feedback on the move to the new place
- I've had a couple of concerned souls express reservations, off-list, about
going with the ad-supported yahoogroups solution to our listserv quandary.
Both of them have suggested that we go instead with riseup.net outta
Portland, one of the "radical tech providers" around. I've also picked up
on concerns about the fact that everybody now has access to the controls.
Here's a synthesis of my off-web responses as to why we went with yahoo
rather than riseup. I'm posting this here because a) of course, the riseup
argument makes great sense and b) it, and concerns about stewardship, may
lend useful context to a continuing discussion around the current and
future stewardship of this listserv and our tribe. I hope this missive may
provide some useful context for y'all.
Please forgive any lack of gentility on my part, below. I've been
wrestling mightily with the listserv story of late, spending far too much
time with the computer, and I'm not quite as patient with my keyboard just
now as I might be.
Please do raise your concerns publicly. What you're saying is important
and needs to be heard.
Here's my ten cents worth. The decision to move to yahoo wasn't taken
lightly. I've been working intently on trying to find a workable listserv
solution for the past couple of months with others around the epg list.
The events of the past couple of days are simply the latest steps in an
ongoing conversation with Jewels around this issue that has unfolded over
the past couple of years.
A large part of the decision to go with yahoo is based on discounting my
experience with riseup and other relatively powerful ad-free listservs;
and my long experience with yahoo group listservs, too. For wot it's
worth, I'm an old tech hand and am comortable and familiar with listserv
technologies. I'm also somewot versed in social issues around cyberspace -
how structuring virtual technes impacts lives on the ground. The interest
has been a long one: I co-chaired the National Computer Ethics and
Responsibilities Campaign back in the mid-90's, among other jaunts.
Yes, of course I think the local-activist alternative to transnational
corphood would be a preferred provider solution. But the issue here is far
larger than the provider choice. It is fundamentally, an issue of
universal access to our tribe's virtual reins. (I spent a good deal of
time attempting to set up an online poll for all of us to plug into,
before we settled on a listserv choice, but was repeatedly rebuffed by
lousy technology and limitations.)
A repeated suggestion from some EPG types was that we simply go ahead and
set up a listserv. But my long experience around cyberspace suggests this
approach would have done nothing to address the fundamental concern about
_how_ our virtual interactions will occur. How our listserv is structured
is having and will have a fundamental impact on events on the ground.
Perhaps it's a perspective born of living long in cyberspace, but my sense
is weez talking about fundamental democratic concerns here. Here's a brief
snippet from a note I sent to Tom Atlee around this topic, recently:
"I'm handholding the epg list to a new listserv platform. For compleecated
reasons, this opens up the rarest of opps for us to get democratic technes
a-popping around our local tribe. Believe you me, if there's one thing a
decade communicating through computer-mediated technes has taught me, it's
that technological structures massively co-influence tribe dynamics...
"I've spent the past two weeks banging my head against the blue screen
trying to find an online polling system (among others, www.zoomerang.com
will only allow me to create polls that handle 100 voters, too few) that
will allow us to shift one-person-list-management over to the entire
tribe, and decide pre-emptively how we wish to communicate with one
another. There are many many parameters around listserv management - but
these "parameters" are simply symbols of profound archetypal dynamics.
Who's in control? Who's accountable? If we're all steering, how do we
steer together? What are we deciding upon?
"...Until now, I have been massively reluctant to set up a listserv to
discuss this topic, because I have a strong sense it would quickly emerge
as the de facto epg listserv, with me, as listserv creator, "owning" the
tech reins, which I'm trying to avoid, because holding the tech reins is
holding the political reins - as anybody who has dealt with a controlling
listserv moderator knows only too well.
"This morning, I've somewot semi found a workaround - setting up a
listserv, making it as open as poss, then posting all password access for
listserv management access, to all list members... This has been my
traditional approach to listserv management. But it took me until this
morning to wake to how to craft a very simple tech workaround for birthing
a listserv with a management interface easy enough for even the most
techophobic to step into and co-manage/co-moderate with if they so wish. A
poltically open way into yahoo groups."
In other words, I categorically wanted to set something up that everybody
could play a hands-on role in administering, from day one, if need be -
even if it's to shut it down and go elsewhere.
