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IOPS and Facebook and ...

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Recently I noticed and clicked the Facebook links that appear on IOPS blog posts, and on some chapter pages as well, for sharing content on Facebook or for just going to the IOPS Facebook page. I did likewise for a Twitter link, and a couple of others. 

 

Call me a curmuddgeon, but it was very upsetting. To me, these links, all over the internet, are like suicide pacts with the devil. The idea of information sites providing free advertising for giant corporations, links that urge membership in them, is bad enough - but a revoltuionary organization doing so? 

 

I won't go on at length here, since I have written whole essays about this on ZNet... such as: Facebook is Diseased...Facing Facebook..., and Facebook Versus Civilization

 

 

Since I understand that people do have real reason to use Facebook, and other such media tools, my proposed solution isn't to not link to these at all, much less to somehow structurally disallow it, but to do it critically and responsibly.

 

My proposal is that instead of a Facebook or other icon/link that takes a user straight there, our Facebook or other icon/links, appearing just as visibly as they do now, open a box of text which the user can/should read. At the bottom is also the more typical icon/link, which takes the reader to the corporate site. 

 

In that box I propose we put text like what follows - this is for the Facebook one. A Twitter one, or Google one, etc., would vary appropriately. I also propose that we urge other media and progressive sites of all kinds to do this type of thing, as well.

 

The link to Facebook that you just clicked and which is typically present on all media and many organizational sites, takes users straight to Facebook, where if they are not already members they are entreated to join in order for them to proceed. The link is, thus, in part, advertising for Facebook - a gigantic profit-seeking corporation. 

 

Serious media, much less progressive media, much less left political organizations, much less a revolutionary organization like IOPS, should not be uncritically promoting gigantic profit-seeking corporations of any sort, but this case is even worse.

  • Facebook commercializes communications, storing extensive information on users and turning it into advertising revenues, not only furthering profit seeking, but horribly invading privacy.
     
  • Facebook also provides extensive information to states and other authorities, making Facebook arguably the largest (or nearly the largest) spying agency in the world.
     
  • To top it off, Facebook debases the concept of friend, promotes competition even in "friendships," and nuggetizes information flow, reducing proclivity to communicate at length and with substance - because it takes too long and won't appeal to all eyes - and even people's attention span for doing so.

On the other hand, because of its vast size, Facebook is undeniably useful for finding old friends and for staying in contact with actual friends and family who might not have ways to relate to one another in other deeper ways. Facebook is also useful, at least to a point, in trying to spread worthy information to wide audiences. These sensible reasons for using Facebook cause sites to uncritically place the link to Facebook - and cause us to allow sharing to Facebook - but we insist on doing this only critically, understanding the ills, putting them forefront, feeling no allegiance to or respect for much less appreciation for Facebook, remembering and emphasizing that Facebook's motives are profit seeking by turning the internet into a Facebook backyard, selling users and usere information to companies, and servicing state surveillance operations, as well. 

 

To share to Facebook, or to see the IOPS page on Facebook, having read the above, by all means click the link below.

 

However, to try to counter the gigantic trend toward Facebook defining social engagement, you might also want to try alternatives for your social networking, such as the forthcoming ZSocial from ZCommunications, or the already existing ……(and we link other options, here)

 

 

I suppose some may be offended by this text - I know it is so completely contrary to what has become reflexive internet behavior, which is uncritical and even complementary linkage to these operations - and that at a minimum it will initially seem discordant, preachy, whatever, to almost everyone. Even for those who don't mind it, or who fully agree with it, some will feel it is too long, etc.

 

Please understand just how offended someone like me is by seeing a revolutionary organization uncritically propel its members toward using giant corporate sites that overwhelmingly pervert and misuse user information and behavior, even as some users can, nonetheless, get some good out of it. Think how you would feel if IOPS had links to porn sites, or banks. You click them and you are on a site to sign up, on grounds they have big audiences and some people make honest and good use of a few of the options, as but one example. 

 

My very very strong feeling is that the inclusion of this type critical commentary as a path to our share links will make the choice to use these sites for good only that, rather than, also, a road to becoming confused about their impact on society or to ratifying their merit.

 

More, I think our doing this can perhaps become a model for others to implement as well, not only correcting mistaken notions about these operations - while not losing the benefits - but also serving to promote alternatives so that we can, in time, have our own social networks - certainly for serious political and social exchange, but perhaps even for the rest of what Facebook provides, as well. 

 

In the interim state of IOPS it is hard to know exactly what to do about something like this. Whereas putting up direct links to these corporate operations is so ubiquitous that nobody would think it is a decision - to me, it is very much a decision, and a bad one, while to take the above more critical approach is also a decision, but I think a very good one.

 

Rather than just poll the consultative committee about this - and act on the emerging sentiment - which is what our current structure permits - I thought it would be good to air it out a bit here, first. So, any thoughts?

