Tools of Engagement: Links and Notes for Discussion

Minnesota Public Radio got a lot of things about online community right with this "Idea Generator" project.

As I mentioned yesterday, tomorrow I’m giving a session about online political coverage called "Tools of Engagement: It’s a Conversation, Stupid!"

I’ve been collecting a lot of "string" for this talk, and I won’t pretend I have it thoroughly organized. That’s fine — I tend to mostly improvise my sessions based on what the attendees need and want most at that moment.

Here, then, are a bunch of links to site I’ll probably want to mention tomorrow…

READ THE REST OF THIS PIECE, and comment if you like, over at my other blog The Right Conversation

Online Political Coverage: Communities Matter More than Elections

View of downtown L.A. from my hotel window. This town looks better at night.

I’m in Los Angeles right now, where on Thursday I’ll be giving a session at a Knight New Media Center seminar on Election ’08: Covering Politics in Cyberspace.

My session is called: "Tools of Engagement:  It’s a Conversation, Stupid." No, I didn’t come up with that title, but I really like it. My audience will be a mix of journalists, online-media pros, geeks, and political experts. I hope they’re ready to talk, because I don’t really do lectures; I start conversations.

I’ll admit, in my journalistic work I’ve generally avoided covering elections — for good reason. Generally, the way most news orgs handle that assignment bugs the hell out of me.  The press conferences, the pundits, the posturing, the race metaphors… in all that, communities, issues, and the real workings of government tend to get pushed into the background. It feels fake and even counterproductive to me. I’m tired of it, and for the most part I tune it out.

That’s not to say I tune out politics. On the contrary, I follow certain aspects of politics very closely: local, state, national, and international. And I do note how elections affect the politics that interest or affect me. However, I don’t believe elections should garner the lion’s share of political coverage.

It seems to me that the best political coverage is ongoing, not cyclical. Ideally, coverage of elections or other political events should support and enhance the public conversation about issues and communities.

To accomplish this with online political coverage, I think we need to get our priorities straight. Here are some thoughts on how we might do that, so we might collectively avoid turning the 2008 election season into a complete three-ring circus…

READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE, and comment if you like, over at my other blog The Right Conversation

Rehabbing Contentious, gradually

Amy at work
Don’t worry! I’m still here, working hard.

I know it’s been a long time since I’ve posted to Contentious, for good reasons.

First of all, I’ve been totally slammed with work. I mean, back to 60+ hours a week most weeks. This brought out one of my worst personal flaws: I always tend to put own projects last. So Contentious went on the back burner. Sorry about that.

Secondly, the back-end of the site needed an overhaul since it was running on a woefully outdated version of WordPress. I’ve gotten tech help switching it to a new hosting service and upgrading WordPress, but the site still needs work. I have to customize the sidebars, and figure out why most of my links from the old version of the site haven’t mapped over to the new version. Yes, I know that’s a big problem, but I can’t fix it immediately. So please be patient.

Thirdly, I’ve been struggling with the continuing mission for Contentious. I started this back in April 1998, and nearly a decade later it’s been through a few iterations. I’m mulling over several visions for this sit, but I’m pretty sure I want to convert it into a group weblog. I’m getting bored with being the only writer here. I prefer working with teams at this point.

So I’ll keep working on Contentious, but it may be a little while before you see more fresh content here.

But I have been blogging a great deal! You can see my current work at:

  • E-Media Tidbits, a daily group blog I edit for the Poynter Institute, about what news pros should know about online media.
  • The Right Conversation, my blog on conversational media
  • I, Reporter, my citizen journalism training venture with business partner Adam Glenn
  • Carless in Boulder, a personal blog I write on the local Boulder, CO community news/journalism site

So stay tuned, and thanks for your patience.