I received a dispatch from Seattle Indymedia activist Randy Rowland, announcing that the (myspace) PepperSpray video collective will no longer be producing a weekly television show on public access TV. For years, Randy operated a small IMC in the attic of his house off Rainier Avenue where each week since the WTO ministerial session in 1999 Randy and other video activists from the area would broadcast Indymedia Presents — a 30-minute weekly compilation of activist and radical videos from the Northwest, the US, and occasionally uprisings and social movements from other countries. Indymedia Presents, The Leader and NewsReel from PepperSpray were seen in about 18 cities nationwide: from Portland, Seattle, Olympia and Port Townsend in the Northwest, to Manhattan, Minneapolis, Indianapolis, and Pittsburgh back East.
Someone could make a feature-length documentary, or write a book, about rise of global indymedia, since it precedes the rise of social networking like Myspace and Facebook. In terms of indymedia, the medium in large part was the message itself, as Marshall McLuhan said. Since WTO 1999 more than 200 IMC websites sprang up around the world, and anyone was able to create their own content and contribute to “the news”. Regimes have been toppled, autonomous regions maintained, and summit talks collapsed, when we control the media, when we control the pace of globalization. “We are everywhere.” It was a new way of thinking. It was a new thing to be decentralized. The global IMCs have situated themselves as the voice and narrative of worldwide anti-capitalist attack, strikes and insurrections as well as non-violent protest. The IMCs were the latter-day La Sociales of the Paris Commune in 1871. Video collectives operate in nearly every major North American and European city, and many use their technologies to extend privileges to ‘peripheral’ places. All it takes is “three people and a laptop.” Leftists the world over copied indymedia and gave the model variations of the same privileges. PepperSpray and the original Seattle IMC were not the only collectives that ran a public access television show in the US. But the PepperSpray collective lasted much longer than most, and was the first of its kind. They were the first to have an open IMC in downtown commercial property space. They were the first to broadcast indymedia on TV.
But video collectives ebb and flow. Many that existed have disbanded, or shifted focus, and changed plans, and the world has not ended. It is merely a “creative destruction,” where we find a new project, a new medium, a new skill. We made a new world in the shell of the old. This is a good time to rearrange, to regroup for attack, to find ourselves again. A younger generation of radicals will bring their own skill and experience and forge new paths using whatever medium is relevant to their generation. The rage lives on.