Goodbye, love.

18. The legal mark of adulthood, but it’s not some sort of immaculate transformation, and our generation has less milestones to look to than those before us. Growing up is one thing, but when do we become adults?

For years now, I’ve been keeping track of the lessons learned as I’ve come into my own adulthood. I’ve gone back and forth about sharing them, but it wasn’t till I received an email that my AmeriCorps program – committed to strengthening the public media infrastructure – was bidding adieu after a decade’s worth of service that I needed to share at least this one.

I’ve been visited by reincarnations of this particular lesson over several years, and it has been especially poignant in the last month. It started when, despite enormous effort from myself and many associated with the School of Interdisciplinary Studies over two years, our academic division was stripped of its collegiate status at Miami University. In the last month, the House strapped a rider to the budget resolution that would essentially eliminate AmeriCorps. And tonight, the Transmission Project is raising its last toast in Boston.

So here is one of the most heart wrenching lessons I’ve had to learn about adulthood, and one with which I have yet to come to grips: As we grow older, we outlive the things we love.

Goodbye, CTC VISTA Project. Goodbye, Digital Arts Service Corps. My class and the staff have inspired me to no end. I can’t thank you enough.


Photo by Morgan Sully


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Carnival of Journalism – Higher ed, purpose and imagination

<img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-980" title="Return of the Carnival of Journalism <Update: To see what other carnies thought about universities as journalistic hubs and their role in media literacy, check out Dave Cohn’s roundup at the Carnival of Journalism

In 2009, I went to my first national conference. I met up with the folks at Denver Open Media in Austin for SXSWi. At the time, I had been working remotely with DOM on their Knight News Challenge project, the Open Media Project, and had caught earfuls of bustle via conference calls, but I had never met the crew.

DOM is a highly controversial, sometimes lauded outfit in the world of public access television. I asked executive director Tony Shawcross why cable access, and in a moment that I often revisit, he said it’s simply the most effective medium at their disposal for what they want to accomplish. He’d as soon lop it off when it no longer serves that purpose.

Media as the vehicle – don’t get too attached.

We’ve all seen them: journos who wax poetic about how to dash your serial commas, how to STET your mistakes. In a shifting journalism landscape, universities’ responsibility is to imbue their students with a flexible mindset, and the rest will follow.

So what environments can universities leverage to exercise that mindset?

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Some cibo

I’ve been chewing on some random thoughts lately and thought I’d put it out there and see what other people think.

  1. Read the rest of this entry »

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A crash course on citizen journalism

Crossposted from my Portland Community Media blog. Read comments on the original post.

Or participatory media, as I like to call it, for more inclusive reasons. One of my favorite quotes about participatory journalism is from Macromedia founder Marc Canter. “Five percent of the populace (probably even less) can create. The others watch, listen, read, consume. I think one of the destinies of digital technology is to enable the other 95% to express their creativity somehow. That’s the gestalt view.”

Back when I was in college, I wanted (and still entertain the idea) to be a journalist. Right before my senior year, a movement was beginning to gather steam, a movement called citizen journalism.

“Who are these people?” Lev Grossman posed in Time’s 2006 Person of the Year article. “Seriously, who actually sits down after a long day at work and says, I’m not going to watch Lost tonight. I’m going to turn on my computer and make a movie starring my pet iguana? I’m going to mash up 50 Cent’s vocals with Queen’s instrumentals? I’m going to blog about my state of mind or the state of the nation or the steak fries at the new bistro down the street? Who has that time and that energy and that passion? The answer is, you do.”

Everywhere I looked, on magazine covers, front pages and home pages, I saw three words: “Print is dead!” Columbia’s Dean of Journalism Nicholas Lemann was not in such a rush to support the statement. In his mind, it was amateur hour, where at its best, you might get a couple of decent opinions, but more brilliant and polished insights on the matter are already available in the papers. He echoed the thoughts of many journalists at the time.

So who are citizen journalists and why do they do what they do? Here’s where the term “citizen journalism” falls apart. The term was coined by academics trying to name something they saw, a something where everyday people were creating worthwhile media distributed on the Internet. Other terms for it are participatory journalism, pro-am journalism and grassroots journalism. Of those that frame the movement in terms of journalism, I believe the most encompassing name is participatory journalism (Aside: In my personal opinion, the biggest reason citizen journalism isn’t an adequate term is because “citizen” denotes geography, and this doesn’t take into account diasporas, immigrant identities, or the unfortunate few who aren’t protected under any citizenship).

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“The People”

Crossposted from my Portland Community Media blog. Read comments on the original post.

I’m nearing the end of my second week at Portland Community Media, and in the quest to better define the term “New Media,” I was pointed to Denver Open Media.

DOM is the phoenix that rose from the ashes of Denver Community Television. In 2005, the City of Denver lit the pyre when it decided to cut funding for public access television. With no financial resources, DCT shut down and its current incarnation, an offshoot of the nonprofit Deproduction, has something like three full-time staff members running a full-capacity media center. To keep costs down while still providing access to media technology, DOM has used Drupal, a content management system, to develop a database with modules that do everything from renting equipment to signing up for classes. For those of you who have Macs (sorry, Windows users—I don’t know what your equivalent is), you know that hitting F11 or F12 summons the widgets dashboard. Imagine the dashboard to be Drupal and the widgets to be modules that you can mix and match to your preference, display whatever information collage pleases you. That is basically what DOM has done.

The term “New Media” has been around for a while and has been a chameleon word, used as a filter from fine arts to Internet technology. New Media is this: It is tools, perceived to be mostly available through the web, that increase collaboration and sharing among users. So in terms of use of New Media tools to increase participation and collaboration with and between producers, DOM is a leader in public access.

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