Information wants to be free to serve the struggle to overthrow bourgeois rule
Last updated: July 16, 2005

News Rating & Filtering Service
News and views to serve the working class, the antiwar movement and the struggle to
end bourgeois rule -- posted, summarized, rated and filtered by activists like you
The ideas described on this page are a long way from being reality. I need your help to transform the concepts described here into a functioning web-based news service. -- Ben Seattle
"Be bold and mighty forces will come to your aid" -- Goethe
What's here ?
• Our mission • The news is a weapon
• News in depth leads to theory
• Join us on our email discussion lists
• Projects related to Indymedia
• Related Links (Indymedia, Slashdot, OhMyNews, RSS)
• Comments from readers of this page
Our Mission:
To collect, concentrate and refine news, analysis and opinion that helps activists understand, at a deep level, current events and the modern world (including economics, politics, culture and technology) so that activists can more effectively:
1. Assist popular struggles
2. Organize militant mass actions
3. Create revolutionary organizations, and
4. Build a conscious mass movement
    determined to eliminate the rule of the
    rich (including their corporations, their lying
    mass media and their flunky politicians)
    and create a society run in a
    democratic way by the working class

Information wants to be free
to serve the struggle against
imperialism and reaction

Information is a weapon
And the most important kind
of information is news

In the coming era of "information war" one
of the most decisive fronts of the class struggle
will revolve around efforts to create
interactive news sites that are based on (and
democratically run by) the energy of readers

The economy of the 20th century was made possible by
petroleum refineries. In the 21st century, the modern working
class will use information refineries to make itself conscious
and to guide the struggle to end the class rule of the
bourgeosie and create a world of peace and abundance for all
Information war wants to be free
to serve the struggle
to overthrow bourgeois rule
The news in depth leads
to analysis ... and theory
The ruling bourgeoisie has its myriad news channels which select and explain news items in such a way as to reinforce the fundamental myths of the bourgeois worldview such as:
  • The U.S. is supposedly a "democracy" ruled by its entire population
  • US imperialism is supposedly a force for peace and good in the world
  • Bourgeois rule is supposedly eternal because of "human nature", greed, etc
  • People who want to see change should supposedly remain passive or, at most, beg the bourgeoisie to be reasonable or have a conscience
  • The system of bourgeois rule can supposedly be gradually reformed using existing channels (like elections) into a peaceful system with democracy, justice and opportunity for all
Progressive activists have the responsibility of helping to create interactive news services which select and explain news items in the context of a comprehensive and integrated world view which

makes clear why a world of peace and abundance for all will never be possible until the system of bourgeois rule is smashed up.

Revolutionary theory represents a summation and concentration of what has been learned in
many decades of revolutionary practice. The systematic and comprehensive presentation of news and current events, supported by intelligent and well-led discussion, has potential to help a new generation of activists understand the lessons of humankind's revolutionary history.

What do you think?
We need your comments, criticisms and suggestions and have created a blog-like feedback form so we can learn your thoughts.

About this site

I created this website to help progressive media activists develop thoughtful discussion focused on creating interactive (and democratically run) news sites targeted at a mass audience and determined to seriously challenge the near-monopoly of the news maintained by the ruling bourgeoisie.

The development of such news sites will involve discussion of (and experimentation with) many different political and technical principles, methods and design philosophies. I would like to see this site encourage and contribute to these efforts as well as to help develop a comprehensive overview of activists' work on this vital front.

The problem

Progressive activists need an interactive (and democratically run) news site that works better than Indymedia (ie: has a higher signal to noise ratio, a larger variety of input and is democratically run by readers).

• What would such a site look like?
• How would it function?
• How will we create it?

The solution

Readers will rate
posts and comments

1. Readers will vote on what news items
    will be featured in the center column
2. Readers will vote on the rating
    assigned to each news item
3. Readers will vote on the rating assigned
    to each comment on each news item