 

 

Discussion 48 Comments

  • Fabio Sallustro 12th Apr 2012

    OK, let's say that we put a facebook (or whatever) icon that will connect to a second page (let's call it a "disclaimer page") from where you can find the "real link". And on the disclaimer page we can read all things you've proposed (or other suggestions).

    For me it's a good solution (waiting for other opinions).



    But (at least) two issues still remain.

    First: is it possible (technically speaking)?

    Second: what about the job we've done here: http://www.iopsociety.org/projects/spread-the-word-online ?
    In this page, you can see, we've made different profiles according to the specific social network:
    what is happening right now (more or less) is that the single blog written on http://www.IOPSOCIETY.org can be uploaded on the facebook IOPS page.

    Are we going to leave this situation as it is?
    Do we prefer to make "a selection" putting online only few posts?
    Or, drastically, do we want to "freeze" the social networks profiles waiting for a bigger debate?

    My opinion about this is that we must continue to share, on the specific social network, the single posts.
    And, if we can, to put something similar to the "disclaimer page" also on the social network pages.

    Ciao
    Fabio

    • 14th Apr 2012

      I think you are doing good work with your project. Thank you.

  • Stephen Roblin 12th Apr 2012

    "I think our doing this can perhaps become a model for others to implement as well, not only correcting mistaken notions about these operations."

    I strongly agree with the sentiment here. Indeed, striving to be a model is perfectly consistent with our larger argument for vision and "prefigurative" organizing towards such a vision. Just like we have a general vision for the economy, we should have one for the internet. I see no reason for exemption here. So engaging with the corporate sites critically and responsibly, which includes building awareness to their extensive ills and promoting better alternatives, is incumbent upon us, in my view. It's especially important, I think, to be thoughtful about how we relate to these sites at the early stages of IOPS. Otherwise, there could be a pernicious snow-ball effect. I would think this position to be uncontroversial for anyone attracted to IOPS.

  • Patrick Welch 12th Apr 2012

    I agree with the sentiments posted above. I would also encourage preferentially featuring (perhaps by putting their icons first) but certainly at the very least including the already existing and exciting projects that are already creating free, open, decentralized, and federated social networking sites that aren't corporate dominated such as Diaspora (facebook alternative) and StatusNET (twitter alternative) check out the links below for more info. Due to their decentralized and federated nature, IOPS could even host it's own version of these sites/projects that was connected to the larger social ecosystem, but that is a discussion for another time.

    Diaspora:
    http://diasporaproject.org/
    - Diaspora Pods/instances
    - https://joindiaspora.com/
    - https://diasp.org/

    Status.Net/Indenti.ca
    - https://identi.ca (an instance of http://status.net/)
    - https://identi.ca/doc/faq (about Indenti.ca & Status.Net)

  • Patrick Welch 12th Apr 2012

    Sorry, the links in the previous post were messed up for some reason. I'll post a bug report about this, but the links again are:

    Diaspora:
    diasporaproject.org
    joindiaspora.com
    diasp.org

    Status.Net/Indenti.ca:
    identi.ca
    identi.ca/doc/faq
    status.net

    • 14th Apr 2012

      Thanks so much for these links. I have joined Diaspora, and posted the link on all my Facebook friends' wall, as well as the Facebook walls of UK-Uncut, Occupy-LSX, and so on.

      See? Facebook has its uses...

    • Patrick Welch 15th Apr 2012

      Nice! and exactly right, the huge audience that Facebook currently enjoys can make it an extremely useful tool - even if it is for disseminating information about alternatives to Facebook ;P

    • 15th Apr 2012

      ;)

  • 12th Apr 2012

    Coincidentally I deactivated my facebook and twitter yesterday. I believe in the long term, we need to develop social networking outside of corporate sites like facebook & twitter. I see a facebook script on almost every website I visit now.

    Thanks for this post.

  • Antti Jauhiainen 12th Apr 2012

    I agree, these are valid points.

    Does anyone know if this is technically feasible? Another valid point is just to remove the "share" panel, or maybe, replace it with a share panel that would have the open source Diaspora network, Global Square (http://theglobalsquare.org/) once it's up and running (don't know about it's current situation), e-mail and then maybe "Other", which would take you to the corporate sharing links via a explanatory page like Michael suggested.

    • 14th Apr 2012

      I think placing the open source share buttons first is definitely a good idea, making it easier and more likely that they will be used, but I don't think we should construct obstacles, such as an extra click, to any sharing even amongst systems of the 'necessary evil'.

      (Thanks for the Global Square link. I've joined, liked their Facebook page, and shared it on my page and with many of my Facebook friends, posted it on the walls of UK-Uncut, Occupy-LSX, etc.)

