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Website Content Curators — Call for Candidates

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The task of the content curators is to ensure that the website is a place where members and sympathizers can find material that is interesting and relevant. More concretely, the team's primary task is twofold, as outlined in the proposal for the team:

  • To ensure that the website's home page gives an appropriately playful and lively impression and is regularly updated with fresh content.
  • To start building up a repository of relevant content on various topics and issues.

Obviously, the team can only be successful if members participate in this task by bringing in material, but it should stimulate this and actively solicit contributions. If members want to participate in the team's task in other ways, they are also welcome to do so.

Keeping to the participatory spirit, it's mostly up to the team to decide how to fulfill their task. Activities could include things like: maintaining the home page, drafting newsletters, inviting members to write blog or news posts, keeping the forum organized, creating artwork, translating content, doing social media outreach or building a wiki.

For this mandated role there are 7 potential slots to fill: 5 primary and 2 reserve curators. The reserve curators are tasked with taking over from primary curators when circumstances require. All are selected for a term of one year.

Members who are willing to volunteer for this task are invited to announce their availability by posting a statement to that effect as a comment below. Please also add some information that may be helpful to the membership in making a selection, such as how you hope to fulfill the role. Candidates can also indicate that they are only available for the reserve role.

Two weeks after this call was posted, a vote will be held for selecting the primary and reserve roles.

Update (Friday Dec 16th)

So far five people have volunteered for a primary role:

One member has volunteered for a reserve role:

Discussion 59 Comments

  • Lambert Meertens 3rd Dec 2016

    The term “curator” may give the impression (see the discussion here and here) that they are tasked with selecting which member-contributed content gets displayed. That is not the intention. The team should stimulate the members to contribute interesting content in a positive sense, not act as a filter.

    If someone can think of a better name for the team than “website content curators”, let’s call them by that better name.

    • Rod 3rd Dec 2016

      I may be misunderstanding, but it was my impression that this was part of the task of maintaining the home page and this task would be a logical one for the content curators to take on. For instance (since we have no content curators yet) I added a content box 'Project Proposals', thereby linking a blog that would otherwise not have disappeared from the home page. I also featured this blog (which I even wrote myself) to be shown prominently on the home page. Were these decisions uncalled for?

      If not, how do you see this process happening in the future? Should this be the job of the website administrator? If so, I'd much rather have this task transferred to a team of people than to have it carried out by one person. Or should every change be proposed before the membership? Seems unworkable to me.

    • Rod 3rd Dec 2016

      *would otherwise not have disappeared from the home page.

    • Lambert Meertens 3rd Dec 2016

      If some content gets displayed more prominently, the prominence of other content will thereby decrease, and then some of it may disappears from the home page earlier than it would have otherwise. That is an unintended but unavoidable side effect. But there is an essential difference with an intentional decision to suppress it.

      In the past, the task of making decisions on the organization of the home page was left to whoever happened to be the currently active website admin. There were some grumblings when the “Latest Blogs” section was demoted to a lowly place on the home page, this in response to a member’s suggestion who observed that the blog posts were “full of gloom and doom and despair”. That was a case of intentional “soft” suppression of content, which came as a surprise. Hiding our weaknesses is, in my opinion, not helpful to overcoming them. But I have nothing against stressing our strengths.

      Assigning that task to a team of members with a mandate (which is even revocable by a lightweight procedure) is a much more democratic alternative. As long as the team does their work in an accountable and transparent way, making clear why they do what they do, I don’t foresee any problems, even with us being the cantankerous lot that lefties tend to be.

      The IOPS website improvements document contains a wish for a “voting” system by which readers can rate new postings on importance, relevance, or general worthiness of attention (W52). That could make the task of the team easier, but such a system would not necessarily mean that the home page regularly has fresh content, so human judgement remains a necessary ingredient.

    • Rod 3rd Dec 2016

      Ok, then I did misunderstand. Thanks for the clarification. I think we agree, censorship should not be part of their role. Though if they would get admin rights for the international home page (which I think would be a logical thing for at least some of them to ask for and to be granted), they will have the ability to remove comments and other content as they desire. I think they should be allowed to use this for housekeeping purposes like removing double posts.

  • Lambert Meertens 3rd Dec 2016

    One thing we should avoid is for our little website to become like a duplicate of the functions of ZCommunications. The focus of everything we do as IOPS must be to further our revolutionary vision of an inclusive society in which everyone can participate fairly. If we believe that this is not an impossible or distant dream but an attainable aim, then helping to make this clear is about the best contribution we can hope to offer. And one thing we can do for presenting the case is collect material for building a convincing argument that this vision is reachable and a realistic, sustainable alternative.

    • Bat Chainpuller 3rd Dec 2016

      What specifically do you mean by not becoming a duplicate of the functions of ZComm?

      I reckon it is rather distant but attainable. Of should I say possible. Probable?

    • Lambert Meertens 3rd Dec 2016

      Just becoming a second ZComm next to the existing one doesn’t make much sense, in my opinion. What I find there is mainly a critical analysis of all that ails present society. Useful enough, but I see little reason for us to repeat that here unless when we have a take on it that is missing there. One thing I hope we can develop here together are more detailed and concrete designs to put flesh on the bones of our abstract vision – which is much broader and farther reaching than the ”next” economic system.

    • Lambert Meertens 3rd Dec 2016

      Let us hope it is not that distant. If it is, the window of opportunity will close before we are there. It’s not only the ecological effects of climate change I’m afraid of. I’m actually more afraid of the ultimate total police state that inches closer each day, with fully automated surveillance. We may not all die, but we may come to wish we did.

    • Bat Chainpuller 3rd Dec 2016

      But Z is a media/publishing site so I can't see this site becoming like that. I think putting flesh on things depends on members involvement in discussions and such.

