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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Social Media & Blog Awards Based on Link Authority Are Killing The Progressive Movement - or - Why Feminists Should Have Boycotted Fem 2.0 Conference




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You can also search for the short version of this episode in Itunes under the podcast title: 'Volunteers for Three Groups: A World Beyond Capitalism Conference, The Freeschool Community and The Peace Communities' or click here: http://tinyurl.com/link2itunes


Finally, “Linkfluence” is invited, you know, the company that offered us the “Top 30 Feminist Blogs”. Linkfluence’s goal is to “make finding influential communities and following their conversations easier for the greatest benefit of corporations, consultancies or survey institutes.”
Just what we need! An organization working to make our feminist conversations most beneficial to corporations! As references, Linkfluence lists multinationals Nestle, Nike and Roche, among others. So I suppose we should not be surprised that among the “Top 30″ are pimps, procurers and those who blog for them, anti-feminists and misogynists. All of that notwithstanding, when companies like this create lists like this, the naive and trusting as well as the anti-feminist and capitalist are going to LINK to them which is what the real goal is. The goal is not to carefully study the influence of feminist bloggers. The goal is to rank blogs according to how dogged they are in linking — who cares WHY they are linking; perhaps they are linking in order to repeatedly launch attacks on feminists, as is very true of several on the “Top 30 list”, and which is always a good way to drive up hits and linkage; blogosphere attacks on women are such good times – because that way companies like Linkfluence and Fem 2.0 garner maximum linkage to themselves and therefore they begin to gain exposure and to influence in heretofore untapped markets.

I hope you read that paragraph twice to truly gain an appreciation for the insight.
Lauren [of fauxrealtho blog]

My question is how the hell my personal blog can be one of the top thirty. I barely write on it, and moreover, almost none of my posts there have anything to do with feminism. I feel like someome looking for feminism showing up on my personal site would be confused, AND including it bumped someone whose blog is more worthy.


Hugo Schwyzer [of Hugo Schwyzer blog]

Yeah, it’s really a strange list, if you think about it... ...there’s some pretty major stuff missing, and some clear non-blogs included.

This was indeed very awesome and very courageous of Lauren to admit what she said and awesome for Hugo to speak out about the non-blogs that were included on the list, much like it was awesome for Renee (the only woman of color chosen as a top 30 feminist Blog award winner) at Womanist Musings to question, in detail, the entire awards process as it regards racism. The answer for why Lauren won an award, even though she admits that:

Heart said:

Kindly credit me.

This is my work and can be found here:

http://www.womensspace.org/phpBB2/2009/02/26/the-colonizing-of-the-feminist-blogosphere-why-feminists-should-have-boycotted-fem-20

Thanks,

Heart/Cheryl Lindsey Seelhoff
http://www.womensspace.org/phpBB2

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In the sturm and drang over the blog post What if the Feminist Blogosphere is a Form of Digital Colonialism, which resulted in the post’s authors, Brittany Shoot and Mandy Van Deven issuing this apology today, nobody seems to have taken a close look at the event itself, and especially, its sponsors — the real colonizers — who I believe are the people who should rightfully be apologizing to all of us. I think those who supported this event or advertised it should also be apologizing to all who have made the feminist blogosphere the occasionally-effective vehicle for positive change for women that it has been in the past.

Turner Strategies sponsored Fem 2.0. This is a public relations, advertising and marketing company run by people long in the employ of Fortune 500 companies, which, in itself, ought to have given feminists considering participating in this event some pause. Of more concern, Turner Strategies has a multitude of connections with biotechnology multinationals. Some of its top level management are or have been biotechnology entrepreneurs. Ben Carlson, Operations Vice President, was a spokesman for a California Company, Genetic Savings & Clone, that is in the business of cloning kittens and dogs, retailing them to the tune of $50,000 each. He appears to continue to head up another cloning company, Clone Safety, and in that capacity he wrote a press release not long ago thanking Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger for his support of genetically engineered seeds and cloned livestock. Here is a list of Carlson’s press releases in support of livestock cloning and eating food derived from cloned livestock. At the end of this post there is information about why supporting by far most biotechnologies cannot be consistent with feminism, or for that matter, with any sort of reverence for human or animal life or the earth itself.

