Community Funded Reporting

This week Ruby and I went to two conferences in Minneapolis. The first one done in Open Space / Unconference style was New Pamphleteers/New Reporters:Convening Entrepreneurs Who Combine Journalism, Democracy, Place and Blogs at the University of Minnesota. (What a long name huh?)

One of the best ideas I heard this week was Spot.us.

“Spot Us” is a nonprofit that allows an individual or group to take control of news in their community by sharing the cost (crowdfunding) to commission freelance journalists to write important, or uncovered news stories.

Dave Cohn is behind this idea and he explained it to us via Skype. I was amazed at how few people where in this mini-session. Because it feels like a real innovation that could answer the burning question on every corporate journalist and CEOs mind, “How do we make money making journalism so we can get it done?”.

But the big difference between this idea, as I see it, and how media CEOs do is that this is about direct funding to individual journalist not organizations or corporations. Yet another middle man removed from the process of making media and protecting our democracy. But I don’t think the corporate media folks at this conference had thought about this that much. There were just too many competing sessions. Their loss.

I’ll be paying close attention to how Spot.us progresses. Dave plans to roll this service out to the Bay Area first then other communities one at a time. Sounds like a good plan. It worked for Graig’s List.

BarCamp RDU 2008

Registration for BarCamp RDU is open. Go over to the wiki and ad your name to the list. (I did) This event is one of the best techie unconferences. We start the day with pitches for session ideas. Then the group organizes the sessions into time slots. Finally we break up into groups and learn from each other. Food and coffee is also involved. All of this at Red Hat’s headquarters in Raleigh. Lots of fun. Great opportunity to meet folks and LEARN. Even if you don’t consider yourself a blogger or a techie… GO!

i.e. Planning a BarCamp, BarCamp 2007 was great!

NCSBC 2008: Open Science Session Video

Part 1 of 4Here is around 80 minutes of video I shot at the 2008 North Carolina Science Blogging Conference. This session’s full title is Open Science: how the Web is changing the way science is done, written and published. The discussion leader was Dr.Hemai Parthasarathy (former editor at Nature and PLoS). Because of length and file size I split it up into four parts. Enjoy and please share on your site. You can get the embed code on the blip.tv video pages linked to bellow. I’m working on video for the Blogging public health/medicine session.

NCSBC 2008: Open Science Session
Part 1 of 4

Part 2 of 4

Part 3 of 4

Part 4 of 4

Techies Building Community in RDCH

So I told you about the creation of SocialCarolina.org the other day. Its a google calendar and blog about local tech events here in the Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill area. (That includes Cary, Carrboro, RTP, Morrisville, etc.)

Well.. some of the coolest events recently have been happening at the new Refresh the Triangle. They are organized by the folks over at Viget Labs. A new web design consultancy in Durham. Last night they had an event. Sadly I couldn’t attend. Next time hopefully.

So far there are seven people who can add events to this calendar. Today I added Peyton Crump to that list. He’s the Creative Director over at Viget Durham.

I’m blogging about this seeming mundane activity because I think its a milestone. Why? COLLABORATION! A bunch of cool people who organize amazing events are working together to inform a ton of people.

You would think this would be an easy thing to do. What with all the web 2.0 collab software out there. But… its not. I mean try to get a bunch of people to meet on a regular basis. Its hard. Syncing individual schedules is tricky. A group calendar is a good step towards making this easier.

In some ways the fractured nature of community is ok. Individuality is an important concept. We all have individual lives. But the concept of community is important too. I’m looking for a balance between the two.

To see the desire of people to get together and build community is awesome. We can all benefit from our collective intelligence. The more we come in contact with each other the smart we all become.

We have so much going on around here and lots more ways to find out about it. Very exciting times to be living in this part of North Carolina!

Props to the Refresh the Triangle folks for making a cool website for their events. Social Carolina isn’t a unique idea. I’m glad many of us are on the same page.

Civic engagement and technology: CMS

Yesterday I attended the Civic Engagement and Technology Workshop held by the Triangle Community Foundation at the Council for Entrepreneurial Development. I really enjoyed the discussion led by Rob Stuart and all kinds of local nonprofits. I’m excited to see what different groups do with what they learned about network centric advocacy and the web.

I got a chance to speak in a session that was sorta like speed geeking. [Speed geeking is a participation process used to quickly view a number of presentations within a fixed period of time.]

I talked to people about Content Management Systems. I defined them this way. A Content Management System is a type of web based application that can simplify the creation of powerful websites used by large numbers of contributors.

My primary goal was to answer questions and give practical advice that could be used right away. I lumped several different kinds of dynamic web application types under the CMS umbrella. Such as Portals (CMS), Blogs, Wikis, E-learning, and Forums. Here are the specific examples we talked about:

Drupal – full featured CMS
WordPress – blog software that can do so much more
MediaWiki– the software that powers Wikipedia
Vanilla – Great easy to use forum software

I told folks about the differences between this software and their similarities. I work with clients to discover what is right for them no matter the platform but I personally recommend Open Source software when ever I can.

Here are the links I shared to help folks learn more about CMS.

cmsmatrix.org – compare cms
WordPress.com – Free wordpress blog hosting
opensourcecms.com – Demo all kinds of free CMS

One of my main messages was just to jump in feet first and do it! You can set up a blog in under five minutes. Experiment and test out web software like a blog. It’ll help you learn about how this kind of software works. Learning by doing is the best!