draft Proposal for Tuesday 11/1 General Assembly: Internet

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PROPOSAL FOR THE NYC GENERAL ASSEMBLY

NOVEMBER 1, 2011

INTERNET WORKING GROUP

We in the Internet Working Group feel that establishing and maintaining a strong presence on the web is essential to the future sustainability and success of OccupyWallStreet here at Liberty Plaza. The very nature of the internet places a huge amount of importance on the domain name where a website resides. While we are very happy with our current nycga.net site, this site is at a relatively obscure domain name and is very focused as a collaboration tool and resource for those involved with the movement. We feel strongly that the GA and OccupyWallStreet also need a separate site to function as the outward-facing web presence of the occupation. We have many exciting plans for what such a site can become, some of which are already under development. Until now, though, we had no place to put it online. Most of the high-profile and obvious choices for domains are currently owned and controlled by an affinity group and Adbusters, an outside entity. In both cases, while the sites at these domains have been supporting the movement and raising its profile online, the content and direction of the sites is neither accountable nor transparent to the GA and they are entirely outside of the GA’s control. We wish the affinity group well with their site, and want to avoid any confrontation or disagreement that would jeopardize our solidarity or unity.

We therefore feel that it is time that the GA and the occupation have our very own high-profile domain that can serve as the official online source of GA news, press releases, curated content, and much more. It is with this goal that we have arranged the purchase of the domain OccupyWallStreet.net. After many phone calls and negations with the current owner of the domain, we have settled on a price of $8000. While this may seem like a large number to some, it is actually extremely reasonable considering the traffic that such a domain could generate and the amount of donations income that is sure to follow. In other words, this site will pay for itself in no time.

Currently, the domain has been removed from the market after a member of the Internet Working Group put a 10% deposit down on the domain via personal credit card to assure that it would not be sold to someone else and potentially used against us before this proposal was able to come to the GA tonight. When the sale is complete, the domain will be legally owned by the unincorporated organization known as Occupy Wall Street and will thus belong to not one individual, but all of us together. Its use and future will be administrated by the Internet Working Group and will therefore be directly accountable, transparent, and open to the GA.

We would like to find consensus on this financial proposal to secure for us all the kind of online presence this movement deserves.

24 Responses to “draft Proposal for Tuesday 11/1 General Assembly: Internet”

  1. dicey troop

    hey leo —

    at what point would the GA not be able to hear a proposal if it was posted up here less than 24 hours before GA? like this one seems to have been… :P just curious, because i know it’s been done before, but we did consense on a 24 hour review period.

  2. dicey troop

    I have a question: to what extent have you considered the branding of the occupation as “occupy wall street”? Have you worked with the PR working group to discuss appropriate nomenclature given that “occupy wall street” is often seen as the name for the entire movement, whereas our general assembly actually is only empowered to represent Liberty Square? It’s a concern too: how do we re-imagine our branding so that we can step out of the forefront of the movement?

  3. jarret wolfman

    step out of the forefront as in not be at the forefront? why would we not want to be at the forefront? is it even possible to not be at the forefront of a movement that started with us? people around the world look to us for guidance and inspiration. to me, it’s a shame when i see occupations in other places like oakland take the lead in terms of actions like their general strike tomorrow or calling for occupations of foreclosed homes while we sit around fighting about nonsense. although i can understand your concern about not making a general occupy wall street site all about liberty plaza. no reason why we can’t “own” the site and collaborate with other occupations around the world to contribute to a fully open and transparent hub for all things occupy by the actual occupiers ourselves. :)

    • drew

      We are working on a technology that will allow a group of individuals to curate news from around the web and display it on a front end site that we hope will be at this new address. This means that an accountable team can craft a message based off of the web posts of other occupations, news organizations, videos, and photos from people all over the world.

      In the last internet working group meeting there were folks form other occupations that stated that they look to the NYCGA for thought leadership.

      • dicey troop

        I think that’s super exciting, but it raises the question: Accountable to whom? I would argue persistently against the instatement of any such platform prior to determining the answer to that question.

    • dicey troop

      It’s not a shame that other occupations are stepping up. It’s not a shame that we’re not on pace with them, either — it’s a result of our unique circumstances. We’re working hard, all of us.

      What those two things ARE though are facts. As is the fact that the media is giving us far too much attention and that it will hurt the movement if we soak up all the limelight, especially given that there are other occupations in stronger positions that can be better ambassadors at this time.

      People -do- look to us for inspiration and ideas. We are the seed; that makes sense. Hopefully they’re looking to Oakland, Boston, and other occupations for ideas, too, because they have a lot to offer (including to us). That’s great! However, we can’t mistake that for any kind of mandate to RUN the movement. There is NO such mandate. There are to be no leaders. Liberty Square cannot encourage a leaderless movement while not being cognizant of its own risk of gaining an elevated position.

      these are all opinions — and they’re not really relevant here. My point is though, we should not take any further liberties with nomenclature. Any naming that risks further entrenching our control over the movement’s popular nomenclature should be diligently avoided. I believe, likewise, we must stop calling ourselves NYCGA (Liberty Square GA is far better) and move this site from nycga.net to a domain that is less Manhattan-centric and that avoids minimizing other New York City General Assemblies.

