Creating the media for ourselves…
The aim of this is to share cool ideas for what to do, not the geekish how to do it stuff. Just so you know.
York IndyMedia, one of the websites I work with has just had a major overhaul, and I’m pretty pleased with what’s been achieved. Now the good people of York will get their locally-written news in a nicer, neater format. Its led to some new questions getting asked about how we take the website forward, and what the site is for…
Back in 1999, when Seattle was just a city on the northern end of the American Pacific Coast, people began to think about how movements made without leaders might come to create media without editors; certainly without editors in the classic sense. What they came up with is now a network of over 180 websites dedicated to letting the user become both reader and newsreporter: IndyMedia.
Nowadays, people, or young people at least, are much more used to writing stuff that gets posted on public (or publicly accessible) websites. We’ve also seen how sites like YouTube can make the news when used well. The thing is, in the age of MySpace, Facebook, Del.icio.us, Flickr, Blogging and more, what has a site to offer that just lets people stick up a news story and maybe a few pictures, with no friends’ list, groups, or even space to personalise?
Having just had a chat with the guy who ultimately holds the keys to York IndyMedia, I can say that, all being well, I’ll get to modify the sand-pit version of the site (you never see it, don’t worry) to include some amazing new features. Starting with Groups, Friend Lists, Internal Messaging (recognise these from somewhere?) and one or two other nice little tricks, I’m going to redesign the site.
OK, I’ll admit it, I’ve used the acronym GBTM, which in certain Facebook circles (the ones where we deal with kids) means Go Back To MySpace. It’s what I say to anyone who wants gross volumes of customisation, rather than the more professional styles of Facebook. Don’t expect flashy anything on the Lawrence Llewelyn Bowen (which reminds me, even Wikipedia is looking dated) front soon…
But the real question is: how can I develop the site into something which is recognised by the Facebook/MySpace generation as a system for sharing news and developing political campaigns? The idea of IndyMedia was to share cool stories and inspire more action.
As the internet moves centre stage in the organisation of action, how can websites like IndyMedia, once a staple diet for protesters everywhere, be turned into something highly useful? Something that makes people want to reject ordinary media, with its logic of
corporate control and editorial conservatism, and replace it with the free-flow of information that is personal and from the heart? More importantly, with IndyMedia now almost forgotten within the activist ghetto, what can be done to take it back into the sunlight?
I’ll be asking some of you to road test my changes in a months time, but in the mean time, just keep your eye on IndyMedia, both nationally and in York and watch out for my stories on today’s GM crop protest in Hull. And when you see that newspaper lying there, remember, you can do just as good a job, if you find the right website to help you.