The all-in-one, super-duper, deluxe everything citizens’ reporting machine

The all-in-one, super-duper, deluxe everything citizens’ reporting machine
: If you were going to invent the ideal gadget for reporters — or better yet, citizen-reporters and witness-reporters — to carry around, what would it be?

I was lucky enough to go attend Clay Shirky‘s NYU ITP class this week to bring a real-world (read: old-fart) perspective to the students’ inspiring social-software projects. I was carrying (read: flaunting) my new Treo 600 phone/palm/camera/web device and so Mark Argo, a student, and I started talking. He said he’s been thinking about the perfect moblogging device. I liked that perspective; that’s why I also like talking to students so much. I said if he invented that, it would be the perfect reporting device. And I so started thinking about what that would require:

1. Capture. It needs to grab and store photos, video, and audio.

2. Selection. You need to be able to easily edit — that is, select — the key chunks of those media bits.

3. Comment. You need to be able to write (or speak) your comment to wrap this.

4. Connect. You need to have a resource that lets you search and find out more about the topic you’re reporting or commenting on.

5. Publish. You need to be able to get it online with a click.

That is the all-in-one, super-duper, deluxe everything reporting machine.

We’re not too far away from that. My Treo is still awkward but it lets me take a picture, comment on it, connect to the Web, and post it.

ticket.jpg: To prove that, earlier that same day, I happened upon a scene: A New York parking cop giving a ticket to a U.S. Postal Service truck. It struck me as rather dumb: One arm of our government tickets another arm of our goverment to get our money and pay for a lot of bureacrats in the process. It wasn’t worth bringing my camera out of my bag but then I remembered: I have my super-duper camera-phone. And it has the further advantage of being quite unobtrusive; the ticket lady wouldn’t even notice me taking the picture.

As with anything new, this will, of course, cause nervousness and efforts to control it. We’ve all heard about gyms banning camera phones. And USA Today reports that attendees at a Britney Spears/Rolling Stone party had to hand in their cell phones at the door.

Steve Outing predicts that there will be a backlash against efforts to take away our cameras.

Right. In the day when we’re all reporters and we all carry our all-in-one, super-duper, deluxe everything reporting machines, we’ll demand the right to witness what we witness and tell the world about it. For we’ll have all the tools we need to do that — not only our machines but also our weblogs.

We’ll be capturing scenes of politicians, police, celebrities, and fellow citizens doing or saying bad or stupid things everywhere. (Why isn’t the Gawker Stalker photo-ready, already?)

And friends will be saying to friends — just as bloggers say to bloggers today — “this is off the record.”

But news will be everywhere and everywhere, there will be citizens with their all-in-one, super-duper, deluxe everything reporting machines ready to capture it and share it with the world.