A New Media System

Guest Blog

by Indra Adnan, Co-Initiator of Alternative Planet,  in Conversation with Alternative Community Action Network CANCan ULAB Fast Prototype Team

(Maria Dorothy Skov London, Pieter Wackers Amsterdam, Amanda Faulkner Knaresborough, Simon Divecha Isle of Harris, Scotland, Marilyn Hamilton Findhorn Ecovillage Scotland)

June 23, 2022

What I’m giving here is not a presentation – it’s really a sharing of a model or a diagram with you. I’m really kind of framing it [for you] before we look at the diagram. And then the thing that we’re going to respond to [in our fast prototyping] really is the diagram, which in a way is a nightmare, because I hate diagrams. And I invite you to hate this one as well.

But how I frame it now [can maybe] open up the space and get access to the six of you as valuable responders to the diagram.

So just very, very broadly and to do a little bit of what we started to do in the check-in is to first of all, ask the questions.

What is media?

What is it that we’re actually trying to redesign? What is it that we are recoiling from? And where are we with it historically? So from a historical point of view, to think about the last 30 years as having been something that really is changing fast our access to information, and what Pieter said – the possibility of [being] overwhelmed with information.

And then living in the world of people managing that information – how we get access to it, and how much power we have to change the way we’re being fed things. Given that we now have these infinite number of tools to curate our own media sphere.

I want to posit the idea that because of this last 30 years, even though we are often told that … the internet has made things worse for everyone. I want to remind us of what came before the internet – which was really, us having very little access to information. Information nearly always came from whomever was above us – the authorities that we acknowledged or the business we were in, or whatever kind of hierarchy we put ourselves in.

The information came mostly from above. We were told what to think. And within that was many, many skilled and subtle ways of controlling our thinking.

We’ve been having our thinking controlled all of our lives, which is more or less why we are part of the growth economy machine – we’ve become consumers, we are more or less the thing we need to be to keep this system going. That’s who we became as a result of the media that we consumed. And the way we responded to advertising, the way we responded to the news.

We will always be subject to propaganda. What I believe the internet began to do was to begin to make us aware of that.

So over the past 30 years waking up-  wokeness – all of this is signs that people are beginning to get conscious of the way they are in the media sphere.

That kids get conscious of the power structures, they begin get conscious of the effect it has on them, they begin to see their own powerlessness, they begin to mobilize around identity, they begin to do something that they feel is original. All of this has been made possible by having contact with each other having access to information, and so on. But as we already said it’s not – it doesn’t make everything right –  we’re still very much subject to the way we look at things – to our own kind of personal development – to our ability to have access to information, which is still very, very, very transactional(?). But I do want to put it to us that it’s a time of great possibility, as well as a time of possible further manipulation.

So we live in the world of algorithms now instead of propaganda. We live in bubbles of our own making, and so on and so on. But we are questioning everything all the time. So that questioning possibility exists in our media. And everything becomes a two-way process. It’s not just what we’re receiving. But it’s also what we are making sense of –  how we make meaning. And then to come back a little bit to what Amanda was saying, it becomes a world of choice – you start to decide what you’re going to try to build rather than simply be on the receiving end and feeling that you’re powerless.

I think everybody [in the team check-in around what media we use to learn about the world] gave a little bit of aspect of that.

In the middle of all of this revolution, I have been paying attention to the media most of my life. I was part of a think tank called Conflict and Peace Forums for about 10 years; I’ve worked with journalists looking at what is really the impact of the effect of the war agenda from our government.

And I’m saying that because once you understand the power of the military industrial complex and the effect it has on the economy, you’re quite clear about how important it is to always be ready to go to war. It’s part of our economy. And then, with this clear war agenda, which never gets questioned by the mainstream news (sometimes by the further left papers?) but not really by the BBC.

You have to be quite actively creating a peace agenda. And for some time, we worked on something called the peace journalism option, which was really more to do with a normalization of relationships between people rather than one that is constantly prepared to go to war.

But knowing all of this and being part of this development of ideas of what is this media –

What we are talking about – myself, my partner, Pat Kane and other people that were working with us started to work more in politics and look at the political agenda – what was happening there. And right in the midst of all of that Brexit occurred. And we were able to really experience the incredible divisiveness, the divisive design of everything, and how to step outside of that. And you will know that then we came up with the Daily Alternative as giving people access to something outside the growth economy media bubble.

So that was our attempt – Maria Dorothy Skov, Pat Kane, myself – weekly, generate alternative media.

It looked like it was very random. But actually, it has a very distinct axis – it connects the complex human being to the world in which that being lives in, and its impact from the planet. So we call that an I/We/World axis. And that’s really the axis on which we report. And that’s also the axis within which we look at emerging new power structures.

So all of that is a preamble to this media diagram I’m going to show you now. So I think most of you know, I don’t think I’ve said anything that you don’t already know about the work that we do or who I am.

But I want to just to present all of that to bring us into this diagram in the right way.

So I will share the diagram.

So here is the flat map – it’s a new media system that we are trying to bring into being.

And I’ll just talk you through it and you may be able to see what we’re trying to achieve.

Different parts of it are taking shape.

At this time, it’s kind of emergent. We’re having a light hand in trying to bring it together, but it’s coming together in a way of its own momentum.

And that’s a lot largely to do with what we’ve been doing anyway with a CAN of cans. So at the heart of this media system, we always think about – is the heart of a new politics. In a way these two things are, are the same thing – what keeps wanting to move is this idea of the complex human being.

So we felt it was very important to put that really at the heart of anything that we’re doing now. Because if you’re looking at the previous media system or the previous politics, the human being at the heart was very much homo economicus, … you know, the sort of entity that needs a roof over its head, it needs a tax cut, and it needs to be able to buy stuff. That’s the human being really at the heart of our growth economy, and the media.

