• Chaomunication Manifesto

last modified May 6, 2016 by strypey

Always a work in progress - Version .02
­Licensed under ­CreativeCommons-Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 (Aotearoa/ NZ)

Initiator­'s Note by Danyl Strype:

"In the beginning was the word, and the word was 'hey you!'"
T­erry Pratchett, 'The Colour of Magic'

In 1995, while living in Ōtepoti (Dunedin), I discovered the existence of an organized anarchist movement, thanks to a samzdat zine called 'The State Adversary', which I was given at a performance by art-punk band Wendyhouse. In the winter of 1996, after leaving school, falling in love, moving in together, and experiencing a devastating relationship breakup, I returned to my home town of Ōtautahi (Christchurch) to reevaluate my life, and decide what to do next. I read as widely as I could  but at this stage I had only heard rumours of this thing called 'the information superhighway', and was still a few years away from getting regular access to the World Wide Web.

I also wrote a lot, and did a lot of brainstorming. One of the brainstorms revolved around how activists from different groups and philsophical backgrounds could share media for the purposes of constructive social change. The seed of that mindmap was the pun on 'chaos' and 'communication' that became the title of this manifesto. Years later, while working with the group that established the Aotearoa Independent Media Centre, I often thought of that brainstorm, because the Indymedia movement was manifesting a lot of what I'd put forward in it.

So it was that in 2009, after setting up the Disintermedia space on Coactivate.org (formerly OpenPlans.org), which I came across through my work on the Indymedia Alternatives project, I decided to revisit the idea of chaotic communication as a tool for making the world a better, freer place. As more collaborators began to come onboard with Disintermedia, it became clear that the Chaomunication Manifesto is a living document, never 'finished', always open to additions and reformulations, forks and adaptions.


First Words

"10,000 zines with a readership of 100 is better than 100 zines with a readership of 10,000. The revolution will be exactly where we want it - out of control."

- Paraphrased from a page in the kiwi anarcho-punk zine Savage State

In the age of the printing press, freedom of the press belonged to those who owned one. In the digital information society, freedom of information in controlled by those who own the bandwidth and the hard drives.

One of the key differences between radio and television, and the internet, as forms of mass media is the network topology. Television was set up to follow the classic star topology also used in corporate LANs, one central server, many clients. Television stations controlled by establishment organisations (mostly private companies and governments) decided what to broadcase and when, users tuned in and passively watched. The only choice was between a narrow range of mainstream channels, controlled by gatekeepers (see 'Manufacturing Consent', Herman and Chomsky).

The internet, on the other hand, by its very structure, allowed for mesh topologies, resulting in a the development of peer-to-peer systems like Napster, and FreeNet where people could talk to each other, and share information, with minimal mediation. With the mainstreaming of the open-publishing model pioneered by organizations like Indymedia, anyone with an internet connection could easily publish their own multimedia work, , and consequently choose between a much wider range of channels.

The comparison between the two shows something, a decentralised system is harder to take down, protestors have previously been able to hijack tv stations, but nothing can quite hijack the whole of the internet, short of the most devastating virus ever made, or an emp blast, or a massive change in the infrastructure, such as may be possible with IPv6.

This decentralised system is the modern political activists best friend, a way to transmit information anywhere, to coordinate movements and plans, and can be done easily with the addition of a few small modifications to the usual repertoire, encrypted communication over an open infrastructure, proxied internet to appear to be anywhere, but for the most part the internet is still free, and people are free to say whatever WE want :).

The Goal

A cluster of humans, like a beowulf cluster (distributed computing), a way for mass cooperation using the internet and modern communcation and data distribution methods to occur, with the core goals being freedom of information, the removal of structures that give one unjust power over another, and the raising of peoples awareness with regards to how things are and how things could be.

Final Thoughts

The situationist Guy Debord said that in a society that has abolished adventure, the only adventure that remains is to abolish the society. In the age of the what Debord called the "integrated spectacle", or state-corporate globalisation, we could restate this as: in a society that has commercialised adventure, the only adventure that remains is to abolish commerce.

Collapse the class pyramid, turn middle management into self-management, turn life into an art and art into an experience, not a product. Share, give and take, speak your truth and hear mine, in diversity we find the only lasting unity.

Health warning: The thoughts expressed in these writings may influence you to question common sense, traditional wisdom, the efficiency of privatization and the inevitability of a humanity divided against itself and against the rest of the natural world. A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down...