geert lovink on Tue, 22 Jul 2003 11:30:46 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> proposal polymedia lab during WSIS


Media Lab 2/03: Polymedia Lab at WSIS
8-13 December 2003 - Geneva - WSIS

Information increasingly represents the ground on which authority is based
and on which struggles are being fought out. Intellectual Property is
becoming a major means of control, and the media-led battles for the
thoughts and the consent of people are playing a central role in global
politics - once again proven by the tales on weapons of mass destruction
before the Iraq war.

As an intervention into the reorganisation of power, communication and
information, we propose a media lab during the World Summit on the
Information Society (WSIS).

The WSIS - Background

In December 2003 the United Nations will hold the first part of a global
conference on information and communication: The World Summit on the
Information Society (WSIS). WSIS will be the first in the recent series of
global summits to deal with information issues. Just as the Rio summit in
1992 structured the politics of sustainable development, the WSIS may set
the framework for how issues around information and communication will be
perceived and dealt with in the future. Because of the dominant role of
Northern governments and corporations, we can expect further moves towards
neoliberalisation, the privatisation of knowledge, and repressive
cybersecurity regimes, while development concerns will be swept aside by
the spread of western technology.

Polymedia Lab at the WSIS

We are proposing to hold a media and communication laboratory as a
counter-event to the WSIS. Based on the experiences of the Hub in Florence
in November 2002, and organised in close cooperation with the proposed
media lab for the next European Social Forum in Paris, Polymedia Lab will
be a temporary space of experimentation and confrontation for alternative
and grassroots communication projects.  It will serve as a platform to
develop and experiment with horizontal communication, to share experiences
and knowledge, to create networks of alternative communication projects,
and present an alternative vision of information society.

Polymedia Lab will focus on horizontality, emancipation, openness,
creativity and freedom, where WSIS will be about hierarchy, exclusion, and
control. It will present practical projects by those who actually develop
information society on a grassroots level. While WSIS will be busy
presenting dry documents by those who use, exploit and repress the work of
others, we will engage in an act of communications insurgency.

What would we envision? What could take place at Polymedia Lab?
- a big open Indymedia Centre with public access terminals
- pirate TV and pirate radio (local)
- video and radio streams (global, multidirectional, and in 
interaction with streams being produced elsewhere)
- presentations on issues around the information society: media 
concentration, intellectual property rights, infowar, ISP and media 
laws, etc.
- skill-sharing workshops on technological aspects of communication: 
Linux, pgp, WiFi, satellite transmission, hacking, streaming, etc.
- permanent workshops on non-technical aspects of communication: 
horizontal, non-hierarchical ways of communicating
- network meetings of groups and individuals involved with free TV, 
free radio, Indymedia, video, etc. to develop and facilitate 

Who are we talking to?

In addition to being platforms for exchange, experiment and networking,
media labs aim to reach out to other communities and to publicise
horizontal grassroots approaches. At the WSIS, Polymedia Lab will try to
interact with "Civil Society"  (as defined by the UN). Hundreds of NGOs
and civil society groups are involved in the summit preparation process,
around 700 members of civil society participated in the last preparatory
conference alone. We will strengthen links and exchange with some of the
more progressive civil society organisations, while at the same time
questioning and criticising the role of NGOs in the UN process, the
corporate takeover of the UN, and Corporatised Global Governance. We will
demonstrate other ways to raise our voices than lobbying and gratefully
participating in a global summit.

At the same time, Polymedia Lab will spread news and analysis about the
WSIS to other parts of the world through polymedia reporting and
multidirectional video and radio streaming, providing an interface for
remote participation and for interactive workshops with those who cannot
come to Geneva.

>From media lab part 1 to part 2

The WSIS media lab should become the climax of a month-long concerted
alternative information society campaign, to be started at the ESF media
lab in Paris in November. During that month we will educate ourselves and
others about the WSIS and its possible impacts, counteract the summit
agenda, and show the value of information and communication systems based
on freedom, horizontality and cooperation.

Let's get started...
As a next step we will need to form an organising group. Polymedia 
Lab will only happen if many people and groups join the effort. 
Please tell us if you would like to participate by sending an email 
to That address has also been set up as a mailing 
list for organising the lab. In addition, we hope that many groups 
and individuals will prepare workshops, radio programmes, actions, 
etc. If you are one of them, please let us know via the same address. 

Polymedia Lab was first proposed at a meeting on counter-events to 
the WSIS in April 2003. It will be part of a whole series of 
counter-events which also include the World Communication Rights 
Forum and a Make-World conference.

Please get involved and contact us!

Polymedia Lab Initiative Group
(individuals from European IMCs)

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