next 5 minutes international festival of tactical media, September 11-14 2003, Amsterdam

The Indymedia Debate

As a global network of more than 100 open-publishing news-websites run by volunteers using free, open source software, Indymedia represents a successful example of tactical media. The scale of reporting and global collaboration is flexible. Individual websites, although "branded", are customised according to the needs of local collectives. Apart from websites, Indymedia uses a wide range of old and new media from photocopies to radio streams and video. However, the very diversity of Indymedia and its rapid expansion leads to contradictions, conflicts and debates. Is Indymedia a model for the further development of tactical media or has it reached its limits?
Technology - the answer to all questions?
Despite cultural differences, Independent Media Centers manage to collaborate as a network by tactically using geographically independent IT-tools. However, this doesn't lead to the dissolution of national boundaries. Most European IMCs organise on a national level, while the biggest number worldwide are organized on city levels. Some are in regions and different forms of splitting up or syndication are set up, also global topic based IMCs are being considered, for example, biotech. Is Indymedia a model for a world without national boundaries - or does it perpetuate these boundaries?
News from the activist ghetto?
Besides day-to-day local reporting, indymedia symbolically multiplies summit protests by collaborative live reports. But do anti-summit protests reflect a reductive definition of politics as a place where world politicians make decisions behind close doors? Should Indymedia use its powerful role in the movement to push a wider understanding of politics?
Open Publishing - at what costs?
IMCs are often critized for their approach to open publishing. Advocates of a radical free speech approach are worried about "censorship", while many imc volunteers are not prepared to tolerate discriminating postings. IMCs have come up with a number of open publishing models, and even open editing/moderation. Is the legal and political price for open publishing too high?
Or is open publishing an integral part of the global "commons of content" (Wikipedia, Creative Commons), where the free software mode of production (Oekonux) is applied to content production?
The Brand moves on - DIY Ideology Versus Professionalisation
Indymedia is a successful brand - recognisable, adaptable, easy to franchise. Is it on the way towards a professional organisation, loosing its empowering DIY-character? Is it time to radically decentralise, move on to smaller, autonomous projects beyond the limitations of a vast network?

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Interesting websites:

Indymedia Wiki Page about Next 5 Minutes (global indymedia portal)