a curious Yankee in Europe's court

blog about living in Europe, and Italy

Allvoices: a new level of democracy in news media

Posted on the July 11th, 2008

A new citizen journalism website is now fully online, and it’s one of the most interesting and ambitious such ventures that I’ve seen. Allvoices.com describes itself as the “first true people’s media.”

Excerpt from its mission statement:

It’s a place where individuals from all over the world can share what is happening where they are (location) at a particular point in time. Allvoices then brings together multiple voices or points of view via news stories, videos, images and blogs from the Internet, to provide context and build momentum. The platform provides the community with the ability to search and navigate a news event by location and category, to share and to have a discussion around it, to emotionally connect with each other’s perspectives and complete the human story.

Especially fascinating and helpful, I think, is an interactive world map displayed across the top of the home page. Posted with hyperlinked circles and stars in various locations on the map, it allows the viewer, if interested, to click and easily review what’s currently being posted.

How does it work?

Allvoices is an open, unedited and unmediated site. Every voice (contribution) is automatically checked for spam and relevance to the news event. A contribution is not edited and is posted as is as long as it is relevant to the news event. The relevance is checked by our algorithms and technology – not humans.

The whole idea behind adding a voice to an existing news event is to get the discussion going. It can be as simple as sharing an emotion or a comment.

The team behind Allvoices is impressive. It includes business, communications and IT professionals, and also some Computer Science professors from Northwestern University.

Summing up its mission, the Allvoices website states:

Allvoices was started by passionate people who believe that everyone has a story worth telling, sharing that story can be the first step in changing lives. Allvoices redefines the voice of people through the global community for sharing current news events and issues from multiple points of view, providing an emotional connection to each other’s perspectives.

At it’s core, Allvoices is about democracy. About giving power to people. About their voices having the effect that makes a difference.

(I came across the link to Allvoices on the Editors Weblog site.)

This Allvoices video below powerfully demonstrates once again that a picture can be worth a thousand words:

UPDATE: Questo post in italiano

Reader Comments (0) Comments Off on Allvoices: a new level of democracy in news media

Virtual living: just playing dress-up, or more?

Posted on the January 8th, 2008

A peek at virtual living sites online, plus a deeper look at what it all means is offered in a recent video interview hosted by Ira Flatov, of ScienceFriday.com. Flatov talks to Sherry Turkle, director of MIT’s Initiative on Technology and Self. Turkle discusses some psychological aspects of living in virtual reality.

Also offering commentary in the video is Cory Ondrejka, former Chief Technology Officer at Linden Lab. Linden Lab created the popular Second Life virtual world website. Ondrejka talks about learning how to use virtual reality living as a way to communicate, and to connect more to the real world.

The video also features scenes from Flatov’s own visit to Second Life to meet listeners to his show.

Reader Comments (0) Comments Off on Virtual living: just playing dress-up, or more?

What’s shrinking the digital divide the fastest?

Posted on the January 3rd, 2008

The mobile phone is the electronic device most often in the hands of those in developing countries, according to Katrin Verclas, of MobileActive.org. As of the end of 2007, three billion mobile phones were expected to be in use across the globe, Verclas says.

As a point of comparison, an estimated one billion people in the world reportedly had Internet access by the end of 2007 (see more on digital statistics here).

Verclas is the founder of MobileActive.org. It is a worldwide network for people interested in using mobile phones, and their potential for communication, in civil society and for social activism, according to the website.

Examples of innovative campaigns and projects abound. Democracy organizations have used mobile phones to swing elections through innovative get-out-the-vote activities, ensured impartial voting through poll monitoring via SMS, developed ground-breaking new information services with vital civic or health information, documented abuses of political prisoners, and lobbied legislators to pass environmental laws. (From the About section of MobileActive.org).

For more information about Verclas and the work she is doing, check out this webpage on Changents.com, where I first read about her.

Reader Comments (0) Comments Off on What’s shrinking the digital divide the fastest?

MIT project blogs on best uses of “civic media”

Posted on the November 19th, 2007

What is civic media exactly? “Any form of communication that strengthens the social bonds within a community or creates a strong sense of civic engagement among its residents,” according to MIT.

The project’s name is MIT Center for Future Civic Media. Recent blog posts include an analysis of local media during the state of emergency imposed by Musharraf in Pakistan (Nov. 9, 2007) and a report (Nov. 5, 2007) on Step It Up, a new online organization calling for global environmental change.

Reader Comments (0) Comments Off on MIT project blogs on best uses of “civic media”