Friday, June 16, 2006

A really thought-provoking presentation about media

I heard Jim Brady of the give a presentation the other day about media convergence (a topic that is so hip/twee nowadays that there is a site devoted to tracking its incidence) that I thought really clarified the stakes a bit. He distinguished between:
  • Technical convergence: how devices were all combining/substituting for each other, listening to music on your cell phone, taking pictures with your PDA, tracking your calendar on your iPod
  • Audience convergence: being able to discover and connect easily with likeminded people, whether through MySpace or Facebook [in real life, I just lost about an hour while I went and messed around in Facebook--young people have been telling me what a time-suck it is, and I can now testify to it--see results here]
  • Competitive convergence: here I think the key driver is the web, and the fact that it can accomodate so many media, from video to podcasts to text to photojournalism. The result is that CNN competes with the Washington Post to deliver video images of tsunami even though one is a cable network and the other is a print newspaper
  • Information convergence: This is best summarized by mashups like Chicago crime stats displayed geographically.
The most charming thing, though, about Brady's presentation, was his energy and enthusiasm for all the possibilities this opened up. The WP started a year long program of coverage around "What it means to be a Black Man," and to kick it off brought a diverse group of men for a photo to be featured above the fold. What media convergence meant in this context, was that not only they could create a specialized site around this program, but that they could shoot a video of the photo shoot that brought these men together--a surprisingly intimate, touching 3+ minute slice of life. This beats conventional media any day.

Another very cool thing he pointed out was that the WP had for years maintained a congressional voting record DB. The journalists used it for their news analysis, but no one ever thought to do anything else with it ... until the hired the guy responsible for the Chicago crime stats above, and he discovered the journalists using it. A month later, it was up and running as a resource and incredibly rich content on A great lesson on repurposing content and looking at everything we do through another lens.

So here at GlobalGiving, we track statistics around projects and project organizations. It would take a bit of work, but we could start cleaning up the data and making it available to anyone who's interested. It would be interesting to see who is interested, given all the press lately about due diligence (or its absence) in the philanthropic world. Maybe it's because we don't present the data in interesting ways ...

Am really behind on my posts. Will see how confusing it is to people to start posting these posts backwards in time, like Time's Arrow.

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