    • Rod 3rd Dec 2016

      I'm not sure if I agree. I'd like to keep to my own vision and not self-censure to keep in line with IOPS' vision. IOPS needs to be open to reflection and change where needed instead of trying to sell whatever was decided upon by (probably a very small minority of) the founding members.

    • Bat Chainpuller 3rd Dec 2016

      I agree but vision has to be argued and debated and discussed. In some sense The Next System Project has the edge but mot the website. The NSP wants a pluralist commonwealth, a diversity of ways of arranging workplaces or economies. But even that concept has to be argued not just presented. Just presenting stuff or resources doesn't mean much. The NSP has a static website, not interactive at all is what I mean. . IOPS could be a fluid one. But it needs people to be involved and that's not looking good. The net is not a space for activists and discussing visions to the point where things become clear is pretty much non existent anywhere. People push their own barrows and that seems to be it.

      I don't know what I'm talking about!

    • ishi crew 13th Dec 2016

      i've read TNS papers (and have met 2 people who wrote them). My view is if they were serious they would 'curate' a truly participatory project rather than have everyone writing their blueprint for social change and a 'better society'. (Most of these proposals overlap to a large extent, or are small variations on some basic ideas---libertory or democratic socialism, anarcho-communism, market socialism, bookchin's municipalism, etc. )

      My own somewhat idiosyncratic and / or dissident view is while everything they propose is fine (if presently either utopian or only viable in small scale projects---worker owned business are not going to replace capitalism today---and its easier to write and sell a book on 'anti-capitalism' in the 'free market than operate outside the capitalistic system. Chomsky and Klein can write and sell another book, people will buy them, and not much changes. )

      NSP should be read (in my view) along with evonomics.com and (possibly much) more. to me alot of these are 'vanity projects'---dont to gain acclaim, grants, etc. But that is the way the world works. Bill McKibben and 350.org got started selling books and articles (in new yorker----one can read about climate change while browing the ads for diamonds and BMWs and world cruises).

    • Lambert Meertens 3rd Dec 2016

      Quote from Rod:

       "I'm not sure if I agree."

      I’m not sure what it is you aren’t sure you agree with. Did anyone propose self-censuring or self-censoring?

      The story behind the IOPS ”key documents” is presented on our History page. It started with the Reimagining Society project at ZNet. The most important points brought forward by the participants were collected and presented in the form of a poll. Many visitors took that poll, more than we have members. The outcome, with very little redaction, is what we have to this day.

      So it was more than a few founding members. But I don’t think they should be treated as sacred documents. I consider a few points to be rather dubious, have criticized the arcane language, and feel they are overly detailed and lopsided. I’d rather see them replaced by something much shorter and simpler. In due time we should revisit them.

    • Rod 3rd Dec 2016

      Well, words can be read in different ways. If read as 'we already have a comprehensive enough vision and just need to spread our message' then I'm not sure I agree.

      If I remember correctly around 4000 people took that poll (I was one of them). I should have chosen my words more carefully. By 'decided on' I meant decided on (as in gave input for) the contents of the text that was put forward in the poll and ultimately ended up as our core documents. Taking a poll on a proposal is very different from wording it yourself. Which doesn't mean that members don't agree with most of the wording. But agreement without careful study perhaps isn't worth all that much.

    • Rod 3rd Dec 2016

      Accidentally clicked on the submit button. I wasn't finished yet :)

      I'd like to see indivualistic ideas (like fairness and human rights) a little toned down and more holistic ideas (like ecological stewardship and change in conciousness) given more weight in the text. Of course, I'm just one member and others may have other views. But like you say, it would be good to revisit them at some point in the future.

    • Rod 4th Dec 2016

      That was badly worded, I should clarify a bit. What I'm trying to get at is that the left seems mostly focused on making the world a better place by fighting for a more fair world for all. This is also what I mainly get from the core documents. Which is great and needed, but it's also a limited, mostly individualistic and human centered focus.

      Perhaps we have to also look more at the problems of humanity as a whole and of nature as a whole. The way we would look at an ant colony. Overpopulation, overconsumption, climate disruption and species extinction are some problems that come to mind. Population in particular is an issue that seems taboo, but is in my view the one with the most potential for improvement on all fronts. I can't imagine a world where both humanity and the rest of nature will be able to thrive with 7.5 billion, let alone 9 billion people (as projected for mid century) on the planet. The few scientists that study population seem to come up with numbers like 1 or 2 billion that might live sustainably into the future. Which is only a minimum prerequisite and doesn't say much about how much room will be left for the rest of nature. It's an anomaly in earth's history for such a large animal to exist in such massive numbers (in terms of individual appropriation of energy from the biosphere average first worlders are akin to 10 or 20 ton mammals like elephants).

      My vision of a better future would be one where both humanity and the rest of nature are able to thrive and benefit from each other. This is only possible if our numbers are reduced drastically (to perhaps less than a billion). It's a long road (centuries or perhaps millennia) to get to that point, but I suspect it's going to happen one way or another. It's partly up to humanity (and partly up to nature) to determine how long it will take, how painful or painless this process will be and what the world will look like on the other end of it.

      If suddenly everyone would agree to live in a participatory society, it would be a good first step, but I would still be afraid we would mess up the world because there's no guarantee we wouldn't be exploitative towards the environment. People act according to their identity, which is a social product. If their social world is one where humans exist above the rest of nature and nature is seen primarily as a resource (for food, energy, minerals and leasure), then they will continue to exploit it. Much of the environmentalism we've seen so far seems human centric. As in, we have to take care of the environment because otherwise we will be in trouble. Nothing wrong with that, but in the long run I suspect it won't be enough. You can't learn to deal with anything properly if you can't go beyond fear as a motivation.

