April 20, 2007

Computers in Libraries: Day 2 Keynote

Using Social Media for Community Engagement by Andy Carvin, National Public Radio.

For a last minute replacement for Elizabeth Lane Lawley, Andy Carvin did a pretty good job of putting together a presentation. And a timely one it is. His theme is how do we use social media to engage the public and get them to join in and contribute to our networks, using a recent redesign of the National Public Radio site as an example. In the traditional media, you had to be part of the media establishment to be able to contribute to it, there were high barriers to entry; this was also the case for the beginnings of the web. It was more democratic, but you still needed fairly high levels of technical competance to author anything. In the Web 2.0 world, there are tools that simplify content creation, that actively encourage people to share, where youtube videos can actually have an impact on US political culture.

And there's been a dramatic shift in the demographics of content creation, not just the kids are doing it anymore. Blogs are the most prominent example, having sparked a kind of war of attrition between the mainstream media and bloggers. The MSM hates the blogger (because you can't trust citizen journalists) and the bloggers hate the MSM (for pandering to the LCD), whereas in relity there's a kind of detente, a truce, a collaborative spirit that recognized that both are needed.

But why are the media embracing web 2.0? It improves transparency and creates a public dialogue. Carven gives examples of NPR shows that have used a kind of open piloting to get public feedback in early stages, he also mentions Radio Open Source, a blog with a radio show. Other examples include the BBC's Have Your Say, CNN's iReport, the USA Today site, OhMyNews.com from South Korea which uses blogging stringers to get coverage from around the world, Global Voices from Harvard and others. He notes that no single entity any longer has a monopoly on knowledge, that the democratization has only just begun.

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