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December 11, 2003

Our space is open. At last, after a long search, Daily Summit tracked down Polymedia, renegade media outfit, evicted from their first home, but now resident in a Genevan cinema/theatre.

Harassed, harangued, haunted, but happy at last! And (there's no better way one can put it) these guys are weird...

First thing you notice: no telephones. But lots of computers, all set up to disseminate what they believe to be real information, the sort that should matter to people.

Polymedia has strong links to Indymedia - a group that has been in the thick of protest against the world order. Seattle, Evian, and now Geneva - the group has a record of reporting from the heart of the action.

Now, they have been forced to relocate to two bases. The Palladium is a brown building, from which thick black and blue smoke belches off the cigarette sticks of our famous journalists. A unused projection screen lies unused, and everywhere there are computers. Close by is the Theatre de la Usine - a larger space.

The Polymedians are busy - but not too busy to speak.

First, Annie, an academic: "We use the Usine for conference talks, discussion, and debates. And in the Palladium, we are experimenting with free software, sharing knowledge and experiences, and updating Polymedia web sites. Ours is a do it yourself movement, which is why I can't tell you my second name: I don't want to sound special. Here at Polymedia, people are simply trying to escape from the rat race. We simply want the freedom to live on our own terms. We are not worried by our problems with the police. We are used to being troubled. Its our sacrifice for a freer world.."

Then American, Sasha Chock: "We do not feel free with 2,000 military and 700 police at the Palexpo. To inform the people, we do not have to go through metal detectors and checkpoints every 200 feet! We do not want to be in a space of controlled information, where they held me up yesterday and divided my papers and leaflets into two piles. The ones I could take in and the ones I couldn't."

Chock's fellow country woman, who identified herself simply as Dee Dee concluded: "The difference between our world and yours is that this space is open. Yours is not."
Oghogho Obayu @ 09:34 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

December 09, 2003

The media workshop has been shut down by Geneva police, claims protest group, WSIS? We Seize.

Apparently, the group had been rented a building by a tenant who had no legal right to do so. "Subsequently, ten members of the Geneva police force arrived, outfitted in riot gear, demanding identification papers from all participants. At this time, the approximately fifteen participants inside the location have been informed that they will not be permitted to leave unless they bring all of their equipment with them. The locks of the building are currently being replaced, and no re-entry will be allowed."

David Steven @ 05:24 PM | Comments (0)

November 28, 2003

WSIS Unzipped. There's a lot to be learnt in this article by Alan Toner (part of art collective Autonomedia, whose Info Exchange is quite something). Alan's article puts WSIS into context, details past attempts to tackle communication on this scale, and explains why it could be remembered, ironically, as a conference without content...

Aaron Scullion @ 04:22 AM | TrackBack

November 27, 2003

Up-coming events The programme for the Civil Society Side Events, produced by the Swiss Platform of Civil Society in cooperation with various groups in Civil society is available online at . It has been billed as the ultimate guide to the three days of the summit for those who want to grapple with the real issues of the "Information Society", with preview of the events on all the relevant websites. It provides info for those interested in the alternative events of the summit, inclusive of the WE Seize! events outside the official walls of the summit.

Claire Regan @ 10:09 AM | TrackBack

November 15, 2003

Protests in Geneva At the Metallos Media Lab in Paris last night, actvists were discussing in more detail the protest actions that would be taking place in Geneva, as part of the continuing European Social Forum.

Unlike Thursday's meeting in Bobigny, which focused on the issues which would be discussed in the official summit and the parallel events, this meeting concerned itself with counter-actions.

These events will be happening in the centre of Geneva itself, far away from the Palexpo where WSIS is being held. However the organisers hope to attract NGOs and civil society organisations who are disillusioned with the official WSIS proceedings.

The organisers are angry that the summit does not have any real binding legislative power - they believe that the corporate sector does not care about the summit, and that NGOs have only been given a token presence to give the proceedings some air of legitimacy.

There are three main initiatives taking place during the week:
  • High Noon is a three day streaming video project, using new open source video compression software. The organisers are asking for activists worldwide to upload their videos and images, which will be projected around Geneva.
  • Polymedia Lab is an open digital production space for activists to use, with workshops to learn new technologies.
  • There will also be a 2 day counter summit on the 8th and 9th (Monday and Tuesday)
Dan Walters @ 11:17 AM

November 13, 2003

Debates on WSIS at the European Social Forum Activists at the European Social Forum in Paris have just been debating WSIS, the issues involved and their planned response.

Several issues were raised as matters of concern, including:

  • worries whether the ITU was the right body to be co-ordinating the event - some speakers considered that UNESCO was more appropriate. One speaker suggested that when the ITU agreed to taking it on, the event was envisioned as a much more technology based affair, rather than the society-focused project it has become.

  • whether private businesses, the UN organisations and western governments had too much weight in the build-up to the event, at the expense of civil society and poorer countries. One enraged speaker from the panel fumed at how (he claimed) NGOs were allowed to turn up for preparatory meetings, make their five minute presentation and were told to run along while the real preparation got underway.

  • whether zealous advocates of using new technologies to solve problems in developing countries (primarily large businesses, it was claimed) really had the interests of the people at heart, or whether such societies might be better to focus on basic telephone and radio networks

  • alternatively, whether rural areas, where it was not profitable to increase productivity, would ever get connected if responsibility was left to the private sector.

Tomorrow night sees a big planning meeting for the 'WSIS - We Seize!' counter summit in Genva, running alongside the official summit.
Dan Walters @ 05:08 PM
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