Posts Tagged ‘community’

Media Roundtable: Raj Jayadev

September 8, 2008

Raj is the Founder of Silicon Valley De-Bug and is working to empower underserved communities by educating them on how use the tools to share their voice/opinion and make a difference in their community. I already love this guy and he is only one minute in.

It does not take a lot of resources to become a ‘media mogul’. Most of the younger generation is using the free online technologies (Facebook, MySpace) and text messaging to communicate with one another and using news/civil actions to organize, like the recent march for the rights of immigrants. The march was self organized via MySpace and text messaging, and turned into the largest organized protest in the Bay Area’s history. This is extremely powerful. People who understand this will be able to effect change.

He shares the thought that media has become synonymous with community organizing. Also sees ethnic media replacing traditional media in certain areas, though would like to add that merely going ‘in language’ does not automatically make it an ethnic media source (i.e. just because you print in Spanish does not mean you are reporting on issues that affect the Latin community).

So the big question is now…how do we make the newer technologies accessible to all?

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Technology & Innovation Roundtable: danah boyd

September 8, 2008

danah shares a great case study of how people used the Social Media tools (wikis, Twitter, blogs, Flickr, etc.) to help educate people around Hurricane Gustav. It provided a vital resource for people affected in the area that got the attention of Rick Sanchez and the folks at CNN who realized quickly a small community was able to produce the news and gather resources faster.

The key thing to remember is innovation is not always around the technologies themselves, but how people converge and use the tools around them.

Unmet Community Info Needs Roundtable: Matt Hammer

September 8, 2008

Matt is from People Acting in Community Together (PACT), working with grassroots organizations to encourage every day people to get involved in civil actions. They help everyone from low income to the wealthiest families in the Bay Area.

An example given was in the 90’s when they went into the Oakland School District and through the Data Department were able to share test scores of every student to show all parents it was not just one child failing, it was a large percentage of the kids in the school. They were able to rally parents and the school to help push the No Child Left Behind programs to ensure everyone obtains a proper education.

PACT continues to find ways to get understandable information into the hands of everyday people. Traditional media sources made substantial cuts in staff, making it harder to share local news stories so the focus is on finding channels to communicate with the community at large and get them engaged for the betterment of the community.

Knight Silicon Valley: Communities and Fragmentation

September 8, 2008

Editor’s note: This is being posted for Josh Wilson, one of the guest bloggers at the Community Forum held today at Google.

The initial panel was broadly focused on the topic of “unmet community information needs,” and showcased a diverse set of speakers, from local union and community organizers to city strategists, academics and community foundation leaders.

Chava Bustamante, a former SEIU coordinator, opened the discussion with a telling, if informal, experiment to identify where people are from.

“How many of you here were born in another country?” he asked. A handful of hands were raised — his own included.

“Howbout from another state?”

This time the response is overwhelming. Every hand, virtually, is raised.

“Now,” he says, with a bit of a grin, “How many of you are from here, from Mountain View, and went to the local high school?”

Not a hand was raised. Bustamante, a 40-year resident of the area, admitted that he himself was born in Mexico City, and came to America pursuing a dream of a better life.

“We are all strangers,” he said, and despite our individual and collective achievements as resettled natives of other places, his comment makes me wonder: Have we truly become natives of this new place, the San Francisco Bay Area, where we all live together, if we barely know each other?

This theme comes up again and again as all the other speakers take their turn.

There are neighborhoods, there are families, there are subgroups and subcultures and special interests — but what is it that brings us together?

More specifically, how can we engineer a communication infrastructure that can unite the divergent communities of Silicon Valley and the greater Bay Area ?

Emmet Carson of the Silicon Valley Community Foundation spoke frankly on the overabundance of information sources — “too many,” he says — that enables people to pick and choose news and information according to their interests, and in doing so cut themselves off from relevant information outside of their specific “personalized” daily news feed.

“What’s useful to the individual is not always good for the common good and for all of democracy,” he noted.

