Where I'm writing from
My name's Jaton and for over a couple years now I've been 'hooked' on indymedia...
Good, now I've gotten that out of the way and can write more clearly and succinctly about the interactive process between readers and writers on indymedia, with an emphasis on my own experiences writing for Portland indymedia.
Since late-2003/early 2004 I've been regularly posting to Portland indymedia. I've written about many topics, including politics, urban planning, the environment, celibacy, and business & technology. Some of my fiction and poetry has also appeared on the site.
Not long ago, I was thinking about September 2004, when I posted a series of articles concerning the Pakistani nuclear scientist A.Q. Khan. In the articles, I made the case for some pre-Iraq war shenanigans—specifically, I offered the hypothesis, backed up with some evidence, that Saddam Hussein hustled whatever evidence of nuclear-related WMD he had out of the country, to Pakistan via Syria, before the U.S. invasion. The subtext was that this may have been known to U.S. intelligence, before the war began. The argument is somewhat complimentary to the view of Noam Chomsky, who's stated in effect that the U.S. would not have attacked Iraq UNLESS it was clear there were no WMD there. On the other side of the political spectrum, both Ariel Sharon and even the Pentagon I think, have publicly expressed concern that Iraqi WMD may have ended up in Syria.
Setting this argument aside, there was an interesting interactive process that I experienced with Portland indymedia, and with the Internet more broadly, when I posted these articles to the site. In one or two previous articles, I've written about an anxiety that overtook me upon posting the articles. My belief at the time was that my journalistic prowess had uncovered a genuine political scandal, and so I was naturally a little anxious about the possible effects, the impact, that the news might have. I recall one day at the library, I think when I posted the second article in the series, I was typing out the article a little too quickly and loudly, in my anxious haste.
So, the other day, I was thinking about this interactive process with indymedia readers, and with the Internet. It's an interesting sociological question: what is the interactive process involved here, and what is it's significance? A man goes to the library, posts some of his writing to the Web, and goes home. Yet there's so much more at play in this scenario. (Which will have to be the subject of another essay).
I got around to thinking about the whole of my writing on indymedia, and what it says about me, who I am, etc...In particular, since it is indymedia after all, I began thinking about characteristics of my writing or themes in my writing, and what these things indicate about my psychological profile.
In true journalistic fashion, I tried to keep myself out of much of the writing I posted to indymedia, up until about summer of 2005 when it became impossible. Inevitably, some of my characteristics came through in my writing before then. The lack of grammatical or spelling errors in my writing indicates a certain care that goes into it. At times I've been obliged to extrapolate at length on certain topics, but perhaps not as willing to reach out and connect with readers and fellow contributors more, or listen and realize what people are writing, thinking and feeling, what the moods are, what the bullshit is, etc...Now, I think that I didn't have the foresight to see that so many single-minded contributions to the site might be too psychologically revealing. That's one of the regrets I have in regard to my indymedia work.
In normal circumstances it likely wouldn't matter how psychologically revealing one was, yet we live in precarious times now. There is a time traveling aspect to today's cultural landscape, as our political leaders go back in time to alternately battle the ghosts of the Cold War, and the ghosts of Nazism. (Bush recently used the term "Islamic fascists," probably for the first time in public, at a press conference). Parallel to that track, there's been a stifling of dissent designed to ward off criticism of our time-travelin' leaders and their actions.
There's a delicate balance that must be found between contributing to the character of indymedia, and being actively engaged as an activist, and preserving one's anonymity. In particular, protecting oneself from a counter-activist movement—a shadowy, cult-like collection of ne'er do wells. Maybe not so shadowy in some instances, yet persistent and bothersome still.
Like a virus, the counter-activist movement takes advantage of bugs in the code. Being too psychologically revealing in one's work is a good example of a bug in the code. But being undemocratic in one's work and habits is always something to be avoided, in any case.
My name's Jaton and I've been 'hooked' on indymedia for awhile...
But now I'm getting better...