Note: If you're reading this Note (because I haven't removed it yet) it means what follows is still a rough draft that I haven't made a link to from a public page..rough notes as if talking to someone I know well (and URL shared by email with handful trusted friends) I'm not good at the art of humbly boasting, yet it's become clear to me that getting others to accept or at least listen with an open mind to my current outside the box or even radical ideas, would be greatly helped by listing other "crazy sounding at the time" ideas that either blossomed remarkably (MAP below) or were done by others, years later, but likewise became a big thing (parts of my Thresholdware proposal, for example).

In addition, historians and citizens-activists could benefit from learning the history. And other, present-day projects could benefit as well from some ideas (part of Thresholdware not yet realized, let alone turbo-boosted-by-blockchain versions). If you're reading this you probably followed a link from an image/url I gave by private email. I do hope to clean/improve this before too many more months (or years..?) pass and actually link to it from a public page.

Harel's Activism Bio

Harel B. — as they've been known for many years in their activism work, with strictly an initial — has engaged in internet based activism since the late 1980s. Perhaps the most prominent project was Harel's co-founding, in March 1991, the internet's first moderated newsgroup dedicated to activism and politics. It was on Usenet (more about which in a minute) which in those pre-web days dominated and largely defined (together with email/mailing lists, primitive BBS's & "file transfer protocol") what the internet was.

At its peak around 1994, this newsgroup, (MAP) had an estimated worldwide readership of about 60,000, according to official polling data and methodology of official third-party monthly Usenet statistical reports.[1],[2] [3] To put this in perspective, IDC estimates 16 million (16M) global users at the end of 1995, and 3,675M in late 2016; another goes back to 1994 with 13.5M users worldwide[p1] [p2] [p3] [p4]. With over 270 times as many Internet users (3,675/13.5=272.22..) in fall 2016 than 1994, those 60,000 readers were the internet per capita equivalent of some 16.3 million "subscribers" (272 · 60,000) relative fall of 2016 — except that today one can be a "subscriber" and no longer watch any videos, having lost interest but never having unsubscribed, while back then, standards were more strict, with only active readership being counted in a month's data, so the full impact is difficult to fully estimate. More on those high-flying days later; but first, what was the Usenet?

Or rather what is Usenet? Because Usenet exists to this day, and is described by wikipedia describes as "a worldwide distributed discussion system" which differs from both BBS and web forum systems by

the absence of a central server and dedicated administrator. Usenet is distributed among a large, constantly changing conglomeration of servers that store and forward messages to one another in so-called news feeds. Individual users may read messages from and post messages to a local server operated by a commercial usenet provider, their Internet service provider, university, employer, or their own server.
In other words: de-centralized storage, powers, and control; no central "benevolent dictator" (or otherwise), no corporate behemoth like twitter, facebook, etc, to be able to censor, show political or other bias, or compromise your privacy and sell the data for its own profits. More on that — and how you can help liberate the internet again — another time (activist progressive/libertarian software engineers, though, see our contact information below)

In the summer and fall semesters of 1995, Harel taught an Electronic Activism via the Internet, an online course on how to use the internet for activism as part of Z magazine's online school (Left OnLine University, LOLU)

Other faculty included luminaries like Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn. In one of the semesters, fellow faculty included Holly Sklar, Norman Solomon, Steve Shalom, Robert Weissman, editor of Ralph Nader founded Multinational Monitor, and Chip Berlet (Archived copy of defunct page here) Update: another semester in more detail here [Flashback: my course, taught online in 1995, on how to use the internet for activism, Course Description]

This was preceded by Harel's writing in 1992 and 1993 Electronic Activism and Electronic Activism, II which were widely distributed online, translated into Spanish and parts into Dutch (and later into html) by volunteers, and which led to cold call inquiries from a Senior Fellow at the Worldwatch Institute, and leading to prominent people I had not contacted, such as Mark Achbar (director of Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media. and later of The Corporation) referring others (jpg scan of 1995 email I received) to me (The comment about my being "king" of internet activism in that email following the "Greeting" was apparently Mark Achbar's hyperbole; certainly not mine*. It was a much smaller pond back then in any case.All the more important, therefore, that those of us who saw the potential and a way to contribute, create new spaces, educate, and evangelize, do so to the best of our ability.. **I'm also gender neutral rather than male -HB)

(Skipping 2016 election activism section for now)

This bio will be expanded to include new links. For now it's worthwhile to record for posterity that MAP's glory days and MAP itself grew out of something far more modest, though deeply important: what I unoriginally called the El Salvador Project. I found out from an Amnesty International report that not only was the Salvadoran government brutal (that much I gathered) but that it was not stuck between Death Squads on the right and revolutionary rebels on the left as the media constantly claimed, but that the "Death Squads" were in fact projects of the government itself, a deliberate strategy; that the targets were not only rebels but students, church leaders, farmers and cooperative members, human rights workers, etc, targeted for brutal torture and assassination by death squads organized for a government our tax dollars supported. This was after the then recent and brutal murders of six Jesuits, their cook, and her daughter, gaining some attention.

I recruited two main co-organizers (John Lamperti and Mary Pugh) and together we did something rather unusual for 1990: organizing and raising hundreds of dollars online (very rare indeed back then for "ordinary" people to do!) and using that to buy 100 copies of Amnesty's report, and sending it along with a Letter to each Senator, and co-authoring and getting co-signers from a full one-third of the lower-48 states, recruited online, and sending copies of the Letter to some 50+ national, regional, and big city newspapers, TV and radio stations, NPR, etc.

