Comms Group Meeting 2010-03-25

Comms group meeting on 25 Mar 2010


The order of items doesn’t have to follow the structure of this document. We can decide the order of items at the meeting.

It might be useful to think about groups items at the meeting into ‘techie’ and ‘non-techie’ – I think that some non-techie people might not want to be at the meeting for stuff they’re not interested in. Just an idea – thoughts?

Review of actions from last meeting.

Don’t know about you, but I sometimes (frequently) take on more than I can do, leading to my actions being late or totally lunched out. I therefore suggest we give each other a bit of leeway and talk about our action points thus:

  • I’ve done it. Yay! Look at me, I’m great.
  • Not got round to it. Will do it by X.
  • Not got round to it – can somebody help?
  • Not got round to it, and probably won’t, so …
    • Can somebody else do it? Or,
    • Let’s agree that it won’t be done.

Action points from the last meeting:

What When Who Progress / Notes
Create Drupal template for web site Week after 10 March Carl Realised that we can’t really do this unless we spend a bit of time thinking about what it’s for
Note on web site to explain why we use YouTube ASAP Graham Not done. See below
Mail website group to change name to thamesvalley ASAP Carl Done
Mail Reading to see if someone wants to acces thamesvalley@ ASAP Graham Done. Waiting for reply. They’re v. busy.
Set-up encryption for tvca@ ASAP Graham Encryption set up. Need to talk about the old key (can’t be revoked at the moment). New public key is at
Resources section on web site ? Not assigned Let’s revisit this
Mailing list changes – 2 lists: high & low volume After next TVCA meeting Graham / Carl In progress. See below
Advertising the Crabgrass site on web site ? Graham Done. Here
Set up Crabgrass moderation (to prevent permanent deleting of stuff) ASAP Carl Done
Set up a channel for Crabcasts ASAP Charlie Done. See below
Draft Crabgrass guidelines ASAP Carl Done. Here
Researching a shared online space for graphics etc. ? Carl Some research done, see minutes of last meeting
Sign up for account ASAP Carl Done
Discuss having a video day to shoot and compile a new TVCA video ? Carl Done

Issues arising

(Not) Using YouTube (and promoting activist tech)

Suggest absolute max. 10 mins discussion.

Graham had an action to say why we use YouTube (i.e. use corporate bandwidth). I (Graham) think we should revisit this policy. I think the impact on YouTube is minimal, and it’s quite a hard thing to explain. I also suspect our brethren in orgs such as VisionON TV would be very happy to donate some bandwidth to our noble cause. If you think about it, our current policy extended to email would mean we recommended gmail and hotmail instead of riseup.

Instead of supporting tech collectives (VisionON, riseup, etc.) but not using their bandwidth, perhaps we should support them by using and promoting them – and making a donation?

A second part of this discussion could be: should TVCA be actively promoting activist tech. For example, should we have a section on the web site where we promote services such as,,, noblogs, etc. for email accounts, lists, blogs, collaborative working, etc? Ooops, missed out

Email list

Email list applied for. Awaiting approval from riseup.

On the new (announcements) list, need to decide if it’s TVCA generally or Oxford only.

Graham has a suggestion that the announce list be used to send one email per week. Only urgent action call outs (where people are being asked to do an action that hasn’t been previously announced) should be sent in addition to the newsletter. (So it would be 1 email per week unless there’s an urgent thing.) A vague idea for the newsletter format (think it would be a good idea to have a standard format) is …

  • Action updates (actions that have happened in the last week)
  • TVCA actions about to happen in the next week
  • Next meeting – logistics & draft agenda
  • Minutes from the last meeting
  • Crabgrass round ups
  • Other actions coming up
  • Stuff that doesn’t fit in the above

To make the newsletter short, where possible only headlines should be use and a link for further information supplied

Crabcasts (How to use Crabgrass)

We’ve got a account (what’s the address / password?). Let’s decide:

  • What topics we are going to make Crabcasts about (suggestion from the previous meeting was that we start with the basics).
  • Who’s going to do it, and when.
  • How to make sure people know where to find the Crabcasts.


20-30 minutes

Graham has started a discussion on what we want to use the website for; perhaps we could use this as a starting point for a proposal on what we want on the site, how we organise it etc.


2 minutes

We agreed last week that a “resources” section on the website was good idea, but didn’t talk about how to take that forwards. Before the redesign (which could take a little while), it would be good if someone could take this on.

New items

Crabgrass skillshare: the return

10 minutes

There are quite a few people in TVCA who started coming to meetings since the last Crabgrass skill-share, and there are also lots of people who have accounts but use them infrequently. It might be an idea to hold another Rockin’ Crabgrass Skill Share to:

  • explain it to new people;
  • show people who already have accounts how active it currently is, and answer any questions/problems that have arisen;
  • give a refresher on how we use CG (meeting minutes etc.); and
  • go through some advanced features (e.g. versions, {Green,Red}cloth formatting, email notifications)

It would be good to get an idea of when we could/should do this, and how we could facilitate the session.


