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Why I Want to Help Innovate Open Media

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I asked some of my volunteer transcribers to tell me some of the reasons why they're helping with this project, and a lot of their responses shows that they are largely driven their concerns about the state of US politics and the mainstream media -- as well as a number of other personal reasons as well.

I originally started the film with an advocacy goal trying to convince people that they should adopt my progressive worldview after I laid all of the facts out on the table. I was really pissed off with everything that's going on in this country both with politics and the media and the war, and I just wanted to provide information so that people could think just like I did -- Then all the world's problems would be solved, right?

But then I went through quite an evolution after interviewing so many different perspectives last July. I decided to put my focus and energy on how I could use this documentary project to create more inclusive and collaborative journalistic paradigm that could help solve a lot of the problems with the press that were identified by these insiders.

I intend to help create a media that promotes dialogue and understanding and not one showcases people screaming ideology at each other for the sake having a dramatic debate that scores big ratings....

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New Media Blogs Discuss Downing Street Memos

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A discussion of the Downing Street Memos has kicked up briefly in the New Media blogosphere after Jay Rosen's post on Sunday.

I thought I'd drop a few signposts from my daily blog surfing from this morning [my Internet connection went down delaying this post.]

All of these following posts have interesting discussions going on in their comment sections.

Dan Gillmor weighs in by excerpting the following passage from Russ Baker's Why Bush Went to War -- "Bush wanted a war so that he could build the political capital necessary to achieve his domestic agenda and become, in his mind, 'a great president."

Jeff Jarvis says that the Downing Street Memos aren't a big deal because everyone knows "the truth is that WMDs were never the real justification" and that this is all just "a scandal of bad PR."

Gillmor updates his post in response to Jarvis "What Jeff fails to note is that Congress would never have backed the war so fecklessly had the phony WMD issue been off the table..."

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A Flood of Downing Street E-mail Alerts

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I've been flooded this week with e-mail notices about the upcoming Downing Street Memo Congressional hearings being held tomorrow initiated by Representative John Conyers (D-MI).

I think it's interesting to watch how these progressive grassroots organizations have helped keep this issue alive through the Internet. I'll pass along all of these e-mails for you to read through down below.

I used to consume about 90 minutes of political news a day, but I've parsed that down to about 10 minutes of scanning headlines per day with the rest of my 30 minutes of spent surfing blogs covering the New Media movement.

I pick up the slack by scanning the titles of e-mails that I'm sent by a number e-mail lists (mostly progressive but a few conservative).

If more opposition Congressmen and Senators pick up on this, then this story could have legs -- especially if more documentary evidence or testimony turns up tomorrow. Otherwise this story will have a hard time breaking out of progressive anti-war circles and into the mainstream consciousness.

I personally think the Downing Street documents contain some pretty compelling circumstantial evidence that the Bush Administration never took the United Nations weapons inspection process seriously. It reinforces the hypothesis that the US only went through the UN because Tony Blair's demanded it as one of two conditions for being a part of the Coalition of the Willing -- (the other being a concrete plan for Israel & Palestine).

The UK takes International Law seriously, and the US political establishment and therefore media don't think it's all that important. But these latest memos have helped introduce these International Law issues into the US media bubble where they have been almost universally ignored leading up to the war and up to the present moment.

After the Congressional resolution passed in early October 2002, war was seen as inevitable by the US media and the inconsistencies in the Bush administration's arguments presented at the UN and the ones presented at home were largely overlooked by a myopic US media.

A more detailed overview is here and here are all of my blog postings tagged International Law.

Plenty more about the latest Downing Street developments can be found in the flood e-mails listed below...

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The Origins of The Echo Chamber Project

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Dr. Cline asked me to give him some more background information as to the events leading up to why I decided to start The Echo Chamber documentary project for a paper he's working on.

I told a lot of this same information to Charles Cohen when he was profiling my wife and I for the cover story on this project that was published in the Baltimore City Paper a year ago. But not all of it made it into the final story, and so I thought I'd share it here as well.

At what point did you say to yourself: "I have to do something."
Going back to April 20th, 2002, I had attended one of the first anti-war rallies in DC before the Bush Administration kicked off their PR campaign to sell the Iraq war 4 months later. This is where I heard Phyllis Bennis from the Institute of Policy Studies speak for the first time.

