Hacktionlab Manchester 2011 Notes

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People here are involved in the following projects:

Intro session - 30mins[edit]

  • WTF are we to?
  • How our projects interact

Making connections brainstorm[edit]

A brainstorm session to generate ideas about how different tech activist groups might be able to work together and promote each other's services.

  • Hosting
  • List of radical-friendly hosting - what is radical-friendly hosting?
  • Sharing costs & good suppliers
  • Tachanka - how to promote?
  • Developing trusted (personal & tech) networks
  • Clear guidance on how trust systems work & how people can access services
  • Repeated cross linking - embed codes
  • Include propaganda in for e.g. welcome messages for new accounts
  • Sharing skills e.g. how to set up hosting
  • Combined media releases
  • Accessibility of entry point - e.g. welcoming web sites
  • Model letter to suggest people use radical resources
  • Simple aggregation of other project's content
  • Using each others resources - e.g. email list providers
  • How to keep up to date with each other - Jabber, indy.im, diaspora?

Tech Tools for Activists Booklet v 2.0[edit]


  • new version of Tech_tools_for_activists?
  • booki.cc - get tech tools from source to publishable document HOW?
  • editor - tech tools needs an editor
  • epublishing - how can you make ebooks - structured books - progressive
  • publishing system (PPS)


  • Intro to old booklet
  • What publishing system to use?
  • Give bookie a try as a collaborative tool - can also be used for updating post-publication
  • Export to Scribus to print copy - try and replicate this with bookie
  • Get an ISBN number so book is visible to book sellers?
  • Use print on demand (POD) 44p / copy + £12ish P&P for 300
  • Keep similar format - explain the why & what, but not the how.
  • Hows can be linked
  • Could made a larger book that includes the how
    • Agreed* Ben G to be project slave driver whip-cracker type of thing
  • Other roles ...
    • Content providers
    • Proof-reading - Beth, Becki (?)
    • Design
      • Art work - illustration
      • Cover design
      • Pics
      • Layout, fonts, etc.
    • Copy writing
    • Promotion
    • Distribution ( could be somewhat improved from v1 or words to that effect)
    • Finance
  • Licence? Not decided
    • Content*
  • Do we need a new focus - 1st edition was very security focused
  • Is the title the best one?
  • Better intro - what the booklet's about, what you'll get from it.
  • Revisit intro to each chapter & make very very very simple.
  • Use real case studies
  • New / revised content
    • Status net / indy.im
    • Anon blogging
    • Internet radio / catalyst
    • unspeak.im
    • Secure hosting
    • SSH
    • VPN
  • Editorial process? Let list know before completely overhauling somebody else's content
  • Time scale: content writing will be over by Christmas

Pricing and distribution


Printing a 32 page, self cover (meaning no extra cardboard cover, although for an extra price you can have one), 300 copies, £0.44 per copy, £133 in total (Zero VAT), delivery £10 per carton DHL 3 day delivery (the 300 copies are most likely one carton). Imprint are a short run printers so you need to do orders of at least 100 copies on pamphlets and 25 copies on books.


Up to 32 pages, size needs to be 216 x 140 mm and would have a colour gloss cover, £1.82, -20% if you print 300 copies, £1.46. The useful thing about these guys is that they are print on demand proper, in that you can do one copy. Delivery charges are minimal DHL prices + £1.25 per order, these are if you make orders yourself. You can also have copies printed in the US and posted from the US. The other things these people do is automatically distribute for you, they send out metadata that all the major and minor online retailers pickup. Your books get sold, printed and sent out without you doing anything, for a 20% commission off your sales price.


Separate from the printers we can have books distributed to the online retailers for a commission of 15% FbA per unit, fulfillment £0.98 if the held in a warehouse and automatically sent out, on top of this the user will pay their own postage when they buy online.

Hacktionlab on the road - 120mins[edit]


  • lab - some content is offered from Mute
  • hacktionlab - on the road tour, how to organise this - a look at
  • funding - is the under the hacktionlab remit? - some things we might need paying for
  • festivals - do we do festivals?
  • social centres - do we do social centres/unis/colleges
  • courseware -lesson plans/online activities/too ambitious?/open
  • licence - how can we work on workshop materials together?


General feeling on moving on from doing another BarnCamp in 2012, due to energies of the main organisers and a desire to move on to something new with a greater outreach.

BenG did a couple of workshops at the Green Gathering and BenG and Adelayde did the Bristol Anarchist Bookfair.

Suggestion that there should be more 'why' involved rather than 'how to' in the workshops. People need encouraging to use other tools than the commercial alternatives. But how to we compete with companies who spend a lot of wad on their tools? Could be a representation of what you can with your computer?

But aren't we already doing this?

We have to be careful about the evangelising? Getting our messages really down so that we focus on why we need to do it, the social aspect of it is more accessible. Perhaps workshops aren't so good at the how, but better at the why and how?

The tour format could be modular, therefore we can change depending on whether it was a single workshop session, or a whole tent.

Could we set aside time for internal discussion and outreach?

Mick's idea is that it should be a show, with demos of all the stuff and fast moving, something like 90 mins. To inspire people and get them using the tools backed up with resources. Workshops in the day and the show in the evening.