      We need to be very careful to step up and step back. We who have found ourselves in points of particular relevance need to be careful to dispossess ourselves of any creeping notions of superiority or undue control. That applies on an individual level (and I’m speaking of myself here) and also on the level of this occupation and its relationship to the movement.

  4. Tom Gillis

    So is occupywallst.org being folded into the nycga.net operations? Does that mean that nycga is responsible for hosting + maint? Will the original team still be involved?

    • dicey troop

      that site is currently run by the PR working group. that’s all I know.

  5. Chris Sarns

    From my viewpoint in rural California where I cannot get directly involved, I have no problem with the NYCGA doing what they need to do. They are the group that got this whole thing started and it is natural that they be the focal point. From what I have read, they are doing their best to make it a horizontal and inclusive organization. Democracy is a very messy form of government and the NYCGA should be commended for their efforts. This will be a never ending problem solving adventure.

    Carry on.

    • dicey troop

      i hear you. but i feel strongly we need to make space for the other occupations and help people find them. we need to not be an umbrella, soaking up the $ and attention that would otherwise fall on other occupations. ppl here may have set things in motion, but this movement belongs to everywhere now. for most i’ve spoken with, that is ever so slightly bittersweet, but it’s also uncontestable and enormously amazing. i feel lucky to know all of you.

      but seriously tho we need to develop a strategy for naming and informational structure that can leave space for future growth and for other occupations. it could end up being the precedent that leads to linking occupations more formally! but we need to let other occupations be involved in developing those connections, and not try to dictate that structure ourselves. that’s why i’d prefer we carefully develop our own structure so as to leave a number of ways for other movement structures, including future movement structures, to interface with the Liberty Square occupation.

      • jakedeg

        Dicey, I understand your concerns and I share them. I know that Drew was going to help clarify some of this yesterday before we got pulled away. We do have some pretty exciting and powerful ideas in the works to address exactly the kind of thing you’re talking about. Things like the FGA (Federated General Assembly) project and Occupy.net with subdomains for any and all occupations. These projects will take time to develop with the limited resources we have, but we are committed to helping this movement grow as broadly and vibrantly as possible. We are shooting for an outcome and structure where everyone benefits. That is to say, the occupation Liberty Plaza gets a strong online presence which is accountable and transparent to the people actually occupying “wall street” and the entire national and global occupation movement gets fueled by this same fire.

        • dicey troop

          that sounds pretty great, jake! awesome. hopefully i can catch up with you guys soon in the park.

  6. Jackrabbit

    @diceytroop No one is even implying that by setting up occupywallstreet.net they are “running” the movement. I have a hard time understanding how you can even begin to argue that an autonomous movement is being directed by NYCGA.

    You also make claims about issues related to the media which OWS has no control over. The MSM will do whatever it wants. Concerning ourselves with It is a waste of time.

    The proposal describes the new site as one which will, in part, aggregate content from around the country/globe; this will serve to turn people on to local movements far better than the current site. This de-centralization seems to be one of your concerns and it will be better served by the new site than what is here now.

    While we are all working the kinks out, the IWG has done everything it can to be open, transparent, and inclusive. I think they have done an incredible job considering the amount of resources and the time they’ve had to work in. I look forward to this next step and I hope I can be a part of it in some way.

    • dicey troop

      Hi @Jackrabbit,

      I didn’t use the word “running”. I spoke of concerns that we are taking up too much space within the movement. It’s a natural risk, and not something anyone’s to blame for. But this movement does not belong to us. We belong to it. Another fact is that there is currently no “GA” or accountable body for the entire movement. This is a vaccum of power. As stewards of the movement, I believe we are obliged to protect the space that a future movement-wide accountable structure might need, and that means making sure not to fill that space up ourselves.

      OWS does in fact have control over its media narrative; we have an incredible amount of power regarding how the media sees us. That comes from having so many eyes on us. We have a very busy working group, the PR working group, that coordinates with many media entities. There’s a lot we can’t control, but much that we can. The argument “let’s not have a media strategy b/c fuck ‘em” is not one that I find super convincing. I mean, yeah, fuck ‘em. But don’t do that by letting them run amuck. They are the way most folks hear about us; we must be strategic in how we direct their attention. By not challenging their overfocus on us, we fail in #solidarity with other equal partners in our movement.

      While I appreciate that the Internet working group is aware of these concerns and sensitive to them — I really do — I don’t think that they are the appropriate WG for addressing these questions. I don’t resent their approach. I do have concerns about the idea that being responsible for these questions is within their purview. I’m not sure we have a working group that is currently charged with considering and organizing around questions of our relationship to the movement.

