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IMCistas Organize and Socialize in Austin

A few months after the Independent Media Center celebrated its fifth anniversary as a non-corporate resource for the open-publishing of news and information, about 150 IMCistas, mostly based in the US, gathered in Austin, Texas for IndyConference which took place February 18-20. The weekend included both formal and informal workshops, discussions, and skillshares with the goal of improving our effectiveness as a radical media network. There were also presentations from media activists Douglas Kelner, John Downing, Clemencia Rodríguez, and Amy Goodman.

Our discussions included themes such as Professionalism and Indymedia, Shortcomings and Potentials of IMC, The Geography Hurdle, Setting up an IMC at a Mass Mobilization, Blogging and Indymedia, IMC and Underserved Communities, and Race and Gender in Indymedia. Other workshops and skillshares included IMC Print Caucus, IMC Video Discussion, How to Do a Radio Show, and Documenting Resistance. A generous amount of time was dedicated to discussing Indymedia.us, an open-publishing website and a portal site syndicating news from local IMCs in the US. Before the Friday workshops began, we discussed how we would document the conference and coordinated our coverage efforts. We hope that you find the documentation useful and encourage your feedback about all aspects of the conference.

[ Austin Indymedia | Indymedia.us | Indymedia.us Syndication FAQ | John's Indyconference Dispatch | Indyconference Fosters Different Views ]
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On Friday afternoon, conference participants gathered in the Governor's Room at the University of Texas to meet up with each other and ensure that everyone would be well accommodated while in Austin. One person's anonymous feedback to the conference organizers was that, "meeting face to face definitely adds to the feeling of solidarity with, and accountability to, the IMC network." Our discussions included Guerilla Journalism Ethics: Professionalism and Indymedia (audio), Internal Instabilities: Shortcomings and Potentials of IMC (audio), as well as Trolls, Hackers and Moderation. In the evening we communicated with keynote speakers Douglas Kelner & John Downing on the topics of "Oppositional Politics and the Internet" and "Radical social movement media: their typical Achilles' heels and their surprising powers."

Saturday was packed full of workshops! We explored topics such as The Geography Hurdle: Organizing state and national IMCs, Setting up an IMC at a Mass Mobilization, Blogging and Indymedia, Radical Referencing, Reporting Skills and IMC and Underserved Communities. There were also workshops focused on Print, Video, Radio (audio) and US–IMC. There were many folks from Austin who learned about Indymedia for the first time when they watched the film Independent Media in a Time of War (Dial-Up | Broadband) and heard a presentation from Amy Goodman, host and executive producer of Democracy Now! On Saturday night, a local housing cooperative opened their backyard up to all the visiting IMCistas for a party which turned out to be a great venue for a guerilla video screening of popular videos from the resistance such as Fuck The Corporate Media and A Call to Media Arms.

Sunday was an emotional day for many of the participants, especially those of us that were involved in a workshop focused on Race and Gender in Indymedia. In a workshop on Documenting Resistance: The Historical Imperative of Video Archiving (audio), we discussed the possibilities of establishing a video archive to properly store and make available Indymedia footage. Our Closing Session (audio), which included almost all the conference participants, was also emotional for some of us as we discussed our experiences with Indymedia, the ways in which our local IMCs are both similar and different to other local IMCs and the visions we have for the Indymedia network. One big area of concern was outreach to people at other IMCs that may not have known about the conference or been able to attend for various reasons, such as time away from family, inability to take off work and overall cost. We want to strengthen all aspects of Indymedia, from our local IMCs, to Indymedia.us, Indymedia.org and the areas on the globe that may benefit from a new Independent Media Center.

The amazing level of face-to-face interaction and building of connections is bound to strengthen the US and global network. Our friends in Austin, including The Rhizome Collective, Austin Spokescouncil and The Austin Independent Media Center were very hospitable to all the guests from out of town. Our experiences at Indyconference will help us plan, and participate in, future regional conferences.

Indyconference followed a regional conference that happened in Oceania last year, as well as the Media EmergenC which took place in San Diego. Shortly after Indyconference, a network gathering of the United Kollectives took place in Bristol. Discussions at the network gathering included the seizure of the Ahimsa servers and other recent libel/defamation case attempts, as well as the G8 summit taking place July 6-8 in Scotland.
 
 


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