So we agree that the workshop list on the wiki is a good start and that we should continue to add resources to it. Could the short version workshops reflect the booklet, and then link to more, fuller instructions online?

The wiki page about the topic could provide cross-links to other projects that already provide the in depth details.

Straw poll on who's up for what:

  • Festivals: who's up for what kind of festival? Unless you've got your

own marquee and infrastructure, they may well not be interested. Perhaps someone like Shane Collins who organises the Green Forums in lots of events. We have the kit, but it's a big thing, lots of work. Come up with a couple of things, such as a such of workshops, or a small-marquee to tag on to another venue.

  • Freeschools: northern england urban events? Freeschools, LaDIY in Sheffield soon. Skill-shares at social centres. Most people we up for this.
  • Doing sessions within other events as individuals or small groups.

Everyone is up for strengthening the resources online so that people can take them and go and do whatever thing they want to do.

Question on how it's branded: who am I doing it as? We have a potential range of 5 or 6 services. We need a new name to tie it all together! A name for the Tour? Branding for each individual event?

Be good to offer social centres a menu of workshops and get them to choose what they want? An anarcho-tech support clinic session at an event might be a good way of getting ideas about what people want... It's been tried and people just ask about how to

One of the things we struggle with is that sense of instant community out a box that Facebook has. What can we do?

Should we be looking at a whole load of workshops on tech-web-based things, or should we be including non-web stuff? The stuff that is in the media at the moment is communications orientated and perhaps we should target that. Perhaps we ought to take the zeitgeist of the moment and tailor the workshops to what people are talking about now. Secure email is a massive one.

OpenWeb: a non-privitised web where the use of the network is open.

The question was raised about whether there was any objections to people getting paid for doing workshops: there was no general objections. It was mooted that it'd be nice if people contributed financially to it. We spoke about people doing paid gigs and not saying that they do: we suggested that perhaps we could list stuff that members do so that we have a list of what we've done as a collective. If the content is under creative commons then people have to contribute back in to them with any adjustments they make to workshops.


  • We're up for it! In general,

Topics such as email, green technology, you're being farmed.... Three main strands:

  • communicating securely and not getting caught, how to not get farmed.
  • the open web and not using corporate services and software.
  • don't be a passive consumer of information and get together with your community and produce your own media.

oh and there's also ...

  • green/alternative technology: surrounds us all and is a holistic wrapper around everything.

Widening the dialogue to get out there more and reach a wider group of people. The 90 minute show might help.

  1. Flesh out the wiki page, link the workshops to the booklet where possible: we decided to aim to make the booklet's articles have related workshops and wiki pages to make for more continuity and less work.
  2. Look for gigs to do and list these as a resource on the wiki.
  3. The 90m show. A short video could be the start of something like that. Start writing the musical with a rotating cast.

Parallel Breakout Sandwich sessions[edit]


  1. Introductions to BTM and Catalyst projects
  2. Breakouts
  3. Lunch
  4. Feedback

BeTheMedia front page - 90mins[edit]

  • session to sort this out this content, looking at how BTM works with other groups
  • Make a working process for the tech group - Drupal

We had a good look over the web site and implemented a few things that were on staging on the live server. We feel that we need a bit of a coding and documentation sprint.

catalyst website - 90mins[edit]

  • streaming server trouble needs sorting, airtime
  • skills to share, create a wishlist, look at the airtime GUI to suggest features/bugs
  • Strategy for world domination
  • media players - look at online media players and how to use them
  • There's a desire to work on local Catalyst groups.
  • Going to the Bristol Anarchist Bookfair and do some streaming and recording.
  • Looked at AirTime and discussed automating some of the tedious admin tasks.
  • A Catalyst Radio hack gathering at LARC on 26th-27th November is the next thing planned.
  • Discussed how it would be good to migrate to a new web site platform that could be supported by more people. Therefore we could use the Drupal BeTheMedia codebase to roll out a replacement site fairly quickly. Converting the widgets would be fairly quick.
  • MF is up for co-ordinating the migration and has time up to November, and the group will discuss what can be done in this respect. Others expressed the possibility of helping with that. The designer could start doing this skinning based on Drupal.


Kitten Attacks.jpg

An encrypted anonymous instant messaging service.

Closing plenary - 20mins[edit]


  • Ideas
  • Outreach and promotion.
  • new hacktionlab website - wiki is a bit inaccessible currently - new front end WP or Drupal
  • defining ourselves - where next?


  • New actions
    • Simon agreed to get info from other tech collectives in order to better promote them (see groups section at top of page). Info to get ...
      • Logos - square, banner, icon.
      • 100 word description.
      • 1 sentence description.
      • List of services provided
    • Collate current Tech Tools booklets for Anarchist Bookfair (22 Oct) - Graham to try - others?
    • Make a Drupal website for hacktionlab - Graham & Mike to have a go.
  • Next Gathering
    • 14-5 or 21-2 January at the 1 in 12 (Bradford).
    • Have time at this gathering to discuss where the Hacktionlab tour will go


The management would like to apologise for the gratuitous representations of kittens in these notes. The problem has been traced, and we promise it won't happen again.