A Couple of Intersting Titles from O’Reilly

While I haven’t read these titles – they seem like something to put on the to get list:

We the Media: Grassroots Journalism for the People and by the People
Grassroots journalists are dismantling Big Media’s monopoly on the news, transforming it from a lecture to a conversation. Not content to accept the news as reported, these readers-turned-reporters are publishing in real time to a worldwide audience via the Internet. The impact of their work is just beginning to be felt by professional journalists and the newsmakers they cover. In We the Media: Grassroots Journalism by the People, for the People, nationally known business and technology columnist Dan Gillmor tells the story of this emerging phenomenon, and sheds light on this deep shift in how we make and consume the news

and this one
Peer-to-peer: Harnessing the Power of Disruptive Technologies

Discussing Social Media

From the Many2Many blog – most of this post is about social media from a commercial perspective – but these bits are interesting:

Social media are another example of the demand side supplying itself. We’re seeing this with open source software, with new standards like RSS, and with the new media we call blogs. We’re even seeing it in movies such as Outfoxed, and with Internet radio (in spite of destructive fear-based regulation). None of these things came from the Big Boys. They came from you and me and the rest of us here.

This part may be especially interesting in thinking through the new landscape of where community media and technology may be heading:

There is little point in defining Social Software, Media, Search, Computing or Networking, except that new language parallels innovation. Here’s my way of mapping the space, feel free to modify and make your own.

Social Software, a term coined by Clay Shirky, is the design of systems that supports groups with an underlying value proposition of building social capital…
Social Software is not that new, but its currently a growing and evolving sector marked by a high level of cross-polinization. The level of innovation defys easy categorization.

Properties include people-centricity, low communication costs, low transaction costs that encourage adoption, easy group forming, triads rather than pairs, treating groups as first class objects in the system and adapting to the social network (heterarchy) rather than requiring it to adapt it it (heirarchy). Second order effects include emergence, reputation, different values at different scales, transparency, decentralization and fun parties.

Other dimensions to view this space include enterprise vs. consumer, how connections are formed, different values at different scales, what markets are cannibalized, what cultures (not markets, but don’t reach for your gun) are served and open vs. closed.

These dimension easily blur. Take for example the distinction of enterprise vs. consumer. Social Software adoption is being driven in the enterprise from the bottom up. Initially, it users as developers bringing in their own tools like personal publishing and wikis plus (shameless plug here) enlightened companies serving both users and enterprises at different scales.

JD’s New Media Musings

J.D. Lasica is a veteran journalist who writes frequently about the impact of emerging technologies on our culture. He is currently completing a book for John Wiley & Sons on the digital media revolution. 

JD covers a wide range of issues around culture, technology and convergence.  He has an amazing set of links at his site.  Check it out.

Community Media: Moving to Confront an IP-Enable World

Just returned from the ACM conference in Tampa. Presented on the Convergence, Emergence & Empowerment panel with Dirk Konig, Nettrice Gaskins, and Fred Johnson. Hope that the powerpoints will be posted soon. Community Media folks seemed eager to explore the possiblities of the online file sharing environ. Passed out lots of 10speed and cbcmedia cards.

Seems like the future of an IP-enabled world was the big buzz and all the CMC movement seems poised to move forward. Jeff Chester’s opening pre-conference panel “Shaping our Digital Destiny” addressed many of the issues facing communities in a conglomerized world dominated by cable interests. Andrew Afflbach from Columbia Telecommunications Corporation presented some great technology vision, Nick Miller policy, and Inja Coates (MediaTank) an achtivist on the ground perspective.

A panel entitled Caution: Convergence Ahead also debated where these technologies were talking folks. Fred Cohn, Deputy Manager from the City of Monterey presented the fantastic gigabit ethernet I=Net and Cora Wilson from NATOA painted the picture for PEG in the coming years.

Clearly the convergence at all levels (tech innnovation, policy, and program)is starting to shake itself out. Clearly community media folks are starting to think through what these issues mean for them. The question will be what will happen as content becomes less centrally controlled and users interact in with content in individualized ways. What does this mean for public space, interests and ideas.

Thanks to Jason Daniels for giving me a really good metaphor for all of this. Think of all of this stuff as a chess board. There are many players, many strategies and many possible ways to victory. Community Media is a rook = pretty powerful at moving in certain directions. Community Tech a bishop = also powerful for moving in complementary directions. By combining these two we get a queen – the most powerful piece on the board. With this power, we can be ready and flexible for any possible opposition or strategy and our chances for winning much stronger. Thanks Jason!!!!

Open Source, Grassroots Control, Building Communities of Trust

Across the CTCNet and AFCN member listservs today, Michael Miranda jumpstarted a couple of discussions. One was about how communities choose technology solutions to individual, organizational, and public spaces. In particular, the decision for the state of Illinois to implement SimDesk as an app serving the information needs for citizens. The other discussion focussed on Open Source and the GPL as a philosophical choice to maintain local control and to combat the potential for communities to be closed out.

The abstract below is from “Managing the Boundary of an ‘Open’ Project” look at how social cohesion occurs in an anarchic / decentralized system.

