Thanks to the current era of communication and technology, blogs, social networking and websites have created new facets of what we call community. And although this often takes place in the ether world, more and more, online communities are meeting up in person to talk about the ways they communicate and how to enhance the messages that are shared.
Blogger Beast is such an event that I'm currently blogging from in Oakland. This meet up/workshop/camp is part of the programming of the Public Media Collaborative (PMC) a collection of folks and projects that focus on community based journalism and media projects. I first became associated with this group about 9 months ago. Everyone involved is interested in discovering new ways to to use the internet as a soapbox or megaphone.
It seems that in many ways the internet and the self-publish culture that it cultivates has produced an entire nation of people anxious to articulate. After generations of participating in passive communication propagated by radio and television, we have embraced this new medium in which we are no longer required to simply be docile receivers. We are now in fact creators of words, pictures, videos and our own stories. The previously squelched repertory tradition of tales and legends have been revived with a click of the share button. There are quite literally millions of blogs, hundreds if not thousands of blogging tools and seemingly no end to blogging subjects. Who knew we had so much to say? But, this begs the question: What are we really saying, and does it make a difference?
Apparently it does. More and more journalism outlets look to the "non-traditional" blogosphere for source material. In fact some blogging sites have become news outlets themselves. Huffington Post comes to mind and so does a new sight that some peers at PMC launched this week, http://oaklandlocal.com/ . This project is a new media hybrid hyper-local news site that also includes community resources and organizations, and links to other community blogs. It's intended to be a jumping off point for all things Oakland.
The difference between Oaklandlocal.com and traditional news sites is that Oaklandlocal.com embraces the whole community real and online by linking it's readers to brick and mortar community organizations as well as online commentary written by those on the ground. They also produce top notch news content written by seasoned journalists many of whom were discharged by print publications that clearly value profit over quality of content.
Yes, this is a site created by friends, but even if it weren't I would still consider the model they have created to be cohesive, elegant and cognoscente of the era we live in: a new hybrid of the ether and empirical world. I believe it will be the new trend in community dialogue. It's at least one of the reasons 100+ bloggers show up on a Saturday to meet each other in real life.