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The

Movement

Internet

Timeline

By the Progressive Technology Project and May First Movement Technology
www.progressivetech.org
info@progressivetech.org

We know who

we

are...

Activists at protest rally.
Photo by Rhododendrites - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

...but what is the

Internet?

Is it a bunch of computers and cables maintained by tech bros?

White male network technician installing a rack mounted server.

Or, is it the billions of us on earth who use it daily?

The earth as seen from space

If the Internet is a

living thing

then...What is our relationship to it?

1970

We know it started in 1970 by the US military.

1987 - 1998

The first significant and organized left involvement happened via the Institute for Global Communication (IGC). IGC spawned peacenet, econet and many other forums for left wing organizing. IGC forged international connections, launching the Association for Progressive Communications (APC) with six other organizations around the world. IGC along with it's partners in APC built a left-wing Internet.

1993
Picture of monitor showing mosaic browser.

Mosaic, the first major web browser that could display images, was released by the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign. The programmers were later poached by a company called Netscape Communications leading to the first wave of major corporate investment in the Internet.

Image credits: Kevin Baird, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
1994
Painting of zapatistas with guns.

The Zapatistas declare war on the Mexican Government, launching a global revolutionary movement opposed to neo-liberalism and demonstrating the ability for the left to use the newly mainstreamed Internet to inspire a mass movement.

Image credits: Julian Stallabrass, CC BY 2.0
1999
Giant black puppet with sign saying 'My Life is Not for Sale.'

Facing a corporate media blackout on the eve of the Battle in Seattle, movement technologists launched the Indymedia Network, a loose grouping of alternative media web sites allowing anyone to post articles, pictures and video about global justice protests and activities. Developed hand-in-hand with the global justice movement, Indymedia centers rapidly popped up in cities all around the world.

Image credits: djbones, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
2003
Indymedia logo in cross hairs

The global justice movement was crushed post 911. Without a movement to anchor it, the Indymedia network began to decline, while corporate efforts that copied the innovative easy-to-publish workflow began to proliferate, eventually to be dominated by Twitter and Facebook.

Image credits: publik15, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
2008
President Obama and 'Yes we can' slogan.

The first black president in US history, Barack Obama, is elected. Despite right leaning policies (include record levels of immigrant deportations), he inspires trust and confidence in the left. The left begins a massive migration to and dependency on corporate services such as Twitter, Facebook and Google.

Image credits: cfishy, CC BY 2.0
2010 - 2016
Protest signs in front of wall street

Between 2010 and 2016, massive global protests erupt, including Arab Spring, Occupy Wall Street, Black Lives Matter, Dreamers, and Standing Rock. These movements' largely successful use of corporate platforms, particularly Twitter and Facebook, cement the left's dependence on proprietary Internet services.

Image credits: Steve Rhodes, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
2013
Mustached white guy looking via TV screen with 'Big Brother is Watching You'

While the left's use of corporate social media sky rockets, Edward Snowden reveals that our worst fears about goverments using corporate Internet services to illegally spy on us are barely the tip of the iceberg. The mass migration of left organizations to corporate services continues unabated.

Image credits: Vince_Lamb, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
2016
Protesters with sign 'We are all immigrants'

Donald Trump's election is a wakeup call to the left.

Image credits: hawaii, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
2018
Info graphic showing castle wall with tech giants

Successful campaigns illustrate the connections between the corporate tech platforms the left depends on and the technology that powers ICE, facial recognition software, and other repressive policies. The left's relationship to the corporate Internet begins to change.

Image credits: https://notechforice.org/
2020 (Spring)
Closed playground with notice about COVID

Covid19 disrupts every aspect of our lives, pushing us toward a greater dependence on online tools. The movement responds by both widely criticizing Zoom, the defacto corporate standard, and developing non-corporate alternatives such as Jitsi Meet and Big Blue Button.

Image credits: weaverphoto, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
2020 (Summer)
BLM protester with mask saying racism is a virus

The death of George Floyd by the Minneapolis police sparks the largest wave of public protests in recent history. Fueled by cell phone video that spreads to every corner of the earth via the Internet, everybody witnesses the brutal murder and the ensuing global protests.

Image credits: joaodanielper, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0