Citizen Journalism, Day 1: Being heard

 Dan: Introducing Ethan Zuckerman, fellow Berkman Fellow. 


 I usually get brougnt in to internationalize things. Not today. Today i'll have to talk about that a bit. This will be a conversation about hyperlocal journalism.

 Global Voices is the main project I work on. It's a big aggregator. (Great blogfodder, btw - ds) Team of editors go out there to find stuff from Belarus to Kenya. Any given day, longer stories on the left column; shorter stories on the right.

 We (me and Rebecca MacKinnon) are most interested in what people are paying attention to.

 Map of google news attention. Red are North America,k India, france, South Africa, Australia. Blue are african places. (blue subaverage, red superaverage)

 One reason we took this on was to bring more attention to places where there wasn't a lot.

 Even in all these weird blue parts of the world, there are bloggers. Not a lot. but there are some. Lots of issues about how to listen and pay attention. Came up with ways of doing that.

 One is contextualizing. Example bishop bloggers of the phillipines. the only catholic dominated nation in asia. Our author, a philipino blogger, is trying to give a sense for why this might be important.

 Next is translation. blogosphere two years ago had many bloggers in english. Now it's not even the highest plurality. Chinese ahead. Maybe japanese. it's really useful to have somebody who can translate large passages of blogs from chinese. We actually do have global voices in chinese. Under a CC attribution license. occaionally beautiful things happen. A guy named Portnoy Zang translates large parts into chinese, on his own.

 Next is amplify. One of our regular bloggers, our israel correspondent, has been writing extensively on the current conflict. She is in very close touch with palestinian and lebanese bloggers, sitting in her roof listening to her corresopondents hearing air raid sirens while she does the same. This has made her a source for the WSJ.

 the point here is to start a conversation about a topic.

 We're all playing in this new medium. We are all competing for attention in a world with more and more and more people demanding attention (and supplying fodder). We are all engaged in this interesting problem: more signal added into a noisy space.

 Need to take head-on the challenge of making signals heard above noise that other people call signal. One of the ways to deal with that is to amplify it. Yelling louder. Works up to a point in radio, where spectrum is allocated. Not here.

 Some of the things we're doing are analogs to what's happening at the local level with CJs.

 Translation, for example, may become an important thing to do. In boston, translating to Haitian creole or Somali.

 How do you get heard?

 John Bachir, worked at iBiblio, made Lyceum there.  

 why mention success with the WSJ? Is the goal to be quoted by the big media?

 Ethan: That is 100% our goal. 

 John: I think the dream here is the distributed long tail dream that noone needs a lot of attention. if someone has a story here it gets found. to what extent is GV's approach to get centralized attention. 

 Ethan: you'd like to get heard by someone with a similar problem to yours., We want to change the attention equation. In 16 months we're #200 on technorati. But the WSJ has far more huge. We're a long way from that leverage. can we use citizen media as a way to tap into other sources. 

  Doc: really is a noise problem. 

 Jason: early guys got rewarded. 

 ... : Israel didn't get wedded to the American Cause by accident. Would like to applaud what Ethan is doing... Key to getting into mass media. What can we do to embarrass politicians? and get into mass media? 

 Leonard: EastSouthWestNorth translates into english interesting funny sad important regional newspaper stuff into english. He's about 30k readers per day. really important folks in the industry. Does it on his own volunteer time. Another is flickr. Number of bloggers post on Flickr because China doesn't do the same kind of filtration. Coverage of the "forceful deconstruction team" that clears houses out for highrises. This is going out by flickr. No CJ conf would be complete without the New Yorker piece called Amateur Hour. Quote: "....what the prophets of (cant' keep up... somebody find a link) phony unearned authority..." Live fact-checking by pictures of 50k people demonstrating where the majors say 5K.  

 In malasia there is a blogger named Mister Brown publishing what the majors are afraid to publish, in Singapore. (shortly earlier he got fired)  

 Ethan: I recommend the Singlish version of Star Wars. Also Beppo Grillo, one of the most political comedians in Italy, because he's been frozen out. Now he uses his blog as a form of political activism. he's #15.  

 jason Pramis: I stopped blogging when the thing I wrote that got the most hits was on my batman returns review. when I said the script couldl have been written by ayn rand and mussolini. Suggestions... Might be worth putting together a multimedia distro hub. a place where we're doing coordinated multimedia releases to various media. A news service. to TV, to 'Radio. A wire service. I used to run one.  

 __: Jeremy Eagers in Minneapolis... got a grant.. the twin cities daily planet. brought together all the indy media, bloggers... all in one place, aggregated. We're actually doing pretty well here too. Point: power in numbers. 

 Ethan: check out New America Media. 

 Sheldon: We're not all looking for a large audience. Most of us don't want to be part of other people's small conversations. I like to go to Wikipedia, et. al. for gathered voices. Problem is one of priorities. Certain voices have become good at grabbing attention for political or marketing reasons. Kudos to Ethan for what he's doing. We need to learn how to synthesize, boil down. Need more commentaries... figure how to focus.  

 Ethan: goal: how are you framing yourself, yoiur work, in citizens journalism. Are we finding that S/N is becoming a problem? We are going to see another billion people coming online in the next few years. Will these systems still working for us? 

 mark rosenthal: there is an effect seen in traditional media that we're starting to see on blogging as well, if anybody is trying to make money off it. I try to be restrained and provide citations for assertions I make. I see those on the left and right getting more and more extreme and bashy. the larger the number of people blogging, the more people feel they need to yell. may be a risk.. the phenomenong I'm seeing. 

 Bessy Morris: seems to me that when I'm doing searches,... may be a value in other ways of screening... want to ask... some sort of survey... how are the readers and engagers of blogs using what they glean to share with everybody else. 

 Ethan: early work being done in china by Xiao Qiang, concept of information brokers. If maybe 10K who have some english can get around the firewall, then it's done. He's looking for ways to test the social networking side of this. 

 __: S/N approaches. One is from user's perspective. Info environment has changed. It's hard to focus. We have learned how to deal with it. Second is from journalist's perspective. This is an old media problem. But a new situation, where everybody is a producer as well as a consumer, has just enlarged the problem. I think this is like the question, What do we fight for? market share? an idea? (We hneed to fight for the latter, is the implication.) 

 Micah: As an individual it's overwhelming. It's not about "am I getting the attention I crave?" Or "am I helping deserving constituencies get more attention". it's getting more spread out. Admit that you can't keep up. You can't drink from a fire hose. I read the Daily Kos website because it's a fantastic filter, as well as a collab engine if you're a progressive democrat. They took Skoop and tuned it. Diary Rescue. Many diaries were washing through the home page. Now it has a team of volunteers who go back and glean those that deserve more love. A network that works as a filter. more eyeballs to help us look at things.  

 Zakiya Alake: I come from Roxbury. How can I get a handle on what kind of blog or website to build, low to middle income, immigrants. need allies and supporters. have a town & gown collaboration to cover the journalism side.l Need help on the small neighborhood level. Need to become the voice to have local effects, hit elected officials, change policies.  

 Ethan: invite people in the room who can help to step forward. Take a look at Sean Coon's project, thepeopleyes. Moved to Greensboro, where there were already a lot of bloggers. Now he's focusing on the homeless population. Also connect with Ejovi Nuwere, who is filling in for Global Voices in BedSty, Harlem, Watts.  

Dan: thanks to the Berkman folks. How about a song?


Last update: Monday, August 07, 2006 at 5:30:27 PM Eastern. Number of updates: 12.