The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'activism'
In central Edinburgh, near the university, there is an establishment named the Forest Café. It's located in a large building which used to be a church, is run by volunteers, and has been running for a little over a decade, during which time it has hosted many events, gigs and exhibitions, offered studio space and grants to artists, put out books and records and generally acted as a hub to the creative elements in the Scottish capital. Apart from that, it is a very agreeable environment, with a vaguely Berlin-like feel and good food and drink; the vegan burritos in particular are highly recommended.
Now, alas, the Forest is under threat and needs help. The Edinburgh University Settlement, the charity which owns the building it's in, has gone bankrupt, and the building is to be sold.
As many of you will be aware, the Edinburgh arts scene has suffered a massive blow due to the bankruptcy of the EUS, the charitable organisation that owned the Roxy Art House and the church which the Forest currently resides in at 3 Bristo Place. The Roxy, which was under direct management of the EUS, has been shut down. The Forest building is up for sale.Chances are, whoever buys the building will redevelop it into a more commercially profitable facility, which means no more arts space. (Perhaps it'll become another upmarket art-themed hotel, like the Foundry in Shoreditch, or perhaps just a collection of premium retail space.) Unless, of course, the Forest buys the building, enabling it to keep functioning as an arts hub and community space in the Old Town of Edinburgh indefinitely. To do so, though, they'll need £500,000, which they don't have. As such, they're putting together a business plan and collecting donations on their web site:
This means 50 000 of our friends donating £10, or 5000 of our friends donating £100, or a variety of donations large and small combined with a number of fundraisers in Edinburgh and across the UK. This is not unfeasible: Forest has many friends. We've seen you at our parties and in our hot tub with feathers in your hair, we've put out your records, we drank with you at our gallery openings, and we once gave you that grant to fund your Phillipian film programme in Manila. If you’ve ever been to a free event here, or just like the idea of what we do, please donate whatever you can afford.
Currently, we're in the process of putting together a solid business plan to demonstrate how feasible this is. We're also setting up a Just Giving site which will include a graph which grows and grows as the fund does, and plan an open meeting for anyone who wants to get involved within the next couple of weeks. However, in the meantime with the desperate events which have taken place since the Roxy's closure, we wanted to get the word out as soon as possible and start the campaign.I have just sent in a donation, and encourage anyone who has been to the Forest, or indeed who supports the existence of autonomous art spaces of this sort, to do so as well.
Community activism can cut both ways; in San Diego, for example, activists are mobilising to occupy benches to keep the homeless off. The noble cause behind this: dissatisfaction by the benches' donors (a merchants' association) that they were attracting undesirables:
Esther Viti, who oversees the donation of public benches for a merchants' association in La Jolla, sent an e-mail to 45 other activists last week asking them to sit in three-hour shifts, no bathroom breaks allowed.
"After all, you MUST OCCUPY THAT BENCH continually for three hours to prevent that homeless person from sitting on that bench," the e-mail said.Interesting how the non-judgemental phrase "homeless person" has wasted no time in soaking up the same connotations as politically-incorrect phrases like "bum" and "tramp" that it displaced.
McDonald's: The Videogame. A simulation of running a fast-food corporation that's like Sim City, had it been written by anti-globalisation activists. Bulldoze rainforests and villages, brainwash children and corrupt officials or go bankrupt. Play it before the lawyers kill it.
(via Boing Boing)
"The reps are very aggressive - there are three or four companies, and they come in every two weeks or so," he says. "Their main aim is to recommend their product. Sometimes they bring gifts - Nestlé brought me a big cake at new year. Some companies give things like pens and notebooks, with their brand name on them. They try very hard - even though they know I am not interested, that I always recommend breastfeeding, still they come."
According to Save the Children's report, infant mortality in Bangladesh alone could be cut by almost a third - saving the lives of 314 children every day - if breastfeeding rates were improved. Globally, the organisation believes, 3,800 lives could be saved each day. Given that world leaders are committed to cutting infant mortality by two thirds by 2015 as one of the Millennium Development Goals, protecting and promoting breastfeeding is almost certainly the biggest single thing that could be done to better child survival rates. But the formula companies, despite the international code, continue to undermine campaigners' efforts.
Some commuters in Melbourne, frustrated with Connex' mismanagement of the railway network and the resulting decline in service quality and reliability, have called a one-day fare strike on the first of March. Commuters are being urged not to buy or validate tickets on this day.