According to the Turner Strategies website, President Suzanne Turner’s ”communications campaigns have helped pass more than 40 pieces of legislation. She has worked for Fortune 500 companies, devising branding and marketing campaigns that have moved millions of dollars worth of products.” Nowhere did I see a listing of the 40 specific pieces of legislation Turner’s company helped to pass. But her current projects offer some clues. Turner speaks regularly at conferences on the topic of “how to effectively communicate food and agricultural biotechnology messages to consumers and opinion leaders using new media strategies.” According to the description of one such conference where Turner was a speaker:

Many activist groups have capitalized on using new media strategies including blogs, vlogs and social networking that create a “viral” spread of both information and potential misinformation thereby confusing the consumer and perpetuating negative opinions in some cases. The panel will delineate the issues surrounding credible, science-based messaging on food and agricultural biotechnology using new media strategies, including case examples and insights for both domestic and international audiences.

In other words, Turner offers seminars on the internet promotion of biotechnologies to consumers. This press release describes Turner’s involvement in forming a company that “will manage and license a broad portfolio of intellectual property rights related to animal reproductive technologies [including] the foundational nuclear transfer cloning technology that was developed at the Roslin Institute for the cloning of Dolly the sheep. “ In other words, one of Turner’s projects is the patenting of biotechnologies, particularly odious in what these patents mean for the world’s food supply (more about that at the end of this post).

Sascha Burns, Turner’s Vice President, Political Strategy, is a one-time drug industry lobbyist employed by Bristol-Squibb. Lisa Dry, listed as “Of Counsel,” is a former Director of Communications for the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO). She had responsibility for ”representing foods and crops derived through biotechnology to the media and the public”.


Nachison and Peskin, sponsors of Fem 2.0

Then there is the sponsor “IFocus,” a media think tank, which is the brainchild of Andrew Nachison and Dale Peskin (above) and which was formed to ”establish partnerships with individuals and organizations around the globe to create next-generation media projects that foster an informed society, as well as create new opportunities in the marketplace.” Prior to IFocus, Nachison and Peskin ran WeMedia. A recent NPR feature goes straight to the heart of what this organization and these men are all about (bolds mine):

Thanks to the audience taking control of their media experience and creating their own media in blogs, podcasts, video and social networks, the people who are losing control have decided to meet — and meet, and meet again — until they figure out how they can take back some control of this uncontrollable situation. That’s the rub in Miami today and tomorrow at the We Media conference, a high-end schmooze-fest sponsored in part by Reuters, Washington Post, Newsweek Interactive and the Knight Foundation…. First up was the “Community Forum,” which included representatives from MTV, Topix.net and BlogHer leading a discussion about the new ways people are using news and information in their communities. Ian Rowe from MTV noted how his younger audience is changing the dynamic in how MTV covers issues.

“They want to get their content when they want it and how they want it, and that also goes for issues in their life,” he said. “It used to be top down where we chose one or two issues for them. Now our audience is telling us it’s great you are focusing on issues, but I want to deal with issues that are important to me, and I want to connect with people around the world to talk about issues I care about…We see great opportunities in the media revolution that’s now in the hands of young people.”

…What’s left largely unsaid (at least until the afternoon “Investment Forum”) is what MTV and other media companies think these “opportunities” are. Is it an opportunity to cash in on the idea of citizen media? Is it an opportunity to change their own top-down culture?

Jan Schaffer, who runs the J-Lab at the University of Maryland, pointed out that grassroots media sites don’t necessarily play by the corporate media rules of money first, community service second.

A recent survey by the lab of 191 citizen media sites found that they were largely shoestring operations with content coming from volunteers. Here are some eye-opening stats from that study:

  • 51% said they didn’t need to make money to continue.
  • 82% said they planned to continue “indefinitely.”
  • 73% of respondents said their sites were a “success,” based on the impact in their communities

NPR quoted the CEO of Topix in an excellent blog post he wrote about the work of IFocus’s Nachison and Peskin:

There is actually a media revolution in the works. So what’s going on here? By implicit definition, participatory media is non-commercial. If it’s commercial, someone owns it, and it’s not “we” anymore.

Furthermore, as soon as a new media venture crosses the line and tries to become a business, it either becomes a successful business or a failed one. Businesses aren’t about ideology, they’re about getting a job done and earning revenue to keep the thing going. Even wild success tends to leave ideology behind. Ideology is the realm of nonprofits and failures…
Yes, there is a media revolution in the works. But it’s messy, it’s nasty videos on YouTube, not the neat & tidy civic Welcome Wagon of citizen journalism. You can’t quit your job as a journalist and replace your salary with AdSense on your blog. You’ll be lucky to make beer money, let alone pay COBRA and fund your SEP-IRA.

