ZSocial launches: http://www.zsocial.org/users/sign_up

(Note: Zcommunications is hurting for financial contributions, so if you’re lucky enough to have a job, then you might consider helping out.)

It’s my position that citizens should cooperate, as much as possible, and this includes citizens who are ideologically more different than similar. For citizens who are more alike than different – e.g., I assume the average reader of dailykos, and the average reader of firedoglake fit this description – then there is even less excuse for not cooperating, where possible.

There’s a new social networking tool being launched, that probably all dues-paying lefties should check out. 🙂 . There’s a few motivations for developing this, eg:

(2) We, and the whole left, need progressive, not corporate, social networking.

Social networking is now ubiquitous in society. Facebook wants to become everyone’s mode of interacting online, with all internet content reached and delivered by and through Facebook. Even short of that horrible image of all cyber information being funneled through one corporate giant, Facebook and other mainstream social networking facilities like Twitter, are in any case profit seeking corporations who have no social conscience, much less any likelihood of serving the needs or potentials of the left. They amass data, sell access to us and the data commercially, spy for governments, and so on. Moreover, their tools are not self consciously suited to left ends – even as, of course, leftists valiantly try to make productive use of them. Finally, and arguably worst, their information inclinations tend to reduce interactions to a tumultuous throughput of brief tweets, updates, an d the like – putting a kind of onus on patience, attention, and length that is contrary to dissident consciousness raising and other serious communications.

What the left needs, then, is a social networking system of its own that serves progressive agendas, promotes serious as well as less deep social exchange, rejects advertising, rejects spying, facilitates social interaction of all kinds, self consciously develops tools and features suited to progressive needs, and even generates real mutual aid and solidarity among progressive constituencies and projects.

This above is from an email from zcommunications.org that I got, today. But, they also say that they are looking for input from early adopters.

So, my suggestions are:

1) progressives, anarchists, and civil libertarians should check out the new tool (full confession: I haven’t checked it out, myself)
2) I have few facebook friends, but a couple just send me way too much information. I’d like to see an implementation of social networking that allows some sort of throttling (which is a form of filtering). If facebook does that, well, it’s a surprise to me
3) Progressives and populists are poorly organized as effective political forces. The proof of this is not in that desires of minor members of coalitions aren’t met, but rather that progressive desires which have majoritarian support of the base aren’t met. So, early adopters should be making suggestions on how to turn this new tool into an organizing force.
4) One way to make getting heretofore unconnected neighbors pulling together is to “take turns”. I.e., they can implement the notion of an “activist coop”, where familiarity and a normal dollop of reciprocity can ensure that individuals pull together in the public sphere on issues of mutual concern, but where inidividual judgements of priority are dealt with via compromise. A lot of people simply will not “put themselves out there”, especially in a public setting with strangers, unless they’re doing it as members of a group, and this is a very normal psychological dynamic that should be accommodated.

So, you want to save the whales, while I want to save the ales. OK! This week I’ll help you save the whale, but next week I’m counting on you to help me save the ales. I’ve got nothing against whales. In fact, I like whales. I hope you like ales. (This is an example, BTW. Don’t care much for alcohol, beer is the worst.)

Pleasant social interactions reinforce the context that allowed them to come about, so, IMO, what progressives and populists should be looking to do is to find activities that recruit into political groups, but aren’t just serious. (Look at Code Pink videos to get a sense of what having fun looks like, at the same time as being political.) I’m thinking about people who live near each other, so another direction to try and push the Z social network in, is towards neighbors “discovering” each other, easily.

In Oliver Stone’s documentary, South of the Border (which shows leftists leaders in South America who got elected to the highest offices in their respective countries), the President of Paraguay sayes that “There is a new actor, here, and that is the social movements”.

Well, if you can’t figure out new and creative ways to use online social networking to facilitate offline social movements, better just give it up!

Final note: as the US middle class continues to be ground into dust, one way to grow social movements is via worker owned and worker managed businesses. ZCommunications is associated with the very interesting idea of a Parecon, which I think has potential as a unit of not just work organization, but also as a unit of social organization which exceeds the usual amount of social bonding in an American workplace.