How will we respond to this potentiality? Perhaps our group wants one
person or a group running things and making all the choices about how we
relate with one another virtually. I'm not remotely uncomfortable with
this option. But I'm certainly not in a position to dictate those terms
and neither, quite frankly, at this juncture, is anyone else. As the new
listserv is currently structured, we're on solid ground for moving
My sense is that the virtual epg presence will evolve markedly over the
next little while, to incorporate full-blown interactive web presences a
la indymedia model. The web features offered at the epguild website
(calendar, polls, database and file sharing) are simply the tip of the
emeging iceberg. Going with riseup woulda been an illusory tech fix which
would have done very little to address the fundamental political issue
about how our virtual interactions are structured and the political
process involved in shaping them. I wouldn't begin to suggest that yahoo
is the perfect solution. But my sense is that it does proffer both an
incentive and a means to begin talking on an even playing field about what
to do next. At this juncture, everybody's steering.
To sum up then. Yahoo has ads. It's easy to use. It's a rock solid
platform. It provides an admin interface simple enough for the vast
majority of users. It provides us with our own website giving us, among
other features, our own calendar feature, and the ability to share files,
photos and a common database. There's also a polling feature there
allowing us to vote on polls that any member wishes to create.
Do you Yahoo!?
Declare Yourself - Register online to vote today!
- thank you nick for your efforts.
there is no doubt that commercial agriculture with it's shinny comprehensive
features such as an air-conditioned tractor and weed-free soil is more
attractive to many people than small-scale organic gardening - with bare
hands and mulch and slugs which produces a few heads of greens and some
tomatoes.. i know which one i choose. i believe that in the long run it
would work best for EPG and any other grassroots group to go with a
non-commercial service such as rise up. sure it's not as glossy as yahoo -
but it is fair, it is organic, it is us.
>> www.economads.com - in quest of a new tribal culture
- Thank you Nick for your initiative married with your expertise.
People tell me that I tend to give too much information, and I wonder
whether you've fallen into the same trap. If I understand you correctly,
Yahoo has features which will allow for the democratic management of the
listserve - features that Riseup lacks. Right?
Personally, I am dubious whether everyone on this list should have manager
status. While I have faith in most of the people on this list, my
confidence is not 100%, and giving everyone manager status endangers the
list unless we are 100% reliable. I am willing to believe that moderation
is needed, and am also willing to believe that oversight of the moderator
might be needed, and if so should be established democratically. That
democracy should either occur over the listserve or at the Gathering. If it
is to occur electronically then Yahoo is the way to go; otherwise
Riseup -may- be the best fit.
I also thank you for your initiative. Democracy doesn't mean everyone
is involved with every decision and in the scheme of things this is a
pretty minor decision. I appreciate the opportunity to make
comments, and I I hope that we (collectively) don't put too much of
our energy into hashing out listservs. I trust that you will make a
thoughtful decision for the group about the listserv knowing that
there's not a perfect service for our needs.
I also share John's concerns about having everyone as a listserv
moderator. My first "law of collective ventures" is: if everyone's
responsible, then no one's responsible. This applies equally to
moderation of a listserv as it does global warming or anything else
held in common. If it's not one person (or group's) job to make sure
problems are taken care of, then everyone suffers if no one steps
forward to take responsibility for the problem.
- A few of my own thoughts on this (echoing much of what has been said):
I personally prefer a listserv that is (a) noncommercial if possible
(EFN may be a good local option), (b) where membership is moderated (so
we don't get spammers joining), and (c) with the option of multiple
moderators but one active moderator at any one time (maybe a middle road
*** EFN List ***
> The OCF and many of its groups are using mailman.efn.org/ which seemsto work OK.
I agree. This option is non-commercial and local, and they have a
relatively good interface for moderators.
I emailed EFN and they said that after the new EPUD ownership, OPN is
hosting the email lists. I emailed OPN about this a while back, but did
not receive a reply. It may be worth checking out (I just sent them
another email). They can be contacted at askopn@...
<mailto:askopn@...> or 341-4928, 11AM-5PM Monday-Friday, if anyone
else wants to follow up on this.
*** Riseup ***
> i believe that in the long run it would work best for EPG and anyother grassroots group to go with a non-commercial service such as rise
up. sure it's not as glossy as yahoo - but it is fair, it is organic, it
Riseup would be my second choice if OPN does not work out.
*** Moderation **
> My first "law of collective ventures" is: if everyone's responsible,then no one's responsible.
My experience with email lists tells me that it is important to have a
moderator approving new members. This would keep spammers out.
I also agree with Allen that it may be good to have one active moderator
at one time. Partly so we know things get done, partly so we don't
duplicate work (or we all spend precious brain power sitting there
wondering whether or not to jump in), and partly so we have a system
that people on the list are comfortable with.
Maybe we can find a middle road solution where we allow anyone to be a
moderator who requests it, and have a situation with one active
moderator and several back-up moderators. We could rotate active
moderation when desired. The multiple back-up moderators also gives us
some resiliency if someone is sick, on vacation etc.