While he expressed fondness for the an earlier era, when there were fewer, more narrowly focused news sources that spoke to a more broad civic agenda, he acknowledged that the old information economy did systematically exclude so many voices, including women, immigrant communities, etc.

“How do we blend and link all these diverse information channels?” he asked.

Abundant information technology is fine, but it requires us to conceive of new ways to “validate it and create discussions around it.”

He notes that this conversation is not something that takes place solely in the virtual environment, but rather, “it’s a place of personal participation.”

This theme of non-virtual engagement — of people coming together directly, in real life and outside of the technological circuit, and crossing the fragmented boundaries of our self-selecting, self-segregating information society — came up repeatedly.

In other words, what’s needed are physical gathering places to anchor the diverse conversations and inquiries of the many communities that make up a city, a county, a neighborhood, an geographical region.

According to Judy Nadler, one of the Knight panelists and an ethics fellow at Santa Clara University, that gathering place is the public library, which she described as “the new community information center.”

It was a resonant comment that anchored the high-flying ideals of the technological utopians to an earlier ideal of the public sector as a wellspring of civic engagement.

Public libraries embody both local commitment to public participation and access to information, and, thanks to Mr. Andrew Carnegie, are rooted in older American tradition of philanthropy in support of civic engagement and information self-sufficiency.

It’s unlikely, however, that libraries alone can heal the fragmentation between and within our communities — but the panelists have plenty of ideas about what else will be required.

Matt Hammer of People Acting in Community Together (PACT) spoke of the importance of getting “understandable information in the hands of lots of regular people, to help seemingly intractable problems get resolved.”

Kim Walesh, the chief strategist for the City of San Jose, described a variety of innovative municipal programs focused on engaging the “under-35 set” … and “connect the dots between young people and civic issues.”

The conversation turned at one point between media that “pushes” at people — direct mailers, for example, or traditional broadcast — and one can’t help but wonder about the value of some of that push media, which is often focused on advertisements and commerce, rather than civic information needs.

That tension, between “pushing” information at people, and “pulling” them towards civic information they need to see, remains a strategic challenge.

Each speaker presented such a diverse array of needs, methods and ideas about building and serving community, one can’t help but recall Emmet Carson’s dilemma of having too much information in the first place.

How do the threads come together? What is the weave by which we knit together this diverse, divergent democracy of ours?

Unmet Community Info Needs Roundtable: Emmett Carson

September 8, 2008

Emmett is the CEO of Silicon Valley Community Foundation and feels if democracy is the core, the media is the way we get information about understanding what those subject areas are – i.e. military spending, how much for disaster planning, etc. – and also how we legislate morality.

We have too many information sources. In prior times, we combined news outlets, so we knew where to go. They were not perfect, but at least it was a common basis to shape ideas and knowledge.

Communities are becoming fractured, people are focused solely on their own neighborhood – we need to get back to the ‘common good’. How do we link the channels to ensure there is a cross section of information to ensure you have all you need to make a educated decision.

Build democracy based on the common good.

Emmett is one of those people I need to sit down and have a deeper chat with.

Unmet Community Info Needs Roundtable: Chava Bustamante

September 8, 2008

Chava Bustamante from the SEIU starts off by asking how many people in this room were (1) born in another country (2) born in a other state, (3) born in Mountain View to get an idea of the diversity of the attendees.

Chava is working towards bring ‘strangers’ together and to find ways of how media can be used to foster democracy. He feels being part of a democracy is having access to all the opportunities in this society to achieve every dream possible.

Miilions of people live in poverty and don’t have access to the tools ot better their lives. Feels too much time is wasted to find information on how to get things like GED or training opportunities for a better job. Had he had this access, it would have allowed him a chance at a better education. Instead, he worked in the fields for 12 years.

Media can play a more active role by publishing more informtiton about programs and organizations that help people accomplish their dreams. News outlets should highlight roles organizations play in their communities.

Our lives are intertwined, we should work together to build a stronger society.