FutureWire - futurism and emerging technology

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

2005 was "Year of the Digital Citizen"

An article from BBC News notes how this past year saw the rise of citizens who used their phone cams and blogs to capture and share breaking news... in many cases trumping the mainstream media.

It began with the devastating Southeast Asian tsunami, with most all of the important footage being shot by tourists and locals with their camcorders. The London bombings in July and the destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina were also captured by eyewitnesses. Technology that is increasingly cheaper and easier to use, combined with tools for sharing digital content, will only nuture this trend.

The article quotes Boston city councillor John Tobin, who predicts that videoblogging will play a pivotal role in politics the way that text blogging did in 2004:

Regularly, Councillor Tobin reports and shows his voters the positive and negative about their community. He shows them the new mural or neighbourhood graffiti problems. He returns to areas for updates where action has been taken to make something better.

Councillor Tobin is convinced that by the 2008 presidential elections, most politicians in the US will vlog or die in the public eye.

"It's going to be mandatory. People are going to have to do it. Voters won't accept that they don't have it," he recently told the Boston Phoenix.

It is a cheap, accessible and locally relevant way in which to engage with and be visible to the very people who voted you in.

The subtext is that if politicians don't take the lead in digital media, voters -- and ultimately politicians' opponents -- will.

Blogger Dan Gillmor is also quoted, noting the need for a "media and journalism ecosystem" that supports both mainstream and grassroots reporting:

"We need what big institutions do so well, but we also need the bottom-up - or, more accurately, edge-in - knowledge and ideas of what I've called the 'former audience' that has become a vital part of the system.

"I'm also anxious to see that it's done honourably and in a way that helps foster a truly informed citizenry."

RELATED: Unmediated points us to two recent items on citizen journalism. One, a commentary from the Editors Weblog, acknowledges the contributions that citizen journalists make, but declares "the idea that there is an essence of citizen journalism - as replacing the so-called traditional journalism - is dead." The other notes the debut of the Chicago Daily News, an online-only "independent news source" (and the name of a storied Windy City paper that closed in 1978) that is paying for submitted digital content.

Sources: BBC.com, Smart Mobs