[iDC] Re: Collective Action

Matthew Waxman mwax at ucsc.edu
Sat Jun 24 14:16:43 EDT 2006

Trebor, a stroll in the park is a great way to surf 
real-world space.

Consider the simple ability of the internet as a 
communication tool. I'm currently communicating with youth 
organizers on a project and the folks I'm communicating 
with (online and conference calls) are attracted to the 
internet as a departure point for making contact with 
organizing people across the nation. This perspective on 
the internet is widely taken.  Of course, the social 
networking element observed in sites like MySpace is also 
becoming increasingly appealing (since so many youth have 
attached themselves to these social networks already). So 
whether or not giving every child a computer is the best 
approach, I imagine it is an attractive idea to many 
because it suggests expanding access to currently 
populated, large networks.

Some sites relevant to world-changing networking:

http://www.takingITglobal.org -- with Taking IT Global, 
network with activists and organizers and organizations 
globally. This canadian based networking website boasts 
participants from around the world. While the site can't 
compete with sites such as MySpace in terms of number of 
users, it's also true that sometimes quality over quantity 
is meaningful when it comes to organizing. Browse the 
users by country and get a taste of the different kinds of 
people involved in the network.

http://www.uspartnership.org/ -- the US Partnership for 
the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable 
Development. I did some work with the Youth Sector Team 
last year, great folks. They are connecting with an 
impressively large amount of organizations and networks 
around the US in a variety of categories.  They use 
conference calls for a lot of the communication, and email 
listserves are also used a lot.

http://www.chattheplanet.com/ -- Chat the Planet seems to 
be video blogging/web-cam activism.

http://freechild.org/SIYI/Webliography.htm -- a nice list 
of organizations around the world (this one is specific to 
youth movements), each org has a website, of course. 
 There are a truly vast amount of community organizations 
with websites. It seems many see the internet as a great 
networking tool.


On Sat, 24 Jun 2006 12:26:14 -0400
  Trebor Scholz <trebor at thing.net> wrote:
>>> Plural Monocultures (Amartya Sen)
>>> Digital Cocooning
>>> Cyber Archipelagos (Terranova)
> Nick:
>>This is one of my greatest fears, perhaps partly because 
>>I know that  
>>I am guilty of it.  My online, 
>>discourse consist mostly of progressive media, lists such 
>>as this and  
>>others, and e-mails with friends and colleagues.  My 
>>contact with  
>>others outside of this very limited sphere are rather 
>>What happens then when the collectives through which we 
>>interact are  
>>not collectives in the real sense, but rather slightly 
>>masses of similar people?
> Whom do we talk to? To whom do we listen? 
> The net enables total social filtering. How else would 
>the infamous
> German cannibal, Armin Meiwes, have found another man in 
>a chatroom
> sharing his obsession? Just imagine how much social 
>filtering it must
> have taken him to find someone sharing such particular 
>and consequential
> aspiration.
> Whom do we talk to? From Barry Wellman I learned that we 
>email more with
> people who live in closer physical proximity. Most 
>people link to others
> with whom they are in agreement and whose status quo 
>equals theirs;
> government links to government, NGO links to NGO; to 
>face the plural
> monocultures of the web we should get out the band of 
> mentality. Invite people to discussions whom you don¹t 
>know, with whom
> you share only few positions, link to people with whom 
>you don¹t agree,
> listen to music that you usually would not listen to, go 
>to events that
> you¹d normally attend.  
> There is only so much time in a day, the argument goes, 
>and so we have
> to be picky about the people we hang out with, also 
> But while narrowly focused discussion groups are useful 
>for some
> purposes (i.e. affirming each others as pioneers in a 
>field), such setup
> often includes an exclusion of the supposed amateur 
> (What could
> non-experts possibly have to contribute?), and can also 
> connotations of racial, economic and class exclusivity. 
>Complexity gets
> lost in isolation.
> How do we spend our time? 
> The statistical hierarchy of time spent online: 1) 
>communicating -- then
> a while nothing -- then 2) playing games, followed by 3) 
>general net
> surfing, and lastly 4) shopping. But every minute spent 
>takes away from
> other activities.  
> A while ago I wrote Download Dowtime:
> We repurpose trains, and airport lobbies into offices. 
>The person next
> to us becomes unwillingly involved. We pull ourselves 
>out of the public
> into the private networked space. We shift through the 
>walkways of
> airports, drive in taxis and trains. Networked devices 
>keep us always
> anchored, always in touch, consistently connected to 
>myriads of social
> networks. But the flickering screens to which we are 
>hooked are not just
> the bluetooth lifelines to the boss. We have all those 
>with whom we
> share our lives in reach nearly at all times. We cannot 
>feel the warmth
> of their faces. We cannot touch them. But in our 
>"downtime" we can talk
> or exchange text messages. And doing so may prevent us 
>from talking to
> the stranger right next to us. 
> ...
> Downtime now is download time. Life is work. There is 
>not enough time to
> rest, cook, reflect, or walk in the woods. The insidious 
>penetration of
> the Internet into our every grain is hard to deny. 
>Workers become
> part-of-the-solution-nodes rather than full-time 
>employees. Health
> insurance can be done away with. Wages in the immaterial 
>networked realm
> don't have to bear resemblance to the work that was 
>done. And, who ever
> mentioned pensions? Also Unions get whacked when the 
>work force is
> geographically pieced together. Then there is all that 
>sense of place
> stuff that Lucy Lippard was so adamant about. But the 
>uprooted lifestyle
> seems like peanuts compared to what is happening now, -- 
>the horror, the
> horror. Passing through these airports, the net started 
>to feel like an
> itch that we can't scratch. 
> <http://collectivate.net/journalisms/2005/11/19/downtime.html>
> The net enhanced Fordist dreams of productivity but does 
>not give us
> more time with friends. The term ³screen sucking² was 
> introduced. Groundcontrol to Major Tom: Take your 
>protein pills and put
> your helmet on. Teenagers in North America prefer 
>computer screens to
> TV; they get their news on websites, not from print 
>newspapers. Japanese
> teenagers even show signs of physical sickness when they 
>are out of
> range of cell phone reception.
> Today, going for a walk in the park sounds radical: I¹m 
> -Trebor
> <http://collectivate.net/journalisms/2006/6/23/the-art-and-science-of-
> blogging.html>
> <http://news-service.stanford.edu/news/2005/february23/internet-022305.
> html>
> <http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/3286721.stm>
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