So even when we’re in the heat of war, or the heat of COVID, it becomes about our freedom to shop and whether or not we’re able to go out and get the wheels of the economy moving again, because that’s really our value in the system that we are consuming and keeping the engine going all the time.

So this new idea of the complex human being is really a human being which has history in the past, has complex emotional needs, which have been hijacked by the current system. So we get our needs – our complex emotional needs – met by buying things.

And we’re trying to bring that whole complex human being back into the center. So part of the media that we’re generating all the time is news around this – some news around what is the human being? How is a human being getting their needs met in new ways at this time, allowing media or generating media that allows conversation to happen that allows exchange to happen that allows relationships to build, that builds belonging that builds meaning and purpose and so on.

A lot of the media that we are holding dear, is aimed at helping the complex human being come back to life, in a sense, have a better sense of itself in the public space. And I would say that a lot of what has emerged over the last 10 years does that. So whether it’s Facebook or Instagram, or TikTok, it highlights human creativity, human desire to be present, to be the creator to be visible, all of that is being highlighted by these new forms of media. So I’m quite keen to not make them wrong. They’re part of people coming back into back into life.

So serving this complex human being – what is the kind of an incubator [needed]? what is the kind of good context for the human being to thrive – this is this area here [in the second ring]. These are all the community agency networks that we are seeing coming into being.

So what is a community agency network? In our mind, it’s a good incubator, for the health of a community. It’s like a womb – a light kind of place where people can find themselves and move into relationship with others as they become relevant to the thriving and the flourishing of that place. And have an actual impact on how that place develops and is designed for the future to have an impact on the planet. So all of these CANs are the many different forms of CANs now around here (in the second ring).

Now, I’m not talking about ideas about this – this is more where something that is actually taking place in in situ. So actual eco villages, transition towns, mutual aid networks, the neighborocracy, the network of villages. This is a more interesting term that describes a lot of – they call themselves DAOs, because of their structure – decentralized autonomous organizing systems, in many, many different forms.

Some of the municipalities – not all of them –  some are, in a way, very driven still by government agendas, but some have their own community life and engage citizens in a more independent, autonomous way, with a relationship to the council and so on, but not dependent on the council.

So all of these CANs are coming into being and what is our concern? Our challenge is, what is the media of each of each of these? And many of them have their own media systems, but also what is the relationship and the growing relationship between the complex human beings living anywhere and their ability to relate to a camp? How can they find their community? How can they find their incubator? How can they, where can they go to find a place to grow, that really has the whole system in it in the way that the CANs are trying to do? So these CANs themselves are cosmo-local – meaning, they’re local, but they are very connected through the internet – in fact, to all the to the commons, of global tools, methods, prototypes.

You know, the very fact that we’re having this conversation, and this conversation is part of a conversation taking place all over the world is cosmo-localism.  It’s not small and flat local. It’s always cosmo-local.

So what is the relationship here? What is the media that can build between these? How are these different CANs going to start to be connected to each other? What is the media that does that? And what is the news coming from that?

How do these people become the news, if you like, is a big question.

And then [on the 3rd ring] outside of that are global operators who already have very comprehensive media systems of their own right.

So the Wellbeing Alliance for example, or the Shareable Network, or the Network of Bioregions, or Ecosystem as an incredible global operation that is trying to bring eco civilization into being the network of Fearless Cities. (I’d put Integral Cities here as well, if, they were self-constituted already as Integral Cities.)

PTP is the Peer-to-Peer network that Michelle Barnes has built, which has very, very actively built a commons of available and free technology and practice. The Permaculture Association, which is a global association bringing the most incredible learning and connectivity between every aspect of growth, like real growth, meaning life.

This TTP Trust The People is also just groups of young people now happening in different parts of the world, as well as very much in the UK who are going [into] play space that they bring into connection with other activists – global activists through Extinction Rebellion.

So I hope that you can see that the intention of trying to bring all of these things not into connection (meaning a map and a comms system) but this should become a relational system. That’s the challenge, that it’s not enough to just share information, put it on a website make it available, it’s how do these different levels move into relationship with each other, to know each other, to sense each other to be of each other. So that as a vibrant system, it really has energy, and therefore attraction.

This is how really releasing relationship [matters] –  it’s easy for me to put these on a diagram together. But because they’re not interrelated, they’re not causing the attraction that I feel is really the core of a new media system.

So when all of this comes together, and the media is released between these things, then we’re looking at that broader cloud (outside the 3rd ring). So I’m just going to describe how the much wider system which is very actively served by social media of all kinds – at the moment is really a bit lacking an anchor. There’s a lot of energy for good things, but it can’t find the system to connect to that will actually end up giving them ways, means, methods, and practices to create value, from where they live, cosmo-locally, and in every area that they touch.

So at the moment, it feels to me as if all these uprisings (in the cloud) all this available energy has been created, but there’s nothing to choose. Right now, they can only try to be a protest or some sort of alternative to the current system. But there’s no way [to connect] – there’s really a lack of ways of connecting them to this incredible, regenerative, full of practice, full of instant, full of method, full of storytelling about the future – that is possible.

So this part here [in the cloud] becomes the most important part. Because this part has been slowly emerging, without our help. We’re just watching it and telling the story of it all the time but telling the story of it makes it more available to the rest. So that’s what we’re trying to mediate. This part here is almost like [new?] readiness for something, but nowhere to go – all dressed up and ready to go.

I’m trying to make this the destination for all of that emergent energy. So that’s the overall diagram at the beginning. I just want to show you one little thing,  to give you a sense of how I see things coming together at the moment.

[In conclusion] I just wanted to show you [the video of the skydivers coming together as a cluster group] because that is the sense of how people are coming together as a media system.