For the past few years, Rad Geek People’s Daily was syndicated (along with a few score other anarchist blogs) on a Planet-based aggregator called Anarchoblogs at http://anarchoblogs.protest.net/. Rabble, of Anarchogeek, created it
To encourage blogging, raise awareness, and and promote cross linking among anarchist bloggers. Unfortunately, late last year, Anarchoblogs disappeared from the web (as a result of technical difficulties not worth going into here). Today, I am happy to kick off this new year by announcing the return of Anarchoblogs, which is back at a new domain name (http://anarchoblogs.org/) with a new engine under the hood and some important new features. From Anarchoblogs.org: About:
Anarchoblogs is a collection of blogs from self-identified anarchists, anarcho-syndicalists, anarcha-feminists, anarchists without adjectives, libertarian-socialists, autonomists and other assorted anti-statists. We use free software to syndicate our weblogs, in order to raise awareness, bring together anarchist voices, promote cross-linking and discussion between anarchist bloggers, and to archive and index anarchist materials on the Internet, while we’re at it.
Anarchoblogs began life in September 2004. It was founded by Evan
Rabble Henshaw-Plath, and run with a Planet aggregator at
anarchoblogs.protest.net. Technical difficulties caused
anarchoblogs.protest.net to disappear from the web in late 2008, so Anarchoblogs contributor Charles
Rad Geek Johnson contacted former contributors about establishing a new Anarchoblogs aggregator at
anarchoblogs.org, with new software and some new features (including localized hubs, archiving and indexing of posts by date, tag, and author, and a updated, semantically-richer set of aggregated feeds). The new Anarchoblogs has been live since December 2008.
A few notes on the changes. The old Anarchoblogs was run on an old version of Planet, a simple aggregator and templating system which outputs static files. The new Anarchoblogs is run on an installation of WordPress MU with FeedWordPress running on top of it, which will allow for more flexible templating and the new features mentioned on the About page. Probably the three most important are that the new platform allows for painless setup and management of community hubs; for indexing the content of anarchist blogs; and, because each posts goes into the database of a WordPress MU blog, for archiving the content of anarchist blogs over time.
Comunity hubs — the new setup will make it easy to create and manage multiple
community hubs, which aggregate blogs for specific communities, instead of simply dumping everything into one global aggregator. (But if you want everything dumped into one global aggregator, you can still get at that easily enough.) Communities can be defined geographically, ideologically, linguistically, organizationally, or along any other lines which become useful. Currently, there are three hubs up and running, for their own sake and as examples for the future — the language-specific hubs Anarchoblogs in English and Anarchoblogs auf Deutsch, and the ideology-specific hub Market Anarchist Blogs. Soon I hope to get some other ideological community hubs up (syndicalist blogs, green anarchist blogs, that sort of thing) and to roll out community hubs for geographical communities for various countries, cities, provinces, bioregions, etc.
I think it’s important that we develop these community hubs, for a couple reason. First, because every reason that makes aggregating anarchist blogs a good idea in general (promoting conversations among anarchists, helping readers discover new anarchist blogs and anarchist bloggers discover new readers, etc.) is also a great reason to create more specific hubs for specific communities (helping people discover new anarchist bloggers in their own community, promoting conversations among anarchists who live near each other or are otherwise part of the same community, etc.). Second, because there are a lot of anarchist blogs out there, and I hope that Anarchoblogs will encourage people to start even more, and the closer Anarchoblogs comes to aggregating all those blogs, the more closely trying to read the global feed will come to resemble trying to drink from a firehose. This was already starting to become an issue with the old Anarchoblogs; on the new Anarchoblogs, community hubs should help readers figure out more specifically what they want to follow and to avoid being overwhelmed by too much reading material.
