In the overlooked but noteworthy category, blogger J.D. Lasica, cofounder of the grassroots site OurMedia.org, has gotten a $15,000 Knight News Challenge grant to spend the next year writing about and disseminating elements of a “community media toolset: easy-to-use social media tools (plug-ins, scripts, guides and tutorials) that can expand public participation on citizen media sites. ” So says Amy Gahran in a Poynter Institute commentary. (Many additional details in Gahran’s piece.)
Lasica has already helped create one of the pioneering grassroots media efforts. OurMedia’s Personal Media Learning Center is already a great starter toolkit. In the coming year I guess he’ll be concentrating on simplification and explanation — how to use them. As he told Gahran:
“the vast majority (of systems) are written by geeks for geeks. We need to get the coders and the public-facing user interface people in the same room and on the same page.”
JD’s personal home page also has a news research & reference link worth bookmarking for ways to find sources or do research.
So there may not be a better tool-finder and organizer in the grassroots media arena. Ironically, however, we are now in the phase of the media evolution in which the creation and publication of material is of far, far less importance than the discovery or re-invention of business models to support grassroots media. Here is my talking point on this issue; as MarketWatch.com recently reported:
â€œThe top 10 online sites on the Web, including the Big Four (Google, Yahoo, AOL and MSN) captured 99% of gross ad dollars in 2006, up from 95% in 2005.â€
Without a better distribution of revenues, new media will simply enable more people to raise their voices — but not to support or sustain their efforts except as labors of love. And that strikes me as a recipe for frustration.