As mentioned before, there have been some changes made to the site. The biggest change has been the elimination of the groups on the site. This is due to ongoing maintenance issues associated with BuddyPress, the software used create groups, and the changing nature of the structure of Occupy Wall Street. The primary group features used were forums and documents.
A Network Group Blog directory has been added, which enables people to easily find the active nycga.net network blogs. In addition, it displays the four more recent network blog posts.
All previously created Group Documents are accessible on the site on the Document Archive page or by using search. The document listing is arranged alphabetically by group, with an indication of the number of documents available. For groups that would like to continue adding publicly viewable documents, a form has been added that allows anyone logged-in to post a document.
Discussions have been added to the site–which any logged-in person can participate in–to replace the group-based forums. Currently, the forum categories are limited to General Discussion, Announcements and Questions, but more can be added as needed.
Please let us know (tech [at] nycga.net) if you have any comments, feedback, suggestions, etc.
Occupy.com is an Occupy Wall Street digital property under development. Unlike many other media projects associated with OWS, it has funding, paid staff and a 501c3 incorporated nonprofit structure before achieving public visibility. Rightly or wrongly, this situation has provoked a fair amount of controversy in OWS tech and media circles, leading to a fascinating four-hour discussion earlier this evening at 16 Beaver.
The crux of the issue is of interest beyond the specific media project (occupy.com) under discussion, and even goes past the issue that brought things to a head (paid staff and external funding). But before we go there, let’s do a short little backgrounder. A number of web sites either exist or are in fairly advanced planning stages. These include inward facing, collaboration focused efforts like this site (nycga.net) and these:
occupy.com – high quality content (video, photos, texts, social media) curated from various sources and presented to the general public.
occupywallstreet.net – New York focused news and information about Occupy Wall Street plans and goings on.
occupy.org – campaign site aimed loosely at online activists less likely to be deeply involved in physical occupations and working groups.
occupywallst.org – longstanding ‘unofficial’ public facing website, featuring curated content and conversation about the occupy movement, nationally and internationally.
The “Tweetboat” – @occupywallstnyc, a twitter account operated by a team whose members are generally part of nycga working groups.
wearethe99percent.com – a Tumblr site in existence from before the occupation, with a simple and successful formula.
Each of these projects has slightly different governance, which we might compare to one more project – the Occupy Wall Street Journal. At the start of that project in the early days of the Zuccotti Park occupation, a Kickstarter effort was initiated that successfully raised a great deal of money. To manage it properly, a 501c3 nonprofit was created. The collective behind the Journal was eager to act transparently, training new talent, but also to restrict full access to the project to those with real journalism experience.
This emphasizes one of two ways we can distinguish between projects. Is it governed, ultimately, by Occupy Wall Street in the form of the New York General Assembly, as mediated by one or more working groups, OR is it a closed, external project with its own financial management, membership, and management?
Is it perceived as authentically representative of Occupy Wall Street, the movement formerly based in Zuccotti Park, OR is it merely another side project, valid but without special movement status?
The different between occupy.com (external funding + external governance + representative status) and the Occupy Journal (external funding + external governance + representative status) is that the Journal has been around for a while, before OWS had built a strong sense of identity around how we operate. Occupywallst.org is different; the collective that runs it a) denies that the movement known as Occupy is a thing capable of governance, and b) denies that any city based component of the movement has a right to govern broad movement media. The conclusion is that Occupywallst.org is rightly governed outside the nycga framework, AND that any occupy-wide media project should NOT be governed by an nycga framework., In the discussion about this situation, the word ‘accountable‘ was used frequently in two ways. Nycga.net and the Tweetboat are ‘accountable‘ in the sense that individuals and working groups are acting under General Assembly authority. Occupywallst.org and the Occupy Journal on the other hand are ‘accountable‘ only in the sense that they make a good faith effort to respond to legitimate feedback from within the movement.
I thought Katy Davidson(sp?) did a good job of putting a finger on the dilemma that we face, especially when it comes to outward facing digital properties. It’s this: closed, externally governed efforts are gaining traction and emerging successfully despite the movement’s proclaimed adherence to open, transparent, inclusive and horizontal models of governance. This is NOT a knock on any individual or effort, but a painful observation. Given what we know about the problems with the General Assembly and Spokescouncil meetings, is anyone actually surprised?
The discussion we had was long, at times painful, but necessary, illuminating and even cathartic. It felt good finally having the chance to discussion the intersection of money, power, access, hierarchy and media projects in the movement. All this at a meeting where no decisions are made, no common conclusions drawn, and no project to work on in common – unless we count the commitment to do it again next weekend.
Working Groups deal with many levels of engagement. From the die hard leaders who have committed their lives to this movement to the leaders who can only spare 1% of their time (that’s about 7 hours a month fyi). Keeping everyone in the loop is a challenge. Forums need lots of attention, in person meetings don’t work from some, e-mail lists can get overwhelming, and reading through meeting minutes is tedious. Some of our supporters and allies just want to get an idea of the pules or direction of the group.
That’s why blogs are so important. Every group on nycga.net has the power to create their very own blog. This post will go over creating a group blog on nycga.net while part 2 will cover making your blog look good and part 3 will cover ideas about what that blog can be used for. Continue reading →