Today is the Day Against DRM, a global event planned to raise awareness of the threat which digital rights management and technologically-mandated copyright maximalism pose to culture. This page lists numerous protests and activities, from putting a badge on your website to sticker distribution runs, protests against things from severe paracopyright laws to craptacular DRM-"enhanced" products like the Microsoft Zune, and numerous meetups with other copyfighters. In France, they're turning themselves in to the police for decrypting DVDs, whereas in Coffs Harbour, Australia, they're having the Shackled Banana Award.
Something worth reading for anyone involved in issues of online freedom/surveillance/copyright laws/digital rights: 95 Theses of Geek Activism:
1. Reclaim the term 'hacker'. If you tinker with electronics, you are a hacker. If you use things in more ways than intended by the manufacturer, you are a hacker. If you build things out of strange, unexpected parts, you are a hacker. Reclaim the term.
15. The true enemy is the line: "If you haven't done anything wrong, what do you fear?" The problem with that line, as Schneier has said, is that it assumes that the desire for privacy implies wrong-doing.
16. Proprietary data formats must never store public information.
40. Flame wars help the other side.
58. Voicing your views in a Slashdot comment thread is good, in your own blog is better, but in places that non-geeks frequent is best.
64. Geek activism is not all about extreme positions. There is a gradient- find your position on it.
89. Free as in free lunch is good. Free as in a free people is even better. For software and for everything else.
(via Boing Boing)
Companies sometimes commission and give away "advergames"—free, branded, computer games designed to present their brands in a positive light. Now guerilla activist types are doing the same: such as this simulation of the hell of working in a Kinko's:
Disaffected! is an arcade-style game with fast action and high replayability. The player controls one or more employees behind the counter at a typical copy store. As each level starts, customers enter the store through the front doors and line up behind the cashiers at the counters. The player must try to find and deliver each customer's order. Obstacles include confused employees, employees who refuse to work, employees who move orders around indiscriminately so the player cannot find them. A complete in-game tutorial walks the player through both one-and two-player gameplay.The concept isn't new; perhaps the grandfather of the shitwork-simulation game genre was that early-1980s Game&Watch game where one has to catch boxes as they come down four conveyor belts; the fact that it was only a game, and not a soul-crushingly meaningless job, made sufficient difference to transform an existential ordeal into a fun activity.
Of course, the key difference is that Disaffected uses FedexKinko's logos in its graphics. I wonder how long until it gets taken down for trademark violation.
(via bOING bOING)
It looks like Adbusters' Black Spot sneakers aren't the only player in the emerging right-on designer footwear market. There's also No Sweat Sneakers, made in a fully-unionised facility in Indonesia, and claiming fairly generous working conditions. (via cos)
Discordia is a new collaborative blog "working at the intersection of art, activism and emerging networked technologies", which sounds a bit like an Indymedia only without quite so much Rage Against The Machine on the office stereo, or perhaps a Plastic run by 21C alumni rather than ex-WIRED people. (via the Viridian list)
Unnamed Australian computer game developers have received Australia Council funding for a game based around Australia's detention centres. The game, to be titled Escape from Woomera, will attempt to realistically simulate conditions in four of Australia's most notorious refugee detention centres, down to meal times and the behaviour of guards. Players will be challenged to escape using the means at hand - refugee action groups, sympathetic lawyers, digging tunnels or scaling fences - all based on actual events.
Requesting anonymity, she said the project was also a reaction to the Federal Government policy of restricting media access to detention centres. "They don't want people to know what it's like, and we do," she said.
Immigration minister and outspoken Amnesty International badge-wearer (aside: don't they have procedures for expelling people of poor character, or could a Kissinger or Suharto, in theory, become an Amnesty member without the organisation having any recourse to keep their name from being dragged through the mud?) Philip Ruddock is reportedly not amused. Hmmm; aren't there new "homeland security" laws against humanising people who could possibly be baby-eating terrorist monsters he could use against them?
Bravo! Anti-global-warming campaigners culture-jam Poems on the Underground, the long-running art project on the Tube in London, replacing poems with anti-Esso and anti-Bush screeds:
Sing a song of Esso
A packet full of lies
and oily greasy dollars
to help the climate fry
When the wallet opened
George Bush began to sing
"The planet may be burning
but I don't see a thing"