Mobile Indymedia and Indymedia on your mobile
IMC hits the streets
Often, for really big mobilisations, the collectives that make up the Indymedia Network pull together to set up an Independent Media Centre near the location of the main activities for the duration of the event. Such IMC access points not only provide people with a place to upload their reports and photos but often also provide facilities such as webcasting and video and audio editing facilities.
These physical IMCs are the roots of the indymedia phenomena. They actively encourage and facilitate people to tell their own stories and 'be the media'. Some examples in the UK include : the IMC set up for the 2003 DSEi arms fare and the IMCs set up in Scotland for the 2005 G8.However, setting up these phyical centres takes a lot of work and money - hiring a building, arranging bandwidth, as well as locating, transporting and installing the required hardware. As an alternative, some people have developed mobile IMCs which fulfill similar roles without the need for expensive venues and therefore making it more practical to provide indymedia facilities at a much wide range of events than with the traditional IMC.
Mobile IMC's are street level grassroots media access points. Like the conventional IMC, they enable ordinary people to submit their own view of events along with any photos, video or audio clips they have prepared. The mobile IMC can also (assuming a decent wireless internet connection is available) provide internet radio streaming direct from where the action is, and if equipped with a webcam they can also provide a live video feed.
Most importantly perhaps, the presence of a mobile IMC acts as a powerful outreach tool to visually promote the open publishing concept - encouraging people to share their views and get involved in producing their own media. Opportunities are created for people to produce media even if they don't usually have convenient access to the internet at home and have not previously heard of, or contributed to, Indymedia.
Current mobile IMCs under developmentThe tr(((i)))cycle is a concept project, am internet enabled three wheeled bike that carries a bunch of 12 volt powered laptops for people to write reports on or upload photos. It also carries a mini radio studio for doing live webcasts. It was intended to be ready to take to Scotland for the G8 but there was no transport to get it there so the project stalled.
The (((i)))trike project spawned the (((i)))Box concept, which is a mini Independent Media Centre in a box (and therefore fewer transport issues). It's basically a mirror of the entire indymedia site on a small wifi enabled computer that can run on 12 volts if need be. Using a mail2newswire gateway it can do time delayed publishing if no internet connection is available for real time use.
Indymedia from your pocket
A logical step down in size is made possible by advancing technology. With ever more clever gadgets hitting the market all the time, grassroots media now has the potential to break out beyond the traditional confines of the internet via mobile phones, PDAs and other expensive toys. Wireless and GPRS have moved the digital revolution into the street and created new ways to contribute and share stories be it text, audio, photos or video.
Indymedia isn't exactly quick to implement the latest advancements but there is some progress. Australia was quick off the block with an automated voice to newswire service called PIMP. Indymedia UK has preferred to use a manual system, basically a set of phone numbers which put you in touch with indymedia dispatch volunteers during some large mobilisations but nothing is yet in place on a day to day basis.
A few Indymedia sites provide gateways that allow people on the streets to post their photos, audio or videos direct to the newswire from their mobile phones for really up-to-the-minute reports. Such instantaneous system bring new opportunities and new problems to Indymedia but with text and media messaging clearly playing an increasingly important role in the way we communicate, Indymedia can't afford to ignore the trend.
A couple of time during the last year or two, Indymedia UK has publicly utilized a dedicated email to newswire gateway which allows most mobile phone users to contribute text, images, video or audio recordings direct to the newswire but although the software appeared to work, there was not the collective will to fully implement it as a 24/7 facility. That however has now changed and MMS messages and emails can be sent direct to the newswire using the address publish[at]indymedia.org.ukBrowsing indymedia on a mobile device is a painful experience since the three column layout is extremely content heavy. To solve this problem an experimental web proxy has been developed for indymedia which strips the bloated pages down to a more manageable size and adds navigation specific to mobile users. Not only does it provide access to IMC UK and the regions but it also provides access to Indymedia Bristol, Scotland, Ireland, the Global site and more. Try is out at mobile.indymedia.org.uk now.
More info on imobile at http://docs.indymedia.org/view/Global/MobileIndymedia
mobile IMC, 31.05.2005 15:14