      If enough people would be able to go beyond that conditioned view and also see themselves as an instantiation of nature, they might realize that an act against it is also an act against themselves.

      These are typical crackpot ideas. Unrealistic, unpragmatic, etc. Perhaps that's true. But there may also be good reason to think that there will be more and more fertile ground for these kind of ideas in the future, as nature will start to show it's power more and more and our position will lower as a result. And with ideas like the Anthropocene and permaculture gaining ground some of it may already be rising to the surface.

      Alright, I'm done ranting now :)

    • Bat Chainpuller 4th Dec 2016

      Not even close to a rant Rod. Come on, you'll have to do better than that!

    • Rod 4th Dec 2016

      I'm still learning. Luckily I have great material to learn from :)

    • Peter Lach-Newinsky 5th Dec 2016

      Great ideas, Rod. Back to the EARTH project! More to say when I have more time perhaps, but good on you for raising these all-important issues. Gotta get back to my writing project (a Big History, Big Bang to now, from Matter to Life to Mind...) which I've been sadly neglecting since my risky foray into Castro myth/political correctness critique...which has also got me into a bit of the old shit hitting the fan with old 'Simpler Way' friends Ted Trainer and Jonathan... Rutherford

    • Lambert Meertens 5th Dec 2016

      Might it be possible to resuscitate the EARTH project? A sustainable ecology is the foremost concern of many of our members.

      Taking 30 years per generation, a one-child policy will reduce the size of the population to about one tenth in one century. With a fertility rate of 1.7, the value for high-income countries combined as reported by the World Bank (for 2014), that same reduction takes about 425 years.

      There is a strong correlation between the fertility rate and the pro capita income of countries. The high fertility rate in low-income countries is largely due to the fact that children also serve as a form of insurance for the care of their parents when they grow old and infirm. Improving the wealth and social security of a population has the almost immediate effect that the fertility rate goes down dramatically.

    • Rod 5th Dec 2016

      Yeah, I wouldn't mind bringing the old geezer back to life.

      Sounds like an interesting project, Peter. Perhaps it will help to give some perspective to our current predicament. Our culture seems to badly need more context to make sense of things.

      Lambert, nice calculation. The ironic thing is that the best thing we could do for our children (as in, future generations) is to have less of them. The fewer there are the more there is available for each. A toddler could understand this, but somehow an advanced civilization that has brought people to the moon and back can't. Or at least is unable to act upon it.

      Yes, there's a clear negative correlation between income and fertility rate. And there are probably similar markers like education and women's rights. It makes it all the more weird to me that this is such a contentious issue on the left. I don't really get it. The most plausible reason I can think of is that most people in the left think we'll be able to fix our problems in the future with better technology. That all we need to do is convert our source of energy from oil and gas to sun- and wind-powered technology and we can go on with our lives. Which is why I'm interested in collecting resources and showing the invisible reality behind every day life.

    • Bat Chainpuller 5th Dec 2016

      I've told my children I don't want grandkids! Does that help in this day and age of turning off lights, riding bicycles and drinking take away coffee out of home made clay sculptured mugs?

    • Rod 5th Dec 2016

      Depends on if they will listen!

      More to the point, I feel lifestyle changes are sometimes downplayed too much. Perhaps because prominent activists have no time for them and they get most of the attention. But we can't all exist in the spotlight, where words carry more weight than they otherwise would. Adapting your life to your way of thinking helps solidify those thoughts and add a practical dimension to them. It's one thing to read about people who live without heating their homes, it's quite another thing to try it out for yourself. My experience so far is that it sounds a lot easier on paper than it is in real life. Which is a useful lesson I could not have learned any other way.

      Not having kids is a different challenge. For me probably a lot easier than for others, but as a lifestyle choice it seems by far the most impactful thing you can do. Not taking into account fantasies about raising your kids to be influential activists :)

    • Lambert Meertens 6th Dec 2016

      I someone really wants to raise kids, there is also the option of adopting some of the more than 100 million orphans worldwide. I don’t understand why everyone has the right to make more babies just like that, while adoption is made impossibly difficult.

    • Lambert Meertens 6th Dec 2016

      That should have stared with “If”.

    • Rod 6th Dec 2016

      Good point. I have to confess ignorance, I wasn't aware it was such a big issue. Those are some staggering numbers. Does indeed make you ask why it's made so difficult. Have to rethink my stance on adoption I guess.

  • Bat Chainpuller 3rd Dec 2016

    Hey, hey, guys...straighten your hats and tuck your shirts in...come on...settle...Next thing you know you'll be using words like "jeepers" and scaring everyone..Is it a Den Haag/Amsterdam kind of Glasgow/Edinburgh thing? :)

    Oops, sorry. Realise now you were just arguing your various positions and making your points.

    I don't think there's much of a problem here. The key doc issue, KDI, is still a big task, ABK, and probably still a long ways off, LWO. I honestly can't see this joint looking remotely like a ZComm. Bloody Commos anyway! I mean shit, really I'm the only real Parecon squawker here, along with maybe Kristi, and like a little suck, the only one who posts Michael Albert shit here and there, even though he probably don't like me much anymore!

    I just woke up and my eyes are knackered by the light of this iPad. Gotta get coffee and go check on my mum. But the coffee is the real priority.

    And if you both haven't settled down by the time I get back, I may...just may...post more of my own music! Now, think about that...

    I'm off for coffee.

    • Rod 3rd Dec 2016

      That's the downside of the internet, you easily forget there's an actual person on the other side of the line.

      I may have acted out some internal frustrations, trying to figure out what to do about the world. Big topic, big feelings :) No disrespect meant.

      And sorry for going off-topic (again). Hope we haven't scared off any potential candidates :)

    • Bat Chainpuller 3rd Dec 2016

      Was only joking Rod. You guys are always cool. Not like hotheads like me.


