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So where is everybody?

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I've just joined this, I read the pre-amble, I was excited and then..........tumbleweed. It would appear nothing has happened on here for years. Like a hamburger displayed on the entrance to a drive-through, this deifinitly flattered to decieve. This ironically mirrors the plight of the left in NZ.

So what happened? What went wrong? Why didn't this work?

Discussion 10 Comments

  • Rod 20th Dec 2016

    Hi Chris,

    On first appearance it does look like this. There are still a few people left who are either denying the reality of this place or holding on to the potential that exists within (or both).

    Your question is a logical one and it has come up multiple times before, often with different answers depending on the one answering. There has been no coordinated group effort to get to the answer though (which may be telling of the problem).

    One answer that has come up repeatedly that this org was basically set up without a structure, deeming that to be something to be worked out during a founding convention. This convention would take place once enough people had signed on (and as a secondary precondition, when enough gender balance had developed). So there was an atmosphere of waiting for the right conditions to exist, which did not happen nor did it seem to be happening in the future. People got disenchanted, etc, etc.

    This is just one explanation though. There's been an effort the past year to restart this thing and try to learn from this mistake by putting in some structure (without doing a convention but through polls on proposals). With mixed results so far.

    The focus on numbers from the past is still haunting IOPS to a large extent, but it may not be the right focus. Actually the reverse might be true. It may be necessary for IOPS to stay relatively small and have a core group work out a broad enough vision, create a healthy participatory community, build a good working website and collect enough resources for activists before it can be ready to take on larger numbers. It will need more activity then there is now, but slow growth may be the best path right now. But all of this is just a 'maybe', coming from one member out of 3500+.

    In any case, I hope you'll find this place worthy of investing some of your time, but that's entirely up to you.

    • Chris Jackson 24th Dec 2016

      Hi Rod

      Sounds like a bit of water has gone under the bridge. I think to a certain extent it's difficult to grow something when no structure exists, people tend look to one another for guidance.

      I think gaining reasonable numbers, (whatever they may be) will prove difficult, certainly judging by the massive political apathy abound. I get the impression many people are not convinced that there is indeed another way of maintaining a thriving society. However, I feel this is not only a worthwhile message but something worth fighting for. (metaphorically speaking).

      Anyway I intend to stick around.

    • Rod 24th Dec 2016

      Good to hear. I think as we progress into the 21st century it will become clearer and clearer to people that we need a new society. The more we have collectively worked out our vision and the path towards it, the better it will do. So it's not just about sending a message but also making sure that message is feasible, comprehensive and coherent (among other things). There is still a lot to be learned. Luckily we now have this incredible resource called the internet. We just seem to be taking it for granted nowadays and have forgotten about its revolutionary potential.

  • fred curran 20th Dec 2016

    Welcome Chris to this experiment, good questions. I think Rod's points hit the mark.

    I might add that the present manifestation of the site is actually quite young. It has only just been taken over by the membership.

    The self appointed leadership, ICC, precondition fiasco pushed a lot of members out. And many never returned, though many remain as members.

  • Lambert Meertens 21st Dec 2016

    Earlier this year I wrote a blog posting entitled Can IOPS be revived? Following that, we held a member survey to take the pulse on whether we should mount an effort to revive IOPS. The results were sufficiently encouraging to go on.

    In a subsequent blog posting I compared IOPS to ship on the open sea, adrift without a course, because there’s no one on the bridge. No one was taking any initiatives. Every now and then someone proposed something, but the discussions did not lead to anything because there was no process for decision making. I wrote on that blog posting, “If we want [our ship] to go anywhere, the passengers will have to assume control.”

    Since then the members have indeed decided to take control and give some structure to the whole thing, including an elementary decision-making process. We are still busy putting it in place. What effect this will have remains to be seen; it is more creating the conditions under which a revival is imaginable, one of which is to make the website more interesting.

    One of the things that makes it difficult for IOPS to grow stronger is its lack of visibility. Of all our members who regularly post on social media, whether a blog or Facebook or Twitter, only a handful ever refer to IOPS. We still get a trickle of new members coming in, but how did they even become aware of our existence?

