Ok, I’m finally going to post a blog on ZNet after being a Sustainer here for several months now, and reading lots of the great articles here on a regular basis.
When I realised all the features that are available as a Z Sustainer (blogging, uploading articles, pictures etc), it’s one of the reasons I became even more enthusiastic about Z. As well as the many good reasons made to support Z during the current fundraiser campaign, I think this has perhaps been underemphasised – Z actually ‘practice what they preach’ by empowering people trying to make a better world build a digital community, explore ideas and deepen their own, and network.
The different approach to community members/supporters between Z and that of the website WorldChanging, which I also followed for many years as it put a lot of great ideas out there (even if from a quite different political context), are instructive. When WC put out a similar fund-raising call about a year ago, I donated what I could, but I also suggested to the editors they should introduce features similar to the capabilities you get when becoming a Z Sustainer (before I had even come across Z), but my suggestions were quietly ignored. The website stayed in a fairly one-way, ‘broadcast’ mode, and has since sadly closed their doors to future operations. I think the problem there is that even though good independent media is worth supporting in itself – for my generation (born post 1980), the one-way broadcast-only form of media like magazines do feel like the 'past'. I also felt like sitting back and reading lots of great information no longer felt appropriate to the scale of the challenges we face, and thought that WorldChanging needed to move beyond this model to some sort of active, participatory, empowering movement-building to collectively address the kind of issues they would write about.
So kudos to the Z Project which has already implemented and is continuing to innovate on the kind of half-formed ideas I suggested to WC back in the day in going beyond the static ‘web magazine’ idea to a more participatory model, and best of luck reaching the fundraising goal!
Well I will mostly leave it at that for this first blog post – over subsequent articles/blogs in 2011 I hope to put several ideas 'out there' in my page/blog for discussion & engagement with the community here, as well as continuing to follow the ideas of others. In particular I hope to represent an Australian political-economic perspective to perhaps complement the deep analyis of US politics that goes on here, and to share some of the ideas I'm developing in my PhD about changes to urban & regional planning to make it more participatory, especially the power of 'open' systems like open-source software, which I've been involved in a lot over the years, and how they relate to a broader liberatory-left agenda.