    • Bat Chainpuller 3rd Dec 2016

      Oh, an ABK should be ABT.

    • Kristi Doyne-Bailey 7th Dec 2016

      yep, i'm still a parecon squawker...haven't found anything i like better...

      also, raised a kid in what i consider a holistic, pagan, progressive,activistic(?), artistic environment...and he pretty much thinks i'm idealistic at best...loony more like it...we all love our coffee tho...

      i'm content with you'all filling the content curator rolls, still in learning mode...

  • fred curran 6th Dec 2016

    I would love to be considered for the one of the roles of content curator. Don't know if I would be any good at it, but I will try.

    • Rod 6th Dec 2016

      Great! Was starting to worry we had derailed this blog.

  • Lambert Meertens 6th Dec 2016

    Where are the volunteers? Come on, don’t be shy.

  • Rod 8th Dec 2016

    With the danger of spreading my efforts too thin, I'll volunteer for this role too. I'll be focusing my efforts on collecting resources form the web. Anything that can help form a broader and clearer picture of the world (past, present and possible futures). Probably try to set up a project to create a wiki, so we have a place to dump the stuff we collect. Not all that interested in maintaining the homepage or motivating people to contribute more though.

  • Dave Jones 9th Dec 2016

    Rod, Rather than "taboo", I think discussion on the left around the issue of over-population can be problematic because too often the voices all come from a position of privilege (like mine), r it's just some academic exercise. Hard to bring in the people most affected. That and memory of the abuses of the one-child policy in China.
    I suppose the effect of burning fossil fuels will be de-facto population "control" as millions of poor in low lying areas will be annihilated.

    I will volunteer to help bring in fresh content with an ecosocialist bent. If that helps.

    • Rod 9th Dec 2016

      Thanks Dave!

      I'll have more to say on population in a separate blog or forum post, because I don't want to derail this blog any further. I don't necessarilly disagree it's problematic, but in any case, an open discussion around this issue seems useful to me.

  • Donna Wilson 10th Dec 2016

    I would like to be considered for a content curator position. I am new to the organization so maybe I can provide some fresh eyes on the website in general and I am also interested in updating/adding forum content and keeping projects current.

    • Rod 10th Dec 2016

      Awesome Donna! It seems we are assembling a team with quite diverse interests. And fresh blood is always good. After a while you kind of get used to all the flaws in a website (or organization) and stop really noticing them.

    • Lambert Meertens 11th Dec 2016

      While I’m “kind of” used to these flaws, I can’t help continuing to notice them, like a little piece of rock in your shoe.

      Thanks, Donna. We can use a fresh look.

  • Andy Higgins 12th Dec 2016

    I would also like to be considered for a content curator position. I have many years experience working in the Collaborative Software environment and also have a highly technical background.
    I agree that the job of the content curator(s) is not to be necessarily responsible to filter the data or even oversee the data, rather they should have the responsibility to maintain the presentation of the data through the interface in such a way that allows the members the best possible experience, to allow them to discuss and share.

    • Rod 13th Dec 2016

      Thanks Andy!

    • ishi crew 13th Dec 2016

      I wish i knew you (though the reverse may not be true and i can live with that---many interesting people exist who don't want to be friends with me---many because they are very busy and have all the friends they need, and also people have different tastes for company---i am into hiking and a fairly limited kind of musical and scientific interests, most people i know have their own interests---eg like going to restaurants.)
      I did some scientific programming (once in fortran and once in C++) but i've mostly forgotten it (though i was thinking of trying to learn python and R. (I was doing 'theoretical ' or 'mathematical' biology (complexity theory, statistical mechancs) .

      So i wish I knew someone current and interested in these areas. I'm equally interested in communications theory which is closer to philosophy, theory of social networks (alot discussed in papers on physics arxiv using graph theory and statistical mechanics) and linguistics than technical programming. eg http://www.philosophyofinformation.net/ (l flouridi). I wonder if this interests you, or whether you are more interested in the technical side of things, big data, and such. I'm interested in both but alot of this stuff is either too general and philosophical or too technical CS and math to be very relevant, or something 'beyond my pay grade'. (We have pop discussions now about 'superintelligence'---nick bostom, stephen hawking, etc. ---and whether robots will make humans and jobs go extinct --there many discussion of this, from I J Good in 60's, through S Aranowitz's and J Rfikin's 'end of work'. 'jobless future' to recent stuff from places like MIT).

  • ishi crew 13th Dec 2016

    I might be interested.

    I am really interested in a 'free university' / think tank kind of thing---i call it a 'knowledge co-op' also, in analogy to a food, babysitting, or other co-ops /collectives (eg diy music). It would be a cheap sort of post-punk, downscale version of http://www.santafe.edu (santa fe institute). Also, it would less hierarchical than current universities and be more political and less resource intensive (eg more like a commune than a mansion ).

    Some of this could be done on line---though alot already exists---facebook groups in science, politics, etc. and many free educational resources. (eg rwer.wordpress.com (real world 'heterodox' economics), thextsystem.org , evonomics.com (evolution/economics). I tend towards the parecon/kropotkin/c l r jjames view that everyone (or at least more) could do 'participatory' science and self-managment / worker run systems (like public budgeting as was tried in Brazil).

    I'd prefer a combination of web based stuff and a local real project---study/research group. Just being on the web i find to be both somewhat alienating and unhealthy, and too often more like trolling or gossip than anything else.

    I am not very 'competetive' and have at present too many problems to operate in most current university and even political scenes---i find protesting a bit boring and intellectually limited (though i still go to some---eg standing rock stuff now), and also many radical/alternative projects like Z communications, Jacobin and Nation mag, Demos, etc basically more exclusive than participatory (as are many music scenes and political groups---sometimes more like cults).