    For IOPS to grow stronger we need more visibility, which requires more activity, which requires more active members. We’ll somehow need to reach a certain critical mass of active members to get beyond where we are now. It remains somewhat of a mystery to me why not a few more members who were positive in the survey put some effort in the resuscitation attempts. In due time we should hold some further surveys to gain a deeper understanding of our membership.

    • Peter Lach-Newinsky 25th Dec 2016

      At the risk of repeating the bleeding obvious cracked record-wise, I'd go so far as to say without your organizational talents and valiant efforts Lambert, IOPS would most certainly no longer exist. Simple as that.

      IMO no need to 'understand' any 'membership', as you suggest, since the virtual 'membership' has surely and repeatedly loudly spoken by its silence and absence, with the valiant exception of the 5-10 now popping by for an occasional participatory chat. Given this, I'm afraid I simply don't follow the more talk = more visibility = more critical mass argument. Maybe I'm missing something. Have a great New Year anyway!

    • Lambert Meertens 31st Dec 2016

      I think we agree that in terms of numbers it is more realistic to see IOPS as consisting of 100 somewhat motivated members than 3700 individuals. The latter number is meaningless. That only 10% of these 100 members drop in here regularly is perhaps not surprising, but I’d still like to know if there are things we could do (centrally) that will make them more likely to participate in the life of IOPS. I further believe that among the 3600 other registered members there are several who are demotivated by the bad start we had but could get enthusiastic again if they see and feel we are on the right track. And then, there is still a trickle of new members coming in. Just this past year we had almost 70 new members. They must have had some expectation of IOPS, some notion of a potential, or else they wouldn’t have joined. What motivates them? Surely some of them would be happy to participate.

      Avalanches can be triggered by a tiny amount of snow starting to roll down, and revolutions have been started from what initially was a core group of far fewer than 100 people. The present conditions may not be right for a worldwide revolution. Maybe they never will be, but who can tell?

  • Peter Lach-Newinsky 21st Dec 2016

    Taking a wider view on 'gaining a deeper understanding of our membership'.

    Hypothesis: IOPS as symptom and expression of the ambiguities of the globalization and post-modernization of self at this historical juncture.

    On the one hand: greater sense of global, more flexible boundaries and more fluid identities, liquidity of personal and social experience, politicization of identity, probing of tacit cultural and political assumptions and the possibilities of alternative futures.

    On the other hand: social media narcissism, commodification and privatisation of identity issues, precarity and non-commitment as prevalent lifestyles, demise of modern 'politics' as mere online clicktivism, life-speed-up, shallow online reading, 24/7 media information overload and 'post-truth/post-fact' total relativism and fragmented anti-social media belief 'communities...'

    Note. Maybe it's time to stop talking about IOPS membership as if that means 3.5 thousand? IOPS 'membership' consists not of 3.5 thousand but of maybe 5-20 (cf. discussions and polls). At its 'height', the EARTH project I initiated had 70 'members', of which perhaps 5 actually participated. Click 'like' and leave, 'participation' as consumerism...Apparently there is no real pressing need to self-organize for social change at this online global level, otherwise it would simply happen.

  • Rod 22nd Dec 2016

    "Apparently there is no real pressing need to self-organize for social change at this online global level, otherwise it would simply happen."

    That may be true, but appearances can be deceiving. The things you listed in the paragraph above all contribute to a lack of time, ability and inclination to be contributing and committing to this thing, not necessarily a lack of need.

    Like any technology, the internet has its up- and downsides. It's a tool that needs to be sharpened and that people need to learn to use before it can become really effective. There clearly is a potential for information to be freed from the constraints that were put on it in the past. The same is true of disinformation. How the internet will develop in the long term and what its impact will be is unknown to us. But I suspect it will have a large impact on first world societies in the near future. We shouldn't hand it over to corporate tyranny that easily.

  • Rod 22nd Dec 2016

    Btw Peter, I should add: great comment :)

    And my focus on the internet is partly because of lack of social skills. It needs to be balanced by on the ground activity, which like the activity on the website is kept going by a very small group of people.