The myth of the creative class (Jeff Jarvis)

Just now, Jeff Jarvis posted something that resonates strongly with me. See: The myth of the creative class:

“We have believed – I have been taught — that there are two scarcities in society: talent and attention. There are only so many people with talent and we give their talent only so much attention — not enough of either.

“But we are shifting, too, from a culture of scarcity to one of abundance. That is the essence of the Google worldview: managing abundance. So let’s assume that instead of a scarcity there is an abundance of talent and a limitless will to create but it has been tamped down by an educational system that insists on sameness; starved by a mass economic system that rewarded only a few giants; and discouraged by a critical system that anointed a closed, small creative class. Now talent of many descriptions and levels can express itself and grow. We want to create and we want to be generous with our creations. And we will get the attention we deserve. That means that crap will be ignored. It just depends on your definition of crap.”

This is so, so true…   One of the things that I find most encouraging about this era of media evolution is that every day I encounter a wider variety of unexpected jewels. Many of them are rough, or nascent. But they’re there, and I can find them if I look for them.

Even more importantly, I get to discover what resonates with me — and with other individuals. I don’t have to just settle for the kind of content I’m “supposed” to like (i.e., serious objective journalism, crisp professional audio, slickly produced video). I can focus on what I really like — and what has meaning to me. By getting to define my own criteria for “quality content,” I get to challenge my assumptions and expand my concept of who I am, and who I could be. My world is much richer for it.

This is exactly why I’ve always enjoyed going to see local music performances practically at random, while abhorring commercial radio for music discovery.


Los Angeles Times Switches to All-Wiki Format

…OK, not really. It’s an April Fool’s Day spoof from Bunkmag.com, and it’s definitely better than any prank I’ve dreamed up so far today. If you need a laugh (and really, who in the news business doesn’t?) then go check out The Los Wikiless Timespedia. This had me in hysterics, especially considering the LA Times’ infamous wikitorial debacle of 2005.

Here are a few highlights that appeared on this editable site as of the posting of this Tidbit (although I can’t guarantee any of this will still appear exactly as described, or at all, when you go there):

Want to join the “staff” of the Los Wikiless Timespedia? just sign up as a Bunkwiki contributor and post/edit to your heart’s content!

(I cross-posted this piece from Poynter’s E-Media Tidbits. Thanks to David Thomas for the tip via Twitter.)

CA Wildfires: Watershed Moment for Collaborative Online News?

fire.jpg
Alex Miroshnichenko
Freelance photojournalist Alex Miroshnichenko is offering great fire coverage (and smart marketing of his skills) with Creative Commons-licensed photos on Flickr.

For the last few days at Poynter’s E-Media Tidbits, I’ve been blogging examples of innovative ways that online media is being used to cover the Southern CA wildfires. It’s been astonishing. There have been cool efforts from mainstream news orgs like SignOn San Diego and the Los Angeles Times and even FOX News.

But also, regular people and even some government officials have been using blogs, forums, mapping tools, social media sites, citizen journalism sites like NowPublic, media-sharing services like Flickr, and even Twitter to share news, information, updates, and assistance.

Personally, I think this is shaping up to be a watershed moment for online news. This time, it all seems to be coming together in a new way.

In particular, the collaborative tone of this content that strikes me as significant: map mashups, databases, forums, photo groups, social media, Twitter updates… You can really get a direct sense of how people fit into this story, what they’re doing, and what they want or need. It’s personal, diverse, detailed, and comprehensive.

This is a whole different concept of “news.” It’s becoming a verb, something you DO — not just a noun (a thing that you passively receive)….

Continue reading

It’s a Conversation, Stupid! Video is online

Knight Digital Media Center
Me waving to the internet from the stage at USC.

As I mentioned earlier, on Oct. 1, I helped moderate an excellent panel discussion at the USC Annenberg School of Journalism in Los Angeles called It’s a Conversation, Stupid! Blogs, Wikis, Social Networking, UGC meet Journalism. This was part of an intriguing seminar at the Knight Digital Media Center called Journalism in a 24/7 World: Decision-making for the Online Editor, and my panel was offered in partnership with the Online News Association.

The video for this session is now online! You can watch the whole thing here. (Scroll down to the bottom of that page.)

Webcast tonight: It’s a conversation, stupid!

Greetings from Los Angeles, where I just flew in because in a couple of hours I’m speaking at a cool event at the USC Annenberg School of Journalism. And you can watch — and participate!

Michelle Nicolosi of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and I are co-chairing a panel at 5pm Pacific. It’s called “It’s a Conversation, Stupid: Blogs, Wikis, Social Networking, UGC meet Journalism.”

UGC…. UGH!!!!! I loathe the term “user generated content.” It smacks of mechanism, hierarchy, and just plain condescension.Unfortunately it’s common among mainstream-media types, and you can bet I’ll have something to say about that! Like: Why don’t we just call it “contributed content?”

…Ahem… Anyway, this is part of an intriguing seminar at the Knight New Digital Media Center. (because “new media” ain’t new anymore) called Journalism in a 24/7 World: Decision-making for the Online Editor. Tonight’s event is offered in partnership with the Online News Association. If you go to this page at 5pm Pacific, you’ll find a live link to the webcast.

You also can submit questions during the event via this form. I’ll ask them on your behalf during the event as time permits. No softballs, folks!

Here’s the official blurb for the event:

“What happens when the audience becomes content producer on the nation’s top news web sites? Do you ‘moderate’ or let ‘er rip? How do journalism values and standards survive a User Generated Content world? Hear how USAToday.com and USA Today executive editor Kinsey Wilson, Yahoo! News editor in chief Neil Budde and CNN.com vice president and senior producer Mitch Gelman are opening their web sites to their audiences as never before. Get a chance to weigh in from your cell phone and laptop as Newsvine CEO Mike Davidson paints the future of collaborative journalism. Moderators will be Michelle Nicolosi, assistant managing editor for interactive at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and Amy Gahran, conversational media consultant and editor of Poynter Institute’s E-Media Tidbits.”

Hope to see some Contentious readers there. Please say hi!

Community site shuts down; whither goes the content?

Internet Archive
At one time, Zipingo apparently offered a fair amount of content. (Click image to enlarge) Now it’s gone.

This morning, I learned via the Ajax blog that yet another site that relied on content contributed by its user community has shut down. On Aug. 23, Zipingo, a small business review site launched in 2002 by Intuit, shuttered its site. All that remains is this announcement — none of the other site content remains accessible.

But looking on the Internet Archive Wayback Machine, I saw that, at least as of Mar. 1, 2007, Zipingo offered a fair amount of content: 122,324 total ratings (I’m not sure if “ratings” were actual reviews or something else on this site), 734 of which came in during the prior week. Unfortunately, you can’t look up actual ratings/reviews via the Internet Archive.

So all that content that people took the time to create and contribute has simply vanished, apparently. Seems awfully disrespectful to Zipingo’s user community, such as it was. This is yet another reason why sites like Furl, which allow you to save your own searchable archive of web pages, can be crucial — things get moved, changed, or deleted all the time online, without notice. Even your own stuff. That can suck.

Seems to me that any site that relies on contributed content should have a content exit strategy, whereby if the site tanks people can still access their content. Or at least, contributors will be notified before the site vanishes so they have an opportunity to save a copy of their contributions if they so desire. Just taking people’s content and trashing it is likely to discourage anyone from contributing to a community site.

Also, this experience seems like one more reason why a good “Me Collector” tool or service is needed.