  • Kim Keyser 12th Apr 2012

    Actually I don't feel such a strong sentiment against using facebook /in particular/. Most sites – including most hosts, most email services (gmail, hotmail and so on), most social services (facebook, twitter, flickr, youtube, and so on), most search serviced (monopolized by google these days), most news sites, etc., etc. – rely on using capitalist infrastructure and many of them rely one income derived from the advertisement industry, and many of them cooperate with states (including dictatorships – China and Google anyone?) – don't they? It's a major problem, of course. Some are a bit worse than others, but I don't think it's constructive to single out facebook in particular – why would it?

    On the contrary, I think facebook – and all other tools – should be used for what they're worth, but without any illusions, of course. Where there are good alternatives – as is the case with for instance browsers, servers and content management systems – they should be promoted. When there are not good alternatives they should be cultivated, but not moralistically being attempted pushed upon all those who use the products – that for now – are better, until they've become better, when they should be promoted.

    I must say that I do like the IOPSociety site quite much though, and due to its many social functions we're not as reliant on facebook as we could've been. My compliments. But I'm sorry to say that IOPS don't have integrated features of a facebook replacer. Until that time has come – if it will come, and I hope it will – we should be agnostic, pluralistic and pragmatic, I think.

    Warning/informing people about the ills of facebook in particular is IMHO not that constructive. When we have a good alternative, we should implement it, but before we do, it's mere moralism – and destructive at that – IMO.

    The "this-is-capitalist-logic-so-I-won't-use-it" mentality can be a slippery slope, and might end up in total isolation and alienation. I do not think IOPS is headed in that direction at all, I'm just saying that I've seen organizations and movements end up there...

    • 14th Apr 2012

      Strongly agree, especially with your final paragraph.

  • Will Henry Lapinel 12th Apr 2012

    I think it's absolutely possible to build and grow this organization in complete isolation from Facebook and other corporate sites. Kim, I can understand why you think it's too purist or moralist and not pragmatic, but if we can do this on our own - which I think we can - why not at least try? I am just as eager as anyone to get this off the ground, but really there is no timeline that justifies compromises right now. If things start to stagnate then we could rethink our policy.

  • Ian R. 12th Apr 2012

    Maybe it would be a good idea to put links to other social networks first and show a preference and offer alternatives by doing that.

    It seems unnecessary and a bit overbearing to me to inform the site users about the ills of facebook or twitter every time they click an icon. This is a site for political people, isn´t it?

    Most already know about the risks and negative effects, but facebook and twitter became so much a part of many peoples life (and that of their friends and relatives far away), that the warnings might induce a currently unnecessary moral conflict on the users side, a conflict IOPS might lose, given the widespread usage of facebook.

    I don´t use facebook, and I don´t want to defend it. My worry is that these warnings can damage IOPS more than facebook or twitter.

    Facebook and twitter will probably go the way of MySpace, Yahoo and many other internet trends as soon as there are better alternatives available, because many users get a strange feeling about the ever increasing data accumulation and the disrespect for privacy facebook is already showing with every change of it´s TOS.

    • 14th Apr 2012

      Very strongly agree. I also firmly believe users will desert Facebook as soon as there are viable alternatives that respect their privacy. I sense a major groundswell here, and would personally be very surprised if Facebook is at even half its present level in 2 years' time.

      Saying this, I definitely do not think Z-Social is that alternative, as it is (will be) clearly, and correctly, a political space. A non-commercial, open-source, politically neutral network such as Diaspora will probably be where the flow goes.

  • Antti Jauhiainen 13th Apr 2012

    I agree with I.N. Reiter about just putting, say, share in Diaspora/email link, the risk of seeming overbearing and preachy to our own group (as Kim pointed out) is not good, and not worth taking.

  • 13th Apr 2012

    It is technically possible - you just create a pop-up box using whatever resource you're most comfortable with.

    Are we really concerned about generating a 'moral conflict' about the use of Fracebook?

    Perhaps we can have the message pop up only once every 5 'shares'? (also feasible)

  • Johannes 13th Apr 2012

    I think it is important that this was brought up for discussion. I agree that the position of IOPS members towards capitalist companies should be made clear (in accordance to the IOPS description every member agreed to).

    From my point of view the reliance on capitalist companies is a necessary evil. Some of you may disagree. It was questioned how I «would feel if IOPS had links to porn sites, or banks». Well, if you want to find out yourself, just go to our front page and have a look at the links to PayPal, Visa and Mastercard. Do we want to «uncritically propel» our users to those «giant corporate sites»? The answer is no. But what would be the alternative? To me it seems obvious that we have to rely on some capitalist companies at least to some degree, Facebook just being one of them. This does not mean we can't be critical of them however.

    So, if we want to link to them «critically and responsibly», how are we going to do that? Well, I think it would help to articulate what we want to achieve and particularly who we aim to address first. If a user clicks on «Share: Facebook», for example, chances are she or he already is on Facebook. So what are we trying to do with the disclaimer – make people leave Facebook? Not use (share anything on) Facebook? Why would we then have the share buttons in the first place? Just raise awareness? And all of that would be something entirely different from trying to avoid that people sign up there. Only if we know who we want to address, or what we want to achieve for that matter, we can ask what the best way is to do so.

