Posts from March 25, 2004

The Center for Citizens’ Media

The Center for Citizens’ Media

: It’s time for me to talk about an initiative I’m trying to start (with NYU, if I’m lucky) to create a Center for Citizens’ Media to enable the growth — and quality — of this new medium. I’m inspired to tell you about it now because of the Howard Rheingold quotes below.

I have a much longer spiel — ready to send to any foundation! — on the mission of the center but in a nutshell, I believe that we can serve four constituencies:

> Citizen journalists can benefit from education in some of the tricks of the trade (e.g., how to avoid libel, how to file freedom of information requests, how to write a killer lede). I’m not saying that bloggers need to be like big-media journalists but I am saying that media must to embrace this new wave of journalists.

> Journalism students can, for the first time in history, think and act like entrepreneurs (see Gawker, Gizmodo, Engadget). They can use weblogs to create a body of work that will get them hired. They must learn how to interact with their publics in new ways.

> Big media needs to learn how to interact with and serve and, most importantly, listen to the citizens formerly known as their audience.

> News sources — in politics, government, business — need to learn how to relate to citizens who can now, finally, speak to them.

I have much more to say on the topic but I’m motivated to give you a preview because I just read quotes from Howard (Smart Mobs) Rheingold, who gave a wonderful interview to Business Week on the Internet and politics… and journalism:

Rheinhold: I think there’s a Darwinian process when you have a large number of people doing it. If 10 million people are publishing their own opinions instead of sitting slack-jawed in front of the tube, that’s got to be healthier for the public sphere. The mass media have disempowered people from the process and made them feel disempowered.

Business Week: What could make blogging more useful to the masses?

Rheingold: What’s lacking is grounding in good journalism. It’s a learned skill that requires some tutelage by people who understand it. I wish that the people in the news business, instead of fearing the bloggers, would help educate them.

I’ll be teaching a course at NYU — the first to bridge the department of journalism and ITP, with Jay Rosen and Clay Shirky — this summer and fall as a first step toward creating this center and serving the needs Howard identifies.

Best day ever

Best day ever
: VH1’s Best Week Ever blog has lots of good, newsy, fun posts today.

Oh, Noam

Oh, Noam
: Chomsky has a blog.

What’s amazing is not its cant — nothing amazing there — but how badly it is written.

I spoke at a demo of about 20,000 people in Vancouver, very enthusiastic and engaged, and as far as I could tell, inspired to go on. Also to audiences of several thousands, which seemed the same. The pre-war demonstrations were without historical precedent, and surely important. The anniversary demos were also without precedent, and again surely will have an impact.

Without precedent? Did you put yourself to sleep through the ’60s? Or getaloada this doozie:

There are also tactical questions. Those who prefer to ignore the real world are also undermining any hope of reaching any popular constituency. Few are likely to pay attention to someone who approaches them by saying, loud and clear: “I don’t care whether you have a slightly better chance to receive health care or to support your elderly mother; or whether there will be a physical environment in which your children might have a decent life; or a world in which children may escape destruction as a result of the violence that is inspired by the Rumsfeld-Wolfowitz-Cheney-etc. crowd, which could become extreme; and on, and on. Repeat: “slightly better.” That matters to sensible people, surely the great mass of people who are the potential victims. So those who prefer to ignore the real world are also saying: “please ignore me.” And they will achieve that result.

This blog should come with aspirin. [via Anil, who calls it “red meat for warbloggers”… if only there were meat there]

Copy cop

Copy cop
: Reuters is going to use FAST search to find unauthorized uses of its content and violation of its copyright on the Internet and in print. That’s a clever use of the technology. But the first time Reuters goes after a blogger for snipping too long a quote — how long is too long? — there’ll be a storm. The FAST press release here.

Dirty old man

Dirty old man
: Just like the good old Clinton days: In the rally at which Dean endorsed Kerry, there were lots of pretty intern-aged enthusiasts behind the podium.

Bloggercon: The business of blogs

Bloggercon: The business of blogs

: I’m delighted that Dave Winer has asked me to handle a session at Bloggercon (I had a ball playing Oprah — complete with bad words — at the last BCon).

The topic: Making blogs a business.

Please start the discussion here and now. In Dave’s wise view of these sessions, there are no panels — hell, in this area, there are no experts (yet) — and so everybody is on the panel, everybody is an expert, it’s all your show. Shape it now. Ask questions. Push the discussion. Let’s get to Cambridge ready to rock ‘n’ roll.

Let’s make clear from the very start: Many people don’t want their blogs to be a business. Dandy.

But for those who do, I want to see everyone in the room answer two questions (or you tell me what the questions are) in a giant white-board business brainstorming session. My starting list:

1. What is the business potential of blogs? What is their value? Can they sell products? Can they sell subscriptions (to themselves or to other media)? Can they provide consumer opinion and buzz? What about sponsorship and underwriting? How many tip jars can the world support? What about blogging for The Man? Is Google enough to support this medium? Let’s sell blogs to ourselves and find all the ways they can be supported financially.

2. What’s required to make that happen — from a business and a technical perspective? Do we need reliable ways to count traffic, demographics, behavior, authority, and so on? Do we need technology for standard ad calls and reporting? Do we need our own PR to sell the value of blogs to marketers?

And we should also ask: What are the booby traps? How should bloggers handle conflict of interest? Do we need to guard against our readers being ripped off by bad advertisers? Do bloggers need to worry about being ripped off? Does it ruin this personal medium to become a business medium?

That’s just a start. So keep the discussion going now — here and on the Bloggercon site.

Hope to see you and hear you in Cambridge!

: Here’s the run-up to Jay Rosen’s session on journalism at Bloggercon (I’ll be there).

: And here’s the start of the power law discussion (based on Clay Shirky‘s writing), to be led by Nick Denton.

: Henry Copeland of Blogads is properly reminding us all that weblogs already make money — thanks to Blogads (plus Google AdSense). Sorry. I assumed that. No need to sell the sold. Blogads is growing like mad. But I’m also talking about how to get the most out of that — for example, how do we get more blogs involved and convince more advertisers to use them — and how to imagine new value and new revenue; let’s dream!


: Damn. I have tried to move every mountain to go to David Isenberg‘s WTF but those damned mountains won’t budge. The agenda looks great. If you’re around NY, go! And blog!

Koranized for your protection

Koranized for your protection
: Fleet Street Blogger sends us to an absurd story in the Guardian about the Guardian:

A newsagent cut pictures out of the Guardians he sold this week because it offended him. The picture was of a sword over the Koran.

As FleetStreet points out, what’s even more disturbing is that the customers who bought that paper and the paper itself didn’t complain but instead tripped over themselves to be PC about it:

In a letter published in the paper yesterday, a human rights lawyer, John Rowe QC, described buying his Guardian “in this most tolerant of cities” and finding that it had a front page hole.

He said yesterday: “I bought my Guardian, went to Starbuck’s, got my tall latte, settled down, opened the paper – and found I could see Deansgate through it.

“I raced back to the shop and asked ‘What have you done here?’ and was told ‘I have done it to all of them’.”

In his letter, Mr Rowe said: “We parted amicably and I quite enjoyed being tolerant.”

Well, yes, that’s where the media world is going: Why not go to a newsstand that matches your sensibilities: We take out all stories Republican [or Democrats] wouldn’t like as an addes service for our customers.

Arrrrgh. [Thanks, Nick]