A Web site and Weblog About Topics and Issues Discussed in the Book We the Media by Dan Gillmor

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July 31, 2004

Book Party at Creative Commons

J.D. Lasica and Brian Dear were among the folks who came to last night's gathering celebrating the book launch and the relocation of Creative Commons to its new offices in San Francisco. I was honored by the presence of so many fine folks.

The book was published under a Creative Commons license, permitting non-commercial use of the material as long as people give it proper attribution and add their "remixes" back into the world under a similar license. (The book will be online in full very soon on the publisher's official site.)

In my brief remarks to the folks who'd gathered last evening, I talked about the great value Creative Commons is giving to all of us, by doing its part to restore a tiny bit of balance in the copyright regime. I doubt many publishers would have allowed me to live up to what I've been saying on copyright these past few years, and I'm grateful that I have a publisher who totally gets it.

(Cross-posted to eJournal.)

Posted by Dan Gillmor at 02:21 PM | Comments (3)

Audio Version Gets Under Way

Niall Kennedy has put the Introduction to my new book in audio form. I'm flattered.

(Cross-posted to eJournal.)

Posted by Dan Gillmor at 12:04 PM | Comments (0)

July 29, 2004

'Rewrite this Story'

Willamette Week has a nice short piece about the book. One small correction: I don't say readers are smarter than I am (though many undoubtedly are), but rather that they know more than I do. It's the latter that makes this new kind of journalism possible, because they tell me things I don't know.

Posted by Dan Gillmor at 08:27 AM | Comments (0)

July 28, 2004

If You're in Portland...

I'm speaking tonight at Powell's City of Books.

Posted by Dan Gillmor at 02:37 PM | Comments (0)

Microsoft's Newsbot Sorts the News

Some more competition for Google News: Microsoft's Newsbot. It's beta software and acts like it, but I'll be watching with great interest.

(Cross-posted to eJournal.)

Posted by Dan Gillmor at 09:16 AM | Comments (1)

ZDNet's Dan Farber on "We the Media"

We appreciate the kind words from ZDNet's Dan Farber, who calls the book "an enlightening and instructive look at how the Internet and new electronic tools are challenging traditional notions of media and influence."

Posted by Dan Gillmor at 07:17 AM | Comments (0)

July 27, 2004

Mocking Woody Guthrie's Memory

The late, great Woody Guthrie is surely spinning in his grave today, in fury over what is happening with one of his most memorable songs, "This Land is Your Land."

But Guthrie would not be even slightly unhappy at the use of his immortal tune by the JibJab folks, whose brilliant satire of George Bush and John Kerry has become one of the most popular animations ever to hit the Web or any other medium.

No, Guthrie would be thrilled. He was a folk singer. Like all other folk singers he borrowed from others to create his art. As his son, Arlo, once said:

"We've heard some of the people talk about some of the songs he wrote tonight. And the truth is, he did steal old songs from other places. He took the old gospel songs, he took the old traditional ballads, and he put his words to them like we heard tonight. People still called it stealing. Plagarism, bad words like that, 'til Pete Seeger come along and renamed it the folk process. I think my dad's theory was that if you wanted people to be singing along with you on your new song, it'd be a hell of a start if they already knew the tune. Or even some of words."
Woody Guthrie wrote scathingly of people who steal more with fountain pens than guns. He would have loathed the people who abuse copyright so much today, trying to restrict all kinds of fair use, of which parody is an absolutely protected example.

And I'll bet, therefore, that he'd be horrified -- and angered -- by the behavior of an outfit called The Richmond Organization, which controls the copyright to his music. This humor-impaired crew has gone ballistic and has launched legal threats (CNN) at JibJab.

The Richmond Organization is dishonoring Woody Guthrie's memory, not that it seems to care. But it's giving us one more example of how the copyright system has abandoned common sense.

Posted by Dan Gillmor at 06:24 PM | Comments (0)

Convention Blogging

CBS News' Larry Magid discusses blogging at the Democratic Convention, and mentions "We the Media."

Posted by Dan Gillmor at 11:10 AM | Comments (0)

July 26, 2004

Ted Turner: Break Up Big Media

  • Ted Turner: My Beef With Big Media. As a business proposition, consolidation makes sense. The moguls behind the mergers are acting in their corporate interests and playing by the rules. We just shouldn't have those rules. They make sense for a corporation. But for a society, it's like over-fishing the oceans. When the independent businesses are gone, where will the new ideas come from? We have to do more than keep media giants from growing larger; they're already too big. We need a new set of rules that will break these huge companies to pieces.
  • (Cross-posted to eJournal.)