    Also, not much science is seen as very relevant in these circles---its usually single issue like global warming or GMOs, etc. and alot of science is seen as only of interest and relevant to 'elites' (professors, etc.) and fields like biology and economics are sometimes seen as reactionary ---some radicals seem to think discussions of genetics, economic and anthropological theory, etc should be basically scrapped or banned and all people should talk about is 'intersectionality'. parecon , how everyone will be happy once they declare themselves anti-apitalist and anarchists or greens, etc.

    Science now mostly is involved in alternative scenes via programming/web sites/smart phones for documentation, and some local organic food groups and energy projects.

    In sum, if this happenned i'd see my job as helping to manage the 'online university' part of IOPS. Alot of people in my area are young professionals with technical training (mostly programming) but most are either centrist (democrats) or libertarian it seems . (The other half of my local scene is basically people with criminal records, drug habits, little education and income---they have some interest in science and analyses and social policy but its not relevant to day to day life. )

    • Rod 13th Dec 2016

      I think we share some of the same goals, ishi. And you don't necessarily have to be a 'content curator' to work on those goals. So perhaps we can try to work out if there's enough common ground for setting up a project.

      For now I'm exclusively web-oriented though, but I see your point about the alienation.

    • ishi crew 13th Dec 2016

      i agree---thats why i said 'maybe'. i don't want to commit to some project which i won't actually be able to do.

    • Lambert Meertens 16th Dec 2016

      A traditional university combines education with research. Several members have suggested university-level projects (for example here: Self-organised Postgraduate Study (exploration and planning)), but each time focusing on creating courses for (self-)education. Your mention of the Santa Fe Institute suggests that you are thinking much more of the research aspect. Other example of institutes for advanced study are (as the name says) the Institute for Advanced Study located in Princeton and the various Kavli institutes, which (like Santa Fe) offer no educational programs.

      To fulfill our mission I believe we need more study on the institutions needed for a thriving participatory society. When I allow my imagination to roam unfettered, one or even several institutes for advanced study in this area would be part of the fabric forming IOPS. In our present situation we’ll have to do with what we can manage to do online, as alienating as the absence of indispensible face-to-face contact may be. Given the number of retired social scientists among our members, doing something online in that direction may even not be totally unrealistic, but (unless some people unexpectedly get very enthusiastic about the idea) I think it should not be our priority to even try to start something like that now.

      However, collecting (pointers to) material that is likely to be useful as input to studies on the possibilities and conditions for a participatory society – the kind of studies you’d hope an IOPS institute for advanced study will conduct – is definitely within the purview of the content curators.

    • ishi crew 16th Dec 2016

      the 'self-organized postgraduate study' group is basically like what i was talking about. (i'm familiar with both IAS and Kavli Insts. one of my teachers was at SFI.) The main issue i had with places like this is basically i was told I had to get a PhD degree in either computer science or molecular biology (i was being funded at a very low level to do 'drug design' and 'genetic engineering' fundamental research by silicon valley corporations (i dont know who, since i didnt deal with that part) ---mathematical and quantum biology at UCSF. My stuff was a bit too 'far out' and innaplicable--they wanted a product---i just gave em a math equation (which i couldn't solve).

      I am not brilliant by any measure (except sometimes close in the past via standardized tests) but ideas i was promoting are still around eg on http://www.arxiv.org/year/q-bio/16

      I don't think this idea should be a priority. One thing is , there are so many projects, institutes , etc i can't keep up with them--and they are often redundant and sometimes contradictatory. (eg one can think of trotsky, stalin, kronstadt anarchists and trotsky's secretary in mexico who ended up at harvard as a historian of mathematical logic--classic book.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean_van_Heijenoort )

      'peace out' . i'm starting to lose it because its cold in here. i'm basically into like 50/50 research /applications.

  • Caragh - 16th Dec 2016

    Hey all,

    Take your time Ishi. Things will become clear eventually, if I am overwhelmed confused I just listen to Alan Watts for an hour or Chomsky and things seem to calm down considerably.

    I am happy to be a back bencher, though I know that is the wrong word- reserve? content curator. I will try write some blogs but I have been in a bit of a doomer headspace for the last 6 months so dont want to feel obliged to keep everyone updated re sea ice, jetstreams and methane plumes- especially cos that might cause some panic, and while that is actually quite healthy for a little while, we have work to do. I am really big on us having a project to decommision nuclear power stations as a survival mechanism in case civilisation collapses because of isis knows which reason but that might be too old school to get traction and people are addicted to electricity- above water and food- really bizarre.

    Anyway- I am quite happy not to be voted in by the way- I already am trying to get my head around legaleze :)

    Blessings to all , and especially those that have volunteered!

    • Rod 16th Dec 2016

      Thanks Caragh! I don't mind doom, I'm already immunized against it anyway :) I've added you to the list as a reserve candidate. By the looks of it, it will be lonely on the back bench though.

  • Lambert Meertens 17th Dec 2016

    The list of candidates is now fixed, and the poll for the selection procedure is now open.

    During the selection process this blog post can be used for asking the candidates any questions.

  • Daniel Plaat 20th Dec 2016

    A wiki for past posted content is a great idea; less will be lost because a search function of the archive is not a representation of what the site even contents content wise.

    • Rod 21st Dec 2016

      This crossed my mind too. This site contains interesting ideas that are now accumulating dust in our archive. Maybe some of that can be transferred to a wiki, if someone is willing to sift through it all and collect the useful stuff. How doable that is I don't know.

  • Michael Pelaez 26th Dec 2016

    I'd like to be considered for a position if it's not too late.

