and no one could have predicted how powerful they were.