First, an announcement. I've accepted a position at NYU as a Visiting Scholar. It's a great school, great people, a perfect fit. Jay Rosen, who I will be working for, wrote a post on our Rebooting The News website that explains the position, and provides context.
From my point of view, this is why I'm doing it.
1. It pulls me back into academia. A good university provides a cauldron where some pretty great stuff can happen quickly. When I was at Berkman, were able to bootstrap podcasting, unconferences, and take blogging out of the tech world and onto campuses and into politics, all in a two-year fellowship. But more important is the opportunity to reconnect with young minds. Harvard in 2003 was a hotbed of interesting thought. Remember it was in that period that Facebook was born, right there in Cambridge. I have a very strong feeling that NYU in 2010, esp in journalism, is attracting the same kind of excitement. The only way to find out is to be there.
2. NYU and Manhattan are going to be very interesting places in the coming months and years, in exactly the areas I'm interested in. There are projects getting underway that I can't talk about yet, but when you hear about them you'll probably understand why I had to go. ">
3. I have the same feeling about journalism today that I had about computer science in the 1970s. Sure, we had textbooks and teachers, and projects and grades, but there was also an opportunity to invent it as we were going along. Computer science felt like the greatest place to be because there were no older people entrenched with gates erected to keep out bright ambitious young people. That's one reason I gravitated there. I felt equally excited about media, as a grad student, but I didn't go in that direction because intuitively I felt that I'd spend my career climbing a ladder, and as I approached the top, the ladder would be disintegrating. A better way to matter in media, I felt, was through computer science. That intuition proved correct. Today, 2010, is Year Zero for journalism the way 1970 was the dawn of modern computer science.
Over the last few years I've looked at a number of journalism programs, and of all the people out there Jay is closest to where I want to be. Last week, Columbia, our uptown rival (that feels pretty weird, btw) announced they had raised $15 million to study the new journalism. My immediate reaction, which of course I tweeted, was that it was way too early to study it -- first we have to do it.
A few years ago Berkman had the baton, we were pushing what was possible by doing. Now they're focusing more on studying, which is fine, that's what academics usually do. But the young people whose lives we're helping to launch must view it differently. They, we hope, are the ones who will provide the information and perspectives to help us make better decisions, to be inspired to greatness, to solve the hard problems we face. Now is not the time to study, imho, as much as it's the time to do.
I'm keeping the house in Berkeley, and will spend approximately half my time in both places through the next year. What happens after that, I don't know. I just heard that one of my Berkman colleagues, Rebecca Mackinnon, who along with Ethan Zuckerman founded Global Voices, has accepted a position at Princeton. I hope New York and NYU don't mind, but it looks like we're getting ready to have some fun over on the other coast. ">