    Posted by Dan Gillmor at 09:11 AM | Comments (1)

    July 24, 2004

    The Guardian on OhmyNews

    The Guardian's Jack Schofield has a chat with the founder of OhmyNews.com, the Korean online newspaper. Could it work elsewhere, he asks? (My answer is at the bottom of the story.)

    (Cross-posted to eJournal.)

    Posted by Dan Gillmor at 10:22 AM | Comments (0)

    July 23, 2004

    An Author's Little Thrill

    At the BlogOn conference today, Cody's Books, Berkeley's excellent independently owned bookstore, had a table featuring books by speakers. One of them was mine -- the first retail sales of We the Media -- and several folks bought it and asked me to sign the title page. Now this feels real.

    (Cross-posted to eJournal.)

    Posted by Dan Gillmor at 02:57 PM | Comments (1)

    Peer to Peer Video Journalism

    Howard Rheingold points to this fascinating description by Drazen Pantic of how anyone can be "a real-time video journalist."

    What you need, is simple: "a blog, a camcorder, and a laptop with WiFi." You bet, and this is just the leading edge of what's coming.

    (Cross-posted to eJournal.)

    Posted by Dan Gillmor at 10:20 AM | Comments (2)

    Boston Bloggers

    (This will also be a column in tomorrow's Mercury News.)

    A modern national political convention is theater. Candidates are actors, and delegates are props, with the media serving mostly as stenographers and, in a few cases, critics.

    Next week's Democratic convention in Boston will feature a new batch of critics: bloggers. For the first time, people who write Weblogs have been accredited as media representatives. Good.

    The main reason this is a useful development -- if not an earthshaking one (except, needless to say, in the "blogosphere" itself) -- is the injection of new voices into a process that has become all too routine. Some political bloggers have become must-read commentators, as essential in helping us understand the process and its meaning as any professional journalist working for a traditional media organization.

    Some old-media types have been harrumphing mightily at the bloggers' incursion, frowning on the notion that bloggers are journalists in the first place. Wrong issue. Are book writers journalists? Some are, and some aren't. Ditto bloggers.

    The bloggers won't begin to replace the professional journalists, whose work I admire and rely on for certain kinds of information. But if they do their jobs right, the bloggers will bring something valuable to the mix.

    Where Big Journalism remains mostly a lecture, blogging is more a conversation. The bloggers are individuals, moreover. Some are experienced political journalists. Many in Boston will be neophytes when it comes to national politics. All, however, speak with genuine voices from their blogs -- voices their readers have come to know and in many cases trust. Blogs are simultaneously immediate, intimate and subtle.

    Due to the very nature of blogging, they'll be reporting from the edges of our increasingly ubiquitous data networks. I hope they'll experiment with the tools of this emerging trade. Technology has given average people new ways to collect and distribute information to global audiences, and this is an opportunity to show how grassroots journalism can be created and, crucially, seen in new ways.

    There's another collection of potential bloggers in Boston: the delegates themselves. I, for one, would love to see the nearly real-time observations of the people who have been designated as TV props -- the political activists, big-time contributors and others who could pierce the scripted phoniness and show us the event's largely unnoticed nuances. If I spot any such bloggers, I'll link to them on my own site.

    I'll be in Portland, Oregon, next week, speaking at a conference on open source technology. Open source is the process in which anyone can view and modify the source code, or programming instructions, to make improvements or otherwise tweak it for their own uses.

    Bloggers practice a form of open-source communication. The best of them listen and study. Then they write, and then they listen and study again, and write some more. We're still learning how it all works, but I know this: Something new is happening, something we need to watch closely.

  • For a list of convention bloggers with links to their sites, see this CyberJournalist.net page.
  • (Cross-posted from eJournal.)

    Posted by Dan Gillmor at 08:51 AM | Comments (1)

    July 21, 2004

    'Rumor Control,' by Anonymice

    The founders of the new "This is Rumor Control" blog say: "We are creating this blog because of our 'ground truth' belief that while the war on terrorism is worth fighting, and al-Qaeda worth defeating, the current U.S. policies in pursuit of these goals are failing our country in its moment of need."

