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feedback on the move to the new place

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  • Nick Routledge
    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
    Message 1 of 6 , Oct 8, 2004
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      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
      forward.

      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.

      n.




      _______________________________
      Do you Yahoo!?
      Declare Yourself - Register online to vote today!
      http://vote.yahoo.com
    • economads
      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
      Message 2 of 6 , Oct 8, 2004
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        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.

        -ofek

        >> www.economads.com - in quest of a new tribal culture
      • David G. Hoffman
        The OCF and many of its groups are using mailman.efn.org/ which seems to work OK. HAPPY HUMUS!
        Message 3 of 6 , Oct 8, 2004
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          The OCF and many of its groups are using mailman.efn.org/ which seems to
          work OK.

          HAPPY HUMUS!
        • John Flanery
          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
          Message 4 of 6 , Oct 8, 2004
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            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.
          • Allen Hancock
            Nick, 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
            Message 5 of 6 , Oct 9, 2004
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              Nick,

              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.

              cheers,
              Allen
            • Per Kielland-Lund
              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
              Message 6 of 6 , Oct 9, 2004
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                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
                solution).


                *** EFN List ***
                > The OCF and many of its groups are using mailman.efn.org/ which seems
                to 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 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.

                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.

                Per
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