      I <3 the Internet WG. I hope it goes without saying that being critical of a GA proposal does not imply negative feelings towards the proposers. Drew is the first person I really met here and I'm very appreciative of the entire WG's work. It's because I fully believe they have the movement's best interests at heart that I find it worthwhile to raise these concerns.

      • jakedeg

        Hi Dicey,

        Replied a minute ago to your previous comment before seeing this one. We <3 you too!

  7. Karate

    We’ve just negociated with speculators, and that’s all there is to it. This is ridiculous, a shame

    • Nuz

      Totally agree.

      Shame on anyone who is hoarding resources that can benefit the movement.

      You cannot say you are in “affinity” with this movement if you are making choices to serve only your group or organization, and not the larger movement.

      “Speculators,” indeed.

      Shame on Adbusters.

      Shame on the affinity group.

  8. Nuz

    Shame on Adbusters.

    Shame on the affinity group who holds “occupywallst.org”.

    I’ve been following this movement closely from its inception. I live in New York. I read all the minutes. I scan all the twitter feeds. I read all the news reports. I visit the park. I am as current as current can be.

    And, I am disappointed to say that this is the darkest day of the movement yet and nobody seems to be grasping that point.

    “Solidarity” is a joke when people hoard resources for themselves. There is beauty and sharing in that park. I’ve witnessed it. That is the beating heart of this movement. People taking care of each other, not only themselves.

    That Adbusters (shame!) and the affinity group would hoard those websites and not donate them to the movement is wrong.

    Taking care of your own provincial needs, putting yourself before others, hoarding and not sharing. Those are the hallmarks of Capitalism.

    Even in a people’s movement, Solidarity is trumped by personal interests and greed.

    This is a dark, dark day indeed.

    • dicey troop

      The Liberty Square General Assembly isn’t the same as “the movement,” as a gentle point of information. Let’s take a deep breath and not just jump to “x and x people’s motivations are evil”. The people you’re talking about deserve much more respect than that.

    • dicey troop

      It’s also just false to say anyone is hoarding anything. I don’t know who you’re talking to, but you’re getting the story all kinda mixed up. It’s not for me to lay it out, but take a deep breath.

      • Nuz

        dicey:

        I feel you.

        As a gentle point of outsider information, the world is looking to Liberty Square to set the tone for all things Occupy. Even other occupations look towards New York. I’m aware that Liberty Square is uncomfortable with this role, but that is how it is. The proximity to Wall Street, the initial occupation and GA – all of these give stature to the Liberty Square group as the nerve center of like-minded occupations. The term “movement” is used liberally throughout the minutes of the GA to describe such. I don’t think it is that far of a stretch.

        As such – and as Liberty Square is aware – there is a need to coalesce the outward information so it is in the “control” of the LS GA. This is the very nature of the Internet Group’s proposal to purchase web domains.

        My point is only: The prime internet (and Twitter) addresses that are currently under the control of Adbusters and the affinity group should be surrendered to the LS GA in service of the whole. This is a simple premise.

        The minutes indicate that the affinity group was not willing to surrender their web domains. I imagine that Adbusters is the same. I could be wrong on that count, but they should be asked directly to do so and they should comply.

        There is no independent need that the affinity group or Adbusters may have that is greater than the need of OWS and the LS GA as a whole. A prime concept of this entire occupation is the re-definition of what constitutes “private” property and what is in service of the “public.” These ideas pervade everything OWS is exploring right now.

        I’m sorry, but I beg to differ on the meaning of this. The affinity group and Adbusters should BOTH surrender their domains – at no cost – in service of OWS, the LS GA and the Occupy “movement” as a whole. That would be authentic behavior. To do otherwise is to protect an independent, private interest and that, in my opinion, violates the spirit of all occupations.

        ps. As a point of clarification, I support Adbusters wholeheartedly. They are a fantastic resource. I love their work. They should get all the kudos for setting OWS in motion. But they should surrender those domains forthwith if that is what serves LS GA and OWS as a whole.

        Thanks for dialogue-ing.

        • Voter March

          All the more reason to purchase the domain name, OccupyWallStreet.net and have it trademarked.
          If the affinity groups do not want to transfer control, we would have a basis for applying to ICANN and having a domain name dispute submitted to arbitration under its Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy.

  9. Voter March

    This is the type of expenditure that should be given priority for Occupy Wall Street – GA, for the following reasons:
    * It will help with the growth of our online presence which is essential for the long-term viability of this movement.
    * It will help with “branding” the NYCGA as the “offical” “Occupy Wall Street” We could even trademark the name to prevent other parties from abusing it.
    * It is an investment not an expense. The domain name will hold its value, and the only expense is hosting and maintenance. It is cyber property that the NYPD cannot destroy. The domain name will be with the movement for years to come.
    * It will be another source for online donations which are needed.