What would happen if you got 300+ people involved in digital media creation and curation, public media and news reporters, and even the public at large together to talk about the future of Public Media? Organizers Andy Carvin (who works in Social Media for NPR) and Peter Corbett (from iStrategyLabs) decided to put it together and see what would happen. The result is the first of its kind Public Media Camp hosted by the Center for Social Media at American University this weekend. Content creators and producers, web and application developers, folks involved in public media in many different aspects, from APIs and tools to stories and relationships.
The unconference was kicked off by the CEO of NPR, Vivian Schiller, who discussed the changing environments of the modern media culture. Her remarks suggested that 2009 might be “the year everything changed,” suggesting that convergence between public, for-profit, and passion-driven media outlets might be closer than currently is expected. Participants ranged from NPR Ombudsman Alicia Shepard, to developer shops like Development Seed, to producers and developers at WAMU, to documentarists, to the Sunlight Foundation. With the charge given, the unconference divided itself into many skeins, those for programmers, those for producers and content developers, those for the more navel-gazey ethicists and the enthusiast gamer were all on the schedule. So what happened?
With the stakeholders of every type involved, sessions emerged in the traditional anarcho-democratic fashion that is the theme of the unconference. The first batch included a spirited discussion (of which I was part) of the roles for citizen journalists and enthusiasts in the media market, as well as a tour of the new NPR API, and a session on creating your own Public Media Camp in your own community. A second round covered the core of partnerships between public media entities and sites like We Love DC, as well as sessions on Disaster Response and Social Media, Copyright & Fair Use, and Getting the Public Involved in Government Data Analysis. The diversity of the crowd made for a vibrant first day, covering all manner of media topics from the future of gaming in public media (c’mon, who wouldn’t love a fantasy sports style league with NPR journalists? I’m taking Nina Totenberg in the first round. Seriously, her stats are amazing.) to deep technical issues facing the engineers behind Public Media.
I’d like to thank Peter & Andy for the invitation to check out the camp today, and a special thanks to Morgan Holm of Oregon Public Broadcasting for co-hosting the session on Public Media Partnerships with us.