portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article announcements portland metro

alternative media

Site changes

After quite a bit of yet ongoing discussion, Pdx Indy volunteers are working on some changes to the website.
First, focussing on the vision of the site, it is here as a tool for reporting of news and commentary based on personal effort for education and empowerment of action. It is an endeavor that requires quite a bit of work to maintain and that effort is all volunteer. People volunteer their time because of the feeling that it is a valuable resource for the betterment of our community, and its relationship to the broader community of nature all around us.

Some volunteers have expressed frustration at the site becoming viewed and used as more of a blog, or discussion board. While such discussion is important, it is only a secondary purpose. The primary purpose is to empower people to get up, go out, and do something in the world. In this virtual age, it is all too easy to sit behind the computer and discuss, argue and engage in near endless intellectual debate. This is not enough to bring about the changes that are necessary if we want to have the kind of society we dream about in our hearts.

Towards this end, one first experimental step will be to curb the overwhelming number of posts, many corporate reposts, about the election and the endless debates over Kerry or Nader etc. All of this stuff has actually hindered the efforts of people who post about actions on Nov 3rd, and important things people can go do. The important stuff of actually doing something gets hard to find in the midst of relentless heated 'debate' (which is often a rigid clash of dogmas rather than open dialog)

This is a first step and there will be other significant changes to follow. All such changes are subject to continuing discussion and observation of what is working and what is not. Indymedia is a fluid work in progress. This writeup is the work of one person so this post may be amended if something said is not accurately reflecting collective decisions.

Comments on this matter, and suggestions to improve the usefulness of the site are welcome.

Whatever happens on the national level come Nov 2nd, it is time for a change right here at home.
evaluation 31.Oct.2004 21:28

gk

It is cool that this site has been evaluated in such a way, and I agree with your suggestions for change. It is more "difficult" to do rather than just talk or write, although both are necessary. I have gotten bogged down on this site, sifting through what I need to know, but this site has been extremely rewarding to me! I am appreciative it is here!

I'm very concerned about the election, itself, and its outcome. I'm feeling sort of sad and leery, I suppose. If evil Shrub wins, I'll be angry. It it is Kerry, it is more of the same corporate rule, and continuation of the Iraq War. I'm making a larger sign and will display it along Mill Plain tomorrow. I'd like to see voters think outside the box, and will be watching the results for alternative parties. Peace always.

Agreed 31.Oct.2004 21:41

Dorothy

Those who do the work make the rules.

The only kind of participatory democracy there is.

On the other hand 31.Oct.2004 21:57

Dorothy

One of the goals of the government agents is, surely, to trick you over that line where some court will rule indymedia is a publisher. Be careful how much control you can be charged with.

What Would Indy Do? 01.Nov.2004 05:14

Parking Stones

While the "Blog-like" comments are not news... sometimes they're they best part of this site. Will you delete them all or move them to another newswire (if possible.)

Curb the posts?!? 01.Nov.2004 08:41

Patrik Angstrom Poore

Hm. this seems like a very reasonable idea.. that all of the chaff gets in the way of picking up the informational wheat, get nourished and get out there and do something. That's great, it matches my values, and I support the general notion.

It's the specifics that I worry about, and I'd like to hear those specifics aired in this forum. When I started working actively with indymedia back in 2000, there was a very strong feeling that we should never censor posts - to the point that some portland organizations got pissed because of racist posts from trolls. Originally, even those posts were not removed, because who decides what's really offensive. I think now the editorial collective will hide those posts from the newswire, but they're available.

So, I worry now that there will be selective composting-hiding-redirecting of posts. I'm not saying it's wrong.. I just want to know. Especially as someone who posts stories with a particular agenda, I want to know if my kinds of posts will be the ones slid under the rug.

A recommendation: don't hide the election debates. people are really working their shit out through that stuff.. and when Nov 3 rolls around, I think folks will be less arguing about the difference between the two than looking here for calls to action. PDX_IMC doesn't need a policy about restricting a type of newswire posting. However, the idea to move simple reposts from other news outlets.. that does seem like the kind of thing that really moves IMC forward, back to a locally focused activist newswire, instead of echoing stuff that can be found anywhere.