    The authors claim impressive credentials, but they are giving us handles, not real names. Their reluctance is understandable, given the jobs they say they have. But their anonymity means it's going to take longer for me to invest a lot of trust in their work, assuming I ever do.

    One of the initial postings cites "a memo obtained by This is Rumor Control" but doesn't post it for us to view for ourselves. This is the Web, where the audience likes to see as much source material as possible.

    Nonetheless, this looks like a potentially valuable experiment in grassroots journalism. I'll watch with interest.

    Posted by Dan Gillmor at 04:11 PM | Comments (0)

    Technorati Chief as CNN Expert

    My older, wiser brother Steve reports that Technorati's Dave Sifry will be a talking head on CNN's convention coverage. He says: "Just as CNN continues to provide the gavel–to-gavel coverage the networks used to do, its alliance with Technorati validates the voice and authority of the blogosphere. In effect, CNN becomes the first bridge between the broadcast age and the peer-to-peer age of the real-time network."

    I wouldn't go that far, given that CNN is the network that told a staffer who had a blog to stop, but it's definitely a sign of progress.

    Posted by Dan Gillmor at 02:41 PM | Comments (1)

    News We Don't Normally Get, but Should

    Every morning I go to a Website I consider essential for anyone who wants to understand what is happening in Iraq. It's part of Mark Prutsalis' TIDES World Press Reports, a service that is being demonstrated as a core part of the Strong Angel II: Designing the Edge endeavor this week.

    Funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and compiled from a variety of sources, including translations from many Middle Eastern newspapers and the foreign press covering the Iraq situation, Prutsalis puts together a daily summary called the "Iraq Reconstruction Report." It's surely the best overall capsule of the on-the-ground situation you can find. He's also doing a "Global Threat" report containing stories about various terrorism and other threats to peace and stability.

    Here at Strong Angel, Prutsalis, who normally works from his home in Brooklyn, has been compiling his regular reports. He's also doing a daily publication he calls EDNA, or Edge Daily New Alerts, as part of the technology demonstration.

    I've urged Prutsalis to create an RSS feed for this great service, and he said it's on his list. (He also knows he has to make the site look better on Mozilla, where it's currently not very readable.)

    He's also thinking about the value of collecting information from another on-the-ground source: bloggers. This would add enormous value, I believe, to the report, provided he selected the most credible bloggers.

    I've been following TIDES for some time now. It is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the dynamics of the situation in the Middle East. I don't have to like the anti-American tilt of the news coverage, but I'm better informed knowing what the Arab press is telling its own readers. This is important work, and deserves wider recognition.

    (Cross-posted on eJournal.)

    Posted by Dan Gillmor at 07:20 AM | Comments (1)

    July 17, 2004

    Interactive Telejournalism

    Sean Van EveryShawn Van Every, a researcher at New York University, is here at the Strong Angel II demonstration with some cool technology and an equally cool idea. He's combined some gear into a platform for what he calls Interactive Tele-Journalism, the notion being that the audience should have a more direct participation -- in real time -- with the journalist.

    At Strong Angel he's doing some of this journalism with a video rig that includes a video screen connected to an Internet chat where the audience can make suggestions, including questions to ask and where he might point his video camera. (Here's his page with the video streams and chat software.) It sounds distracting to me, but I like the idea a lot in the context of picking the audience's collective brain in the middle of capturing news.

    Imagine this applied to, say, a press conference. Someone in the audience might know -- surely would know -- a lot more than the reporter about a specific topic and offer a follow-up question the journalists hadn't thought of in the first place. This has interesting potential.

    (Corrected for misspelling of Van Every's first name.)

    Posted by Dan Gillmor at 12:33 PM | Comments (0)

    July 15, 2004

    Speaking Engagements

    (If you'd like Dan to appear at an event, please contact Sara Winge at O'Reilly Media. Phone +1 (707) 827-7000 / (800) 998-9938, or send her an e-mail.)

    Posted by Dan Gillmor at 05:33 PM

    July 06, 2004

    Speaking Engagements

    (If you'd like Dan to appear at an event, please contact Sara Winge at O'Reilly Media. Phone +1 (707) 827-7000 / (800) 998-9938, or send her an e-mail.)

    Posted by Dan Gillmor at 02:14 PM


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