I like Porkbusters (and I’m about to hear Glenn Reynolds plug the movement on Reliable Sources). It was born the way things are online: a sudden need, a sudden inspiration clicks with a critical mass and movement moves. This is a great example of our distributed world swarming together to accomplish something. Remember: The internet isn’t a medium. It is a means.
So how could the Porkbuster example be extended? At the MT&R fest the other day, Jay Rosen lauded the similar example of Josh Marshall having bloggers uncover the secret vote on the DeLay rule — a movement of the moment much like Porkbusters. Then Jay said he wanted to come up with another idea:
There wasn’t time for me to explain my suggestion for a next big project in open source journalism– a blog-organized, red-blue, 50-state coalition of citizen volunteers who would read and attempt to decipher every word of every bill Congress votes on and passes next year.
Or, in the vein of Porkbusters, start with the budget and create the wiki-annotated view of federal spending.
All it takes is a leader to push the notion the first time and then a lot of people agreeing and willing to pitch in… and maybe a tag or a microformat to help it come together.
This is the smart mob as a new newsroom. Not the new newsroom, mind you: another new newsroom.
On the way into Manhattan this morning, I listened to Mitch Ratcliffe’s podcast version of this post, in which he argues that we are witnessing the growth of “paramedia.” This is parajournalism.