Nicole Colson’s article, “Why postal workers need your support,” offers an in-depth and nuanced take on the labor issues as well as the history of the current problem. Excellent piece.
George Monbiot’s blog at The Guardian offers a chilling analysis of the practice of astroturfing, which Monbiot defines as follows:
fake grassroots campaigns that create the impression that large numbers of people are demanding or opposing particular policies. This deception is most likely to occur where the interests of companies or governments come into conflict with the interests of the public.
Monbiot is researching this topic and was contacted by a whistleblower who admitted to having 70 personas he used to promote corporate interests on discussion forums. Monbiot poses the question: how do we stop this practice? I agree with him when he says that astroturfing “has the potential to destroy the internet as a forum for constructive debate” and “jeopardises the notion of online democracy.”
Ana Sisnett (1952-2009) was Executive Director from 1998-2006 of Austin Free-Net, a community technology center. But her pioneering on the internet began earlier when she co-founded Technomama with Gisele-Audrey Mills. Technomama worked with the Institute for Global Communications (IGC) and the Association for Progressive Communications (APC) back when the text-only internet presented more opportunities for social justice activism than for consumerism. Funded in part by the Foundation for a Compassionate Society, Technomama trained women left out of the digital revolution and viewed equal access and ability as an international human rights issue.
An early adopter who delighted as much as the next geek over a new application or gadget, Ana nevertheless always thought through the complex questions of access, training, and ability. If the technology excluded, well, then…where’s the fix? She admired the work of Knowbility, whose annual AIR-Interactive (Accessible Internet Rally) features a web-design contest focusing on assistive technology and accessible design.
Over the last three years, Ana struggled with ovarian cancer, and she passed away on January 13. She leaves behind many, many people who were touched by her vision of a usable and just technology that bridges differences and helps us realize our better selves.
Just read on WMST-L the announcement for the national opening on 10 October of Call + Response, the feature documentary on global slave trafficking. There’s a trailer on the film’s website and Cornel West says, “Justice is what love looks like in public.”