Labour Webmasters' Forum launched
From Eric Lee <ericlee@USA.NET>, 16 September 1997
The Labour Webmasters' Forum, the first web-based discussion group for trade union webmasters, was launched yesterday.
This is the place for trade unionists from all over the world to meet and talk about the new technology that has so many of us excited -- the Internet and the World Wide Web. Feel free to jump right in and join the discussion.
Important: this new web forum is for trade union webmasters only. If you maintain a web site, design graphics or write text for one, or are a trade union official with responsibility for the site, you're invited to join the group. If you just want to talk about the labour movement, go to the Usenet newsgroup alt.society.labor-unions or use this email-based discussion list.
The Labour Webmasters' Forum is located at:
In an initial posting to the Forum, I wrote:
"I've launched this forum in order to provide a place for trade union webmasters from around the globe to meet and chat. I hope that this forum will evolve into a useful tool for all of us who are working with the new technologies of the Internet and World Wide Web on behalf of the labour movement everywhere.
"This is a place to talk with each other, to share experiences, to ask questions, to answer them, to make friends, to plan together, to coordinate our activities, to share resources, to prevent redundancy -- in short, to network.
"When necessary, this can be the place to coordinate global efforts. I'm reminded of some discussions which took place earlier this year, during the Korean general strike. We talked about how we could use the net to support the workers' cause. This forum will allow us to discuss those issues in near-real-time, to react swiftly and effectively to events as they unfold.
"I've launched this forum in part because I am not satisfied with the existing conferencing mechanisms we have. We all know that "alt.society.labor-unions" is full of drivel and spam. It's hard to find the actual trade unionists among all the shouters. The existing email-based forums have all the advantages and disadvantages of email -- and while they are all still vital, there really is nothing like the Web.
"There have been a few attempts at Web-based trade union discussion. Perhaps the two strongest that I know about are the Solinet conferences, run by Canada's largest union (CUPE), located at http://www.solinet.org , and the IWW's use of WWWBoard at its website, http://www.iww.org . The International Transport Workers' Federation -- located at http://www.itf.org.uk -- had been using WWWBoard too, but that's no longer the case. And the "Union Resource Network" with its own WWWBoard software located at http://www.unions.org seems to have gone out of business.
"(I wrote about all this in the 3 December 1996 issue of Global Labournet -- http://www.solinet.org/LEE/labour42.html ).
"Meanwhile, Web-based discussion is thriving. Check out ForumOne, which searches 102,000 Web-based forums. (That's right -- 102,000.) It's located at http://www.forumone.com . Try to find discussion of "labour" (or "labor") and what you'll mostly get are postings from the parenting forums. Even the existing Web-based trade union forums are not indexed here, it seems.
"I've gone on at great length in this first posting, and I apologize for that. This is not the place for lengthy manifestos, but rather for discussion. In a future posting, I'll talk about some of the issues I think we could focus on here.
"I welcome all you and encourage you to avoid "lurking" and dive right on in. I want to hear your voices."
A second posting listed some of the subjects the Forum could discuss:
"1. Publicizing our labour websites - including discussion of such tools as the Union Ring, the proposed Labour Link Exchange (and the existing Link Exchange), etc. What works for our sites and what doesn't?
"2. Labour website directories - including my own attempt to create a "directory of directories". How can we create the very best online directories -- and do we profit from the choice of a number of such directories already online?
"3. Security issues - both security of our websites and secure (encrypted) communication. What have we done in terms of firewalls, PGP (pretty good privacy) and other methods?
"4. Conferencing on the Web - Web-based forums, Web-based chat (we'll have a Labour Chat room based on HTML up and running here very soon) - and non-Web tools, like USENET, IRC chat, and email conferences. What are our experiences and thoughts?
"5. Monitoring the success of our websites - how we do this and how we are doing? (Is 100 hits a day good or bad? And what is a hit?) y "6. Software issues - what we use and don't use in our Web site design; for example, should trade union websites include multimedia files (like RealAudio); should we use Java? Must our sites remain low-tech so people with low-bandwidth connections can access?"