Indexing anarchist discussions — the new Anarchoblogs runs on top of a standard WordPress (MU) installation, and so takes advantage of WordPress’s features to index content by date, tag, and the full text of the posts, so that if you want (for example) to see what anarchist bloggers were talking about in January 2009, or to findposts tagged
Feminism on anarchist blogs, or to search for posts where anarchist bloggers mention Greece, you can do all those things, and it’ll work about the same as it works on any individual blog, but will search across all the anarchist blogs we index.
Archiving anarchist discussions — Lots of anarchist writers write only one or two things and then disappear; lots of anarchist distros pass out small runs over a small area for a few years and then disappear; lots of anarchist works are cheaply printed, done on the fly, and get out to only a handful of people. Anarchist media has always been grassroots, usually seat-of-your-pants, and typically ephemeral: imeo sheets, xeroxed zines, tiny runs of amateur pamphlets or movement papers with microscopic circulations. When most of our materials were printed this was a problem but not a crisis: an author or a distro might disappear, but the physical pamphlet or the zine would still exist, and people who took a professional interest could find old copies and preserve them for others to find. But when blogs or websites disappear (as they often do), they disappear forever. Unless someone has archived the material elsewhere, there’s no physical copy left for some future Labadie Collection to dig out of someone’s attic. Just how important this is was really driven home for me when I went through the old Anarchoblogs contributor list to try to get in touch with folks about the new project. Out of over 100 former contributors, I was able to find a still-active blog for less than 30 blogs. The others blogs were no longer being actively updated, or had simply disappeared from the Internet. The old Anarchoblogs just aggregated the most recent content on contributing blogs, and discarded old posts; the new Anarchoblogs archives posts over time in a database where they can be indexed, searched, and re-read, even if the original blog disappears from the Internet. I think that as we spend more years working on building a grassroots, D.I.Y. culture, we are going to find that these kind of archiving efforts are going to be more and more important for our ability to preserve what we have built in media where people come and go quickly, constantly change addresses, drop out, get yanked off, or otherwise disappear from the web. I’m hoping that Anarchoblogs’s new archiving features will go a little way towards a better solution; in any case, if they help preserve a couple of these blogs against the accidents and uncertainties of the future in this world of ours, I’ll be happy.
Finally, I’d like to say something briefly about funding. I’m hoping that Anarchoblogs will be financially self-sustaining, and that it might also provide people a convenient way to support active anarchist bloggers. So I’m going to go out on a limb here and try to do some fundraising for the project. There is a small annual budget, and, once those bills are covered, any money that is raised above the budget will be distributed evenly amongst active Anarchoblogs contributors. If there is enough interest and support in the online community to meet the (very modest) budget on voluntary donations, then I’d like to stick with the voluntary donations. If a few months have passed and it doesn’t look like that’s likely to work out, the Plan B would be to look into unobtrusive sponsorships or advertisements to cover the costs of keeping the aggregator running. But if you think that Anarchoblogs sounds like a project you’d like to see continue, the easiest way to make sure that that happens is to support the Anarchoblogs project with a donation at http://anarchoblogs.org/donate/. Any contribution will make a significant difference (we just need to cover about $350 in bills; after that, any additional money goes directly to active Anarchoblogs contributors).
So, anyway. Give it a look; it’s at http://anarchoblogs.org/.
If you use a feed reader like Google Reader or Bloglines, you can subscribe to a feed of all the posts coming over the wire at http://anarchoblogs.org/feed/ (or, if you want to subscribe to a feed for one of the various community hubs, http://eng.anarchoblogs.org/feed/ or http://deu.anarchoblogs.org/feed/ or http://market.anarchoblogs.org/feed/).
If you have an anarchist blog yourself, check out the information on how to join the community.
If you can support the project with a monetary donation, check out the information on how to donate.
If you have friends who’d be interested, point them to http://anarchoblogs.org/ or to this post.
If you have any questions, comments, concerns, applause, brickbats, suggestions about blogs you’d like to see or features you’d like to see in the aggregator — well, fire away in the comments section here or drop me a line. And enjoy!