Theorists have speculated how open source software projects with porous boundaries and shifting and indeterminate membership develop code in an open and public environment. This research uses a multi-method approach to understand how one community managed open source software project, Debian, develops a membership process. We examine the project’s face-to-face social network during a five-year period (1997-2002)to see how changes in the social structure affect the evolution of membership mechanisms and the determination of gatekeepers. While the amount and importance of a contributor’s work increases the probability that a contributor will become a gatekeeper, those more central in the social network are more likely to become gatekeepers and thus influence the membership process. A greater understanding of the mechanisms open projects use to manage their boundaries has critical implications for knowledge producing communities operating in pluralistic, open and distributed environments. It also contributes to our theoretical understanding of how network structures help shape the construction of new social orders.

Thinking Chaordically: The future of Communities and Technology was the foundation of a closing plenary delivered by Andrew Cohill at a CTCNet Conference in San Diego in 1998 (??). Here is a brief excerpt:

Dee Hock, the former CEO or VISA, the multinational credit card company, coined the term chaordic alliance. A combination of the words chaos and order, Hock’s vision is to creat a new organization that is based not on traditional, hierarchical, topdown decision-making, but rather on shared purpose and consensus.

A chaordic alliance does not rely on heroic leadership to make decisions (and having the organization blindly follow), but rather the alliance does only those things that all the partners agree to in advance–that is, the organization initiates actions and activities only when all members of the alliance agree. This is a fundamentally different approach that discards the I win–you lose antagonism for a collaborative model based on I win–you win. Consensus is most likley to be reached when all parties find something of value in the outcome.

Other thinking from Cohill:
Communities, Technology and Governance: A Vision for the Future

Here is another interesting website in this realm:
The Art of Chaordic Leadership

Chaordic Commons

Controlling Ideas Through Copyright

What happens when ideas (the currency of cultural grow) get controlled to such an extent that one is uable to express thought or even build a body of critical work. Below is a snippet The Guardian which deals with the art world, but could easily be talking about any mainstream media, corporate image, etc:

An interesting result of the growing power of the market is that artists and their dealers are looking for ways, through copyright law, to con trol what is written or broadcast about the work, so as to prevent critics who might feel less than prostrate admiration for it from saying anything about it at all. On TV, if you can’t show, you can’t tell. I have seen quite a lot of this in recent years; it is here to stay, and getting worse. Sometimes the results look merely silly, as when the American conceptual artist Mel Bochner, whose work (consisting of vaguely related words printed in capitals on canvas in various tasteful colours) we filmed in the last Whitney Biennial in New York, waited until a few days before broadcast to announce, through his agent, that he “did not wish to participate” in our film. Never mind.

And later

I think the drift of such examples (and there are plenty of others) is clear enough. The art world is now so swollen with currency and the vanity of inflated reputation that it is taking on some of the less creditable aspects of showbiz. Hollywood doesn’t want critics, it wants PR folk and profile-writers. Showbiz controls journalism by controlling access. The art world hopes to do the same, though on a more piddly level. No other domain of culture would try this one on. No publisher, fearing that an unfavourable review, would attempt to stop a book critic quoting from some novel. No producer would make a guarantee of innocuousness the price of a critic’s ticket to the theatre. It just wouldn’t happen. But in art, it can. And since it can, as Bill Clinton remarked in another context, it does.

Public Sphere, Digital Commons, Information Society

These concepts are one foundation / pillar to this work. Some references:

Slashdot and the Public Sphere
http://www.firstmonday.dk/issues/issue5_9/baoill/

The Public Sphere Project (Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility)
http://www.cpsr.org/program/sphere/index.php

CyberDemocracy: Internet and the Public Sphere
http://www.georgetown.edu/faculty/bassr/gaynor/ep.htm

Habermas, the Public Sphere, and Democracy: A Critical Intervention
http://www.gseis.ucla.edu/faculty/kellner/papers/habermas.htm

Vermont Media & Democracy Conference – 6/18/04

Attended the June 18th Vermont Media & Democracy Conference in Burlington, VT a couple of weeks ago. Jeff Chester from the Center for Digital Democracy gave the keynote. These are my notes from his comments:

the cable / telecomm industry is pushing forward with aggressive, commercialized strategies and community communication folks should be aware of this

There is still space for grassroots communities to define new methods especially with broadband and wifi, but the space is closing down. VT is clearly leading others in their statewide telecomm polices. Important to follow the development of the architecture of new communication services, infrastructure, etc – make sure we control capacity, have access, and challenge the commercial / business plan model of these industries. We need to advocate for public space.

These entities are defining the architecture. Some commercial sites to check out (they are defining next wave of cable technology use):
www.ellacoys.com
www.opentv.com
www.extendmedia.com
www.twowaytv.com
www.Visibleworld.com
www.nds.com (Rupert Murdoch Interactive)

Should be aware that FCC has regulated cable in such a manner that they are not obliged to be common carriers. Once telcos get fiber in the ground, they too have had this obligation waived. This means that broadband content will be controlled by those who own the pipes and they can manipulate access to content and services in ways that meet their commercial needs. They will control and manage the traffic.

So when communities go up for refranchise, they should demand open access to all resources (video servers, bandwidth, Electronic Program Guide, software that controls operations, etc.). And communities should fight any technology that consolidates control and denies public services. San Jose, CA is doing just this – Fiber For Our Future (www.tricitybroadband.com )