But, if issues are important, if they are the news of the day, then lets be discussing them, along with all the annoying invective and idiotic jabbering as well that we all know is a feature or Radically Uncontrolled Autonomedia.

Speaking strictly for myself...

Patrik Angstrom Poore

Democracy, if it means anything, must mean more than elections. Democratic elections are the outcome of a functioning democracy. if the democracy is not functioning, the election is meaningless

All persons in a functioning democracy show the following two characteristics:
a) taking action in the world specifically guided by ones values, especially for free
b) working with other people who don't agree with you.

Good idea, but keep the blog, too 01.Nov.2004 09:54

Mother

You are on to a good plan. This will raise the bar on the quality of the reports. I hope there will still be some kind of blog as well. It is a good place to have almost any kind of discussion.

Also Concerned 01.Nov.2004 11:10

Jim Lockhart eagleye@PhilosopherSeed.org

"It's the specifics that I worry about, and I'd like to hear those specifics aired in this forum."

This is a quote from Patrik Angstrom Poore's well thought out post above. I share his concerns about the specifics of these changes, and likewise agree some growing of the site is required here. But, just what actions are to be taken IS the question.

Not everyone can make it to the meetings. Perhaps it would be a good idea to share some of these broad intentions on the newswire and allow folks to comment on them and give their ideas. Solving the dilemma of site congestion is something I think we all would consider an improvement; yet, there are both Democratic ways and heavey handed ways to achieve this result, and of course legions of stages in between. Community Media folks are a creative bunch, and I'm sure that providing a forum for all to participate in this renovation would not only gather in more ideas, but also would empower Indymedia readers as a group and strengthen their feelings of Democracy.

The original post for this thread is, to my mind, extremely vague. What exactly is meant by the phrase "curb the overwhelming number of posts, many corporate reposts...........?" Portland Indymedia has claimed in the past that this is not a "free speech site." Are there intentions of traveling further down this road? A road where censorship (perhaps justifiabley so, perhaps not, depending on your viewpopint) grows at least commensurate to the volume of traffic and posts which are somehow against the grain of those who monitor these articles?

Either we are a community, or we are a partial community. The demographics of a community include everyone. Sure, I'd like to see, as mentioned in the original test, much more actual reporting, as was the primary intent of Indymedia when it was first launched during the WTO Ministerial in Seattle. Yet, if folks want to repost corporate news sources, I'd rather people get that information here on Indymedia, in a Community, rather than a Corporate context. They can't comment the NYT or Rueters, etc.

This intention to further alter the face of Portland Indymedia is, to my view, an extremely touchey proposal, and so must be made with the utmost transparency, providing a vehicle for contributions by any and all who wish to participate. I'm not, again, urging a negative, but merely stating, along with Patrik above, that the community, as well as the PDX volunteers should be included.

So, I think that the readers should have an opportunity to see just what Portland IMC are considering, and perhaps add their flavor to the stew of ideas. Yes "those that do the work make the rules," but not in a Democracy. Thinking is work, being concerned about an end result is also "work," talking about issues with friends and associates outside the threads on PDX Indymedia is also participating in a Democracy. A democracy of which the actual site itself is only a more visible, tactile representation.

We should use every means at our disposal to include anyone who wishes to participate.


majority rule vs. democracy 01.Nov.2004 16:08

jemma

I think that the proposal is a good one. From my understanding, the Blog aspect will still exist but not be the focus of the site.

As far as Jim Lockhart's statement that "everyone should be included" I really don't think this is true. Otherwise we'd be providing a venue for Volksfront and other neo-fascist organizers still. They were getting a real kick out of that before it was confronted. I think it's completely fair to say that PDX indymedia has an agenda- and that is social and political change in a particular direction. Creating a forum in which the emphasis is on action and local information instead of mass-produced propaganda or rehashed political rhetoric without a local or relevant context- is valid in my opinion.

