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nettime: RICA: Network of Alternative Communication
Geert Lovink on Tue, 8 Oct 96 08:29 MET


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nettime: RICA: Network of Alternative Communication


pFrom: eyoung {AT} mail.utexas.edu (Elliott Young)
Subject: E/S RICA: Alternative Communication Network, a proposal
Date: 22 Sep 1996 02:32:37 GMT

RICA: AN OPEN CALL TO A DISCUSSION

Throughout the Intercontinental Encuentro in Chiapas there were meetings
about and attention given to the need to improve communication on an
intercontinental level. This desire was expressed explicitly in the
Zapatista's concluding remarks embodied in the Second Declaration of La
Realidad, delivered by Marcos on August 3. This declaration calls for a
non-hierarchical intercontinental network of alternative communication.

On August 4, a small group of encuentro participants - Americans and
Europeans - who had been involved with various discussions about the
internet met in San Cristobal. Integrating many of the emerging ideas
into a concrete form, the group crafted the RICA proposal (Red de
Intercontinental Comunicacion Alternativa), which is appended to the end
of this message. This proposal calls for the creation of two Internet
"lists" - one for news about neoliberalism, and one for discussion and
proposals for struggles- as well an associated World Wide Web site where
list postings and other material could be archived and made easily available.

Also at the August 4th meeting it was recognized that until some
manifestation of this RICA network is set in motion, that an interim
vehicle is needed to continue discussions of this proposal and other
counter-proposals - should they arise. It was suggested that ZAPATISMO, a
discussion list created following the Americas Continental Encuentro in
April, be used as this intermediate step - in part because this usage is
consistent with original intention of ZAPATISMO and in part because the
low net traffic on this particular list makes it easy to start a focused
discussion.

So, this message is an OPEN CALL TO A DISCUSSION on the creation of RICA.
Your participation is vital in creating a collaborative network.  As
starting points for discussion you may wish to direct your comments towards:
defining the functions of the two lists (news and discussion/proposals),
the web-site individual/group considerations, resources, or concrete
proposals for iniating the network. Messages are welcome in any
language; bilingual and multilingual messages are encouraged.

If you have been forwarded this message or are reading it from a "list",
you can join the discussion by sending the following message:
To: nave {AT} uts.cc.utexas.edu (Accion Zapatista)
(leave the subject line blank)
with:
a) your full name
b) your e-mail address
c) name of organizational
affiliation (if applicable)

For questions, send a message to:
nave {AT} uts.cc.utexas.edu (Accion Zapatista)
Put the word "INFO" in the subject line.

 ..........................................

RICA: A Proposal for a
Red Intercontinental de Comunicacio'n Alternativa
(Intercontinental Network of Alternative Communication)

Background

Growing recognition of the importance of international circuits of
alternative communication in the struggle against neoliberalism led to
widespread discussion during the Encuentro Intercontinental of a
need to further develop and interlink such circuits into a world-wide
network. Such discussion was given expression both in the reports
of the various tables and in the Second Declaration of La Realidad
given by Subcommandante Marcos during the closing session of the
Encuentro.

After calling for the building of a global network of struggles against
neoliberalism and for humanity, Marcos proposed a communication
network to interlink such struggles:

"Let's start a communications network between all of our struggles,
an intercontinental network of alternative communication against
neoliberalism, an intercontinental network for humanity.
This intercontinental network of alternative communication will
seek to tie together all the channels of our words and all of the roads of
resistance. This intercontinental network will be the means among which
the different areas of resistance will communicate.
This intercontinental network will not be an organized structure,
it will have no moderator, central control, or any hierarchies. The network
will be all of us who speak and listen." (August 3 1996)

The next day, on the 4th of August, a number of participants met in
a working group in San Cristobal to discuss possible means of
implementing this vision of a horizontal network linking struggles in
ways that facilitate exchanges of ideas, experiences and proposals
for struggle in ways which can contribute to the building of a global
movement. At the core of that discussion were the various
dimensions of the Net --the fabric of electronic computer
communications that include a wide variety of networks both local
and global.

The Proposal

Taking the Zapatista struggle as a point of departure, the August 4th
Working Group briefly surveyed the existing array of lists, conferences,
newsgroups, gopher archives and web sites in North America and Western
Europe. The situation at present is impressive but often lacking linkages
which could render various efforts more effective. For example, in North
America there are lists such as Chiapas-l, Mexico2000 and Chiapas95 with
partially overlapping subscriber lists and duplicate postings. In Europe
there is a list that operates out of Brescia in Italy and another out of
Barcelona in Spain but with little interaction between them, and with
little connection to those in North America. Similarly, there are an array
of web sites including ones on Chiapas, on the EZLN, on the American
Continental Encounter, on the Berlin Encounter, on the Intercontinental
Encounter and so on.  There is a wealth of material and opportunity for
exchange but there is also considerable disjuncture.

