On Thursday, November 27, 1996 ACT UP/NY (The AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power), Free Speech TV, and DIVA TV (Damned Interfering Video Activists) will broadcast a 30 minute civil disobedience training over the Internet. This will be one of the first uses of the Internet's video and audio capabilities for the education of political activists. The video and audio broadcast can be seen on the web sites of Free Speech TV http://www.freespeech.org) and ACT UP (http://www.actupny.org). Visitors to the site will need a sound card, and the RealAudio player (available for free at http://www.realaudio.com) or the VDOLive player (available for free at http://www.vdo.net/download/) to participate in the netcast. The program will be archived at both sites indefinitely.
ACT UP, an activist group famous for its direct action against government inaction and drug company profiteering involving AIDS, is widely acknowledged as re-energizing civil disobedience tactics in America. From its inception in 1987, ACT UP has continually held 5 hour training sessions for its members. DIVA TV filmed one of these sessions and edited it into a 29 minute video, which was originally broadcast on cable tv. The video describes how to do civil disobedience and what must be planned for it to take place safely and successfully. Free Speech TV has now digitized the video and is hosting its stream broadcast.
"This is what the web should be for," said Stephen Shapiro, one of ACT UP's Internet organizers. "Free speech means more than hawking commercials or being a talking head; it is fundamentally about encouraging greater participation in government and urging us to create social change when there's injustice."
"The technology to do this is still evolving," said Joey Manley, Web Editor for Free Speech TV. "But we see the net as a way to avoid distribution bottlenecks and corporate and/or governmental restrictions often placed on this kind of material. People in Kuwait and Singapore watch our netcasts regularly, as do folks in Russellville, Alabama and Boise, Idaho." Free Speech TV, the non-profit cable programming service, began daily netcasts from it website earlier this year. In addition to AIDS Community TV, its regularly netcast programs include Dyke TV, Political Playhouse, and People's Video Network. "Free Speech TV has always been about empowering as many people as possible to speak to as many other people as possible," Manley said. "That happens to be the Internet's greatest strength."
In addition to the civil disobedience training, the three groups are also broadcasting weekly episodes about the fight to end AIDS. These netcasts are posted every Thursday and archived indefinitely.