Movement of the Day: USi Organising Network

Excerpted from Walton Pantland: “Like all social media – all technology – it is ideological. But the ideology is to create a safe space for people to organise politically. ON is built on Elgg, which is Open Source. It has plugins, developed by Lorea, that enable political organising and democratic decision making. Members of the Occupy Wall Street and Boston tech committees use the software, and are working to further develop the Lorea plugins. It is hosted on a secure server – named Chelsea, in honour of Chelsea Manning – by a left wing technological membership organisation, USi are members of Mayfirst. ON isn’t designed for social networking. Though you’re welcome to do so, this isn’t the place to post snaps of you out on the lash, or to connect with your old school friends. This is not a left wing alternative to Facebook. ON is an organising network. It functions like a social network, but its purpose is to help people organise politically, securely, with an accountable and transparent decision making process. It’s ideal for union branches and campaigns, or activist groups, who for whatever reason, can’t meet physically. You can create groups – for instance, for your branch. These can be hidden and invite only, or open to all. Within your group, you can post ablog – with pictures – about your latest campaign. You can upload important files. You can start discussion threads. More importantly, you can take decisions democratically. Within your group, you can make a proposal. Other group members can vote on it, comment, or make a new proposal. The discussion is visible online for all logged in members to see, which helps transparency. You can also link a proposal to an assembly – what ON calls meetings. You can set meeting dates, and if you link proposals to assemblies, they automatically go on the agenda. You can have the meeting in a physical space, or online using our web conferencing facility. Or you can just use the meeting date as the cut off point for decisions, and allow people to comment and vote in their own time. We think ON is a useful organising space for activists, and we invite you to join and use it. There is a learning curve – there is with any new technology – but get in touch, and we will help set you up. Every tool is a weapon if you hold it right. Let’s use all the wonderful social media tools out there to spread the word about unions fighting back against austerity, and building a world based on justice, equality and dignity. But let’s also be conscious of the ideology of the tools we use, and create our own safe spaces too.”

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