Each readers will choose
her own filter

4. The ratings voted on by readers will be used
    to create many kinds of filters to help
    readers survey and read the large number
    of news items and associated comments.
5. Each reader will choose what kind of filter
    (or filters) she wants to use to find the
    interesting stuff and filter out the junk
6. Each reader (or group of like-minded
) will have the ability to create
    her own filter by making use of the rating
    decisions and filters of others who they
    trust or tend to agree with.
7. Each filtered view of news items (and
    comments) will be accessible via
    a web address reserved for that filter
    (ie: a unique "front page" for each filter)
    so that readers will be able to go to the site
    and see what they want without having
    to see crap that they don't want to see.
8. From the above it follows that
    Revolutionaries and reformists and
    right-wing jerks (but not organized racists
    --this project will exclude them)
will all be
    able to create their own unique
    front pages
featuring the news articles
    and comments that they believe
    are worthy of attention.
9. (Note: some people may think that the
    above arrangements will reduce useful
    interaction between political trends. I
    consider this to be unlikely. What will be
    reduced is unproductive interactions
    or useless squabbles. Productive
(ie: thoughtful, well-written
    analysis and comments from all trends)
    will receive good ratings and be widely
    circulated thru many competing filters.)

Sources of news

10. Sources of news items will initially
     consist of material that is cut and pasted.
11. As RSS (ie: Really Simple Syndication)
     becomes more popular the site will
     receive, summarize, rate and filter
     a large volume of RSS feeds
12. Sources of news items will include:
     (a) mainstream (ie: bourgeois) sources
        such as the New York Times and
        the Wall Street Journal
     (b) progressive, radical, anarchist
        and marxist oriented articles from
        leftist newspapers and journals
     (c) political articles from a wide variety
        of political trends
     (d) articles on economics, technology
        and culture from many sources.
     (e) RSS feeds (as they become available)
        from well known bloggers and from
        independent news services and
        comment boards such as Indymedia,
        Infoshop and many others.

Testing and promoting principles

13. The aim of the project will be to inspire
     (and assist) other interactive news services
     to make use of some of the principles
     that have been developed and tested here.
     All software scripts (and article and
     comment databases) for the project
     will be in the public domain.

Ben Seattle
----//-// 29.Feb.2004 (my elists / theory / infrastructure)


    Go to top
Email discussion lists

If you believe that the ideas described on this page
hold promise and you want to help -- then we need
you to join our pof-200 and red-team email lists.

--- The Red Team list ---
The Red Team list is more focused on the technical side of projects -- such as scripting and the software infrastructure that will make possible information refineries where readers will collaborate with one another to rate and filter posts and comments.

• lighter political content
• heavy technical content

Send blank email here to subscribe.
Public archives are here.
More about the list can be seen here.

--- The pof-200 list ---
The pof-200 list is the main email list of the Media Weapon community and is mainly used by revolutionary activists and people who are considering becoming revolutionary activists. Media and technical activists are also welcome to participate.

• heavy political content
• light technical content

Send blank email here to subscribe.
Public archives are here.
More about the list can be seen here.

It takes a community ...

If you join only one list -- it should be the pof-200 list. This is because it will take a community to inspire, design, develop, test and steer the evolution of software principles that will form the foundation of the information refineries of the proletarian century.

Lists will overlap ...

There will be a fair amount of overlap between the two lists since many projects will have both a political side as well as a technical side and the two sides will have a deep influence on one another. Many email posts will be suitable for (and will be sent to) both lists.

However much of the heavy-duty political discussion (such as the nature of the struggle against reformism) will take place only on the pof-200 list while the heavy-duty technical discussion (such as perl vs. asp or SQL vs. XML) will take place only on the Red Team list.

What if I don't have time for a discussion list?

Many activists do not have time for a discussion list. You can still keep up with news on projects described here by subscribing to a list which occasionally sends out announcments:

--- The theorist list ---
The theorist list send out about a half dozen emails per month, most of which consist of Ben Seattle's weekly posts to the pof-200 list.


Send blank email here to subscribe.
Public archives are here.
More about the list can be seen here.
--- The pof-100 list ---
Join this list to get two emails per year.
-- no more -- no less --
This is the best list for activists who are too busy to get involved but want to stay in touch.

Send blank email here to subscribe.
Public archives are here.

    Go to top
Indymedia begins to cover the earth ...

With more than 100 local independently-run websites focused mainly on news posted by activists,
the Indymedia network, if it can make more effective use of the energy of its readers,
has potential to emerge as a mass alternative to mainstream corporate media

Projects related to Indymedia

As revolutionary activists we must:

1. Study and learn from the experience of
  the Indymedia project so that we can:
2. Assist in the healthy evolution of Indymedia and
3. Lay the foundation for an independent news service
with a mass readership and revolutionary working class politics

Following are more detailed explanations of these projects:

  1. Develop a reliable analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the Indymedia project, including an analysis of the interplay of the political trends and ideologies that tend to dominate most of the Indymdia collectives, and the technical problems that are interwoven with the political problems.

