Horizontal Networks and Radical Politics

[reposted from femmetech.org]

I just finished a few proposals for the Allied Media Conference — which I swear I will co-work on organizing one of these years! — and one that I’m particularly excited about is called “Out of the Streets and Into the Networks: Horizontal Digital Collaborations for Radical Projects.” I’ve been growing in my comfort level as a network-loving enthusiast, a little shamefully since it’s rooted in so much anarchist theory. But, I am ready to cast the spectre of that shame aside, toss off the troubles of the tyranny of structurelessness, and embrace the fact that I Am A Skilled Transformative Organizer. I believe, and enact, power-sharing through digital technologies, understand that crowd sourcing and outreach must go hand-in-hand, and have researched, tested, tried out, and group processed many accessible methods of using technologies to get group organizing, activism, and art done.

Why? As my proposal says, as creative and political projects grow larger, campaign wins more crucial, and the moving parts of our projects get more complicated, the need to share access and maintain diverse contributors on projects remains critically important to work that is grounded in transformative and social-justice praxis. Translation: if the barrier to participation is too user-unfriendly, folks won’t jump it, but if there is no structure in place to foster collaboration, folks *can’t* jump in.

I really hope my proposal gets accepted. For now, I’m sharing annotated links to some of the technologies I’ve found for online collaboration. If you know more, comment!

Basecamp: http://basecamphq.com/
+ very project-oriented and perhaps good for something of our magnitude because of that
+ has a place for notes, task lists
+ has a place to upload limited files
– free version is a little limited but not horrible, not free is like $50/month

> Box.net[browser, desktop, mobile] (freemium, $10-$20) Like Dropbox this also allows online file storage and sharing. It does not have the folder on your desktop that is synced. Box.net is much more focused on sharing documents and collaborative editing. You can actually edit some file formats through the web site.

Open Atruim http://openatrium.com/
– I think we need to have our site in drupal for this to be useful
+ we might really want to develop in drupal anyway
+ Has LOTS of features calendar, tasks, notes, and upload/storage abilities.
+ has a bunch of the functionality of crabgrass AND is in use so not “buggy”
+ free

Crabgrass — http://crabgrass.riseuplabs.org/
+ made by radical tech nerds for lefty collaborative organizing projects [= <3]
– and still in development but should be “out” by the end of the summer so we could use it.
+ Has calendar, tasks and upload/storage abilities.
– doesn’t have a lot of FAQ/support
+ free

Google docs https://docs.google.com
– evil empire stores our data
– buggy/slow [for me at least]
+ most folks know how to use this
– only for lists, notes and not other files
+ bascially already set up