35404 Wango Rd #2
Powellville MD 21850
December 25, 2000

Dear Jay,

It was great to hear from you, and to know that you are working with the imc/indymedia.

I will skip the words of introduction about myself that were there for the draft cover letters. Much of that is in the side-bar to the article in any case. So going to directly to saying a few words about the article..

The need for independent media with mass audience reach is clearer than ever, and I think activists and Americans in general are ready to strive for more ambitious changes than they would have otherwise dared. Some seven years after my 1992/1993 pieces on Electronic Activism and my endlessly bugging Z and the Nation to come online, the time was right for Electronic Activism Revisited. But unlike the original two part article, the focus is more specifically on a vision for a broad media project and ambitious program.

Today's technologies, emerging technologies, and an examination of what exciting possibilities might be exploited by activists in the new and emerging technological landscapes have led to the writing of Electronic Activism Revisited (EAR) part I, subtitled The Revolution Will be Webcast, on media democratization. The article may not be polished, but it's ready to share. In fact, the aim is not to produce something polished, but rather a vision which would inspire others to participate in collaboratively modifying, improving, and expanding the program outlined, while turning the vision into reality.

The independent media center (imc) is a natural organization with whom to share EAR-I, and I believe imc can help in the realization of something along the lines of the activist program outlined in the article. As such, I wanted to share the first public version with you as soon as possible. Allow me to say just a few words about the nature of EAR, before closing with my thoughts on how imc can serve as a critical component of making it happen, if you agree the project outlined is worthwhile.

I want to be clear about what EAR is and what it isn't. It's not purely a theory piece, nor is it entirely a proposal for a specific activist project. It lies somewhere in between. Much of the information is not new, but by laying several pieces side by side and providing some analysis and extrapolation, the aim is to outline, emphasize, and even dramatize a vision of what is possible -- because most media activists today have not yet realized the extent of what is now possible.

By so doing, the EAR article is, on one level, a motivational piece, showing the possibilities (and stakes) are higher than many realize, and thus motivating people to carry out a program such as that outlined in Michael Albert's FAMAS piece ( on an alternative media network. However it is also an "applied theory" piece in its drawing conclusions from the analysis, conclusions about which areas of media activism we need to emphasize less, and which we need to emphasize more, in order to have optimized our chances for success in the time frame of say, the next five years. Just as you must aim your arrow higher than your intended target, I argue, so must today's media activism be informed by a vision of what the technological landscape will be like in 2005, and informed by what, excitingly, we can accomplish in transforming the media landscape, within the next 5 years.

There are no secret formulas or magic wands, and I don't claim to have uncovered any such thing. Nevertheless, an organized collection of observations, with an analysis of existing and potential future consequences, and an eye towards how to apply these towards meeting the goals of media or economic democracy, while attempting to make quite vivid both the stakes and promise of such possibilities, can make a significant impact -- if we take make these a springboard for joint action.

A recent email from Chris Sturr highlights this point. I knew Chris from our graduate student days at Cornell when we worked together trying to get union recognition for grad students. He now co-produces Unwelcome Guests which is broadcast on the internet (excellent, see but back in the early 1990s, even the content of my original piece of 1992/1993, Electronic Activism was very new to him. His recent email stated:

"It's great that you're updating your stuff on Electronic Activism. I remember you explaining things to me back in those days which were quite confusing to me, which today would probably seem completely old hat to me!"

The goal of the EAR articles is to make themselves obsolete, and to become "old hat" by 2005 or so; that is, to have their visions realized and thus become old hat once activists take steps to advance (I) democratization of the 'media landscape' and (II) democratization of the economy by "Shifting Away from Capitalism" (the tentative subtitle of EAR, part II), as outlined in the EAR series.

(This series focuses on these respective arenas, in contrast to the original Electronic Activism articles of 1992/1993 which aimed at more broadly educating activists on the potentials of the internet Part II of EAR should be ready around early sumer 2001. There is a saying among activists that "the biggest threat to democracy is the false notion that it has already been achieved". I make a somewhat analogous claim in EAR-II, that one of the biggest obstacles to the shifting away from Capitalism to a democratic economic system is the false belief that this shift has yet to begin; it has already started. The hope is that EAR-II helps us push much farther forward towards a world where we can all escape from wage slavery)

So where does imc come in?

I would certainly welcome your feedback on the article; beyond that, however, would hopefully be your participation in the forums section of our web site, which in addition to a general discussion area, have a forum explicitly and entirely dedicated to activist planning surrounding the project to reclaim the media. Within the forums on-going discussion of the proposed projects can take place; they will serve as a key vehicle for moving from the stage of article and idea dissemination, to providing something broader, nurturing networking, continued dialogue, planning for enacting projects, coalitions, and so forth.

Some more modest, and more immediate steps you could take include: sharing the EAR-I article, helping with its dissemination, suggesting other organizations to contact, and spreading the word about, where a click can get anyone on the announcement list.

Last but certainly not least, if you think the outlined project is a good idea, you are (i.e., the imc is) urged to sign the Letter of Support ([URL here]). This does not commit you to any level of activity or even to participating in the forums (though we hope you will) -- it is a statement that the imc supports the project. In this way, organizations can publicly indicate their support for the idea without additional commitment, at this time. I hope to get Z and other more well known organization on-board, but would love to have imc co-sign -- can you help with that?

Imagine this page eventually listing several dozens of the top progressive activist organizations concerned with media democratization -- in one place, with contact names, phones, emails -- and imagine what fruit may come out of such a public declaration, what coalitions may be forged, and what projects, previously thoughts too ambitious, we might accomplish.

You already know how to reach me personally: I can be reached most easily at (or by phone, 410-835-3120).

I look forward to hearing from you.

In Solidarity,

Harel Barzilai