    • In particular: how have the problems which originate from organized trolling (ie: by freepers and neo-nazis, etc) been addressed at various sites?

    • What is the experience of various collectives in making use of the energy of readers to contribute a wide range of article and to rate and filter articles and comments?

    • What means exist for digesting and understanding the discussion and exchanges of experience between the various independent indymedia collectives?

  2. Develop a set of proposals that could be implemented at an Indymedia site in order to provide to Indymedia activists a clear and compelling demonstation of the power of democratic rating and filtering technology to improve the experience of readers and increase Indymedia readership.
    (See below for Ben's current proposal.)
  3. Develop a set of proposals for a news site which is both independent from Indymedia and controlled by militant, non-reformist activists. The proposal would be centered around a set of dummy screen shots which illustrate how a progressive news rating and filtering service might work so that activists can get a better idea of the potential of such a project to increase the political transparency of the mass oppositional movements and raise the consciousness of activists concerning the tasks that are decisive.

democratic filters for Indymedia

(ie: where every reader can create a filter
and share it with all other readers )
is the solution to right-wing trolls
and newswire spam on Indymedia

(above) screen shot of mockup showing how Indymedia readers would be
able to select from a set of newswire filters that anyone could create

Ben Seattle's proposal for adding democratic filtering
to Seattle Indymedia can be seen here.

    Go to top
Related Links

Here are projects which demonstrate
the potential of news services
that are based on the energy of readers
or that use rating and filtering technology

  • Indymedia is the most successful "bottom-up" activist news project of its kind. There are now independently run Indymedia websites in more than 100 cities around the world, all focusing mainly on news of potential interest to activists.
        Most of the articles and posts are submitted by activists and readers. Anyone can post comments on any article. There is very little censorship (which is often a problem since right-wing trolls often have a free-hand to disrupt productive discussion). See the section above for some comments concerning the tasks of revolutionary activists in studying and learning from the experience of Indymedia.         read more ...

  • OhMyNews is a commercial project that has had a major, and generally progressive, influence in Korean politics. OhMyNews has a paid staff of reporters who write about 20% of the site's content. The rest of the stories are from volunteer "citizen reporters". Readers vote on which stories are the most interesting and relevant and these rankings influence or determine what appears on the main page.         read more ...

  • Slashdot is a technical news site for "nerds". Many of the articles are related to the open source movement and the direction of emerging technology. Slashdot's most innovative and powerful feature is that readers (chosen at random) can rate (on a scale of 1 to 5) the comments on an article. All readers can then choose to filter comments on the basis of the rating.
        For example, if there are 500 comments on an article, you can choose to view only the 40 comments which received a rating of  5 (the highest rating). The rating/filtering system allows readers to view only the best comments and it also encourages those who post to choose their words with greater care.         read more ...

  • Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia where anyone can edit almost any article. So far readers have contributed more than a million articles in dozens of languages. The quality of the articles is often better (and more relevant and interesting) than in commercial encyclopedias -- and updated far more frequently. Jerks have the ability to vandalize articles -- but these defacements are usually cleaned up in less than 5 minutes by a team of volunteers.         read more ...

  • The Urban Dictionary allows readers to vote on competing definitions for common words and phrases. The defintions are then displayed in the order of popularity. All content, much of which is slang, is contributed by readers. The site is popular mainly with teenagers. The tone of the definitions ranges from serious to totally irrelevant. The number of words or phrases defined is probably in the hundreds of thousands. more ...

    More links which
    illustrate technical or
    political concepts
    related to
    rating, filtering,
    and community
    news sites

  • 3rd Generation Internet Newsmedia • OhMyNews lists 5 major goals

  • The free republic Is a right-wing news site and community which has developed around discussion of news articles. This community is noteworthy for two reasons:
    (1) it has organized itself around online discussion of news articles from a wide range of sources and (2) it often mobilizes jerks, known as "freepers" to harass and disrupt discussion on progressive sites.
        Eventually, as the progressive movement learns from sites such as this -- and organizes itself around information war -- progressive infowarriors will go to sites everywhere (including the "free republic") with calm and intelligent analysis and arguments that bourgeois rule must be ended.     read more ...

