This morning, Steve Rubel noted that John Edwards was one of his followers on Twitter. Sure enough, Sen. Edwards has over 500 friends and followers on Twitter and he’s also following me. I figured it was time to get a little more involved with Twitter.
On Monday, I participated in a conference call that Rep. Steve Rothman had with bloggers upon his return from a trip to Iraq, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Turkey and Kuwait. It was a good conference call. We need more Congressmen doing more conference calls with bloggers. Yet we also need to think more about how we support our servicemen and women when they return.
Rep. Rothman described what he saw over there, admitting that it was all presented the eyes of the military, so it needs to be viewed with some skepticism. He said that it appears that various factions are coming to recognize that what they’ve been doing hasn’t been working and things need to change. The Kurds cannot expect to have their own country anytime soon. Such a development would most like start a major regional war, and the Kurds would end up worse off then they are now.
The Sunnis are recognizing that they are a minority and that regaining a majority position in the government just isn’t in the cards. Shiites are coming to understand that vengeance is a two handed sword.
Because of this, the various factions are trying to find ways to cooperate, and concrete results are happening, such as progress on an oil revenue sharing solution.
The other day, Genghis Conn, from Connecticut Local Politics wrote about The Greenwich Time and the Stamford Advocate being sold to Gannett. He worried about how the papers would fare and I spoke about my optimism for the papers. He asked me why and I gave a brief comment there. Let me take a few moments to expand on those comments.
On of the things that is particularly valuable about Freedom to Connect, and some similar conferences is the backchannel. This is typically a text based chat tool that gets projected onto the screen behind the speakers that people access from their laptops in the audience, or in my case yesterday, from my home computer as I watched the stream. It reflects Gillmor’s observation about the audience often knowing more about the subject than the speakers do.
During the “Peer Production News Panel” there were a couple interesting discussions that I got involved with, which I will post here, in a format edited for readability.
As often happens when you get people discussion the role of the internet in journalism, the question of economic models comes up, and people point out Craig’s List as taking away the advertising revenue of newspapers.
Day two of Freedom to Connect started off with a “Peer Production News Panel”, featuring Dan Gillmor, Mark Tapscott, Bill Allison, and Jonathan Krim. Dan mentioned his personal cliché about his audience knowing more about the subject than he does, and Mark Tapscott echoed that.
The discussion moved to the idea of distributed journalism. Tapscott suggested that it might be better called collaborative journalism, since distributed can sometimes connote a hierarchy, and he wasn’t sure that was necessarily the case for all of the times that citizens work together on the journalistic process.
There were discussions about New Assignment.Net, and how best to do distributed journalism. One of the problems that people seemed to be struggling with is the classic, “it would be easier just to do it myself” problem. In some cases, the amount of time spent coordinating efforts and training citizens that don’t know how to do investigative research seemed to be more than it would be to do the research oneself.
As I heard this discussion, my mind wandered back to Robert Lewis Stevenson’s quote, “To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive, and the true success is to labour.” Perhaps some of these projects could be better done by a single individual, or a small group. Yet that is focusing on the arriving, the information gathered by the investigation. Instead, the true success might be to get more people to think about how news and information is gathered and the to think more critically about what they hear and read.