Let’s Send an S.O.S. to the World

Yesterday I argued that independent media producers should band together to increase their economic clout, create a network of trusted collaborators and lobby for their interests. How would such an idea move beyond dream stage? Perhaps by creating a group blog or wiki with open membership and a non-profit charter and one prime directive: to create a formal governance structure when membership reaches say, 1,000. I’d call this a self-organizing system.

Before I go on about the SOS idea, I realize that aspects of what I called for yesterday already exists at least in parts and pieces. For instance MediaBistro.com has an extensive network of freelance contacts, classes and a premium membership health plan option. Websites like Lulu.com have created extensive online commercial communities. And the Electronic Frontier Foundation has long experience as the cyber-rights watchdog. Given the existence of such groups it may be unnecessary to invent a new non-profit. But I think it’s worth a try.

We need to experiment not just with media but with the types of organizations we use to coordinate activity. The institutions we use today arose before electronic networking made it possible to form effective, geographically-dispersed, ad-hoc associations. So the corporation, be it for or non-profit, and other business types obviously can and do function. But can we get to a media evolution or revolution by pouring new ideas into old vessels? That strikes me as the equivalent of drinking wine from a pewter goblet. Yes, it worked, but we really were better off when we graduated to glass. We see new organizations taking shape in groups like Wikipedia and Wikinews, founded by Jimmy Wales, and by the open source software movement. I hope others see the need for continued experimentation along these lines.

Some time ago I wrote a series of three postings entitled Food for Thought I, II and III, that are related to these ideas. The third piece is most germane to this line of thought. I have parked but not activated a domain called Minimedia.org where I will attempt to develop interest in these notions. I’ll try to activate that when I find time, and then we’ll see if there is any interest. But before I end this navel-gazing exercise and resume my selective coverage of events in the larger media world, I want to write one more piece tomorrow on how to think like a molecule.

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