    Here's info about me:

    B.A. Int'l Relations (history minor - cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, Sigma Iota Rho, Phi Alpha Theta, Bennett Scholar). M.P.A. Int'l Development (Master's Thesis was study of development in Cuba - Pi Alpha Alpha). Two yrs of PhD studies Political Science, Two yrs of study Master's Library Science. Founder of University of Delaware chapter of Young Socialist Alliance (broke away from said group years ago & since moved to Libertarian Socialism). Supporter of now defunct Love & Rage Anarchist Federation. Supporter of Northeastern Federation of Anarcho-Communists. Supporter of Movimiento Libertario Cubano. Supporter of EZLN. Supporter of Occupy Wall Street. Supporter of Icarus Project. Buddhist-Atheist...(interested in engaged Buddhism & need for inner & outer revolution). Cuban-American. Varied work experience including teaching, archaeology, humane society, Amazon.com, ESL tutoring.

    For a more personal brief auto-bio, please read below, from my blog, https://www.radicalresponse.org

    I write this in an effort to provide readers with an understanding of the real live human being behind the digital glow of your devices. In reading this, one might find something in my personal story that resonates, explicates, or serves as some common ground upon which new relations & exchanges of ideas might occur.

    No matter how long one lives, how much one learns, how life experiences change a person, & regardless of how easy these days in a world more virtual than real in many crucial ways it may be to alter or outright create a persona or to play myriad virtual &/or socially required roles, everyone is indelibly & profoundly shaped by where they come from, their upbringing, & all their familial & personal baggage, for better or worse.

    I am a first-generation Cuban-American, born just days after man landed on the moon, a month before Woodstock & the Manson murders. As the son of political refugees, immigrants who arrived with a few suitcases, the clothes on their backs, less than $50 & idealistic notions about this country shaped by years of American propag&a & myth-making that painted the USA as the shining light of democracy, freedom, & limitless opportunity – I invariably grew up a believer in the system. As in most immigrant families, education, both self- & formal was valued above all else. Early memories often leave particularly strong imprints that one never shakes, & they often speak volumes about the adult one later becomes. My earliest memory is of my mother testing my knowledge of the countries & capitals of Europe while still a toddler, before I could even speak English (only Spanish was spoken at home). Another early but vivid memory is of my father (who worked with the Cuban Revolutionary Government’s Central Economic Planning Board before growing disillusioned with Castro’s authoritarianism by 1967) & godfather (whose older brother was shot by the fascists during the Spanish Civil War/Revolution), & other assorted Cuban exiles playing dominos while sipping Cuban coffee, smoking cigars & cigarettes as I sat on the floor & listened intently, a little afraid of the raised voices but entranced by the passion with which they argued about politics, history, revolution, & both America’s greatness *&* wasted potential. I also remember my father & I would regularly watch the news, Star Trek & the documentary series World at War. At an early age I witnessed combat footage from Vietnam & had learned about Nazis & the holocaust – my father exposed me to adult material with the best intentions. While baptized & nominally Catholic, & despite briefly attending Baptist Sunday School (where I proudly resisted the peer pressure to heed the alter call & accept Jesus as my personal savior), I never trusted traditional nor had any interest in religion, although I was thoughtful & sensitive & did already have questions regarding the meaning of life & death. I grew up with a mother obsessed with New Age, occult, pagan, wiccan, paranormal, shamanistic, Native American, Taoist, Buddhist, & Santeria beliefs, & with a father who was a strident atheist. I took after him aside from a brief flirtation with Catholicism (& fascism) in my late teen years, & my father’s & my own common sense had convinced me that my mother’s beliefs were somewhat silly – at worst a waste of time mostly based on wishful thinking. Despite my father’s militant anti-communism, he agreed with Marx’s famous quote about religion being the opium of the masses. My father’s politics ranged from the far right to the far left & often left me confused, but always left me asking questions.

    “…Here we are now entertain us…” – Kurt Cobain

    By college I embodied many of the stereotypical character traits associated with “Generation X”. The generation of people weened on tv, who were latch-key kids, who were aware of the threat of nuclear annihilation, who experimented with alcohol & drugs way too young, who were constantly bombarded with the jingoistic propaganda of the Reagan era & who, if thoughtful, particularly suffered from terminal boredom, moodiness, pre-mature cynicism, misdirected anger, & who felt uncomfortable with the greed is good zeitgeist of the 80s. This generation was the first for whom there was no guarantee that life would be more easy & comfortable than it was for the generation before. Enough of us turned sarcasm, irony, & a refusal to do what was expected into an art-form – earning criticism & the derogatory label “slackers”.

    For me apathy, cynicism, self-conscious irony, or even the wittiest sarcastic remarks couldn’t get rid of the almost constant existential angst. Underneath the attitudes & styles of Generation X & underneath my own awkward rebellious stance, there was in reality a sense of deeply disappointed idealism, sad frustration about the state of the world, & a wish to have a life that mattered. Like many, but particularly bothersome to me, I struggled with feelings of simultaneously wanting to be accepted while also growing comfortable with, & then proud of the fact that I never quite fit into any clique or in-group. I was permanently aggravated by the lack of seriousness of my peers, the lack of real alternatives in politics, in pop culture, & in music – until I discovered punk rock at least. I obsessed over finding ways to not earn a living, but have a life, & chose to – actually needed to – self-medicate with alcohol, drugs, & rock’n’roll.

    “Oh well, whatever, nevermind…” – Kurt Cobain

    “No future..”-Johnny Rotten

    For me Nevermind & Never Mind the Bollocks were the most played soundtracks to the movie of my inner life. “My Generation” & “Break on Through” got me started, but now I was older. I felt an instant inexplicable affinity with artists that destroyed – themselves or “the system” in some way or other. I greedily consumed any drug I could get my hands on, eventually settling into the life of a full-time heroin addict – all while going to school, working no-stress part-time jobs, & trying to find some creative outlet first through random acts of property destruction, then in a band, then through my writings & art, desperately trying to connect with others who felt the emotions I felt, trying to find some answers or purpose in life.