Right now, indymedia seems basically ruled by the majority- or at least ruled by the genres of writing that are produced en mass (some by individuals others by ruling political parties, etc.) I appreciate indymedia because I have seen it provide a space for, and nurture, the radical and minority viewpoints that are working GRASSROOTS to change things. We are unrepresented elsewhere, our interests and hopes flooded over by monied politics. Indymedia began as, and should continue to be, a venue that can help us grow. And if that means putting the rewarmed party politik statements on another page, I'm all for it. Direct democracy is what I'm looking for- and that means that all viewpoints have their space. Otherwise, indymedia will be yet another democratic PAC, which is counter om all ways to the anti-capitalist nature of the PDX collective.

Censorship is a concern. But if this is a change in the organization of information instead of the existance of information, I doubt there would be legal relevance to claims of censorship, or editing.

how important are the comments? 01.Nov.2004 16:12

this thing here

how important are the comments?

hmm, just look at all the comments this post has generated. in fact, the entire purpose of this post was to generate comments. i think that a majority of the posts are put up to generate a discussion.

this is a good thing. it works. don't change it.

blog? this is not a blog. i don't see how i could become one, unless only a very few select people were allowed to post, and this became THEIR personal web site. this is not the case. this is a good thing. it is not broken. don't fix it.

have to sift through the site? well, how is this any different from sifting through a newspaper made of paper?

in the possible changes mentioned here, i see an effort to make a rounder, more perfect wheel. i'm not sure that really accomplishes very much.

PDX Indy News Wire Is Perfect AS IS. 01.Nov.2004 19:20

guaranteed:

if Portland Indy editors make changes,

it'll end up exactly like all the other constipated - segregated - doctrinaire IMCs (DC, sf, nyc . . .)

PLEASE KEEP PORTLAND INDYMEDIA NEWS WIRE THE WAY IT IS - FREE FLOWING.

the Selector Buttons as featured to the left-hand side allow any user to custom tailor the news wire appearance to their individual desire / needs -

instantly.

PDX Indy is THE BEST INDYMEDIA SITE ON PLANET EARTH.

(anyway, none of this matters - after tomorrow's "election" the civil war begins. do what thou wilt . . . )

suggest? REGIONAL/GENRE SORT FUNCTION on all subsections, like main newswire 01.Nov.2004 23:36

me

subject: one constructive tech suggestion REGIONAL/GENRE SORT FUNCTION AT TOP OF all subsections pages

First, I agree with the concerns of Patrick Poore and Jim Lockhart. The open ended community issues are important to me as well. I enjoy seeing what activists like myself are concerned about. We can bring corp media 'stiff-upper-lip' texts from other places and really tear them to shreds here, dissect the lies. ;-) That is a very beneficial aspect of the whole IMC experience: you are given a place to simultaneously learn, read, critique, and practice those skills in an open ended unstructed manner.

This is providing a whole different model of journalism. Moreover, the critical commentary helps us all I think, collectively, neutralize the spin and selective omission of corporate media or governmental actions.

That is what actual direct activism does as well, correct? I think that it is hard to make the separation claimed between 'thinking' and 'acting' either. Inspirations typically read or seen, influence people to act more, I think. They are both intermixed. I don't think it is a zero sum game in other words like the PIMC post above implies (where the assumption was analysis/news/commentary 'reposts' somehow equals taking away from direct action). I think it definitely adds to direct actions. It has with me. Big time. You get radicalized and become appreciative of the actual democratic process by the whole process of participation.

However, I do understand that simply because there are more people in the world with an internet connection compared to Cascadians with internet connections, that this can lead to many subsections of PIMC getting a "degeographic" feel. That geographic, genre, and subsection sorting function of PIMC is a breakthrough in IMCs. I would like to see that expaned. That brings me to my second point, the tech suggesion on my wish list. I think it is on other's wish list?

Second, the tech idea is how to tailor PIMC subsections to the user even more! I thought this afternoon about the PIMC concerns, and this idea I think would be to extend what you can do right now only on the main newswire page--sort by genre, region, and topic--and extend that to all subsection pages!

I "read" the PIMC concerns as less about 'reposts' and more about the delocalizing aspects of reposts, and the capacity of reposts (not requirement like they say!!) to swamp out local or regional coverage. I think that is definitely true. Though that is only because no one is yet allowed to sort for the genre/regional issues in the subsections. This is something I have often wanted to see. And that data is there in the database though there is nothing in the way of a command to get at it and deliver it as a webpage right now.

