YEAH, WHAT NOW?
For two days, we’ve told you about this cataclysmic evolution in media — and here we are at the bicentennial of Mr. Evolution himself. Today is Charles Darwin’s (and Abraham Lincoln’s) 200th birthday.
CHECK OUT our Darwin Resources Page for Exploration and Dialogue. There, we tell you about new Darwin books, a terrific National Geographic TV show tonight and even an upcoming Evolution Weekend in the nationwide Clergy Letter Project.
WANT TO TALK about Darwin today? Visit Dr. Wayne Baker’s OurValues.org where he’s got a lively conversation with readers about Darwin’s legacy.
Still reeling from our Tuesday story on the Scope of Change from New York’s Tools of Change 2009 conference? Still stirred by our Wednesday story about the remarkably spiritual Shape of the Change in the way we connect people’s stories with each other?
Well, settle back because you’re going to enjoy what comes next. Here are some examples of the high hopes emerging here in this conference that’s all about learning to “surf the tsunami,” as an executive from the Thomas Nelson publishing house put it on Wednesday.
Newspapers Showed Up (Sort Of) With Some Good News
Yes, this is good news.
If you read our Monday and Tuesday stories, you know that I bemoaned the failure of newspapers to see themselves as part of this professional gathering. The newspaper industry still sees itself as “different” or “separate” from these hundreds of professionals who are building the next wave of tools to deliver information to people.
Well, on Wednesday, a few cutting-edge newspaper professionals did show up. A show-stopping presentation by Nick Bilton, the director of the New York Times’ Research & Development Lab, suddenly broke open a ray of hope for at least some high-end newspapers. Among the new projects in the Times’ R&D Lab, for example, is a powerful piece of software (“a dynamic cookie”) that would accompany online newspaper content and would allow readers to start reading a story on a computer screen, then switch to a telephone screen, then switch to yet another hand-held device in some third location — without ever losing one’s place in the story.
That wasn’t the only small but bright light for newspapers.
Susan Mernit, co-founder of the People’s Software Company, a fledgling news-media incubator, said that the most hopeful sign in the newspaper industry may be the industry’s own desperation.
She explained this somewhat circular argument this way: “We’re in a time of big change and a lot of what we’ve done in the past is breaking or is broken.” So, at the moment, she argued, a lot of important experiments finally are unfolding in journalism.
She told the crowd about the creative new adventures of an old friend of ReadTheSpirit — David Cohn (that’s him above and at left). Two years ago, ReadTheSpirit Publisher John Hile and I worked with David in one part of a major project David was coordinating with Wired magazine, City University of New York and the MacArthur Foundation in developing citizen-generated journalism.
Now, two years later, David Cohn is reborn as “DigitalDave.”
Among other things, he’s the founder of “SpotUs” — that’s http://www.Spot.Us — a small but encouraging experiment in asking ordinary citizens to go online and pay for the support of journalistic projects. “It’s somewhere between an NPR model of listener support — and an online tip jar to pay for a reporter’s next story,” said one speaker.
It may seem like a tiny light. But, David Cohn is proving that people will pay for journalism — an essential question to explore in this era of failing newspapers.
Then, Here’s Some TOC2009 Eye Candy
How many of these have you heard about already? How many of these inspire you? We’d love to hear what you’re thinking!
FISKATEERS: One of the hottest phrases in the New York meetings came from Ed Moran of Deloitte, who you can read about in Wednesday’s story where he describes a “Social Community Facilitator.” (Out of work journalists? I’ll tell you one more time — this can be part of a next career!) What Ed envisions is finding articulate, flexible, friendly, creative people who’ll help to create vibrant media around natural social communities. Because Deloitte mostly works with corporate clients, he’s constantly on the lookout for any corporate/community hybrid in this field. So, he showed off the Fiskateers to the crowd in New York. Have you seen Fiskateers? Do you know a scrapbooker? And scrapbookers use fancy scissors — like the scissors made by Fiskars — and … Well, check it out.
U STREAM TV: Several speakers refered to this site that ranges from video streams of cute puppies to late-night folk singers to wannabe Larry Kings and faux Oprahs. Sure, you can make fun of it, but this is a model of utterly democratized television — streamed from whatever cheap equipment you’ve got available to connect with the Web. Check out U StreamTV at http://www.ustream.tv/ and if any of our readers out there start experimenting with this in a spiritual or religious context — hey, tell us about it, will you?
BRIGHT KITE: OK, now, follow me on this one — because this creative idea requires some highly motivated and just a little bit gizmo-geeky folks to make it work. Have you heard of Bright Kite? It’s a rapidly emerging telephone application that does several interesting things. But Chris Brogan, the young marketing guru I wrote about on Tuesday, sketched out a series of way-cool ideas that should fire up a creative soul or two. Bright Kite allows users with suitably equipped telephones to go to various locations and record audio (and leave photos as well) that are designed to be accessed by other telephones when they’re in those same locations. Got that? You could adapt this phone app to create your own guided pilgrimage of audio clips accessible to people on their own phones. Cool idea, huh?
ONE MORE — TWITTER FALL: This will drive you nuts if the “trend” streams are running like salmon — as they sometimes do on this site. But, if you want to stage a little demo to prove to a skeptic that you really can watch virtually real-time trends emerging, then check out TwitterFall. Don’t leave it running too long on a slow computer, I’ve discovered the hard way. It’s an automated “waterfall” of sifted Twitter posts. (If you have no idea what Twitter itself is — well, head over there to http://www.Twitter.com/ and you can “follow” my Tweets, if you want. Dip your toe in the waters that way.) When you’re properly braced — step into the Twitter Fall. If you find it’s not too impressive at the default speed — try dialing up the speed of the digital waterfall with the controls on the right corner of the page.
Finally, a real gem from Nick Bilton of the Times
Take a breath!
Yes, we’re in the midst of one of the world’s most exciting transformations right now — a truly high-octane moment in the realms of spirituality, faith, cultural diversity and media!
You can wear yourself out with all of this exciting stuff.
To calm the crowd, Bilton brought some snippets of Times stories from 1876 and 1877 to share with the crowd. The first was the Times’ coverage in 1876 of “an invention” called “the telephone.”
The awe-struck reporter told the world that telephones now will be able “to convey sounds from one place to another over the oridnary telegraph wires.” This truly was the defining invention that would change the whole world, he predicted.
Then — just a year later — the Times gushed even more effusively over the invention of “the phonograph,” which was “destined to … entirely eclipse” the telephone. That phone gadget from last year? Pffft! Nothing! Yesterday’s gadget!
What was so refreshing about these clippings is that the reporters didn’t have a clue how these devices actually would transform life.
So, to wrap up this three-day glimpse into the future — here is a glimpse into the past that Bilton shared with the crowd. Here’s just a tiny nugget of what was predicted in the breathless report on the advent of the telephone:
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(Originally published at https://readthespirit.com/)