On the 21st of January a new website was launched by comrades at the Kasama Project. The new site is a radical departure from their old format. Incorporating more modern web-layouts as well as integrating a social-networking aspect (which has been described as Facebook for communists) the new site, while not without some significant launch problems, is shaping up to be a powerful new medium.
Logging on early in the morning I found the site had been redesigned from the ground up. In the place of the WordPress blog format was a sleeker re-work; gone were the stilted outlines of conventional blogging and in were a format more akin to that of a newspaper. Easy to navigate and simply to browse, I quickly found my way to the social aspect of the site.
Dubbed Kasama Social, or Kasama Threads, this dynamic of the site was the bit which has been described as “Facebook for Communists”. It is here that participants could make a profile, upload an avatar, and start sharing just as if they were on Facebook proper. Indeed the atmosphere, the looks and aesthetics, are so similar that one might think the Kasama Admins took Facebook and made it better, more radical.
Registering a profile for use on this social site was easy. Taking no more than a few minutes of one’s time I had a shiny new profile in moments. From here it was but moments more where I had uploaded my own in-site blog entry. This feature, called Open Threads, is an open blogging platform. Members can publish entries and comment much in the same way Facebook’s “Notes” feature works. Designed as a source for in-depth discussion Kasama Threads operates as so: members upload blog entries and the most detailed and mature entries win a spot on the “main” website. In addition to this there is also a “Groups” feature which allows members to create discussion groups which will assist the movement in re-conceiving. Finishing off the re-design with an in-built chat feature, the new site has more communicative properties than a smart-phone. One can easily be overwhelmed.
Nevertheless, after I had slated my momentary urge to add a bunch of friends and respond to various comments, I turned my attention towards the actual mechanics of the site proper, namely, the articles.
While the layout is fine enough and the major categories are there (world events, liberation, theory, etc) once one clicks on the tab of interests the loaded screen is simply that of endlessly scrolling articles. It is here that I have my only true compliant. I believe that a more finely tuned search system could be created.
This is what I mean: say you want to find out more about Queer Liberation. Fine enough, simply go to the “Topics” tab, go to “Liberation” and select “Feminism and Sexuality”. At this point the system breaks down. You are taken to a list of articles which have even remotely to do with the topic you selected. There is no break-down or sub-topics. The site demands that you simply scroll until you find an article with a title that might be of interest to what you are looking for.
I maintain that this can be steam pressed into a much more compact, helpful, system. By this I propose that instead of the articles being strewn around haphazardly everything can be sub-divided into sections much like how on the original site ”Reading Clusters” were used to educate newcomers on some basic Kasama theory.
In the same way articles in the old Reading Clusters had simply their title in-fixed with a link to the article itself, I am thinking such can be done for each section’s results. This would require some more administrative responsibilities, admittedly, but in the least I think that if this approach wasn’t adopted than a brief “Recommended Reading List”, composing of relevant Kasama articles, before the endless scrolling would be greatly beneficial to guests and members alike.
Other than this complaint, and the expected host of bugs and technical details which are implied with the launching of any major interactive site, the new Kasama site is a promising accomplishment. More members are needed to truly make it a powerful tool and all the features must work properly, but with some refining and support, the new Kasama experience is one not to be missed.