Saturday, April 5, 2008

New (media) tools for communities

Ernest Sanders records a radio blog with his phone.
Photo by Eric Young Smith.

Communications was a hot topic last week at the Getting It Done: New Tools for Communities conference, and the clear direction was toward digital "new-media" tools. A few observations:

- Ernest Sanders of Greater Auburn-Gresham Development Corp. showed how his organization has used web sites, video, audio slideshows and even the radio/web site to promote its work. Oh, and old-fashioned printed newsletters and giant posters on CTA buses, too, because digital doesn't reach everyone, at least not yet.

- The web services firm that has built 10 NCP-related web sites, Webitects, Inc., introduced its "Community Collab" networking site, now in development, that is intended to provide a knowledge-transfer function for people in the community development field. Paul Baker, Billy Belchev and others from Webitects signed up 200 participants from all over the country as potential beta users. The site will be ready for testing by the end of 2008.

- Alberto Ibarguen, president of the Knight Foundation and former publisher of the Miami Herald, tore up his planned speech for the closing luncheon because he wanted to talk about his favorite subject: the need for communities to take up the communications role that newspapers once served. Ibarguen stopped in on the Digital Media and Youth discussion group and liked what he saw. But his pitch was that we all must push aggressively and quickly into the digitized world.

The conference gave the New Communities Program scribe team a good workout, with five writers and two photographers working the action. John McCarron is merging scribe reports into a conference overview that will be available soon. In the meantime, we sorted through some 3,500 digital photos, picked out the best, and learned how to post them in sets on Flickr. We even created a nifty "badge" (in the right-hand column of this blog) to urge people to click through to the galleries.

Thoughts? What are you seeing in the new-media area, or where do you see opportunities in this fast-changing world?

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