Saturday, March 6, 2010

Dan Gillmor...citizen media Guru

Dan Gillmor...citizen media Guru

"My goal is to help people become active and informed users of media, as consumers and as creators. We are in a media-saturated age, more so all the time, and we need to find ways to use media to our — and our society’s — best advantage". This is how Dan Gillmor, citizen media guru, stated in his own web site.

Gillmor spent almost 25 years in the newspaper business and he is a co-founder of Dopplr Travel Site Investor, Wikia, Seesmic, Twitter applications, Shareholder in New York Times Co. and Berkshire Hathaway, Board member, First Amendment Coalition Advisor for a lot of digital project & currently running the Knight Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship,

Dan Gillmor emphasized on the opportunity to change the media landscape which will occur now as we have an appropriate chance to let people participate; this is called democratization but not in the political context but in terms of participation, we all could be creators; tools are very simple mobiles, laptops. You can record, take videos & upload them.

Distribution is important here in the printed media we buy papers first then go to a printing house then we need to send it to the places where people can reach & buy it. But now you just upload news online then people get it, so we have an access to the world.

Finally, in journalism & media, the future will be for entrepreneurial as people do their own & start it up based on their desire. It doesn't cost a lot of money but of course it needs energy, it is not free but relative in cost it is cheaper.

On the occasion of launching the Arabic edition of his book "We the Media: Grassroots Journalism by the People, for the People" Gillmor visited Alexandria, for the first time. Alex Agenda meet him for a long talk.

• How do we know what to trust?
Dan: There's no simple answer to that question but I believe people who are the audience & consumers of the media need to take the responsibility to find things that they trust & recommend it to others. People need to be more active.

• Theories that say that digital media will replace printed one?
Dan: In my opinion a theory remain a theory, this is related to the reading habit of the people. The idea is new & I don't want to see it replacing professional journalism because of many reasons including the business wise but digital is coming.
Regarding the quality of the content, we had proofs that professional journalists sometimes get things wrong. People might not be journalists but they might be a part of the journalistic atmosphere. another example on the power of the citizenship journalism what happed in Tsunami, all the news, photos, videos were uploaded by ordinary people & it was used as a source from news agencies.

• What do you think about volunteering work?
Dan: Many parts of our life is based on volunteering in many forms, in California we are having a mailing list to tell each other what is going on, again we don't want digital to replace but to add.

• Should we trust anything professionally printed?
Dan: I don't trust something because it is professional only but I work hard to understand. I read NYT but I don't believe it every time, I know that they work hard but sometimes they got things terribly wrong. In blogging for example people add their details that help in delivering & increasing the trust level, bloggers do so because they care.

As audiences we need to be good users, I don't promote automatically trust but over time we need to take decisions on whom to trust in order to know who is misleading us.

• What do you think about Egyptian media?
Dan: I don't know enough about Egyptian media to tell but I'm here to learn as much from you, you are the experts here but sometimes I read the Egyptian global voices, so basically what I know is what I read but the students I meet this morning are outstanding, full of energy.

Don't cover a wide area with shallow but cover a smaller one with a deeper view.

Running a website is based on what I'm telling the people so if they agree to keep on tracking & reading it… so it is successful. The online provides us with the opportunity to anything on time including misspelling and errors.

I did that with the first book & it is on my blog. This is a part of the process, I used to tell people & to share with them what I'm doing to know what they want to read. In general the people who are interested help in developing the content of the book & tell if there is an error to fix. People collectively know more than I do.

• So are you afraid of plagiarism?
Dan: No, I'm not afraid that the book might be stolen because if someone simply starts now, he has to run really fast to catch up with me & it will be obvious.

Online is not protecting the idea cause simply the ideas are always there but doing is the hardest part, hard work counts not only how original is the idea.

• And elections 2.0, what do you think about it?
Dan: Of course the social media & the web technology helped a lot in the last American presidential elections & it not just about that. It started in 2000 but the booming was in 2008 with Obama. People believe that what was said in the e-campaign will stay forever so better to watch out. I can say that Obama won't won the elections without the internet, it is impossible to prove that but they were brilliant, in particular to get online active supporters for fundraising is very hard. The next elections we will see more.

Obama people know how to use social media & they understand it well. Now we need to analysis their way of using social media till the next elections.

Ahmed Esmat

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