Julio 30, 2007

Challenges

Went to Phoenix this past weekend, mainly for a meeting and benefit for the No Borders Camp. It was pretty productive but pretty frustrating too, because I'm not sure if I agree with the direction that plans for the camp are going. It may be too late to change, as well.

I also was at a meeting in Phoenix with a few people from AZ indymedia. The site is almost totally dormant and the collective has been in a lull for the last 6 months at least. We talked about what to do and I volunteered to spearhead solving the technical hurdles, but I can't help wondering how important indymedia really is, to me or Arizonans or to the world, anymore - especially the websites. I believe that as a loose network of resource-sharing media activists it still is quite useful (e.g. an aquaintance here in Tucson scored an interview with Noam Chomsky last month, and wanted me to go along and film it. I said, I can't, but here, email this person from Boston IMC that I know, and sure enough he hooked up with 2 awesome videographers there who filmed the thing with him), but as an online source of news and information for those that are "outside the fold" I'm getting more and more doubtful.

Various video projects of mine are churning away, including a couple for pay, which is great. It's definitely more fun to me than coding or other IT stuff, and it makes me more interested in volunteer IT work for activist projects.

Meanwhile O is quitting her job, or rather being forced to quit, and it's a job she has really loved, or at least the work. The management and a lot of the other staff are corrupt and unethical and petty jerks, but the organization does some great work still and has a lofty reputation in the field. It's so disillusioning to see non-profits devolve like this, but as one of her only cool co-workers said the other day, it's just like in the for-profit world, and people from that world aren't surprised at all. Why should people not lie and cheat and backstab, just because they work for a nonprofit that's supposedly about saving the environment? To think they wouldn't is to probably expect too much from humans.

Sigh...

Posted by steev at 04:44 PM | Comments (1)

Julio 21, 2007

Photos from the Streets of Berlin

tacheles - 12
I'm still working on uploading all the good photos from my trip to Europe, but I'm getting closer. The other day I finally finished a set of photos of street art and other interesting street scenes in Berlin. That city is just full of amazing art and politics scrawled, sprayed, and glued all over walls and signs. So I definitely shot a lot of snaps of it. Enjoy...

Posted by steev at 05:34 PM | Comments (0)

Julio 19, 2007

What Is Real?

"What is Real?" asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. "Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick out handle?"

"Real isnít how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "Itís a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real."

"Does it hurt?í asked the Rabbit.

"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real you donít mind being hurt."

"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked. "or bit by bit?"

"It doesnít happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. Thatís why it doesnít happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things donít matter at all, because once you are Real you canít be ugly, except to people who donít understand."


(from The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams. emphasis mine)

Posted by steev at 08:45 AM | Comments (0)

Julio 09, 2007

A New Kind of Labor, A New Kind of Surplus Value, Same Old Exploitation

Via the Indymedia video listserv I just found a very interesting essay called "What the MySpace generation should know about working for free"

...labor has become performance, the act of being a speaker within communication systems. To paraphrase the old saying: The greatest trick that capital ever pulled was convincing the world that labor didn't exist. Labor today, is a 'casualized' and often distributed immaterial activity.

The mere presence of Tara and her friends on MySpace creates value. Surely, the generated monetary value varies; highly popular clips like the treadmill video on YouTube generated over ten million views, while others receive little attention. The quantity of small acts of labor makes YouTube profitable for Google.

Can a convincing teen-friendly version of this essay be concocted? What would kids say to this, even if it was in an easy to read, fun, non-academic tone? Would they just say "so what"? As the text goes on to say,

...I'd argue for the need of an awareness of servitude. This awareness has not been socialized among the most fervent participants of the sociable web: American teens. Despite misleading statistics, most 'MySpacesters' are young and live in the United States. Their upbringing did not instill an awareness of their embrace of market-based behavior [15] (5) . The fact that one person lives off anotherís labor is natural to them.

But this unconciousness about 'servitude' really is nothing new. If we can't get teens to recognize their roles as human billboards when they wear sports gear emblazoned with logos, dreaming the dream that maybe they will be the next Michael Jordan if they just buy enough pairs of Nikes, how can we possibly get them to understand the exploitation happening with MySpace, YouTube, and other corporate social networking sites?

But we must. "Sociable Web Media make people easier to use but we canít let them (and them in us) get the best of us."

Posted by steev at 05:05 PM | Comments (0)

Julio 06, 2007

Death of Newsreal?

I've been the editor for the Indymedia U.S. Newsreal for a little over one year now, and while it's been a valuable experience for me and it's felt good to keep the project going, it has been a constant struggle to elicit contributions for it. The monthly program consists of short (1-10 minute, usually) segments sent in by videoactivists from around the country. Since the show is broadcast on Free Speech TV it seems like a great opportunity to get your work shown in front of potentially millions of viewers, and segments producers get $50 as well, but apparently this isn't enough to motivate people. I don't know what the problem is, frankly, but I'm getting tired of constanly cajoling people to send stuff in. That wasn't supposed to be my job, I was only going to be the editor, but pretty soon after I started, the outreach coordinator, Ethan, dropped off the face of the earth and stopped doing outreach.

Last month we received exactly zero submissions and Sonya, subbing for me as editor while I was in Europe, just barely managed to cobble together material for a July show. If there's still no submissions, and no renewed interest, I fear the whole project is going to have to be put to rest...

Posted by steev at 03:34 PM | Comments (4)

Haditha

Nick Broomfield, one of my favorite documentarists, is working on a drama about the massacre in Haditha. He's in post-production and there's a preliminary trailer that looks great, and is really really intense and graphic. It's shot in a very documentary style, with documentary-like cinematography as well. Don't watch the trailer unless you're ready for how heavy it is. (Haditha, btw, is the village in Iraq where U.S. Marines went apeshit and killed a bunch of innocent people in revenge for insurgents killing one of their men.)

It turns out Broomfield also completed a previous non-documentary feature film, his first, last year called "Ghosts," based on a true story about a migrant Chinese girl. Wow. Maybe he has reached the same conclusion that I've been leaning toward, that to reach a larger, different audience and reach them more profoundly, fiction films may be the way.

Posted by steev at 12:23 PM | Comments (0)

Julio 03, 2007

Speed Vest

Some friends of mine recently made this amazing piece of technology and bicycle activism called The Speed Vest. At first I thought it was a hoax, because one of them is well-known for his pranks and media-jamming projects. But they evidently actually built the thing, and won a contest in Minnesota. So cool!

Posted by steev at 10:51 AM | Comments (0)

Julio 01, 2007

Back From Europe

trip to the Bodensee - 7I flew back to Tucson yesterday and got in at about 10:30 last night. Sadly, O was delayed in her own flight that was supposed to be Friday back from NYC, so the expected romantic reunion at the airport was not to be. She comes back tonite at midnight instead. I feel bad because I was off the internet for the last 3 days of my trip, which was unusual compared to the rest of the time, and O was worried. It's so unusual to have someone worry over me. I only realized the extent of her stress when I finally today read her blog entry about it from a couple days ago.

I have a lot of thinking about my trip and sorting of photos (here's a few I just uploaded to Flickr, i'll be doing a few at a time for a while, I think) and other materials collected to do. but here is a nice shot that seems relevant to my thoughts right now, as I wait for O to come back to Tucson and be with me.

One general observation about the last month that I think is interesting is that my trip was bookended by being in 2 different small German cities, one (Rostock) taken over by politics and activism and police (the G8 protests), and one (Kassel) taken over by art (Documenta). Very different motivations, but very similar in feel, I found. Which was odd.

Ok, time to go and feed O's dog.

Posted by steev at 06:29 PM | Comments (0)