A Critique of RICA and the Internet-Web Encuentro Proposal

by Frank of Berlin

I am one of those web masters to whom you addressed, since I managed the "Berlin Encuentro" page and actually manage the "Initiatives against Neoliberalism" page. But I am not very much engaged in the organisation of the 2nd Intercontinental Encuentro with my web site. Beside personal reasons (lack of time and support), this is also because I am more interested in long term development of this "network of resitance and alternative communications". I fear that the organisation of this Intercontinental Meeting will again bind so much energy with organisatorial, technical and financial problems, that the discussion of how to proceed with this "Second Declaration of La Realidad" will not really come on its way...

Concerning your project, the first thing I am really wondering about is that it doesn't start with a critic of the RICA initiative. You, in Austin/Texas, invested so much energy in this proposal, but there hasn't even been a real discussion about it in the "Zapatismo" mailing list. RICA is almost dead, isn't it? (Get me right: I include myself in this criticism as I also didn't participate seriously in this mailing list myself).

So what was wrong with RICA? Maybe we should start with a critic of these huge, unmoderated mailing lists? Who among us is really able to follow this daily stream of information and DO something with it? (That what it is all about: information is useless unless you use it.) And I think, a critic of RICA must also include a critic of the internet itself. Maybe, many of us who manage Web sites take it too much as a personal fanzine or a technological challenge (insert a gif here, a java applet there and a little interactive VRML scene next week?). It can be really fun to design a web site, but it can also be a very individualizing job, which fits quite good in this developing neoliberal society we are struggling against...

Principally, I think, your cyber encounter project is a good idea. But for various reasons which all demand different concepts and different technical means:

You plan to use quite advanced technologies for this cyber encounter like "real audio" and "interactive on-line video transmission". This might be very good for the media attraction but might be much to much for the normal web user. What works for most of us is simple HTML-texts and gifs. And who is willing and able to download, say, 12MB video or audio clip about the opening speech of the encounter?
I think, making a good daily english and spanish online journal, which summarizes the main events of the day and which "just" uses the the traditional techniques of text and gifs would be completely sufficient and very infomative, - but already an immense amount of work. I fear that those advanced audio/video technologies will bind too much energy in the technique itself and not enough in the contents.

Concerning the integration of other web sites during this cyber encounter it should be made more precise of what levels of participation are possible, what tasks need to be done and what technical means this will be required for that. To give an example: I have no idea of when and where to insert links to which pages or how to install an "on-line threaded discussion lists" etc.

What's the actual status of your project? Are you hoping for some sort of self-organisation of this project by us web masters or are you heavily working on the realisation already?

Please don't see my critic as being destructive. I hope, that the cyber encounter (and even more the "real" encounter) will be a success. And of course, I also would like "my" web site to be part of it, although my time and energy will be limited.

In solidarity


email: yabasta@contrib.de

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