bethemedia | 27.04.2011 11:25 | Indymedia
BeTheMedia | Find out more about the history of Indymedia: article | video | pics | i - the film
The new aggregator site: Be The Media is currently bringing you the best of Indymedia coverage, but we plan to expand. The site is still under development, so check back for changes. We also plan to include radical news from all over the web, not limited to Indymedia websites. We are sad to see the end of Indymedia UK and we are excited to be working on bethemedia.org.uk while continuing our local sites; Bristol, Northern, London and Nottingham Indymedia.
While Indymedia UK started out with one collective maintaining the UK site, the anti war protests 2003 kickstarted collectives all over the island. Bristol set up their own website, and Scotland, Manchester, London started regional sections on the UK site. Soon Sheffield and Leeds joined in, followed by Oxford and Cambridge…
Indymedia was a hub for social justice news. But recently activity and participation in local collectives has decreased. Many regional sites need volunteers. At the same time there has been refreshed interest in other regions. Imc Northern England was set up in 2009, Nottingham set up a new site, and some local collectives have been growing and getting more active again.
As the article From Indymedia UK to the United Kollektives from 2004 says: “We realised that a uk wide project would need a decentralised structure, both technically and socially.” Today we are taking the next step of decentralisation, and are proud to present the new and shiny Indymedia Syndication Site! Everything you post to an Indymedia site, will be pulled together to get a good overview of social justice news, while at the same time strengthening the autonomy and independence of local collectives to focus on reporting that is relevant to their communities.
Indymedia still needs you! Be it reporting from the street, moderating the website, writing features, setting up a radio show, organising film screening, helping out with web design or other technical things… Find out how to get involved with you local collective or get in touch with the nearest group to set up a new one!
When Indymedia started, blogs did not exist and only few political groups had the skills and resources to set up their own website. But in the age of blogs and abundant services that allow anyone to publish on the internet, why does Indymedia matter? Isn’t Indymedia a dinosaur in the spheres of the internet, that can’t keep up with all the new services like facebook and twitter etc…?
Indymedia is a collective projects in many ways. There is the global network of Indymedia collectives. There are the editorial collectives running each site and organising events and coverage, producing films and print papers and much more. And there are the websites that are a collective effort by everyone who ever published anything, many many more people than have ever attended an Indymedia meeting.
It is true, everyone can set up their own blog nowadays. But if you have ever tried to do this, you know how hard it can be to maintain one. Or to get people to look at it. Also, most of those services are hosted by corporations. No matter how much love you put into your blog, how many followers you have on twitter and how many people said they will come to your facebook event: The corporations behind those services not only know where you are updating it from, and who is looking at your stuff, and might easily hand over that information to anyone who asks. But they can also lock you out and shut you down in an instant. And if you are unlucky, you risk loosing years of work, with no possibility to address this.
Not only does Indymedia still provide one service, that you don’t get anywhere else on the web: anonymous posting. It also allows you to get in touch with the editorial collective directly, and address any grievances that you may have. Decisions are made not with profit in mind, but on a consensus basis. And we have learned from all the server seizures Indymedia has suffered over the years and always keep backups.
Another important advantage of Indymedia is that it often works well as a contextualised archive of not only campaigns and mobilisations, but also of the social movements themselves. In an era where info flows through the internet in a very fast and fragmented manner, Indymedia manages to collect reports, photos, audio and video together in the form of thematic documents – features or pages – which are then easily retrievable for future reference.
On a blog, you can control the content. On Indymedia you will always see your posts in the midst of stuff that may be not so exciting for you, or you even disagree with. But also you will always come across other random stuff that you didn’t know about. Your posts will be embedded in a mesh of reports about social justice, and contextualised in a wider struggle. They won’t sit isolated and only attract people who are already interested in what you care about. Someone may go looking for information about something else entirely, and come across your post.
Indymedia is so much more than just yet another website on the ever expanding universe of the internet. It’s not just a website. It’s a constantly evolving project requiring continued effort on the part of a global network of enthusiastic and passionate media-producers and other supporters of radical media – including a large number of technically-gifted geeks who volunteer their time to ensure that your personal information and identity remain safe and secure from malicious meddling by corporations and law-enforcement institutions attempting to squash political dissent. And not simply for paranoia’s sake – we’ve recently witnessed this very thing happening – check-out information on the Fitwatch website shut-down or the disappearing twitter accounts.
Lots of campaigns and groups have their own blogs nowadays. But a lot of them don’t keep backups. So the campaign is over, the group is dissolved, the person maintaining the blog disappears, or the police have the site taken down. What happens then? A whole strand of the history of social movements disappears. The writing, reports, the information and the artwork disappears and becomes inaccessible. Anyone should aim to not only use internet for the short span of the present, but also for the future.
Indymedia has facilitated and championed citizen, grass-roots reporting for over 10 years and is unique in its web presence. It links together the myriad of ever-constant political analysis, campaigns and direct-action groups via news and information. In demonstrating an overview of social justice movements, it allows networks and other links to forge, both in reality and in people’s minds. The Indymedia project has always pushed a political envelope in a journalistic sense – encouraging its users to look beyond an alienated and fragmented, single-issue focused reportage of radical resistance.
More info on corporate social networking | Indymedia and the Enclosure of the Internet | Tech tools for activists
The first time UK protests were reported live on the web was the June 18 protests 1999 (archived version 1 and version 2) in London. At the time, there weren’t any blogs, twitter or facebook, and there was no Indymedia. There wasn’t any wireless internet either. So a ‘media centre’ was set up in the offices of one of the few friendly internet providers at the time, and reports were manually uploaded to the site as they were coming in from the City, across London Bridge and into the offices at the other side of the river brought by a network of carriers.
Half a year later, people set up the first Independent Media Centre for the Anti WTO protests in Seattle. They introduced something new on the Internet: on the website, you could go to an online form, and post your own articles. Up to that time, the internet had very much been a place were you could find information, but sharing information required some technical knowledge. Any city could set up their own indymedia site. The UK was one of the first to join the global network of Independent Media Centres. If memory serves, it was the third Imc to start, and the first not based in the US.
Indymedia UK made its first public appearance during the RTS’s Guerrilla Gardening protests of Mayday 2000. Visible at the centre of the demonstration as bike-powered computers were set up at Parliament Square allowing people in the action to type their reports unmediated for the first time. Then, the articles written by you were carried to a publishing hub in the basement of the Foundry pub where a Media Centre had been set up consisting of several computers, a dispatch telephone number where people could call in reports from the actions, and a single dial-up connection powered by a very long telephone cable extension plugged to a single phone socket. Believe it or not, this was ground-breaking technology at the time!