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nettime: support contrast.org
Geert Lovink on Wed, 5 Feb 97 11:57 MET


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nettime: support contrast.org


the foundation of a radical online workspace in Amsterdam (NL)

SUPPORT CONTRAST.ORG

Even though the internet-hype might suggest otherwise, the 'net is more
than a collection of Web-pages, mailboxes and chatcafes. It is also a
powerful political medium and as such a subject of political struggle. The
internet is a very good medium for campaigning, actions and protest voices.

Contrast.org is created to stimulate these voices. It's an organisation and
workspace for contra-information, and contra-expertise, on the Internet -
from a radical-critical perspective.

Background

Over the past year, the list of spectacular Dutch internet-initiatives has
steadily grown:
The Scientology-actions, the online edition of the Van Traa dossier
(parliamentary enquiry on police practices), the launching of a critical
anti-macdonalds website an the online asylum for the German magazine
Radical, which is illegal in Germany itself.

More campaigns will follow, and for that reason contrast.org is founded. We
often receive requests from abroad to place nationally censured material on
Dutch servers. To bring such information online in a useful way needs much
work and knowledge. This help is now given form the homes of individuals. A
common working-space to work on these online projects together will make
the support easier.

Contrast.org will also initiate new online political campaigns and  develop
projects of public criticism, using the best possible technologies of the
internet. A good example is www.mcspotlight.org, the anti-McDonalds-site,
founded and constructed with Dutch support and advise. The site is
professionally designed and makes an intelligent use of frames. Relevant
information of MacDonalds and contra-information can thus be shown
simultaneously.

After much deliberation about the necessity to better co-ordinate existing
and new political internet projects, contrast.org has recently been founded
(and a real working-space has been set up).

We need financial support to maintain this working-space. We hope that,
after this start-up phase, contrast.org can exist on paid assignments.
Contrast.org decided to start right away, with no concrete jobs in sight.
That's why this letter is not only meant to inform you, but also as a call
for financial support. We hope to convince you to buy shares, or donate
some money.

Contrast.org is a foundation. 

Its goals: to promote the use of electronic communication devices,
specifically to promote, defend and strengthen the freedom of expression
and the universal human rights. The foundation also wants to promote
discussions on these topics.

Contrast.org brings contra-information on-line, through mailinglists,
databases, WWW-pages, websites or combinations of these techniques.

Contrast.org is not a provider, but a place for technical and editorial
support for Net-activities. Contrast.org also serves as a virtual name for
this type of projects.

Some of the actions of Contrast.org

Initiate, support, co-ordinate political projects
By co-ordinating political projects from our workspace, actions can be
taken more efficient and faster in case of censorship or judicial problems.
To secure continuity an editorial board will meet regularly, to see what
actions should be taken. Contrast.org not only reacts on developments by
governments and businesses, but will initiate projects as well.

Collecting juridical knowledge

During past activities, lawyers needed to be consulted. Judicial questions
about the 'net are complicated and mostly not yet fixed (e.g. censure,
privacy, copyright). Lawyers, judges and others have still much to find out
and learn about legal aspectsof the 'net.  Contrast.org  wants to collect
knowledge in this area, so that many can benefit from it.

Disseminating Technical knowledge

Building more complex websites requires more knowledge then merely about
HTML-tags. Java-script, mailinglists, Unix- en Linux-knowledge; audio- and
video techniques; contrast.org wants to enlarge the knowledge of these
"higher net-techniques". The online workspace will collect expertise and
make it available for those who want to use it. Not by means of courses but
by working at it yourself, in collaboration with the contrast.org technical
team. The working-space will also build a library. It will be a place to
learn by reading and doing.

Asylum

For groups who find publishing in their own country impossible (censure,
government control, intimidation or blockades), contrast.org can find
refuge at other servers. For example by mirroring the site elsewhere, or by
offering mailboxes or public terminals.

An open working-space

The working-space can serve as a collective space for people with projects.
It will be possible to work on specific projects for a while. Especially in
the last phase of building a website or cd-rom, working with a team in one
space is very useful.

Own server

In the long run contrast.org might set up its own server. But at this
stage, the development of projects is more important. Getting our own
'netspace is a secondary goal.

Content

An editorial team of people from the workspace and the think-tank will meet
regularly and decide on initiating projects and campaigns. This group will
think of possibilities and stimulate people who come with good initiatives.

Activities concerning the Euro-summit

As a first project, contrast.org has chosen the Euro-Summit in Amsterdam,
June 17-18 1997.

European leaders will meet at the Dutch National Bank and dine in the Van
Gogh Museum. The press will be lodged in a camp near the Bank building.
During the summit, the entire area will bea  no-go area . Police are
already preparing the people who live there.

At well attended meetings plans are made for a big spectacle called "the
other Europe". We want to support these activities on the 'net through
mailinglists for organising groups; with thematic websites (Jansen &
Janssen on Europol; refugees and illegals; European economy and social
politics; north-south / east-west relations).

During the summit, we want to experiment with real-audio and -video on the
Net, in collaboration with Amsterdam free radio pirates. It will also be a
time to strengthen the discussion on neo-liberalism from the view of
net-activism and access-politics.

Ideas and Money

Contrast.org started as a foundation There are many plans, but more ideas
and input are always welcome. You can join our editorial meetings (in
Amsterdam) of mail us your suggestions.

To be able to get started (rent, telephone, computers, chairs) and keep the
workspace open, contrast.org needs financial support. If you think this
initiative is worthwhile, please show this by donating some money, or by
buying shares at F100,- guilders a piece. You will receive a regular update
on our activities and thoughts in return.

Please sent your money-order to:

Stichting MIT Amsterdam
postgiro NL: 3449270

for more information:
e-mail: info {AT} contrast.org
URL: http://www.contrast.org/
Snail-mail: Contrast.org  Postbus 11147   1001 GC Amsterdam

with kind regards from the board of the foundation:
Bert Mussig, Jo van der Spek, Karin Spaink and Marianne van den Boomen.


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