Beyond the specific issue of Chiapas (and Mexico) there are a wide variety
of lists, newsgroups, conferences, gopher sites and web sites concerning
many other struggles, of different types (e.g., women, environmental,
peasant, student, labor) and different places (e.g., local, regional,
national). A great many of these struggles are, effectively, aimed at
neoliberalism or some aspect of it and are often devoted to the
development of alternatives. Although various momentary links have been
made, no systematic effort has ever been made to build a network of
relationships among them.

To overcome these limitations the August 4th Working Group has drawn up
the following proposal for a "Red Intercontinental de Comunicacio'n
Alternativa" (RICA) which would consist of several elements:

1. Existing lists, conferences, newsgroups, gopher and web sites which
consider, or come to consider, themselves as part of such an International
Network of Communication against neoliberalism and for humanity.

2. To facilitate a more complete global diffusion of
information about struggles against neoliberalism and for humanity, we
propose to create two new Internet lists (mirrored on the Association
of Progressive Communications networks, e.g., PeaceNet, LaNeta):

a. a news and information list --this list would receive all postings
from other lists, newsgroups, etc., of news reports of events, group
reports of study or action. The subscribers to this list could be
individuals or moderators of other lists.
b. a discussion and organizing list --this list would receive all
postings of proposals
for action against neoliberalism and for humanity, reports and
evaluations of actions, discussions of strategy and so on. The
subscribers to this list could be individuals or moderators of other
lists.

Both of these lists would be highly democratic with virtually no
moderation; all posts would go to all subscribers. (All lists have
"moderators" who must handle technical aspects of the lists and who do
have the power to remove problems, whether accidental or intentional. The
guiding principle is minimal intervention.) Both lists would be
multi-lingual with standardized subject lines that indicated the
language being used, e.g., "E; Global Exchange, Report from La
Realidad," would mean an article written in English by the group
Global Exchange reporting from La Realidad. There would be no official
language and all contributors would be encouraged to submit their
information in as many languages as they are able, given time,
resources, etc. Even abstracts in other languages would mean that more
people would be able to receive more information. The purpose
of these two lists is to provide a pool of information available to
any and all who want and need it, a starting place for gathering
information and perspectives on the facts of struggle and the
possibilities for building a global network of struggles. These two
lists are not intended to replace most existing lists for practical
reasons. First, most existing lists have been created to serve
particular constituencies in particular ways. These two lists would
have a vast quantity of information, most of which would not be of
interest to any particular individual or group. Every individual or
group could contribute and could download and repost any material
which seems useful or inspiring. Second, the sheer quantity of
information would put a burden upon all those whose Net connection is
difficult or costly. They would not want to pay for the connect time
to download great quantities of information for which they have no
immediate use. Time is also a constraint because scanning through,
selecting, deleting, etc. large quantities of postings takes more time
than many either have or desire to spend.  Therefore, we expect that
most subscribers to these lists will be individuals (in groups) who
specialize in gathering for local use information about other
struggles and in diffusing local information which is judged to be of
more general interest. Anyone, however, would be free to subscribe.

3. Associated with these lists would be a RICA Web Page, a site that would
include:

a. background information on the struggle against neoliberalism and for
humanity --we propose to begin that information with the Second
Declaration of la Realidad and hot link to other information on the
Continental and Intercontinental Encounters.

b. purposes of the lists, on how to subscribe and unsubscribe, the
formatting to be used in subject lines, information on suggested
practices, etc.

c. automatic archives of the lists; all postings would be archived in
chronological order.

d. special collections of materials, either directly available at the web
site or hot linked from other web sites. The idea here is that individuals
and groups are likely to find some threads of discussion or sequences of
information on particular topics to be worthy of particular attention.
They would be free to gather such materials (postings + new material if
desired), prepare an introduction as to the importance of the material and
make it available on the web site.  If they have their own web sites they
could download and prepare such collections and introductions and then
merely have a hot link installed on the RICA web page.

Further information can be obtained at:
http://www.utexas.edu/ftp/student/nave
or e-mail to nave {AT} uts.cc.utexas.edu
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