June 8, 2008

Smart mobs for news participation

Social Actions from JD Lasica on Vimeo.

Following is part 3 of my 3-part series on open APIs and crowdsourcing community news. Cross-posted from the IdeaLab. Part 1, Part 2.

At the NetSquared conference for nonprofits in San Jose on May 27-28, one of the most intriguing projects I heard about was Social Actions, a project to tie together disparate cause movements through an open API
that would aggregate information about dozens of different campaigns and allow users to take action to further a cause.

"Our mission is to put actions in front of people who are most likely to take part," Peter told me. (He lives in Montreal; his team is scattered across the U.S.)

Here’s our 6-minute video interview on Vimeo and on Ourmedia.

I think this is relevant to news organizations for two reasons:

  • Traditional news organizations have been in passive mode for decades. It’s time to consider planning campaigns that engage the readers/users and invite them to participate in a direct way toward a goal, whether it’s a charitable cause or a public service, such as a public awareness campaign. The traditional mindset of journalistic objectivity has turned newspapers into passive observers, out of step with the passions and interests of their communities.
  • There’s that term "open APIs" again. As Peter explains, online news publications are free to hook into these APIs, meaning that instead of just reporting about a problem or issue, news reports could go one step further and offer tools and links that let users take action, whether it’s to donate, write a letter, sign a petition, join a mailing list, become a member of an organization — and that only scratches the surface of the potential for interactivity and collective action.

Howard Rheingold wrote about Smart Mobs in his latest book. The approach of participatory media flies in the face of the traditional media paradigm of delivering content down
one-way pipes to a passive audience of consumers. But increasingly, we’re turning to social networks and collaborative tools to make sense of and take control of our media, our communities, our lives.

Where are the news organizations willing to play in this new social sandbox?

I don’t see many out there, but there are certainly lots of nonprofits and cause organizations eager to participate in this new space of engagement. This ties directly into the new direction Ourmedia.org will be taking shortly.

Watch video (in H.264) on Ourmedia
Watch Flash version on Ourmedia
Watch Flash version on Vimeo

Need a lavalier microphone

Alas, I was paying too much attention to the funky lighting and so didn’t do a sound check with the SC HMX10 hi-def camcorder
that Samsung graciously loaned me, and I’m embarrassed by the choppy
sound quality. The wind was whipping around something fierce.

I need to buy a lavalier mic (aka lapel or tie pin microphone). Any recommendations?

JD Lasica, founder of Socialmedia.biz, is now co-founder of the cruise discovery engine Cruiseable. See his About page, contact JD or follow him on Twitter or Google Plus.

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