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Opening Forum

Dean Ernest J. Wilson III opened the event with a talk in the auditorium. He's excited to talk about 3 I's: International, Impact, and Innovation.

We should be enthusiastic, optimistic, but also skeptical about new developments in social media. Interrogate relationship between social outcomes like equality, democracy, and the trends in technological change.

If we define democracy as some combination of "competition, participation, rights, and responsibilities," along with a sphere independent from government, then indicators are not good. 25% of our population elects the leaders. Putnam's thesis on the decline of civic life. So if on the one hand we have new media, and on the other, democracy, we don't have a one to one relationship. If we did, then internet connectivity should directly map democracy.

We should have a note of skepticism. We may have changes in behavior, but are they going to aggregate up into changes in the depth and quality of democracy. Do they actuallly change the power relationships in society so that the dispossessed, the poor, have their power quotient increased, or not? The relationship between technology and democracy should be held open as an empirical question, not assumed.

Another point is that we are having conversations in an ecosystem (hopefully not an Echo system). For example, four communities of practice.

1. print media 2. digital media 3. public broadcasters 4. commercial media

One thesis, often heard among newspaper folks: Newspapers are a bedrock of democracy. Newspapers are dying. Ergo, democracy is at risk because of the death of newspapers.

Another, heard among new media practitioners: new media are opening channels of participation for all. Ergo, they are opening up space for more democracy.

Third syllogism, the public broadcasters: noncommercial space is essential for democracy's survival. In the broadcasting world, PBS is not doing well, and NPR has flattened out. So, if traditional public service media has provided noncommercial space, but are declining, then democracy is declining.

Finally, the syllogism for commercial media: commercial media is desperately figuring out how to leverage its assets to stay in business. Democracy is a good thing in principle, but government has moved away from pro democracy requirements. Ergo, I have to get back to work and make more $.

We need to rethink our measurements and criterion of participation.

Also think in international context.

Next: Elspeth Revere, Macarthur Foundation

10 years ago Macarthur had an instinct that something important was happening, but didn't know what yet. Did 3 programs: intellectual property initiative, to build public debate and more balanced policy. 2 was education, to try and understand whether today's kids are growing and learning and thinking differently. Ongoing initiative announced last year. 3rd effort: to take a fresh look at macarthur's media funding. Macarthur has been funding public media for about 25 years. They felt like they should take another look, with the digital transition.

For the time being, they are going to continue to support documentary content, but with a shift to go cross platform. They also are exploring how individuals seek out and find accurate information in an online environment. They are also interested in information overload.

Another area is the role of the individual as information producer. The ease with which people can put multimedia online for others. We are getting a global conversation, collaborations between individuals and news organizations. Macarthur started this work with energy and enthusiasm, but also realized that there was a need to ask serious questions. Who is participating? Who is producing information and who isn't, and why? What types of collaborations enrich media in future? How will role of professionals evolve? And what does it all mean for democracy?

How do we go beyond case studies? Persephone will present a typology. What projects excite us the most, and why? What are the interventions that will forward our goal of greater democracy through digital media?

Richard Sambrook, director BBC Global News. "Blogging vs. Journalism is Over." Jay Rosen, 2005 Blogging, Journalism and Credibility. A lot has happened since then. Convergence is really happening. Social Networking has taken off. The web has become live and dynamic. The future of news is online. Many major news organizations have started doing video, blogs. But one-to-many is still hardwired into the DNA of big media organizations. And not sure if you should break that.

News sites are no longer seen as final destinations.

OhMyNews, Newspublic,, memorandum. Google News is now the 4th most trusted news brand in the world although they don't create any content at all.

Slides from Tibet. And a Mumbai billboard from CNN IBN 'you see it, you report it. Be a Citizen Journalist' Citizen Journalism has become a marketing tool. Citizen journalism won't do away with mainstream journalism, they are complementary. Assimilating a blog into a story isn't really different than a phone in. There's the sharing of expertise, that people call 'networked journalism.' That's a more valuable example but the most difficult to deliver.

Citizen Journalism is still a 'minority sport.' Most people don't do it.

Are the new media more demcratic? long tail charts of online space. top few corporate media sites control almost all the traffic.

Old music business model: 3 step process. Record, press record, send to radio play, send to stores. New model: 25 step process with many different places to market and distribute. ringtones, net, CDs, games, etc.

NYTimes online makes 100 million a year, but their editorial cost base is 500 million. So they may not continue printing paper copy. Should papers focus on online, or is that wasted effort?

Video advertising is growing quickly, but from a very low base.

Real question re: how to fund journalism moving forward.

BBC 2: Newsnight. They invite the audience to help with the story that will go out that evening. Qik: live streaming from a mobile phone. You Tube is about to go live. Reuters has a mobile journalism initiative.

But what is the content?

Lots of the live streaming from cell phones is people walking their dog. That's cool, but need to get out into the neighborhoods.

The social media community can be very self referential. We need to start looking out the window more.

Some circularity here.

By 2010, 75% of content will be user generated. Exponential growth in terrabytes of user produced content.

"New Creatives." Next New Networks: Ultra Kawaii, Barely Political, etc.

Youstream dot com, flixwagon, etc.

The cost base is tiny and if you can build an audience then it could be quite profitable.

What Next? A complex graphic of colliding web science. The Future: Aggregation and Web 3.0.

News Scrobbling? Last fm news.