Background Information

1. Date of organisation’s creation/establishment People Link: 1994, May First Tech Collective: 1999, Merge: 2005

2. Summarize your organization’s goals, objectives and mission statement

We are a membership organization comprised of about 400 progressive organizations and individuals who individually use the Internet for their political work and activities and collectively pool our resources to provide ourselves quality web hosting, email and other Internet tools. We do this because we understand the Internet as critical to the movement for social change internationally and as an arena of struggle in which the progressive movement already plays a critical role which must be expanded.

We want to preserve the open quality of the Internet, expand its usefulness and use by the progressive movements internationally, build tools that will make it ever more effective for our movements, expand its use as a vehicle for truth and truthful analysis and expand our impact on it.

Our goals include:

  • Belief in democracy, transparency and respect of all individuals and movements.
  • Complete reliance on and strengthening of collaboration as a natural and productive interaction that is the foundation of all successful political work.
  • Internet work as political work that reflects these values inherently.

3. Indicate the geographical scope of your work: local, national, regional, continental, international, etc.

International. Although most of our work is in the United States we have been very active internationally around the Social Forum movement. We have worked on the technology for several forums, including the WSF in Belem last year and have participated in many offering our Collaborative Democracy workshop.

Our membership includes groups in United States, Canada, Mexico, Europe, and many networks based in these countries which are themselves international.

MF/PL is itself a member of the Alliance for Progressive Communications, APC, an international network of ICTs.

We are currently building the International Techie Organization and organization the Techie Congresses at Forums world-wide.

4. Choose what best describes the character or type of organization you represent: membership-based organisation

membership-based organisation

Please indicate the type of membership (individual, organizational or mixed),social sector you represent, how many members you have and geographic scope of membership.

We now have over 400 members, about 300 of which are organizations. Most of our members work in the United States although some work or reside in England, Mexico and Canada.

5. Describe your organisational structure, staffing and decision-making procedures

We are a very loosely structured organization. Our Leadership Committee determines the over-all structure, strategy and focus of our organization and Co-Directors carry that out day to day although several LC members participate in various decision-making functions.

Two Co-Directors make up the management of the organization. We have no paid staff. Our staff is done by our members through an alternative set of systems that facilitate this collaboration (for example, our technical support ticketing system that is open to all members). Five people usually work on system maintenance, outreach and member support.

6. Indicate the main thematic area(s) of your work (environment, human rights, labour, etc)

Our work is within the Internet, one of the largest mass social movements in human history that has arisen out of the need to collaborate and communicate as humanity faces major social crisis and potential extinction. In that context, we find ourselves interacting with movements and organizations focused on practically every social issue.

7. Briefly describe your organisation’s activities, campaigns and major focus areas/issues

Our work is divided into two parts: resource sharing and activism. While they are separate, both are related and viewed, in the bigger picture, as part of the same work.

Resource sharing is what would normally be called "services". In this area, MF/PL has been involved in Internet service provision for over 14 years making us one of the oldest "providers" in the world, certainly among the oldest politically progressive providers. But we are not a provider. Aside from membership dues, our members pay nothing for services. Our members collaborate on everything including provider "technical support". All our processes, including discussions about our policies and future plans, are transparently carried on on system that encourages participation by all members.

Activism. MF/PL works in coalitions of all kinds, participates in events, and works on campaigns of all types. Most prominent among these is our leading work within the US Social Forum and the Social Forums world-wide. While we have assisted with technology set-up at several Social Forums, we organize the technology of the United States Social Forum by organizing and leading a team of progressive techies nationwide who come together to do the set up of registration, media center, and collaborative blogging on over 100 computers (running FOSS) which are networked and on-line at the Social Forum venue.

MF/PL is the developer of the Collaborative Democracy Workshop, which is used by groups and events world-wide seeking to collaborate on discussions and issues. It's one of the decision making tools used by the leadership of the US Social Forum.

We've sponsored and/organized dozens of events over the last three years and are represented at public events in the United States virtually every month.

We are also the authors of the book "The Organic Internet: Organizing History's Largest Social Movement" which is available on-line (both for free in pdf format and also in print edition).

We have benefited by our growth as an organization, having quadrupled our membership in the last three years. We have benefited through the increased consciousness about the political issues facing the Internet, particularly Free and Open Source Software, and we benefit through the movement's increasingly intelligent and strategic use of the Internet technology.

8. Do you have any organic link with the government, political parties, churches/religions, corporations/companies or other special interest groups. If yes, kindly explain your link/relationship


9. In which international (or national) campaigns or networks are you an active participant?

Association for Progressive Communications, United States Social Forum National Planning Committee

The Social Forums and the International Council

10. How did you learn of the International Council and what inspired you to apply as an IC member?

Through our involvement in the US Social Forum 2007, Social Forum of the Americas 2009, World Social Forum 2009, and our work to build capacity and political vision within the Communications Commission of the WSF IC.

11. If accepted, how or what can your organisation contribute to the work of the Council?

We are among the leading left-wing technology organizations in the world and can bring the energy of our members, the knowledge of the many other techie organizations we collaborate with and our own experience as organizers to this work.

Already, our work with the WSF IC has had an impact on the logistics of the WSF such as hosting various sites over the years, sending organizers to help facilitate political strategy and vision for the Communications Commission. Upon membership, we intend to become more involved in other sections of the Council such as Strategy.

We believe that the critical thrust of progressive political work in this country is driven by the need to develop real collaborative relationships with progressives in other countries on specific projects. Our work in the area of building global alternatives relies on the WSF model and finds meaning in advancing and ensuring its sustainability and relevance in an ever-changing, connected terrain.

12. Is your organisation aware of the WSF Charter of Principles? Do you agree with the Charter?

Yes and yes. In fact, our Leadership Committee accepted the Charter as a guiding document for MF/PL in its first convergence meeting of November 2008.

13. Was your organisation active in SF processes within your country or region between WSF events? If yes, please explain the nature of the involvement.

Yes. Our work to build networks of organizations that think strategically about movement building online has kept us active on behalf of both the WSF and the USSF since 2007 to organize participation and intercommunication between invested activists.

14. Please feel free to add information you feel was not been covered in this questionnaire.

We believe that the Internet is actually a movement, possibly the largest in human history. We believe it arises from the fundamental need of humanity to collaborate and empower itself democratically to assure its own survival by availing itself of the resources now available to us on this planet. We believe that humanity has everything it needs to create a just and peaceful world and that the only obstacle is outmoded forms of social, economic and political organization. Finally, we believe the Internet is humanity's way of getting the truth, spreading it and building real, powerful and productive relationships throughout the world.

We recognize the connection between the current, global progressive movement and the Internet that was made manifest in the success of the World Social Forum process. A sustained convergence of this scope would never have been possible without the Internet. Yet, as global crisis depletes the resources required to sustain geographical convergences of large numbers of people, the possibilities available with the Internet ensure the progressive movements' continued collaboration world-wide.

15. Did your organization organise in social forums between WSFs? If yes, on which level

regional: NE Organizing group, 2007 country-based: US Social Forum, 2007 continental social forums: Social Forum of Americas, 2008

16.Did your organisation participate during the: WSF 2008 WSF 2009

17. If accepted, would you like to be part of one or more of the IC commissions? Communications Commission Strategies Commission

Last modified 12 years ago Last modified on Mar 20, 2010, 1:20:37 PM