For a demonstration of what I mean, right now you can only get the full newswire sorted by genre/regional/topic variables: clicking on 'portland metro only' on the left only sorts out the full newswire for portland metro. If you were to afterward to click on the 9-11 investigation, you get the full newswire of the subsection, instead of a genre/regional element in it. There is genre/regional information in each of the subsections, though presently there is no way to actually read with that in mind if you want to. And I do!

I like the open flow of the mainwire as the default. I like the open newswire in all of the subsections as the default on each subsection. Any sorting capacities should be in the hands of the website user. That I think is the charm of the PIMC: there are several different ways to sort information and there are no artificial pre-rigged separations. I think someone else mentioned that above. I see this suggestion as extending that lack of artificial self-rigged separations, and getting only the order you personally put into it, the Zen ethic, into the hands of all the different users who share PIMC and make it so great.

Surely if you can have a sort function on the main newswire with one variable (genre or region or topic), you can have a sort function that goes two levels deep, and sort for two or three variables deep from the main newswire (like being capable of sorting by topic subsection of 9-11 investigation first, then sort by genre of announcments, and then search by region of portland metro region.)

I've done a bit of programming on databases and I know this is possible (at least my familiarity with Microsoft ULTRADEV). It's like sorting on a previous sort (here, the first subsection holding that constant), and then displaying the subsection table (webpage) with other variables sorted as well.

In short, what I am suggesting is that it should be possible to have a "deeper sorting" function in the database of the newswire. If you can do this with one variable on the main newswire (via click links on the left), why not do it with several sorts simultaneously on only the subsections, so when you go there, you can subdivide as well, though only if you want?

So, what about it? What about adding the sorting function for genre and regions to each subsection pages?

Here's an image of what I am thinking about. I still imagine you would sort in the first instance to get to a subsection of any kind by first by clicking left column issues, as well as still have 'raw newswire' on the front page of any subsection.

This image I made shows an example. It is only the topics subsection version in the image of what it would look like. There would be three versions in practice:

You could click the left column, say, and choose only one of the topics (say, '9-11 investigation'), and then once you are there on that page, you could sort by genres and regions.

You could click the left column differently, say, and click only one of the genres (say, 'announcements'), and then once you are there on that page, you could sort by topics and regions.

You could click the left column differently once more, say, and click only on one of the regions (say, portland metro', and then you could sort by topics and genres.

Yeah, I spent over an hour doing this image, though this IMC is worth it. What more can I say.
full idea
full idea

In Response to jenna 02.Nov.2004 11:39

Jim eagleye@PhilosopherSeed.org

This thing about Volksfront always comes up in these types of dicussions, perhaps rightfully so. I remember that a couple years back when Volksfrontwas posting quite frequently, there was this push to keep them from the site, that their attitudes and perspectives shouldn't be allowed to be a part of the community.
Many thought this should be the case, some did not. Yet, supression of voices, however strident or fundamentally racist these voices may be, constricts and abreviates the debate. Personally, I'm concerned more about the tenor, the climate of the debate than the content. If folks can express their ideas while showing respect to other viewpoinsts, without ideological absolutes and character attacks, the discussion would add to community understanding and education.
This viewpoint is not popular amongst the left, at least as far as I've seen it on indymedia. It presupposes a fundamental goodness in human beings, a rationality that I must confess is often difficult to perceive in people. Witness the partisan conduct in the present election cycle.
This irrationality we witness in these exchanges on Indymedia often takes place in a climate which is raw, disrespectful, acussatory and downright fucking mean spirited. If we just want to throw up our hands and declare that these "white power" folks are simpley crazy, or hate mongors, or deluded, or tools of power hungry fanatics, then we lose sight of their humanity, and their relationship to us and the community.
Their views are a part of the Community, and no matter how much we may disagree with them, they reflect a genuine perception of the world, of social structures, and of politics. Attacking them personally, only challenges their loyalty to their beliefs; it does not challenge the fundamental structure of these beliefs.
Excluding participation in a public forum perpetuates the present divisions among various portions of the community.