The Cyberunions Podcast: Episode Two

Welcome to the second episode of the Cyberunions Podcast.

A ‘strike’ against Skype.

Cyberunions Talk Show Episode 2 ogg

Cyberunions Talk Show Episode 2 mp3

Remember, you can subscribe to the show here for Ogg and here for mp3

Show notes

As Skype disappears behind Microsoft’s walled garden, Free Software activists are working on alternatives

  • Microsoft buys Skype – what will we do?
  • Skype alternatives: Ekiga and Jabber/Jingle – Google Talk uses the Jingle protocol
  • GNU call

2:10 – Free and Open Source Software, free beer and free speech

  • In FOSS nothing is hidden from you
  • Microsoft is anti-union and opposed to workplace democracy, and their software is a bloated mess
  • We’ll keeping testing FOSS alternatives to Skype
  • Escaping the Microserf Gulag – starting out with Linux
  • Linux treats you like an adult – use is a learning experience

5:41 – Is Apple any better?

  • Better software – it’s Unix based
  • Apple also infantilises its uses
  • The app store has been a feature of Linux for years
  • Linux repositories – in the Linux ‘app store‘, everything is free
  • At least Apple mostly works
  • Apple controls your computing experience

8:22 First steps in Open Source – were to start

  • There’s help and support available
  • Linux has got a lot easier to use
  • Linux is now easier to install and configure than Windows
  • You can run it from a CD or USB to test it first
  • Ubuntu is the most popular, but we think Linux Mint is the best place for a new user to start -it’s easier to  use and more reliable
  • For more advanced uses, we like Debian Testing or Linux Mint Debian Edition, which is Testing neatly packaged by the Mint team
  • Ubuntu netbook is great for netbooks

12:02 Social networks – Facebook

  • Using Facebook for union campaigns
  • Good thing about Facebook – everyone is there
  • Low barriers to access – people new to the online environment learn to use it quickly
  • Metcalfe’s Law
  • Problems: Privacy – Settings are complicated and change often. Facebook does not respect your privacy
  • We see more and more Facebook-related cases in white collar workplaces
  • Facebook leaks data
  • Facebook is a timesuck – it encourages discursive activity and dissipates activism
  • Do people actually turn up to your Facebook events?
  • Use with caution and have an exit strategy.
  • Keep your data on servers you control – build your own website
  • A Facebook purge could seriously undermine your campaign

21:45 Alternatives to Facebook

  • Some problems with twitter too – being forced to hand over user data
  • StatusNet is a growing option – running StatusNet on your own site would give you control of your data
  • OStatus is an open standard for social networks – if this is adopted, you’ll be able to communicate with people on other social networks without having to join them.
  • With Ostatus, you would be able to interact with friends on Facebook or Twitter from StatusNet or Diaspora
  • Diaspora – runs on autonomous pods. Try London Diaspora or Diasp.Org if you need an account. Different pods can communicate with each other. Still a bit of a lonely place, so join us.
  • Diaspora aspects are great
  • More on Diaspora next week
  • Decentralised networks are more secure and less likely to fail
  • We’re keeping an eye on Incliq, a new peer to peer social networking service
  • Thimbl is developed by the venture communists over at Telekommunisten

30:02 Bringing together two distinct communities with common interests – FOSS and unions

  • Union activists should contribute to the FOSS community
  • Many programmers and developers don’t like multinational corporations either, and support unions
  • We’d love to see a genuine networked and global Cyberunion for IT workers
  • The union movement is changing – young activists are getting involved in Wisconsin and London
  • Unions should support organisations like ORG and EFF
  • Open formats rather than proprietary ones like .doc


Posted in Podcast.

Marxist. Socialist & labor movement organizer. Boston DSA Labor he/him
Bread & Roses Caucus in #DSA


  1. Great going on the second podcast. Quick point that you missed about Apple; you mentioned that Microsoft ‘seemed’ hostile to trade unions, but neglected to point out that Apple has a shocking workers rights policy; both overseas (with the draconian working ethic for their Chinese workers, that has resulted in suicides) plus in Apple stores (where you’re a cog, not a person, despite the press. Had an interesting discussion with a person in the Birmingham Bullring store recently – I hope they’re listening to the podcast!). Apple Retail Workers have started to set up a Union, based in the states, and they seem to be ‘totally online’ – so might be worth reaching out?

    I couldn’t find anything about unions existing inside Microsoft. Bill probably eats any joiners…

    • Jamie thank you for the pointing out the Apple issue on labor unions…a very valid point and a discussion we plan in a future episode. Please keep the feedback coming we really love to hear peoples thoughts on the show it helps us with the focus and topics for future shows

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