    I think the user should not be forced to do anything at all (like having to read, or even only to click away, a disclaimer). Why not have a prominent link under the share buttons to a pop-up with our disclaimer? The users see it every time they want to share something but decide for themselves if they want to read it (once, sometimes or every time). Otherwise, what's the point? If someone already is on Facebook, uses those share buttons all the time, wants to do so on the IOPS website too, even reads the disclaimer the first time she or he wants to share something, why would we force her or him to read, or at least click away, a disclaimer every time (or every fifth)?

    To sum this up, I say let's have neither illusions nor double standards concerning the capitalist companies IOPS relies on and let's not force users to do anything – leave the choice up to them.

    • 14th Apr 2012

      Agreed.

  • Kim Keyser 13th Apr 2012

    William Lapinel: "I think it's absolutely possible to build and grow this organization in complete isolation from Facebook and other corporate sites. (…) if we can do this on our own - which I think we can - why not at least try?"

    I agree with your /sentiment/: If we could've, we would've, of course. But I don't agree with your /premise/.

    To understand why that's my opinion it's very important to understand that it's not only facebook that's fucked up.

    For instance: I'm very sure that A LOT (a majority I'd think, but it would be possible to check) came to this site through Google, Facebook or Twitter – three huge for-profit companies that all rely on advertisement revenue, and cooperate with states (even dictatorship). (I know I did.) Should all these users – most users – get a warning/informative piece on why these companies are fucked up? What are the (realistic) alternatives to these companies /right now/?

    Furthermore, I'm absolutely certain that A LOT (again: a majority I'd think) of the users signed up at IOPSociety through gmail, hotmail, windows live, yahoo, AOL – five huge for-profit companies that also all rely on advertisement revenue, and I'd venture to guess cooperate with states (even dictatorship – at least that's true for several of them). (I know I did.) Should all these users – most users – get a warning/informative piece on why these companies are fucked up, as well? What are the (realistic) alternatives to these companies /right now/?

    This could go on and on (the computers, mobiles, and appliances people use, the stores they've bought those from, the hosts, the formats of files, and so on and so forth...).

    Oliver Luker: "It is technically possible"

    Indeed. Most things are technically feasible. What's lacking aren't first and foremost technical possibilities, but human resources taking advantage of those possibilities. When there are fully good alternatives, they should be promoted. One random example: The browser Firefox is a fully good alternative to Safari, Opera and indeed Explorer. It's also very easy to install and migrate to. So I'm fine with it being promoted. (Actually, I'm writing this in Firefox, right now.) This is not true for most other products and tools. Alternatives do exist in most places, but they're not fully good. (Yes, I do have tried a lot of alternatives.)

    Thus, these should be cultivated. Instead of using resources on informing people about all the big, bad tech companies people use – because most of them are, it's not only facebook – setting up a barrier between ourselves and the overwhelming majority while not offering any viable alternatives, resources should – and could – be put into cultivating those alternatives. And when they're ready, they should be promoted. When they are not ready, they should not be promoted.

    • 14th Apr 2012

      Yes, strongly agree. Lovely concluding paragraph.

    • Will Henry Lapinel 16th Apr 2012

      Ok - I agree with that. Well said!

  • Jason Chrysostomou 13th Apr 2012

    I like Antti's suggestion of including links to more ethical social network alternatives first in the list (or adding corporate links under 'more'), but does diaspora have a share button? I'm still on the waiting list to be invited to join diaspora alpha. The global square is still under development. Same as ZSocial. What non-corporate alternatives exist, currently, that we can link to?

  • Fabio Sallustro 13th Apr 2012

    @ Keyser
    OK, I think I've got your point. Sounds reasonable.
    But we have to face that, sometimes, giving strenght to a project means that you have to bet on it, even if it's not ready.

    What I am saying is that we have space to do both things: approaching the main s.n. (and for-profit tools) with caution and, on the other hand, promoting different solutions.

    and about approaching S.N. with caution:

    @ Johannes
    Quote: "Why not have a prominent link under the share buttons to a pop-up with our disclaimer?"
    Thumbs up and I prefer this solution instead of a the disclaimer page that appears every time you click on "share".

    @ Jason and Antti: Yes, putting first ethical S.N. could be a good idea. And it can be achieved including the previous Johannes proposal. ( quote: -I'm still on the waiting list to be invited to join diaspora alpha.- me too :-( )

    Working on this line (list of sharing starting from the ethical ones ending to the for-profit....and a BIG link to a disclaimer page) gives the reader a clear messagge.

  • Kim Keyser 13th Apr 2012

    Fabio Sallustro: "sometimes, giving strenght to a project means that you have to bet on it, even if it's not ready."

