Intergang

Local Wifi/Telestreet/WebTV/activism project
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Social access, local content, community action!
Escape from the Internet ghetto!
Bridge the digital divide!

Independent media always have to operate in a media environment
characterised by an assymetry of resources where the mainstream media
commands more access and more content than independent media could
ever seize or produce. The subordinated position is always a source of
inspirationo for innovative tactiques that emerge from the reality and
the experience of repression.

Independent media exists in the mediascape preconfigured by mass
media. However, the mediascape is always total, be it national or
international in scale. There is a tactical possibility for
independent media to choose and to shift the battleground, and exploit
the very thing that escapes the brainwashing channels of mainstream
media -- reality as it is manifested in the locality.

The proposed project would concentrate on media dominance in a given
neightbourhood by utilising distribution techniques that are barely
exploited by the mass media.

Let's spread local content via a shared wifi network and telestreet!

Offering unlimited Internet access for the one-time price of a wifi
router and putting a home page in front of the login screen in
exchange is a cheap commercial advertising technique. Putting
televisions in the shopwindows is also rather dull. Offering webtv
content over the air waves is hip. However, the point is not to use
the cutting edge technologies for some eye candy -- even the bleeding
edge gets boring when it is slides down the adoption trail.
Excitement is for the technies and the mediageeks: the goal is to
create new media projects which integrate into the everyday reality of
everyday people in the same way the air they breath. Only the nerds
can be charged by a new gadget -- the value of a technology is in its
ability to create social bonds which contribute to the struggle for a
good life.

Therefore, the content is as important as the carrier. These
distribution techniques are all effective on a local scale and my
argument is that they can be successful in the distribution of local
and independent content. However, media content is also but a carrier
-- the fallacy of local media outlets is that they fail to find
sufficient topics of interest both in terms quality and quantity.
That is not only because the important things happen elsewhere, but
also because local issues are rarely explored to the extent that they
could be exposed in the mediascape. It is not enough to report local
issues, they have to be discovered and built up through campaigns and
actions. After all, we all live in the here and now, and in the
context of our daily lives is where we ultimately find freedom, love,
respect and happiness.

Four components:

- Social wifi network (distribution)
- Television sets on the street and in the homes (distribution)
- Local video channel (content)
- Engagement with local issues (content of the content)

The combination of these components solve many problems that local
wifi networks, local media projects and localist activism face when
they operate individually.

Social wifi network
-------------------

Starting from a Node of Superior Bandwidth we go door-to-door,
offering permament Internet access for the price of two routers. One
router stays in the household, one goes to the project to support
further development and farther extension. Access is through a portal
through which the local media component of the project is presented.
Naturally this is also the interface for input and gateway to all the
services set up on the local area network. In a short time a
sufficiently large area can be covered to improve connectivityc
conditions and to gather enough users to be useful to each other if
their relationship is properly faciliated. Naturally, households
which already sport a cable connection are agitated to join the mesh
network.

Television sets on the street and in the homes
----------------------------------------------

Households without computers are offered cheap/free recycled computers
through Green Spider's Green PC Programme. A local on-air television
transmission is operated in the area to carry the video content and
ensure that even those who are presently shut out of cyberspace
because of their socialisation or decline to connect to the system
have access to the local video channel. Television sets playing the
content of the independent channel are places in shop windows and bars
in order to gain a presence in physical public spaces as well.
Programme guides and leaflets are nailed to the doors of houses weekly
to highlight new content and features. These arrangements are
targeted towards a domination in the media space inside the project
area.

Local video channel
-------------------

An independent video channel is produced from the vicinity (for
example the kitchen premises, supplemented with any suitable territory
in the area where people can see and interact with the production
process). There are already detailed plans for such a programming
with news, local features, vegan cooking magazine evening films but it
is too lenghty to paste it here. A good part would have to be
translations and off-the-shelf Hungarian content which is already
available online or offline, but still an unreal amount of energy
would have to be put into producing content in collaboration with the
local people. Naturally, the ideal situation would be if the local
people would produce the content, which could make this component of
the project sustainable. However, in the test run it is definitely
necessary to self-produce the content, but in a way that engages the
local people in the process. One experience of the various local
Independent Media Centers (including our collective in Budapest) is
that it takes up to year or two until the editorial team receives
enough material to stop producing most of the content and dissappear
from the forefront and abandon the front page to be the voice of the
people.

Engagement with local issues
----------------------------

The movement of state power and capital inevitably reaches every nook
and cranny in the city, touching and tranforming it while intruding
into the life world of the inhabitants. However, the process can be
subtle or it can be accepted by the residents without questioning.
Moreover, at times when local groups do get involved in the debate
over public space and the city, they often face the unconcern or
resistance of the local people. These effects are always heightened
by the propaganda of the opposing side who has access to assymetric
resources. In case the mechanisms detailed above are already in
place, there is a network of communication and cooperation which
enables the efficient distribution of counter-information and
mobilisation of the local people. On the other hand -- and this is
also an experience of the Independent Media Centers -- it is only in
situations of conflict when popular adoption of grassroots
communication techniques happens.

Related projects:

- Hungarian Wireless Community http://huwico.org/
- Consume London http://www.consume.net/
- Seattle Wireless http://www.seattlewireless.net/
- Telestreet movement Italy http://www.telestreet.it/