With a critical eye toward the technology, we can analyze the publishing structures created by these differing applications and their political implications. When we look at these systems together, we begin to get an idea of the difficult balancing acts that the programmer-activists in Indymedia struggle with.

Emphasizing a strong and accessible administration structure creates what some view as an indefensible hierarchy. Deemphasizing the role of editors eliminates thematic features which readers find useful. Cutting users' connection to non-free media formats is at the expense of convenience and access by the majority of Indymedia's current video and audio producers.

These decisions are rarely a matter of right and wrong. They are technical decision that create a particular publishing environment and reflect a particular political ideology. They each aim to create the "best" possible system for the production and distribution of grass-roots media. There is a diversity of political and social ideologies within Indymedia and there must be a diversity of software to realize them. There will be no single answer.

And diversity, in terms of ideology and in terms of software, is a good thing. The ability to fork software and modify it to fit your differing needs is one reason that Indymedia is so closely tied to free software--it is essential for software with participatory aspirations. Zapata has worked heavily on Mir but is interested in getting involved with SF-Active development. He says, "I think it's good to have multiple code bases. It helps decentralize the software development part of Indymedia and having competition stimulates me to improve Mir. Also, our users have real choice, and can compare advantages between the code bases and choose the one that fits their needs best."

During the early stages of every new IMC, media activists must wrestle with the question, "Independent from whom?" There is clearly no correct answer. Through the creation of multiple pieces of Indymedia software with different and explicitly stated political motivations, the Indymedia movement grants us a meaningful form of freedom--the independence to choose the socio-technical terms on which we communicate.