    I agree. But then only on those that seem the most likely – and are most important – winners, not on all at the same time. Would this be Diaspora? Or would it be an email alternative, or...?

  • 13th Apr 2012

    A book suggestion:

    http://rheingold.com/books/net-smart/

  • 13th Apr 2012

    Seems there is a problem with posting links here. I hope this is not intentional so as to discourage linking. (That's a JOKE, by the way!)I'll try again:

    rheingold.com/netsmart/

    Rheingold's blurb is:

    How can we use digital media so that they help us become empowered participants rather than passive consumers? In Net Smart, I show how to use social media intelligently, humanely, and, above all, mindfully. Download the table of contents (PDF) here.

    Mindful use of digital media means thinking about what we are doing, cultivating an ongoing inner inquiry into how we want to spend our time. I outline five fundamental digital literacies, online skills that will help us do this: attention, participation, collaboration, critical consumption of information (or "crap detection"), and network smarts. I explain how attention works, and how we can use our attention to focus on the tiny relevant portion of the incoming tsunami of information. I describe the quality of participation that empowers the best of the bloggers, netizens, tweeters, and other online community participants; I examine how successful online collaborative enterprises contribute new knowledge to the world in new ways; and I present a lesson on networks and network building.

    There is a bigger social issue at work in digital literacy, one that goes beyond personal empowerment. If we combine our efforts wisely, it could produce a more thoughtful society: countless small acts like publishing a Web page or sharing a link could add up to a public good that enriches everybody.

  • Joshua Cordell 13th Apr 2012

    How about when people on IOPS make a contribution or something to the site, they create links to IOPS from their own personal pages that are one-way, directly drawing them here. However I don't think we should create links to stuff we have on facebook - like photos or notes.

  • Michael Albert 13th Apr 2012

    Perhaps a little reply -

    It is certainly true that:

    it may irritate or even annoy some members of iops to see such a notice -
    though no one has actually addressed any of the wording in the notice

    all capitalist institutions are, well, capitalist, so this is singling out
    only one sector - the social networking sector -but, this is because
    that is the sector one has links to share to...

    the comment about paypal is quite right, it does make me ill to have it,
    BUT, in that case, not having it is suicide, and there is zero need for
    comment because everyone really does understand, and no one
    left celebrates paypal as some kind of ally...

    what is proposed is possible, but so are the other options, like putting
    the disclaimer separately with its own link, not having a disclaimer, putting
    the links in a different order, etc.

    The reason for the proposal is because the left doesn't celebrate other big corporate entity, the way it does these. So much so, indeed, that the critique tends to get lost, or even denied, even for many progressive and left folks. We don't celebrate agencies that spy on us, that debase human communications, and so on...
    and that is Facebook, Twitter, Google...

    And because by doing it here, we can perhaps provide a model for other places, where those problems are far more pronounced than they are here.

    The proposal is also not to boycott these institutions - but to be very aware of their faults and eager for and willing to try to aid efforts to become independent of them by creating our own alternatives, and to use them primarily for social contacts and for promoting substantive content - thus the share buttons.

    Maybe some more people could weigh in?



  • 13th Apr 2012

    I am grateful that this topic was first put out for general discussion rather than being determined by a poll of the consultative committee, as I believe that getting our attitude right towards social media and, much more importantly, the culture, social relationships, and life-worlds that they enable users to inhabit, is critical to the success of IOPS. I strongly believe that a misstep here could doom IOPS to being just another small, out of touch political organisation, ‘revolutionary’ only in the minds of the ghetto of its members.

    Unfortunately, like most of us who are not professional activists, I have a life with responsibilities and therefore have limited time to devote to this, so I will keep my comments short.

    1) I think that any potential member of IOPS already largely shares most of the opinions in the above text. This is particularly so amongst the very sophisticated youth who were born into the present media culture. As such, attaching such a text to a link would be preaching to the choir, redundant, as well as faintly condescending. I would recommend no such text.

    2) Instead of such a text, have a section which contains blogs on the social media, where the user can find the many articles already written, from Z-net, for example.

    Let’s be clear: websites, social media, and so on, have different functions and roles. Facebook, for example is for social interactions which are often superficial, wide ranging, and short term. Like whith life in general, they often occur in a highly commercialised ecology. Websites such as Z-net are where people can be directed for longer articles, for more reflective and analytical texts and interactions. The point is to link up all these different nodes with their different digital subcultures and different ways of cyber-being in more fluid, flexible, responsive, and participatory networks, and not to construct additional barriers between them.

    3) Instead of using too much energy in demonising social media which so many people use, mindfully, as part of their daily lives, thereby triggering a negative reaction, rather focus on the creation and promotion of positive and attractive alternatives. Z-Social is coming, and sounds great. I can say now, however, that I have many friends, acquaintances, work colleagues, and strangers who have different political beliefs to me, and who would be very displeased if they had to interact with me on only such a clearly political social network. The ‘Z’ is now a progressive political brand, and many would reject any contact with it. Therefore, more politically neutral non-commercial networks like diaspora (which I have now joined, following the suggestions above) seem a perfect middle ground.