And big media has been watching, and buying the winning ventures, and building their own platforms to — yes you’re right! — exploit the new models.

Gloria Pan, Vice President of Internet Communications at Turner Strategies, is described as “a driving force in its annual We Media conference, a must-attend event for the media vanguard.”

Pan was also in charge of “Sponsorships” at Fem 2.0. This is how and why of things like ”sponsorships” and similar colonization rackets. Some big company or a couple of big companies, in this case Turner Strategies, IFocus, and George Washington University invest a lot of money in creating a conference in order to make money, advance their own ideologies, companies and olitics, and to, as I blogged about earlier, get a piece of some potentially lucrative action that is going on, in this case, to get a cut of the feminist blogosphere. They then invite people they figure might have some credibility with feminist bloggers to be “sponsors.” Here is a list of “sponsors” who donated money to make this conference happen. Here is a list of “conveners” and people who attended. Take a look. You’ve got NARAL, Bitch, Ph.D., The New Agenda, On the Issues and RH Reality Check all sending in feminist money that ultimately supports capitalist, colonizing, imperialist, endeavors of multinationals, Big Pharm and biotechnologies. Did any of them ever bother to do any investigation before signing up? To, for example, find out who the sponsors of this thing really were? They are joined by a motley crew of random entrepreneurs looking to make a buck off of the hard work and free labor of the feminist blogosphere. Look here, here, here and here. The last link is to the “Mom 2.0 Summit”, which appears to be similar to Fem 2.0, but Mom 2.0 is sponsored by the likes of Weight Watchers, Burger King, Sony and Walt Disney. Yeah, that’s all about feminism.

Finally, “Linkfluence” is invited, you know, the company that offered us the “Top 30 Feminist Blogs”. Linkfluence’s goal is to “make finding influential communities and following their conversations easier for the greatest benefit of corporations, consultancies or survey institutes.” Just what we need! An organization working to make our feminist conversations most beneficial to corporations! As references, Linkfluence lists multinationals Nestle, Nike and Roche, among others. So I suppose we should not be surprised that among the “Top 30″ are pimps, procurers and those who blog for them, anti-feminists and misogynists. All of that notwithstanding, when companies like this create lists like this, the naive and trusting as well as the anti-feminist and capitalist are going to LINK to them which is what the real goal is. The goal is not to carefully study the influence of feminist bloggers. The goal is to rank blogs according to how dogged they are in linking — who cares WHY they are linking; perhaps they are linking in order to repeatedly launch attacks on feminists, as is very true of several on the “Top 30 list”, and which is always a good way to drive up hits and linkage; blogosphere attacks on women are such good times – because that way companies like Linkfluence and Fem 2.0 garner maximum linkage to themselves and therefore they begin to gain exposure and to influence in heretofore untapped markets.


Vandana Shiva

The original author of this article did not give photo attribution but the Peace Communities Solidarity website at www.savethepoorbrownchildren.org gives attribution for this photo to WholesomeGoodness found at: http://www.wholesomegoodness.org/pressroom.html


It is in this way that ativist movements are assimilated into patriarchy, then systematically gutted of any effectiveness or power they might ever have had to change the world. This is what it means for a movement to be colonized. This is what I was talking about when I blogged about the end of feminist blogging. If you are not aware of the threat corporate multinationals, biotechnologies, the World Bank and other of these organizations’ agendas and politics are to the world’s women, land, creatures, the earth itself, read here, here, here. Read this and go here. Read everything on this page written by Vandana Shiva (above), and consider her words (bolds mine):

‘The “Green Revolution” was supposed to bring Western technology to the aid of Third World farmers. But instead of wealth, the new high-yielding seeds brought poverty and environmental destruction. These capital-intensive technologies also led to an economic monoculture. Institutions like the World Bank loaned money around the world to every developing country to do the same thing.

‘But uniformity is not nature’s way; diversity is nature’s way,’ she explains. Soon, she adds, there was a backlash. ‘When Third World farmers began to grow single crops, plants that for centuries had provided communities with essential vitamins were suddenly declared “weeds” and doused with pesticides. In some villages in India blindness increased severely because the so-called “weeds” had been the community’s only source of Vitamin A… Genetic changes to shorten the height of grain and increase yield led to a scarcity of straw; that meant less humus, depleted soils and eventually fewer grazing animals.

The end result of all this was not more but less food. Reducing the financial support for farmers will only make it easier for multinational corporations to tighten their grip on global markets.