    Many who knew me & worked horrible full-time jobs they hated, considered what they did the “real world” & with obvious resentment in their voices called what I was doing “slacking” & had no respect for me since I didn’t have a boss, a horrible commute, low wages, & constant stress. In spite of the hedonistic life-style, my so-called “slacking” resulted in the accumulation of an extensive formal education, where I embraced knowledge for its own sake regardless of whether it would land me a job or not. I was good at academics. I was intoxicated by readings of philosophy, political theory, history – you name it. I loved & still love learning. I could have cared less that my learning wasn’t setting me up for some generic, middle-management, cubicle-confined “career”. I earned a B.A. in International Relations (history minor – cum laude, dean’s list every semester, membership in Phi Beta Kappa, Sigma Iota Rho, Phi Alpha Theta, academic honor societies & named a Bennett Scholar); I earned a Master’s in Public Administration, specializing in International Development (Master’s Thesis was a study of development in Cuba 1959-89 – membership in Pi Alpha Alpha academic honor society). The former gave me a broad knowledge of the humanities, while the latter disturbingly opened my eyes to the true damage done by colonialism, imperialism, & the truth that lesser developed nations were still at the mercy of the American empire, transnational corporations, & were pawns in the game of international geopolitics, exploited for cheap labor & natural resources. I also completed two years of PhD work in Political Science (my career was cut short first by lack of funding, then by my love affair with the needle), & later two years of work towards a Master’s in Library Science (cut short by mental breakdowns). I still worked part-time, became politically active on the radical left, & increasingly suffered from undiagnosed Bi-Polar II Disorder. In spite of my critics, I firmly believe that I was very much operating in the “real world”. I’ve also learned much from my few travels including time in Panama & an illegal trip to Cuba (where I did research & volunteered my labor on a collective farm).

    Like many Gen Xers, my work experience reflects my discomfort with the whole notion of “career building” & official definitions of success. Some might label me an underachiever. I’ve worked at a toy store, a homebrew shop (where I learned the infinitely valuable skill of beer & wine-making), taught at a university, did graduate research, washed dishes in a convalescent home, worked the register as a video store clerk, dug up artifacts as an archaeological field-worker, worked at a university library, cleaned litter boxes at the humane society, was a clerk at a couple of record stores, painted houses alongside Mexican illegals (who truth be told, worked harder & faster than I could ever hope), & busted my ass at Amazon.com during its early days (ironically, where I both won an award for outstanding initiative & later helped the unionization effort by leaking a damaging internal anti-union memo intended for manager’s eyes only to the New York Times, as well as doing anonymous interviews with the press denouncing & describing the deplorable working conditions).

    “Boredom is counter-revolutionary”- Situationist International

    I’m not boring for sure. If I were to label myself politically it would be Pro-Situ Neo-Marxian Libertarian Council-Communist Zenarchist. It’s a difficult position to coherently espouse but I take joy in the struggle & contradictions. With historical materialism and the dialectic at the core, I draw from the rich tradition of leftist thought and filter those ideas through the ethics of Buddhism, my life experiences, what’s going on in the world right now – hopefully finding new ways to critique the existing system, new ideas on how to fight it, and continue to think about how to bridge the gap between what is and what could be. I’m a member of the International Organization for a Participatory Society (www.iopsociety.org) Delaware Chapter. Before renouncing vangaurdism, I was a founder in 1992 of the University of Delaware chapter of the Young Socialist Alliance, the youth wing of the Trotskyite Socialist Worker’s Party. I was a past supporter of the now defunct Love & Rage Anarchist Federation, the Northeastern Federation of Anarcho-Communists, the Movimiento Libertario Cubano, the EZLN, Occupy Delaware, Occupy Wall Street, & the Icarus Project – as well as more mainstream organizations like Amnesty International, the Sierra Club, & the ACLU. (My affiliation with these groups was never an end in itself – reformism, while obviously limited, can be necessary stop-gaps that can in some cases open the field for more radical, total critiques & demands, as well as improve people’s lives in the here and now).
    I am also a Buddhist-Atheist – Buddhism provides a rational, experientially verifiable, positive, humanist, compassion-based, logical, relevant, universally applicable, inclusionary, ethical path coupled with a profound understanding of the nature of reality & existence – & ontologically fits neatly with the latest discoveries in quantum physics. Buddhist principles also fit near-seamlessly with the basic principles of participatory, anti-authoritarian socialism – if a new world is to be built it will require both inner & outer revolutions. Libertarian communism informed by Buddhism could be a fruitful marriage conducive to such revolutions in consciousness as well as in society.

    “Directionless so plain to see, a loaded gun won’t set you free. So you say…”- Ian Curtis

    My voice is not a pose. It will be attacked &/or ignored. It might be dismissed as the ravings of a mentally ill failure. My views, my voice, are more than the sum of their parts. I’ve been shaped by my family, the generation I grew up in, my experiences with drugs (both positive & negative), my education, travel, my spiritual beliefs, & most definitely by my experiences dealing with what is considered by many to be mental illness, however the mainstream defines it. I have lost nearly every friend I’ve ever had at least twice & suffered through years of near total isolation & loneliness, when I would curse the fact that I just didn’t understand what it took to have stable human relationships & handle emotions. Losses in my romantic life drove me nearly to suicide. I was a victim of the psychiatric-pharmaceutical industries & was coerced to ply my body with dozens of medications for over a decade. I have been institutionalized 4 times for mental issues & co-morbid substance abuse issues as well as being compelled to attend out-patient therapy sessions. I’ve had 7 therapists only 1 of which was worth a damn. I was used like a lab rat by four different psychiatrists, their only apparent concerns being the testing of new meds & protecting their professional lives as their “treatments” didn’t seem to work for me. Case in point – my last psychiatrist dropped me as a patient (as did my incompetent therapist) the moment it seemed I may actually kill myself – said act would have meant formal investigations of their treatment plans for me, & may have resulted in suspensions, let alone the harm to their reputations. My therapist actually lectured me about all the trouble it would cause HIM if I killed myself – this coming from the same professional that attributed many of my “issues” to my “anti-social lifestyle & extremist political views”. The “care” I received included being subjected to electro convulsive “therapy” & dumped into a third-rate treatment facility with incompetent doctors & counsellors more concerned with indoctrinating & recruiting me into the 12 step cult than with my life-long mood & sleep issues & pesky urge to die.