    4) We have to work within the media ecology we have, and that includes Facebook. I truly believe that high-handed disdain for the present social media is interpreted by those whose culture, and cultural identity, is embedded in that ecology, as rejection of their personhood. It smells of superiority, moralism, and elitism, and is experienced by them as contempt for their being, and is met with similar contempt. This is a terrible waste.

    I believe that this attitudinal wall was partly responsible for Occupy not being able to gain greater traction and longevity, even though it is still very much alive. I think a greater humility towards all social media, leading to a greater connectivity between all progressive political actors, would yield extremely positive, synergistic results.


    5) I do worry about the tone of some of this discussion, and so as a final thought I would like to make two recommendations:
    i) watch Chomsky’s Disconnect of ‘Left Intellectuals’ from Working People:
    http://www.zcommunications.org/disconnect-of-left-intellectuals-from-working-people-by-noam-chomsky
    ii) I would also like to repeat my recommendation of Howard Rheingold’s book Netsmart, on mindful use of the internet:
    rheingold.com/netsmart/

    I would like to note, however, this paragraph in Michael’s previous post:

    "The proposal is also not to boycott these institutions - but to be very aware of their faults and eager for and willing to try to aid efforts to become independent of them by creating our own alternatives, and to use them primarily for social contacts and for promoting substantive content - thus the share buttons".

    I find the tone here much more balanced, and I can fully subscribe to this.

    I do hope in the future I will have time to write a blog on why I believe a disconnect between the older and newer digital cultures undermined much of the potential of the Occupy movement, and why greater, non-judgmental connections need to be made now for a fertile Spring. I do encourage others to reflect on this.

  • Jared Marker 13th Apr 2012

    This is a common theme in debates about using Linux or Windows(or Mac): I love Open Source software, but Windows works better because of...

    In older days it could easily be that your printer didn't work with Linux and you didn't know how to or have the time or interest in learning to get it to. So even though you wanted to use Linux, it didn't make sense to.

    As a reluctant user, I would suggest that Facebook may be as necessary to social media as PayPal is to collecting donations or Windows is to using (I would guess most of) your computers.

    Not that we shouldn't have the discussion or promote and/or grow alternatives. Having links to alternative sites is a good idea. I think that displaying a separate icon with a link to a page that has a disclaimer is a good suggestion - it allows choice, recognizes the necessary evil, and promotes conversation and change.

    I'm sure that no one likes using Microsoft products, but should this website have a popup discussing Microsoft's evils every time you visit the site from Internet Explorer?

    • 14th Apr 2012

      Agreed. And the fact we are reluctant users of systems of necessary evil does not mean that we are self-righteously prohibited from exploiting those systems to their maximum capacity of delivering outcomes in line with our own goals, if the opposite of theirs. Particularly if the opposite of theirs.

  • Jared Marker 13th Apr 2012

    *site from a Windows operating system. (I'm sure most are using Firefox at any rate)

  • 14th Apr 2012

    Just a quick note on Facebook and the concern about intelligence surveillance.

    Does anyone in this organisation seriously believe that by shunning Facebook or other such commercial networks you thereby stand a better chance of avoiding being surveilled? Surely IOPS members are not that naïve? Simply read the recent Znet article by Julian Assange, or anything else he and Wikileaks have published:

    http://www.zcommunications.org/i-was-the-fall-guy-julian-assange-in-his-own-words-by-julian-assange

    A couple of additional links:

    http://www.zcommunications.org/thirteen-ways-government-tracks-us-by-bill-quigley

    http://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/category/projects/surveillance-2/

    http://www.anniemachon.com/

    There is plenty of information out there.

    Simply by signing up to what is explicitly a ‘revolutionary organisation’, with some of the most publicly recognisable progressives on the Interim Committee, we have placed ourselves clearly in the crosshairs of various intelligence services. And this site is much more open to public view than Facebook. An intelligence operative doesn’t even need to register or have a password to access the information on this site, including sensitive personal information such as dates of birth.

    I am a firm believer in non-coercion and non-violence, so I am perfectly happy to be transparent and have my political opinions publicly available. I do not feel the same about personal information that could be used to damage me, possibly criminally. This is why I have put a false date of birth on my IOPS profile.

    Sorry to be harsh, but let’s give ourselves a bit of a reality check before we start huffing and puffing about big, bad, intrusive Facebook.

  • Frank Syratt 14th Apr 2012

    I think the notice is a good idea. There is nothing wrong with being deliberately different even intrusive. We want an all age membership and notices will serve to slow the reflex those familiar with social networking to share stuff through all sites. We need strategies to fetch people into our networks.
    We also need to remember that real life will be in our chapters (UK usage would favour branches) not on line. So whilst our on line offerings need to be as good as possible, we don't need our members to live their IOPS life on line. Rather IOPS must be in the streets, meeting halls and front rooms.
    So I endorse the idea that we act awkward and exhibit principle. Once we set the tone we can then liven up and shorten the notices maybe even make (serious) jokes to make the point.