4 people at the meeting

= “jazz hands”; general agreement about something

New email list

  • New “announce” list has been requested, but it’s still pending — this can take over a month.
  • There is an old mailing list that we could re-name.
    • We should give riseup a chance to respond first


  • A single weekly “newsletter” e-mail; this would incorporate the “Friday email” (Crabgrass round-up), meeting announcements for that week and the minutes from the last meeting.
    • There could be exceptions for urgent action call-outs
    • How would we make sure that the minutes/agenda etc. were done in time for the email?
    • We could just link to the meeting page (e.g. https://.../oxford-meeting-yyyy-mm-dd), and say “minutes will be available on this page”. This also means that minutes, agendas, should be marked as public on Crabgrass (so people don’t need to have an account to view them)
  • Does it need to be weekly?
    • There are advantages to weekly e-mails; the regular schedule sets a routine

Practical steps

  • We could send this e-mail out to the regular list, change the guidelines as planned and tell people who want lower traffic to delete everything else.
    • There is a problem, though: people who want less email want less in general; deleting most of the emails from the list is still “processing” them.
  • Maybe we could instead run an interim “manual mailing list”; announce the changes in list guidelines, and in the same email say to email to get only the newsletters; we can add these people to a list and CC them in to the newsletters.
    • GRAHAM to take on setting up this manual mailing list in some way


  • Should we try and work out the “information architecture”, just to have something to go on?
    • This risks turning in to a longer discussion, e.g. on user-generated content
  • When can we have a longer conversation about the website, and how?
    • Problems with surveys and asking people in general: people don’t know what they want a website to do unless they have a strong idea of what websites can do.
    • Also, we need to get an idea of the energy people want to put into the website; we should certainly ask how much user-generated content people want on the site, but we should explain how much effort each one is for everyone, not just us.
  • Can we propose e.g. three ideas to a TVCA meeting? Say, one leaving the site where it is, one changing it a bit and one completely re-thinking it. Then people could choose between them.
    • Good idea, but maybe we can differentiate these proposals based on how much effort they will be: have a very-involved sexy dynamic proposal and a low-maintenance automatic-ish proposal.
  • Could we just poll for what people want? High-input or low?
    • Yes, but then we face the same problem of people not knowing what’s possible; some aspects of the proposals are mutually-exclusive.
  • We should definitely present this problem in a meeting, and talk about that session beforehand to make sure it’s as useful as possible (i.e. planning facilitation of that session). When can we talk about this?
    • At the next meeting


  • These should be short & focussed – byte sized chunks of a few minutes each.
  • Could use the next Crabgrass skill-share to ask people which casts they most want.
  • CHARLIE agreed to make the first cast on how to set up a Crabcount


2 versions of a generic TVCA leaflet exist; it would be good to design some more though. Maybe we could all have a go by next meeting? CONSENSUS

Youtube/Activist tech

  • No Free alternatives to Youtube ( logs IPs, also corporate).
  • Lots of gmail and hotmail addresses on the list; should we be promoting riseup, noblogs etc. more?
  • Indymedia might be adding Flash videos, but in short we need more research.
  • GRAHAM happy to write up activist tech policy on the website, does want input from others.

Next meeting


I love the table of action points; great idea! I also agree with the concerns over complicated messaging with using Youtube. Google’s massive fibre network probably means their bandwidth bill is zero, anyway1

1 Wired: "YouTube’s Bandwidth Bill Is Zero. Welcome to the New Net"


re: table. yep, nice :-)

re: passwords should be in tvca@riseup account

re: youtube. yeh, well made points. the problem might be that there’s not really an activist video hosting service. Visionon use IIRC, which has all the usual problems of corporate services but does allow you to creative commons your vids. is sort of non-profitty but not specifically activisty i.e. they log ip addys etc. So although we can go a bit less evil there’s sort of a lack of actively good options (maybe we need to build one?). we could use london indymedia, I guess or piggyback the climate camp site. (I assume that’s international Indymedia?) have a 90s videos uploader on their website; it uses FTP for uploads of up to 2gb, but it lacks lots of features vs. Youtube and doesn’t do Flash-based streaming.


I think I’ve just made the page very silly. I clearly have too much time on my hands!


ciderpunx re: passwords should be in tvcariseup account
No sign of them there :-(


re: indymedia video uploader. saw some chatter on one of the imc lists abt. replacing it with a flash player. cf:

So it might happen and we might be sorted.



kk will send them to ppl on gpg when I have my key on me. You && Carl need it, anyone else?


Dear god, my eyes…



It could have been so much worse.