Salsa Scoop> U.S. Social Forum: Day Two

U.S. Social Forum: Day Two

From my posting yesterday until today so much has been going on! I almost don't know where to begin. More people are around, so the hallways of the civic center, and the streets of downtown Atlanta are quite full. The plenary sessions that begin and end each day have more people, although that's more true for the 6:30 pm sessions than the 8:30 am sessions. Could it be that folks are tired after a long night of carousing? Kip has been connecting with his communities and friends – the radical queer community, Indyvoter folk, his old friends from the Southeast, and friends (like Dave at Radical Designs) from the Bay Area. I was able to attend a session on the Israel/Palestine issue, but missed another one that sounded really good. A lot of my time is spent distributing the newsletter with information about online organizing that the tech folks put out. One strategy is to stand facing the crowd and pass it out. Unfortunately, this is the technique pioneered by political parties of the communist variety, and many folks instinctively recoiled from me. Could it be my breath? Yesterday was the first tech related session: Michelle Murrain of NOSI presented on the philosophy and future of the free and open source software movement (FOSS). The audience had a wide variety of experiences, from programmers to casual users. This resulted in a rich and rewarding session. For those who don't know, the USSF runs entirely on FOSS. I was particularly interested in what happens when FOSS is used in a manner that weakens the short term goal at hand. Say, when you try to build your own tool instead of using a free, but proprietary tool. (Related question: is Google evil even when its mapping tool works great?) Kip and I attended an amazing session led by the May First/People Link folks on the Organic Internet. Folks worked in small groups using laptops linked to each other to come up with internet 'rights' that were modified and endorsed collectively. When a report is posted, it will be shared here; bottom line is that it was a very interactive, participatory process that made a good point about how groups can make decisions together with the help of technology. New kinds of conversations are possible; who will take advantage of this? Tomorrow is a big day for DIA. We have two workshops scheduled to help activists manage their online organizing better. This is an important part of what we came here to do. Stay tuned!


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