    I somehow survived the darkness & have grown to accept that I will always think, feel, react, & behave very differently & sometimes unpredictably compared to most people. I found new human relationships to end my years of exile. I react more easily & more intensely than most, enduring alternating flights of racing thoughts, great expectations, limitless imaginings, explosions of furious self-righteous anger, sensations of immense existential & social discomfort & bouts of depression so dark & abysmal that I rush towards self-negation, total surrender, or wallow in nihilism. These times are not just uncontrolloable responses to the random events that come from being human, they’re often & repeatedly triggered by just reading the news or by thinking about the needless suffering & injustices experienced by billions of other humans. They are radical responses that are outside the bounds of the socially, personally, or politically acceptable – but they’re my responses, human responses.

    “Imagine…”- John Lennon

    It’s been said that problems can never be solved by using the same type of thinking that caused them in the first place. That’s as true for the personal as for the political. What’s needed now for the world to change from individuals to nation-states is a higher, or at least radically different level of thinking. I have to believe that what I believe & how I express myself, & that I’m even bothering to express myself matters. I am a human being & I need to connect with others. I need, like all of us deep down, to feel like my time on earth has some positive purpose. I believe my voice is worth hearing & that a better world is worth fighting for. I believe I am *not* alone. I believe that regardless of my emotional sensitivities/instability, that I can & should do whatever is in my power to do to change myself for the better & that can’t be seperated from doing whatever is in my power to do – to provide a response to those who control the power & wealth of this world. People like me are like canarys in the coal-mine. With the world in the condition it’s in, & with my life as it is, only a radical response – sometimes rational, sometimes not – to all of it might possibly offer new perspectives, solutions, or be a source of new relationships, ways of thinking & living, & maybe be the only true way out. My personal journey, my inner revolution is ongoing; my unique relation to the so-called outside, objective world is that of a person caught in the flux, able to see what could be, but struggling to find ways to expose that what is, is terribly wrong but not un-changeable. The power held by those who control the system & their ingrained habits/modes of thought can only ever truly be challenged by a theory & practice of life that strikes at its roots; it’s time to redefine what’s “normal” or “acceptable” or “natural”. It’s time for all of us to struggle with ourselves & to challenge the way the world is organized, from within our own minds to the corridors of power.
    I may be crazy. Maybe not. But I do know what the hell I’m talking about most of the time. With luck, this blog will reflect where I came from, what I’ve been through, what I’ve learned along the way, & what I’m still learning. I hope others may find in my experiences & knowledge something that speaks to them, something that we can share. The more of us who connect one another, through sharing our stories & our ideas, the greater the chance we can change the world.

    Michael P. Pelaez 1/16/15

  • Michael Pelaez 26th Dec 2016

    I didnt realize I missed the deadline... If there is any way I could still be considered, even as a back-up person, I would truly appreciate it and can promise I would be truly committed to doing a good job. I am disabled, so I have plenty of free time that I could dedicate to the role. I also humbly ask if there are any other roles that need filling that still need volunteers. I REALLY want to be more active and contribute to building the IOPS - the other members of the Delaware chapter have never responded to any of my attempts to communicatye with them and become an active chapter, Philly and Baltimore are quite a drive away making it difficult for me to participate with them, so I'm kind of out here in Delaware on my own, unable to be truly politically active. I regularly promote the IOPS on reddit and on my blog, but that doesn't compare to actually having a real role with responsibilities or being with others in real life, engaging in political activity...

  • Rod 26th Dec 2016

    Hi Michael,

    Thanks for being so refreshingly open and honest about your life experiences. I'm sure at least some here will find similarities with their own experiences (I certainly do).

    As far as the content curator role is concerned, the poll is already halfway towards being closed so I don't think it makes sense to add you at this point. But there should be ways to resolve this though. One possibility could be to create a separate proposal to add you as a (primary or reserve) curator. But it also may be that the things you intend to do to fulfill your role wouldn't require any privileges and so no mandate would be necessary (you could still participate in team discussions as they are open to anyone who wants to participate). In any case, there should be a way to resolve this. We don't want to create a situation where members decide against participating in the life of the organization because of bureaucratic rules that discourage them to do so. We can use any help we can get to get this thing restarted.

    As far as other roles go, there currently are 3 roles left to be filled:
    - adjudicator
    - website administrator
    - incoming mail handler

    For adjudicator the call is open right now, so you can volunteer if you like. The other two will likely follow in the coming two months.

  • Lambert Meertens 31st Dec 2016

    Michael, there is no lack of ways to contribute also without a mandate. The content curators will not be able to succeed in their tasks without active and sustained support by the membership. Just identifying suitable material for a repository of relevant content and organizing it in an accessible way alone is already an almost limitless undertaking. I’d like us to issue a monthly newsletter; for this to happen someone should undertake the effort of getting people to contribute interesting material that is suitable for a newsletter. That will be a demanding job. Ahead is the organization of “contests” for selecting a new name and logo. We should rewrite our key documents into simpler and more accessible language. Everywhere I look there is work to be done, none of which requires a mandate.