Suddenly Great?

About three dozen people gathered this weekend at the scenic Presidio, a former Army outpost at the foot of the Golden Gate bridge, to figure out how to popularize the notion and the practice that people should create and share, not merely consume, media. Citizen media is the broad name for this movement. JD Lasica, cofounder of Ourmedia and an organizer of the conference, has listed the attendees and written a summary of the discussion. I have excerpted a couple of items of interest to me, and added links to other efforts or resources in this realm, so unless otherwise noted, the following is simply my condensation of JD’s post. Chris Tolles with the San Jose startup Topix said: “If you create something of interest and collect an audience, you’ll make money. The question has been raised: Why would someone participate in a citizen’s media effort? What’s the motivation?” Brewster Kahle, founder of the Internet Archive among other things said: “We haven’t cracked through the consciousness of much of the creative community yet. Ourmedia is really bottom up, but we’re still missing the activists, the documentary folks, they’re not putting their stuff online, why? It’s a puzzle.” Dan Gillmor, author of We The Media, part-manifesto, part-guide to citizen media, announced the soft launch of a new citizen media enterprise, Bayosphere, a site that will apparently center on the San Francisco Bay Area and its technology industries. In a similar vein the conference was attended by Mark Potts and Susan DeFife of Backfence, a new community media site that has debuted in the Virginia suburbs of metropolitan Washington, D.C. One of the upshots of the weekend event was to plan for a larger gathering, perhaps under the auspices of a university. (In searching around this morning I noticed that the University of Maryland’s J-Lab is planning a “Citizens Media Summit” for October 24.) Some other resources to better understand or create citizen media include a good overview in Online Journalism Review, and the Citizen Media Monitor and an accompanying list of initiatives. Much work and disappointment lies ahead, and probably more than a little conflict, envy and bitterness. Creating something new isn’t easy. Creating something new that requires the participation of large numbers of people is tougher yet. But ultimately re-inventing media is one of the most important things in which any of us could participate. By coincidence, this morning I pulled a little saying out of a tin of uplifting quotes that my wife got me as a Christmas gift. Think of them as one-a-day-vitamins for the spirit. Today’s quote was from the Stoic philosopher, Epictetus : “No great thing is created suddenly.”

Tom Abate
Cause if you ain’t Mass Media, you’re Mini Media