Ourmedia.com online, NowPublic - and other sites
After months of promising, the promise has it the Web. J.D. Lasica & Co. have officially turned the lights on at Ourmedia.com.
The stated goal is to provide a central free repository forever for anyone who wants to publish online, from audio and video to your own blog, etc. So far, it's going through the usual growing pains with a fair share of complaints about time-out errors, etc. But I was able to get on without any problems today.
A thought occurs though. While I find the site intriguing and enjoyed clicking around it, it still has a hodgepodge feel -- a music video here, an audio interview with blogger/journalist Ed Cone there, a few member blogs, etc. In other words, a big candy store in which so much can get lost. Or as one blogger plaintively asked: "i'm just curious: is anyone reading this?"
It convinces me even more that:
-- Sites like this have to market just like any brand. Publish it and they will come is nice. And word of mouth in these viral marketing days can do some good. But to realize the full potential, you need to push traffic there, both as consumers and contributors.
-- "The next big thing" is going to have to be software that provides some personal organization to all this to make those disparate connections that lead to the kind of serendipity you get by browsing the shelves at a library. Think Googlezon?
While I was browsing, some serendipity:
-- Undergroundmedia.org: a good site with lots of tutorials on "being" the media -- how to podcast, videocast, blog, etc. A deep site worth several trips.
-- indtv.tv: A San Francisco-based outfit for which Robin Sloan now works trying to bring the idea of citizen media/journalism to video on the net.
-- Access North Georgia: An interesting site run by a radio station operation north of Atlanta (Jacobs Media Corp. in Gainesville, Ga.). It's a pretty rich site and, unlike a lot of the dreck from trad media sites on the Web, seems to be much more than just shovel. You can tell there's some definite thought and care that goes into this. There are a lot of different bylines on here, so I can't imagine those are all station employees (I could be wrong, but given the reality of radio). SoYyou can't immediately tell whether it's "citizen journalism" because it isn't trumpted as such. But doing some quick research I see that in 2003, Jay Jacobs, president of Jacobs Media, said he wanted to concentrate on "publishign the online newspaper." Worth a look for what can be done by trad media to try to take advantage of the net. In future months, I may try to ge over there and talk with the folks at some length.
-- NowPublic.com: A site that tries to take citizen journalism a bit further by giving people not only a way to post, but also to propose "assignments": The site's maifesto:
Technology has broken the corporate news monopoly. Digital cameras, camera phones, blogs, and RSS put the tools of the news trade into the hands of the public, and now real news comes from real people everywhere. Now you can demand coverage of the stories you care about—all you need is nowPublic.This one is most intriguing, proposing, for instance, a place where someone who wants "more" on a story can propose an "assignment" that would go to citizen journalists who are plugged into what is happening and can supply more details, photos, etc. by posting. Likewise, these same CJs could offer up their work (with voting possible to request more). The site is in beta, and I find it a little clunky. So far, the postings are more like a moblog than a full news site that would give me a broad and deep reading on a story or topic. Interesting idea, but not sure about its legs beyond a sort of digital clique.
Here public demand launches investigations. Assignments come from people on the ground, insiders, community leaders. Footage comes from eye witnesses, citizen reporters, people close to the real story. It’s open source news, and even in its infancy it’s richer, faster, more powerful than the infotainment it replaces.
We invite you to join this revolution. Take control of the news. Make it deliver information about your community, your interests, your life. It’s time. The news is nowPublic.
And that' s the thing that keeps popping into my head. As all these CJ sites come online, I wonder if we're going for a "citizen's journalism" bust -- think the dot-com scene in the late '90s. Don't get me wrong. All these sites are neat, wonderful, great. But are we marketing to ourselves, in many ways? Will "the public" really care? What if "the public," whatever that is, doesn't share the enthusiasm? I wonder if, in a couple of years, we'll be writing about a "shakeout" among all these ventures?