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Friends,

      When Steve Cavrak and I began the Science for the People discussion
list a couple or so years ago, neither of us had any idea whether it would
"fly." It's had flurries of activity, and periods of quiet. As one of the
two "owners", I'm automatically notified whenever anyone quits or joins. The
list has grown a little. Now it's up to about 110. My impression is that a
number of "old-timers" have quit, but that their number has been slightly
more than balanced by (probably younger) newcomers.

      Even in its heyday, Science for the People magazine never attained a
very large circulation, though I believe our influence was greater than
might be indicated simply by the number of magazines distributed. We did a
lot besides publishing the bimonthly magazine. We were pretty rowdy at some
of the otherwise staid American Association for the Advancement of Science
meetings, for example, bombarding that notable guest scientist and honored
speaker, Vice President Hubert Humphrey, with paper airplanes while he
supported U.S. bombings in the Vietnam War. Now, it seems to me, an
opportunity for us is emerging, the growing grassroots worldwide
communication network, an opportunity that could enable us, as (radical?)
scientists, to communicate very widely. And it appears to me that the
social/political climate is ripe.

      Speaking of the dominant corporate-controlled mass media, a friend
wrote,

"Television and radio are unspeakable evils, with their endless hours of
advertising, their biased newscasts, their destruction of conversation,
their silence about everything important, their trivialization of knowledge,
their distortion of history, and their endorsement of greed, vulgarity, and
brutality. Television creates a false, mediated world, a cultural world that
has been filtered through the prism of capitalist values. We come to act and
talk as if the only things we have in common are what we have all seen in
the movies or on television or heard in the news. This comes to be the
mediated linkage that binds us together. We no longer have direct cultural
linkages emerging out of our own face to face interaction, but only these
round-about, second hand, artificial, distorted ones."

"This presents a problem. We all need to be aware of what's happening in the
world. We can read the newspapers, but mainstream newspapers must be
approached with the same "reading between the lines" critical eye needed for
television. At present the best resource is the fledgling alternative press,
which can be consulted regularly to keep informed. Hopefully, a growing
oppositional culture will invent better ways of bypassing the corporate
media."

-James Herod (from his essay, "Getting Free". Introduction available at
http://omega.cc.umb.edu/~salzman/StrategyForRevolution/GettingFree/Intro.htm
l)

      Since the massive protest in Seattle last Nov-Dec against the World
Trade Organization (estimated by Vandana Shiva, a theoretical physicist and
prominent environmental activist to have had possibly as many as 140,000
participants), a vast network of independent media sources has rapidly
grown, among them the by-now thirty Independent Media Centers (IMC's) in
North and South America, Europe, Africa and Australia, with additional sites
pending that will include Asia. These represent, in my opinion, a truly
revolutionary development in open communication. It is already possible for
those of us who have browser capacity on the web to learn, with minimal
effort, a great deal that is either downplayed, distorted, or simply ignored
by so-called mainstream media. This burgeoning news source goes far beyond
the level of possible mass communication that e-mail already provides, and
the sites are open; anyone who is on-line can post material "instantly." I
was at first startled when an item I posted appeared within a few seconds,
available world-wide, clearly without any editing or censoring, truly
unmediated communication.

The so-called Global Indymedia site is http://www.indymedia.org. Links are
there provided to all the other IMC's (Independent Media Centers), and to
many other websites as well. The possibility of our participation is there
if we want to use it.

George