IDEA: Activist Tech Support

I’m kind of mashing it with the categories on this one, but let’s go.

One thing which I’ve noticed from the WhatsApp (sigh) groups that I’ve ended up in off the back of my attendance of/assistance with various festival-of-ideas or mutual aid type things is that those who have the greatest amount of energy when it comes to organising and putting on very valuable radical stuff, normally have very little time/knowledge/energy when it comes to the techological aspects of spreading their message and/or an understanding of how to do so effectively if they have some know-how. We have this understanding, and it’s possible that this could fit in well with the facilitation of others concept that has been discussed on this forum.

Let me illustrate my point here by filching a view posts from a group which I am in:

  1. Does anyone have a megaphone?

This is the only one I don’t have an image for as it has been deleted, but the person in question was asking after a megaphone for use at a protest. In my eyes this could likely be solved through a little bit of content marketing via a blog providing I am correct. I don’t think a megaphone is a necessary piece of kit for a protest (and I’m not talking here about imitiating Occupy Wallstreet’s methods) because most activists will have access to some kind of a bluetooth speaker and a phone. I have done only the research that I can do inside my own mind, but surely there is an app or way of passing through whatever comes into the microphone of a phone out to a bluetooth speaker? Here I think there is a benefit to thinking like a technologist, not an activist - Move Fast, Break Things (Get Your Phone Confiscated By The Police)

Screenshot from 2023-01-25 11-04-01

  1. Can anyone ID this venue?

This is one where it’s a bit more niche, but as someone with a foot in OSINT and a general understanding of methods, I was able to do so… someone got there first but I think when it comes to tools such as reverse image searches (not relevant here), open graph work on social media, and/or advanced search operators, I think it’s always going to be easier when someone jumps in who has some tech chops.

  1. Help with a livestream

This one is a bit more involved, but similar to the megaphone situation, a livestream (content and the like dependent) is not so difficult to put on. Once again here we are talking about something which can possibly be done with kit that is hanging around. It can also be facilitated (distance notwithstanding) by someone here who is confident in their ability to do so.

I guess another aspect of this is that it fits in well with the mentioned tech talk @ TWT concept, and our interrelation with activist groups could allow us to add some vegetables to the (vegan) steak of the meal, this being teaching them about good opsec at protests whilst we help them jerryrig necessary equipment.

My searching has only turned up: https://www.techactivist.org/ which could be a group we could talk to, but as they are in Oakland CA, they are unlikely to be competition on providing this service :laughing:

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@PrivacyDingus, if I’ve understood you, you’re articulating that:

  • Activists sometimes need some tech know-how
  • Locus (or some entity) could connect them with people having said know-how. Alternatively, locus could offer suggestions that the activists wouldn’t otherwise generate.

I think Social Movement Technologies (SMT) would be a good candidate to provide the know-how. They have some folks with expertise on various aspects of tech within activism. I happen to (loosely) know the director of SMT.

I think they might benefit from having a forum, where they could entertain questions from the activist community.

I have a connection with Autonomic – I think autonomic could build SMT a discourse instance. I think it would help SMT enormously.

Do you think it’s worth suggesting to SMT?

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I’ve been thinking about this sort of thing for a while. When the pandemic began (as with many crises) “mutual aid” became a known and embraced concept, however one particular related challenge was a digital disadvantage for many folks, with so many services and resources online even before the pandemic. I was thinking of tech banks or tech support or something. This would be fantastic.

Hey, maybe as well as an ISP, we can be a workers cooperative that utilise income streams to provide help with this sort of thing too :grinning:

I love the ambition of this one :laughing: @MediaActivist when you say tech banks, is this almost like @Gaffen’s frequently-cited library economy idea? It would seem to solve one of the issues which is right up top here, that of people frequently needing some kind of equipment for livestreaming/a megaphone/ and on and on and on…

Would give me something to do with the boxes of wires that I am frequently being asked to deal with by my partner…

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Been practising / thinking about this stuff for years. Where to begin… I also have my own informed insights about what is most needed etc. I guess my main question is: is this an actual request for support or you are brainstorming because you have noticed needs while doing actions?

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Please look at my website https://samthetechie.github.io/ for a sec to get context and I am happy for some kind of AMA “AskMeAnything.”. IMHO: Self-Service tech support embedded in local communities rather than purely mayfly / ephemeral actions is going to win the day and create an eco-system / culture and therefore capacity over time. What it could look like: we could/should have at least popup repair cafes e.g. in a church when it is unused basically during the week… collecting donations and also patreon suport etc until critical mass and then try to setup a permanent space / organise further, (if not a permanent upgrade of the out of date churches :wink: lol the very least they can do is time share :stuck_out_tongue: ), libraries of things in every city, globally, also hackerspaces + variants, also open farms/hackerlabs in the countryside. For example I lived in Berlin for 10 years, freeshops were very common, imagine a charity shop but run by community and not using money for the objects. Many favourite ones were in Berlin and Leipzig. This is a good example: http://leila-berlin.de/ also see radar.squat.net | Alternative and radical events agenda for the bike workshops / open spaces also see https://www.cryptoparty.in/

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This is the kind of stuff I’m interested in, too. You may have seen my post over at the CoTech forum on it, but the FreeTech Project I founded back in 2010 has been running in various ways since then but still restricted by hierarchical structures and grant funding bodies and I’d just love to get it going in a more self-sufficient, co-operative way.