"In the late 1990s I started an email list called DIYWeb, to articulate a vision for the internet as a tool for helping communities becoming more autonomous, and self-managing. Although my intention was to create an organising space for sub-groups that could start real projects, DIYWeb ended up working more like a blog, with myself as the main contributor, and a handful of regular commentators responding to my postings. When eGroups, which hosted DIYWeb, was bought up by Yahoo and merged into YahooGroups, I began to think beyond squatting on free services, and wondering how community-controlled internet services might work.
My work with the Independent Media Centres (IMCs) through the early 2000s was an attempt to apply this theory to the field of news reporting, with the network-hosted Indymedia websites as tools for the collaborative production and dissemination of news articles, with decisions about content being made by the user community, rather than an editorial elite. Later, inspired by the World Social Forum, and the claim that "another world is possible", I joined the Alternatives IMC project, hoping to create a space which, like DIYWeb, could provide coverage of successful projects demonstrating community independence, and self-management. This project had already produced a lengthy feature article on Alternatives to Corporate Globalisation by the time I became involved,
It was as part of discussions around the AlternativesIMC project that I coined the term 'SocialForge', a neologism based on a contortion of 'SourceForge', the name of a website that provides hosting for free code software projects. A SocialForge is quite simply a website that provides community groups doing work in areas other than software with a similar set of collaboration and communication tools. My first project for the A-IMC project was to make a list of websites that could potentially function as SocialForges, hoping that A-IMC could help to promote them, inspire their developers, and unify them into a networked movement, empowering communities to step outside of state-corporate control of their resources and their lives. The Alt-IMC project produced a couple of test sites, but unfortunately never got a production site online.
My intention for this page is to build a new SocialForges list, with up-to-date information, links etc combining info from the original SocialForges page, and a number of other sources:
TransitionNetwork blog post by Ed Mitchell
Eventually this research could become the basis of a booklet on using information technology to support community self-reliance."