  • 14th Apr 2012

    1. Here's a suggestion for how this could interface with the user:

    where we currently have

    "Share: *facebook, google, twitter, delicious icons*"

    we could instead have

    "Share: *icons of alternative sites* *hyperlinked text saying "for-profit sites"* When this link is clicked the for-profit icons appear as well as another link below them saying "why are these hidden?" which can given an argument like you have.

    The benefits are that facebook, etc. are made secondary to alternatives; that they are hidden from view; and that an explanation is available if desired but not forced.

    An alternative idea is that we could do a pop-up message thing each time a for-profit icon is clicked, but also with a check-box saying, "please don't show me this again."

    A slight variant is that if we don't want to have icons on our website, even when hidden at first, we can write out facebook.com, etc. instead of using their icon.

    2. What are the other alternative networking sites?

    3. How do we determine if we should change the website as you suggested or if we should not? It seems like this blog post is the right first step, but I'm curious what the next one is. Do you have ideas for the process?

    4. Are there other for-profit enterprises that IOPS links to that we should also examine? I don't think I've seen any.

    • 14th Apr 2012

      I like the first part of your suggestion 1, not so much the second part about the pop-up message. I think that it is an excellent conciliation of many of the positions taken in this thread. Thank you!

  • Crip Moorey 15th Apr 2012

    A little bit of artistic license could get across the same message graphically...
    I like this icon that I've seen around:
    http://www.suite400magazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/Facebook-icon.png

  • 15th Apr 2012

    Just to weigh in I think ultimately IOPS should strive for independence from social networking sites and institutions, such as Facebook, which exploits the preferences and personal information of its users for profit making, by creating a better alternative. But until then I think these capitalist sites and institutions should be considered tools to be exploited in turn for the benefit of IOPS while making it clear that is what is being done. The Internet provides means for doing this such as adding a disclaimer. A well-worded disclaimer would remind those using these institutions what they represent and be the first step toward gaining independence.

  • David Adamcik 22nd Apr 2012

    Michael Albert wants to place a critical commentary before people are moved quickly to Facebook. He says we should do this because it is "a gigantic profit-seeking corporation... To top it off, Facebook debases the concept of friend, promotes competition even in ‘friendships,’ and nuggetizes information flow, reducing proclivity to communicate at length and with substance. Facebook commercializes communications, storing extensive information on users and turning it into advertising revenues, not only furthering profit seeking, but horribly invading privacy. ...We don't celebrate agencies that spy on us, that debase human communications, and so on... and that is Facebook, Twitter, Google... And because by doing it here, we can perhaps provide a model for other places, where those problems are far more pronounced than they are here." I agree that we should put a critical commentary but want to elaborate.

    Simply looking at Facebook as a modern corporation (in plans for 9,400 employees), it violates almost all of our IOPS goals. Specifically, it violates:

    Our Mission section - All four Key Goals & Priorities. Five of six Core Values.

    Our Vision section - All eight Political/Governmental statements. All eight Economic statements. All four International statements. Two out of three Cultural Community statements. One of three Ecological statements.

    Our Structure and Program section - All fourteen Structure and Policy statements. Eight of twelve Broad Action Agenda or Program statements.

    An organization, especially one with such a huge impact on society, that violates so many of our goals should at least have some critical commentary given to people before we grant immediate access through our site. Any corporation violates most of our goals. It’s not hard to check them against our statements.
    Noam Chomsky reminds us that corporations are legally “immortal persons," part of a new “commercial feudalism," “private tyrannies," places where people work as wage slaves, where we rent ourselves to survive, where we’re just tools of production, cogs in a machine, or as I have been called at my call center, “ideally an invisible head on the phone.” I should not have to remind IOPS members of the de-humanizing aspects of wage-slavery, but apparently I must, considering the way Facebook and the other media companies are discussed so blithely in this “thread.” If Facebook, as an institution, was internally organized with a basic IOPS structure, it would operate totally differently. The “ultimate aim” of it would be, as John Dewey recommended, “the production of free human beings associated with one another on terms of equality.” Chomsky paraphrased from the labor press of the mid-nineteenth century:

    When you sell you labor, you sell yourself, losing the rights of free men and becoming vassals of mammoth establishments, of a “moneyed aristocracy” that “threatens annihilation to every man who dares to question their right to enslave and oppress.”

    Since Facebook does not allow its employees “creative work freely undertaken in association with others,” it not only violates IOPS goals, it violates, as Dewey said, “the core value of a human life.”

  • 11th May 2012


    I'm going to post this in a few blogs, so I apologise for the repetition.

