- By Walton Pantland As we reported earlier, Turkey has blocked twitter, in a ludicrous attempt to stop information about government corruption leaking out to the general public. There are many widely publicised mechanisms for getting around the twitte …

occupy gezi

– By Walton Pantland

As we reported earlier, Turkey has blocked twitter, in a ludicrous attempt to stop information about government corruption leaking out to the general public.

There are many widely publicised mechanisms for getting around the twitter ban, and we have set up our own:

Any post made to the Wire of our Organising Network will get sent to a linked twitter account. And because it is being sent by a server in the US, it can’t be blocked in Turkey.

Right now, we’re working on a way to pull in replies, hashtags and other information from twitter too.

Because governments (and corporate lawyers) will always try to shut down social networks when they want to stop a message getting out, it is really important that activists build secure alternatives.

We will never be able to match Facebook and Twitter for reach – these are really good communications tools precisely because so many people are on them. People use the social networks they are familiar with, so there is no point forming an activist ghetto online. Revolutions happen when ideas spread from activists to the general public, so that everyone is engaged. This is why we need to be plugged into those networks.

But we can create tools that work in the background and allow activists to organise and prepare. And then – when a government blocks twitter – we are able to provide a bridge that keeps the information flowing.

More about the Organising Network

Every social network has an ideology, which is why we created our Organising Network: it’s ethical by design.

on

ON is built on Elgg, which is Open Source. It has plugins, developed by Lorea, that enable political organising and democratic decision making. Members of the Occupy Wall Street and Boston tech committees use the software, and are working to further develop the Lorea plugins. .

ON isn’t designed for social networking, and it’s not meant to be a left wing alternative to Facebook.

ON is an organising network. It functions like a social network, but its purpose is to help people organise politically, securely, with an accountable and transparent decision making process. It’s ideal for union branches and campaigns, or activist groups, who for whatever reason, can’t meet physically.

You can create groups – for instance, for your branch. These can be hidden and invite only, or open to all. Within your group, you can post a blog – with pictures – about your latest campaign. You can upload important files. You can start discussion threads.

More importantly, you can take decisions democratically. Within your group, you can make a proposal. Other group members can vote on it, comment, or make a new proposal. The discussion is visible online for all logged in members to see, which helps transparency.

You can also link a proposal to an assembly – what ON calls meetings. You can set meeting dates, and if you link proposals to assemblies, they automatically go on the agenda. You can have the meeting in a physical space, or online using our web conferencing facility. Or you can just use the meeting date as the cut off point for decisions, and allow people to comment and vote in their own time.

We think ON is a useful organising space for activists, and we invite you to join and use it. There is a learning curve – there is with any new technology – but get in touch, and we will help set you up.

Every tool is a weapon if you hold it right. Let’s use all the wonderful social media tools out there to spread the word about unions fighting back against austerity, and building a world based on justice, equality and dignity. But let’s also be conscious of the ideology of the tools we use, and create our own safe spaces too.


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Walton Pantland

South African trade unionist living in Glasgow. Loves whisky, wine, running and the great outdoors. Walton did an MA in Industrial Relations at Ruskin, Oxford, and is interested in how trade unions use new technology to organise.

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