  • Findory is a personalized news site. Findory uses a form of collaborative filtering (see here or here) to show a different front page of news to each reader by learning each person's interests.
        "Findory's most interesting feature is that the weight and placement of stories depends on what you click through to read on repeat visits. There's even a little icon that comes up next to stories it considers to be of keen interest to you ...."     read more ...

  • Amazon uses a form of collaborative filtering (see here or here) when it makes recommendations: (ie: “Customers who bought this item also bought...”)
    Amazon also allows readers to review books -- and then also lets readers rate reviewers.
  • In a similar way, Ebay allows registered users to rate buyers and sellers.

  • The Wisdom of Crowds "James Surowiecki explores a deceptively simple idea that has profound implications: large groups of people are smarter than an elite few, no matter how brilliant—better at solving problems, fostering innovation, coming to wise decisions, even predicting the future." (excerpt) This principle is becoming increasingly important as news services allow readers to vote on which articles are the most interesting.
        The google search site captured hundreds of millions of eyeballs by making use of the collective intelligence embodied in millions of independent web pages.

  • Other wiki's include: Infoshop wiki • Infoanarchy wiki • Media Weapon wiki and sourcewatch (formerly known as disinfopedia) a wiki-like project with more than 7,000 listings of public relations firms, think tanks, industry-funded organizations and experts who influence public opinion and policy for corporations and governments.

  • A sample page of the Encyclopedia of Marxism about reformism (a highly misleading definition, by the way, compared to this one) illustrates the potential of this kind of resource if competing views could be shown and voted on as with the Urban Dictionary.

  • Real Simple Syndication: the New York Times reports on how advertisers are attempting to adapt to RSS, which gives unprecendented control to readers, and is poised to become the most widespread method of subscribing to information. See also What is RSS? basic tutorial introduction to RSS feeds and aggregators for non-technical people -- or read this one -- or -- OhMyNews on the benefits of news syndication

  • Web seems poised to blossom with stand-alone news sites • The American Journalism Review suggests an explosion of local interactive news sites will be driven by cheap software and a resurgence of demand from online advertizers.

    Links to
    related work
    by Ben Seattle

    17 Theses on the destiny of the concept of workers' rule -- and the emerging revolution in communications and its significance for the awakening of proletarian political life and consciousness
    (by Ben Seattle, July 2001)

    Project MAD (ie: Media Abstract Discussion) a web site I created in 1998 where activists can post summaries of news articles and related comments into an online database.

    What is to be done? • Ben Seattle replies to Wilhelmina • Nov 2003
    Of all the tasks which are decisive for the antiwar movement one stands out at this time: An interactive news site fueled by the energy of activists and readers is too important to be left in the hands of social-democracy.
    (Includes: A sword in the hands of Spartacus • Dare we talk about the decisive tasks? • The digital fire--and healthy revolutionary cooperation )

  Indymedia Criticism

Can't happen here? It already has.
Ben complained about the excess of neo-nazi posts and comments on the Seattle Indymedia newswire and criticized the Indymedia editor
for not doing more to keep the site usable.
The editor responded by tampering with
and deleting Ben's comments.
Ben Seattle describes his experiences
(to date) with Seattle Indymedia and the Indymedia community and makes some constructive suggestions:

What do we need
at Seattle Indymedia?

Indymedia must be run in
an open and democratic way

(May 2006)

• No racist trash -- fewer crude, thoughtless
  and malicious comments on the newswire
  -- a higher signal-to-noise ratio
  (ie: be more like Portland Indymedia)

• Democratic rights for activists to discuss
  events and politics on the newswire
  (including the politics of Indymedia itself)

• An editorial collective which is
  responsive and accountable to
  the progressive community


We need your help

We cannot turn the ideas on this page into reality without your help.

We need your ideas on how we can turn these ideas into reality.

For example:

• How will projects that are based on the concepts described here be different than what is currently done on Indymedia?

• What are you willing to do with your time to help create a news service that is democraticly controlled by militant activists and serious, progressive readers?

Please post your comments, criticisms and questions in the form below.

And if you want to help, please join the pof-200 and/or red-team email lists. • Ben Seattle

Go to top of page