As if that wasn't novel enough, and as if our tax-dollars being used for the torture and murder of Jesuit priests, students and other innocents wasn't enough, the letter was also co-signed by Arch-Bishop Thomas Gumbleton of the Archdiocese of Detroit, poet Grace Paley (1922-2007), and South African anti-Apartheid activist, educator, journalist and poet Dennis Brutus (1924-2009) among other notables. The level of mainstream media disinterest was even more extreme than I had expected, a radicalizing experience.

In the aftermath, however, I put together AML, the Activists Mailing List, of former donors, signers, and participants, a list which grew to 100 members; a list member then helped create an automated "Listserv" list, which we named ACTIV-L, out of that, which in turn grew to 1,000 members. Many many dozens of hours of "electronic form-filling" and legwork on my part later, to jump over the hoops needed to create a moderated newsgroup, and with organized and angry opposition from right-wingers who invoked visions of electronic indoctrination camps (as if they were not free to create parallel moderated conservative groups) and the need to find two "yes" voters for every one of the army of "no" right-wing internet voters in the online poll, was born. If we conservatively estimate an average daily readership of 20,000 over the first 15 years (1991-2006) with each reading 5 articles (far more was typical early one) per day over 300 days a year we get close to a half-billion "views" (15*300*5*20,000) NEVER under-estimate what you can do if you believe in a cause and where you want to make a difference. [Add link to summary of macro-based automation I created using linux, automation that even 10, 15 years later was not very common. Give lots of credit and thanks to Free Software Foundation & RMS in particular for Emacs & also, to author of the macro-to-lisp converter] Never under-estimate how one project may sprout like a seed into another larger one, and another one after that -- or sprout multiple trees from one seed. Practice self-care and don't burn yourself out. This is important, if you are to help others, you must care for yourself. But keep that inner fire alive.

Copy of a version of our 1990 Letter to all Senators (PDF ; I'm almost certain D. Brutus later signed, though not listed in this draft I found and scanned, not the last of the many revisions of narrative and list of signatories)

[Add about MAP expanding and my deciding to interview and "hire" co-moderators including one not in the core group, so we have a co-moderator in charge of Women's and LGBT issues, and I found and selected such a volunteer, she was a scientist by trade and from Latin America]

In July of 1993 I was interviewed in The Nation for their first article about the internet (years later I learned an insider's account of how my internet campaigns to pressure the Nation to give more fair coverage in the 1992 presidential race, led to convincing them to find out what this internet thing is all about -- I found the old emails and will link to them here. Yes, a remarkable politician and mayor and activist ran to the left of Jerry Brown and was given the short end of the stick by the Nation -- and yes, that politician was thrown down a flight of stairs by police, no in some developing country but in the USA -- more history I will add links to; I was the informal but de facto internet contact of that 1992 Presidential Campaign of Larry Agran).

In 2014, The Nation published an article (This Is the First Article We Ever Published About the Internet) reviewing their 1993 article, and among other things quote themselves quoting me back in 1993:

But Cooke and Lehrer also noted that potential that the Internet could be used for activism, organizing and political discussion unavailable in the mainstream press. "You're not going to find anything to the left of the Democratic Party on TV or in newspapers," they quoted one Harel...a Cornell graduate student, saying. "And for those of us who have access to the Internet, it's free to use it and post information. This is our chance to be heard."

After having to cut back my activism for professional reasons (and sometimes for health reasons) and spending much of the energy and time I had on anti-Iraq-War activism (and writing about the ecological disasters in the making) there are at least two other projects that I have proposed that IMHO (IMNSHO?) are ahead of their time in a constructive way just as the 1990 internet activism was ahead of its time -- but need collaborators.

In 2003 before anyone heard of youtube and few heard of "social media" I proposed an expansive project that among other things would replace ALL of those and much more, democratize, and empower activists. I sent my "think piece" project propsal to MacArthur Foundation "Genius" Grant awardee and Free Software movement's father, Richard Stallman who wrote back that it's a "good idea" and he would be willing to support it, but that I and others would have to lead. I failed to make that happen, several efforts notwithstanding. But it's just as relevant today: The best time to plan a tree is 20 years ago, the second best time is today" as the Chinese proverb says. In this case, 14 years ago not 20 was the original seed, but it's still ready to be planted. I do need software engineer collaborators. Talen is important but more so are steadfastness, stick-with-it attitudes, and a visionary outside the box belief in long term (well over 10 years ahead) transformation of the entire internet and of how empowered citizens (as opposed to corporations and governments) are. uPangea: Universal Profile and Networking: GEography and Affinity.

A second project white paper written 1999-2003 in drafts, was finally circulated at a technology-and-activism conference by a friend, and coincidentally the basic idea was used about a year after that in a company that grew to a billion dollar plus market cap company. Never mind the money or credit though: The non-profit and democratization potentials are just as important today as they were in 2006/2007, however: applications are for both fund-raising for activism and for nimble "changing facts on the ground" via: ThresholdWare.

Please check back here in the coming months or better yet, with serious collaboration/interest/inquiry, contact us: to learn more about the last two projects which I will hope to finally return and focus more on -- progressive/visionary programmers/software -- engineers/partners wanted... (Note: unlike the website name, the email address is just "econdemocracy" not "economicdemocracy")

[See also