‘Open-door policies,’ she says, ‘will remove all restrictions on imports and exports, inevitably converting Third World’s subsistence food production into a market for big business.’ It’s not surprising that peasant movements worldwide oppose these kinds of open markets. ‘For them maintaining diversity is a matter of survival. There will be no Indian culture if there are no Indian farmers to regenerate and continue that culture.’

Diversity, she insists, cannot be maintained by foreign corporations whose main aim is optimum yield from one product in order to gain maximum profit. The names of the six corporations that control the global grain trade roll off her tongue: Cargill, Continental Grain, Louis Dreyfus, Bunge, Andre and Mitsui Cook. These companies market the high-yielding seeds that are the heart of the ‘Green Revolution’.

Ms Shiva argues that these new seeds are not all they’re made out to be. ‘In India I’ve discovered that farmers can grow more grain and lose money. In the group of farmers I worked with those planting their own seeds earned 3,000 rupees a year. Others planting Cargill’s “new improved” hybrid seed netted only 297 rupees after the harvest because most of their earnings were used to pay for inputs like fertilizer and pesticides.’

Relaxed rules on biotechnology will allow companies to genetically engineer, patent and sell new organisms without having to account for their long-term effects on health or the environment. ‘The hazards of biotechnology will not be like the hazards of the chemical industry.” Ms Shiva warns.

Such threats cannot be treated casually ‘Whether it’s in the technological or economic domain, we are constantly being tricked into seeing growth where there is actually the production of scarcity. We have become totally numb to what disappears. By flattening the world to economic values we devalue ourselves. We assume there is only one economy - the market place. We forget that people have their own economies - taking care of themselves. Biodiversity is related to cultural diversity because cultures are also systems that renew - systems of value, of perception and of lifestyle. Human beings need a social economy that exchanges things other than money and that produces for reasons other than profits.’

She is working with Indian farmers to re-build seed banks in the hope of strengthening biodiversity. And to pursue sustainable farming techniques without expensive inputs from the agro-chemical companies. But if push comes to shove she argues that creative non-cooperation - ‘creating conditions for survival while rejecting an imposed system of authoritarianism’ - is the only way forward.
It may seem an impossible task to change such a powerful global system. But Ms Shiva is undaunted. ‘It’s not the first time we have tried to change a global system. Fifty years ago people were doing it all over the world and they succeeded. That time the political system was the colonial empires of Europe. When small steps are taken by large numbers of people momentous things can happen.’

Fem 2.0 was in fact the brainchild of the kind of corporate multinationals, marketing firms, “internet communications firms” Shiva is talking about who stand in direct opposition to everything feminists and progressives, revolutionaries, have given our lives for. Here they are, sponsoring conferences for feminists, moving in on the feminist blogosphere, and taking money from feminists. Worst of all, we have feminists stepping up to support them, advertising them throughout the blogosphere, and treating them for all the world as if they are not the colonizers and imperialists they truly are. And instead of fighting these guys, nobody is paying attention, instead, feminist bloggers are fighting one another!]

As I’ve written, I have been here before, many times in my activist life. I have seen this many times. The creative and potentially revolutionary energy of the feminist blogosphere, fragile as it may have been, is history now. From this time forward, barring a miracle, nothing will be the same.


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2 comments:

  1. Kindly credit me with the post that begins with, "The below article was originally posted by admin," then goes on, "In the sturm and drang..."

    This is my work and can be found here:

    http://www.womensspace.org/phpBB2/2009/02/26/the-colonizing-of-the-feminist-blogosphere-why-feminists-should-have-boycotted-fem-20/

    Thanks,

    Heart/Cheryl Lindsey Seelhoff
    http://www.womensspace.org/phpBB2

    ReplyDelete
  2. Dear Heart/Cheryl Lindsey Seelhoff

    Thanks for your kind words and your words of thanks,

    We never have and never would post an article here without credit to the author and there are at least four links to your website in the original article.

    The permanent link web address for the article that you are speaking of about is here:
    http://bit.ly/linkbias

    I copied and pasted your entire comment and included it within the article, with full linkage intact, so now there are at least 8 links to your website within the article.

    Update: The permanent link web address for my follow up article, which replies to your blog post that contains some negative words from you about this is here:

    http://bit.ly/post_swiper

    Thanks.

    Keep up the great work everyone, :)

    I love ya all!

    WoOOOoooo HOOoOOooo!

    Love for the people, :)
    -T

    ReplyDelete