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Detroit LOC
Technical/Communications Committee Notes
Tuesday, 4/21/09, 5:30pm, MWRO office

Participants: Cynitra Anderson (webs and wikis); Nancy Brigham (SE MI JWJ; web developer); Willam “Bill” Bryce (SE MI JWJ), Dave Elsila; Reg McGee; Sylvia Orduño (MWRO, via phone); Rayfield Waller (writer/journalist).

Facilitator: Bill Bryce; Note taker: Sylvia Orduño

First meeting, no specific agenda—providing updates, sharing ideas, making plans.

• Bill spoke with Josué Guillén (National Planning Committee [NPC] member) at The Praxis Project in DC, and asked about the Communication and Technology Work Groups, and how we distinguish the work locally.

• Bill’s first concern is to have someone in place at the LOC as the Tech person.

• Josué coveyed to Bill that the NPC is not prepared to hire someone yet as a Tech person.

• Sylvia added that the anchors are drafting a hiring proposal for logistics; it may be expanded later with hiring parameters for other NPC staffing positions.

• Bill suggests we need to recruit more people to help in the Tech/Comm process. He will also go to the LOC and ask for a list of what external and internal Tech and Comm tasks need priority.

• There seems to be a consensus that there is no clear understanding of the Tech/Comm goals.

• What is the specific goal of the USSF? Groups come together to network and share…a big collective get-together and discussion on a large variety of issues.

• There is a set of Social Forum principles (e.g., opposition to neoliberalism, racism) that we also use to learn from World Social Forum international experiences and social movement groups.

• Bill asked what we as a group do next? What are the local communication needs?

• Sylvia will forward to this group and post on the wiki the document that Will Copeland sent to all LOC committees for review and comments regarding USSF Committee Structure.

• Sylvia suggests we consider breaking up this Technical/Communication Committee into two groups reflective of two NPC Work Groups: Technology and Communications/Media.

• Nancy noted this is not an artificial separation as both WGs will need to work together. • Early interests in each Work Group include:

o Technology: Nancy, Cynitra, Sylvia
o Communication/Media: William, Reg, Dave, Rayfield

• We need to check with others who have indicated interest in the Tech/Comm Committee, such as: Lou Novak (Detroit Greens), Lottie Spady (EMEAC), and Frank Joyce.

• Sylvia suggested several things we could do meanwhile:

o Check out the website: it is a skeleton site in need of content to be determined;
o Create a login account on the wiki:
o (There are also a couple of shortcuts: and
o Help patrol RecentChanges on the wiki to help organize site, clean up spam, etc.
o Review USSF Committee Structure document that we need to complete and send to Will Copeland for 5/9 Anchors’ Strategy Session.

• Sylvia shared that there have been some conversations with the MayFirst tech people in NY (who host the USSF website, wiki, and list-servs) about possible security concerns. We have had some spam on the site that we’ve cleaned up. Plus, the site is open and can be edited without a login account. So far, no big problems and we’ve had good open edit participation, perhaps something to think about.

• Cynitra added that wikis are not friendly for people in Detroit who already don’t really know how to use computers.

• Sylvia agreed and suggests that as part of the content development for the USSF website, we have specific Detroit pages that are clear and easy to understand and use.

• Nancy asked what program is being used for the USSF website—we’ll need to ask MayFirst.

• Reg believes we should consider how best to use and safeguard the wiki so that it can be open and secure. For instance, there are gov’t and other organizations that may not be friendly to what we are doing, or wing nuts who could overwhelm the site. Does we have backups?

• Sylvia added that for now our wiki is not advertised and mostly known only by its participants. Typically, a wiki community will keep it safe through patrolling, plus we can add other safeguards as needed such as captcha (to test whether a user is human), or we can block certain IPs, etc. Along the way, maybe we can draft some security protocols or measures.

• Nancy added that on security concerns the Michigan ACLU had a Drupal that was hacked.

• Bill suggested we think about how we can engage documentary and film producers as many will be present at USSF. We should consider 2-4 issues that we can address in a final DVD that gives a definitive version of particular issues (e.g., health care, organizing as a skill). • Reg added that this is a great foundational thought as it goes beyond the Comm and Tech WGs. We can also tape all workshops and plenaries with many inexpensive cameras to share experience nationally/internationally; perhaps have live streaming and build a reservoir of documentary footage and info.

• Bill added Detroit is uniquely situated to do this as auto industry has a history of creating countless films and documentaries.

• Sylvia added that we also need to consider that as USSF participants we can facilitate and document but we cannot take any political positions or take on any campaigns. However, such actions can be done through the People’s Movement Assembly (PMA).

• Bill suggests that we create documentaries and/or a venue for producers but not under the USSF banner (e.g., Michael Moore documentaries). We won’t ask for USSF endorsement but instead encourage filmmakers to attach themselves.

• Nancy suggests we should link up with the Allied Media Conference, July 16-19, 2009; many youth participate. Sylvia added that she signed up USSF for a slot with Jenny Lee.

• Dave asked what is the relationship between the Work Groups and local committee?

• Sylvia noted that the WGs are the national planning groups responsible for carrying out the work of the Social Forum. When we first set up local committees, we didn’t know about or understand the WGs and we set up local committees based upon what we thought our tasks were. Now as we have a better understanding, we need to figure out how we can sort of synthesize them so we can work together better.

• Bill commented he feels we have no real handle on media and external relations. There was a discussion at the last NPC planning mtg where Jackie Smith from Sociologists Without Borders indicated an interest.

• Bill added that Josué asked him to organize a conference call with him, Jackie, and others to integrate the local committee and national WG. Bill will do this within the next 2 weeks.

• Meeting Review:

o We should all recruit additional people for this Technical/Communications Committee.
o Bill will set up a conference call for the Communications Work Group.
o We should all go on the wiki and create a login account.
o We should all review the USSF Committee Structure document that Sylvia will email and post on the wiki.