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Community Engagement

Libraries Make Jump from Shelf to Screen

August 18, 2010
Photo Credit: Jason Grant

“The advent of the digital world has revolutionized how the public obtains its information.” How many times have you read some variation of this statement? General consensus assumes this observation to be fact. Thus, it comes as no surprise that the battle over equal access to and diversity of information graces mainstream headlines quite frequently—from the Wall Street Journal’s recent coverage of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act exemptionsto a San Francisco Chronicle article entitled “Demolition of Berkeley branch libraries fought.” And, in the influx of information-related news, an unassuming institution is emerging as a key driver in the conversation: the library.

Mozilla Drumbeat: Report from NYC

August 17, 2010
Photo Credit: Kinano (Flickr)

Mozilla Drumbeat describes itself as “practical projects and local events that gather smart, creative people around big ideas, solving problems and building the open web.” The Drumbeat events are a new venture for Mozilla, with the ultimate goal of fostering community and projects to keep the Internet open. Last week’s New York event, hosted at Open Plans, was true to its billing.  

Will Media Sink or Swim in the Shallow End?

August 13, 2010
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How can the Internet foster collective intelligence if it is simultaneously rewiring our brains to make us less intelligent? In their recent efforts to try to make sense of the cultural and political implications of today’s dramatically reconfigured media ecosystem, Clay Shirky’s Cognitive Surplus and Nicholas Carr’s The Shallows set forth two provocative arguments that stand somewhat in opposition to one another.  Both authors have explored this terrain before—Shirky with Here Comes Everybody, his account of the various ways in which the networking power of the Internet is facilitating new modes of production and social organization; and Carr with The Big Switch, his analysis of the evolving public utility model that is increasingly characterizing access to computing power.  The two authors have engaged each other in an online debate on the Encyclopedia Britannica’s blog over whether the overall cultural effects of the Internet are positive or negative—a step forward or back for human intelligence—so it seems appropriate to consider their latest works together.

Washington, D.C.

  • By
  • Kristine Gloria,
  • Kara Hadge,
  • New America Foundation
August 5, 2010

The District of Columbia, containing a wealth of intellectual capital, national political institutions, and expansive support for innovative industries is well positioned to develop a healthy information ecology in the digital age. Washington’s high concentration of leading political actors, paired with a high volume of influential information hubs, maintains a supply of and demand for information. Within its 61 square mile area, the District of Columbia hosts hundreds of media outlets transmitting news to the rest of the world.

An Information Community Case Study: Washington, D.C. - Media Serving Underrepresented Communities

August 5, 2010

The Washington, D.C., area is also served by media outlets that cater specifically to a range of ethnicities, including but not limited to African, African-American, Ethiopian, Vietnamese, and Hispanic. These publications, generally available both in print and online forms, merit a look separate from the general interest print publications discussed above. These publications tend to be self-funded (privately owned) and support a very small staff of writers.


An Information Community Case Study: Washington, D.C. - Introduction

August 5, 2010

As the nation’s capital and as a vibrant local community, Washington, D.C., is diverse in every sense: Its residents are transient and long-established, American government officials and foreign nationals, affluent and impoverished, esteemed business leaders and innovative grassroots activists. Washington thrives on its variety, but also struggles with extreme socioeconomic stratification.


Why Amazon Will Win the Internet

  • By
  • Reihan Salam,
  • New America Foundation
August 2, 2010 |

In the 33 months since the launch of Amazon's Kindle platform, sales of Kindle e-books have surpassed sales of hardcover books. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos predicts that e-book sales will surpass paperback sales within the next 12 months, and combined hardcover and paperback sales soon after that. This despite the fact that the 600,000 titles in the Kindle bookstore represents only a fraction of Amazon's inventory.

The Right to Bear Cameras

July 29, 2010
Photo Credit: Jennifer Boyer

Since freedom of the press is the foundation that American news outlets are built on, we all know that the First Amendment is sacrosanct to this country’s journalists. However, there are a few situations that test the limits of this freedom, and one of these situations has been in the news recently. Though it traditionally falls under the protections of the First Amendment, photography occupies that ambivalent space where cameras can be wielded by both journalists and private citizens with potentially harmful intent. It’s the latter group that leads to conflict between law enforcement officials and camera-toting individuals and frames the debate over security and freedom of the press in the incongruous terms of the Second Amendment.

But in the modern information society, the camera is not a weapon; on the contrary, it’s increasingly the main tool of citizen journalists in their effort to spread information. The easiest way that an average person can contribute to the news ecosystem—one of the prime opportunities for civic engagement—might be to take just one picture. As we pointed out earlier this month, this is how citizen journalism first took off.

But not everyone is happy to let your average American snap photos in public areas, even if it is for the good of the community.

Community Media Centers Support Broadband Adoption

July 16, 2010
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By Bill Densmore and Colin Rhinesmith

In the first of our two-part recap of this month’s Alliance for Community Media conference, we observed the growing trend towards online media that’s taken hold of PEG access centers. Participants at the conference also found, though, that this media convergence is not without its risks. At the “Creating Hyperlocal Journalism in Diverse Communities” panel, Ron Cooper of Access Sacramento noted that there is a high percentage of non-users of the Internet in diverse communities in Sacramento. He believes Access Sacramento’s key to reaching them is focusing on diversity and youth culture and opening "hyperlocal news bureaus" in libraries and other spaces.

PEG Access TV Embraces Online Journalism as Funding Uncertainty Grows

July 16, 2010
Photo credit: Davis Access Media

By Bill Densmore and Colin Rhinesmith

With the nation's non-profit public-access television services often unable to count on a reliable stream of government-enforced funding from the cable industry, many are beginning to embrace the Internet and even journalism training as ways to further their public-service mission. The change is spurred by two counterbalancing trends. On the one hand, large cities such as Los Angeles and Las Vegas have pulled the plug on funding for public-access cable services. On the other hand, the plunging cost and easy use of web-based video technology is making it easier for the services that remain to embrace an entirely new method for delivering citizen-generated multimedia and information to mobile- and web-enabled citizens.

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