    With some key Occupy events coming up, I’d just like to offer a few thoughts about engaging with non-IOPS, even resistant, Occupiers about our organisation. I have more to say, but don’t have much spare time, so I’ll be short.

    I first want to say that Danny Schechter has discussed much of this already in his excellent Al Jazeera article, so what I say here should really be seen as an engagement with that text.

    In my limited knowledge, there are some key areas where Occupiers resist an organisation like IOPS:

    1) Structurally: this is the whole issue of GAs versus hierarchy and authority. This has been addressed several times here and in Znet.

    2) Culturally: the above gives rise to several cultural issues.

    a) IOPS is seen as just another old, fuddy-duddy, crusty, authoritarian, hierarchical institution, replicating the structures and culture of what they are fighting against. This is in part a standard generational, cohort issue, but is also because they see these structures as responsible for our present predicament.

    The irony is that this is exactly what IOPS is also working towards, in a more programmatic and systematic fashion.

    b) Dynamic issues, such as the sexiness, street smarts, media-friendliness, and thrill of Occupy happenings. In Zucotti park, this also took a divisive class form, in the clash between the drummers and those ‘intellectual elites’ wanting to restrict the drummers’ free-expression in their arrogantly perverse desire for more structure, and silence!

    3) Technologically: this includes not only specific technologies, such as the internet, but their modes of use, their cyber-cultures. The major distinction can be made between the older users (like me!) and the younger users, the ‘digital natives’. The most obvious divide can be seen in the discussion here in the ‘IOPS and Facebook’ blog.

    The most salient element within Occupy is Anonymous. Now, Anonymous members, even within Occupy, get immensely frustrated by the whole GA tar-baby. They have a much more cyber-punk attitude. So, while they have a real alliance, even identification, with Occupy, their dismissal of much of the niceties of Occupy processes in favour of dynamic, forceful, effective, impulsive, media-savvy, sexy, risky actions put them even further out from IOPS.

    So, I would like to offer a couple of thoughts about interacting with Occupiers, Anonymous, and other potential IOPS members.

    Apart from the obvious humanistic things like listening to and having respect for the other, truly attending to and acknowledging their expressions of their experiences, meeting them where they are in their life-worlds, rather than imposing a vision on them, it is good to emphasise how IOPS, and also ZNet, can give much substantial, long-game support, resources and structure to the more dynamic, fluid, and situational Occupy.

    This can be done by ensuring that IOPS is presented as a balancing, complementary, connecting presence, rather than a competing enemy.

    By showing that IOPS is not wanting to rescue ideological apostates, nor to win converts to the old left/right hierarchical political bodies whose rotting corpses we presently inhabit, but rather that we desire to join with, enable, fertilise and give birth to, that vision of a more just and equitable world that we, or ‘the 99%‘, all share.

    This can most effectively be done by radiating an open, human warmth in all our interpersonal interactions, both face to face, and online.

    These are just a few personal thoughts. All the best for any activities anyone is involved in! Have fun!

  • 11th May 2012

    Apropos the Facebook discussion, a pointer to one of the first online communities, the old-skool WELL:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_WELL

    If you don’t know about the WELL, then consider yourself uneducated!
    :)

    All the best to everyone!

  • 19th May 2012

    Just another look after the passage of some time:

    I was suggesting that facebook is not the great big evil we treat it as, but merely a tool for certain social outcomes.

    In my own experience, I have seen this aspect increase, even though everyone seems to be battening down the hatches for a very rough economic ride head.

    Time to get creative and entrepreneuril,

  • 23rd May 2012

    As to the concerns about Facebook, I hope everyone has been following its IPO adventures.

    Now they call it Fadebook...

    I'm grateful we were able to hitch ourselves to it and cash in on its use for disseminating the IOPS message before the brand imploded and became toxic.

    IPO/IOPS... there's something in there...

    Time is getting riper for the competition to emerge, such as Z-Social. But all in due time, no rush...

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2012/may/23/facebook-shareholder-lawsuits-mark-zuckerberg

  • Blue Kansas 30th May 2012

    "Call me a curmuddgeon, but it was very upsetting. To me, these links, all over the internet, are like suicide pacts with the devil."

    I would call you correct. I got my first IOPS spam today and I have little doubt that the spammerscum got my addy from F-book.

  • 15th Jun 2012

    "An entire cultural ecology, teeming with subcultures, has grown up around digital participation. Understanding that cultural landscape - and why it is important to all humans, not just technology nerds - is the best way to start expanding your participation skills."

    Net Smart

  • Larry Bishop 3rd Aug 2012

    I agree wholeheartedly, utilization of Facebook as a communication portal should be approached with a large degree of caution, simply for the fact that we virtually no control over its larger functions, one of which is to integrate everything that comes its way into the traffic of capitalist commerce, which generally results in a dilution of potency down to the level of pop culture gibberish.