After this, I saw Scott Ritter's name come up a number of times online and that's why I went to go hear him talk on August 22nd when he came through Baltimore. Ritter accurately predicted that the Bush Administration was going to go to war in Iraq, and that they were going to use WMD to sell it to the American public.

Four days later, I was on vacation when I saw highlights of Cheney launching the PR campaign to sell the war in Iraq. Ritter was so eerily correct in predicting what was going to happen that I started recording C-SPAN when I returned home in September and October of 2002. I had a very strong hunch from Ritter that the Bush Administration was going to sell the war based upon questionable intelligence...

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Citizen Journalism Implications of Blog Doc Controversy

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(UPDATE 6/7/05 6:08p.m. -- John Hart has posted a public reply on his website, and I'm a bit speechless. It is certainly not a very rational response to the whole situation. Below were my thoughts on what I saw developing with the project independent of any outside influence or input from Chuck Olsen.)

There could be a bit of a PR nightmare brewing for the 59 Bloggers documentary in pre-production that I mentioned a few days ago. Independent filmmaker Chuck Olsen titled his film Blogumentary and expressed concern to the 59 Bloggers director John Hart that there might be some confusion over loosely throwing around the "Blogumentary" meme on his site.

Hart sent back a curt e-mail telling Olsen, "Please don't bother me with this bullshit nonsense." Then Olsen published an excerpt from Hart's e-mail on his blog. Hart apparently threatened Olsen with some type of legal action for publishing the e-mail.

Then David Weinberger -- one of the potential interviewees for the 59 Bloggers film -- responded to the controversy by saying, "I've seen how this new guy responds to a civil inquiry, I have asked him to drop me from his list of interviewees."

Hart then backtracked and removed all references to "Blogumentary" on his website -- along with a lot of other background information. Here's Olsen's archival screenshot.

At this point, we're only hearing Olsen's side of the story because Hart is not keeping a production blog (Bad PR on Hart's part).

So I see four lessons for citizen journalism from this little episode:

1.) There's a difference between social capital and normative standards and institutional capital and legal standards
2.) There are ethical and legal issues with publishing e-mail correspondence
3. ) This may have implications for establishing credibility and building trust with potential interviewees for citizen journalists
4.) It's bad to write something in an e-mail correspondence that you wouldn't want published in The New York Times.

More details below...

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Another blog documentary coming down the pipe

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Steve Rubel has been asked to participate in a documentary film about bloggers done by a career film industry guy named John Hart. Rubel says that the 59 chosen bloggers that Hart plans on interviewing represent his vision of the blogosphere -- after looking at the preliminary list, I can tell that Hart isn't very political since there is no sign of Instapundit, Atrios, Daily Kos, or Talking Points Memo on the list. Hart blogs here.

Rubel suggested that it might be a good opportunity for a company to support the project from a viral marketing opportunity.

Rubel didn't mention Chuck Olsen's Blogumentary or PBS' Media Matters: Welcome to the Blogosphere.

I met Olsen in Austin for SXSW and we had already discovered each others' projects. I had found his project because Olsen wrote on his site:

I want to make Blogumentary the first open source documentary. (If this has already been done, I'd love to know about it!)

Olsen found my project after Rebecca MacKinnon & David Weinberger linked to my New Media Ecosystem flowchart.

Olsen and I agreed that he is doing "open source" filmmaking from a transparency perspective, and I intend to do "open source" filmmaking from both a transparency and a decentralized collaborative perspective. A summary of links are below, and I have a couple of other blog posts about it on the way.

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Bridging the Technology & Filmmaking Gap

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My wife just asked me why I'm posting so many details about the mundane day-to-day stuff that I'm dealing with.

The first reason is for transparency sake -- Sometimes I'm debugging a problem and the site goes silent. I think it's better to keep everyone informed with what's going on even when there bad news or if I'm pulling my hair out trying to get something to work that probably has a really simple solution.

I also assume that a lot of the people reading this are skimming the posts for what they find interesting.

I also wanted to document the process for how I go about making this film for others who might want to try a similar approach.

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Instructions for Dr. Cline

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Hey Andy,
I started to respond to your e-mail, and then I decided to continue this conversation on the ECP site.

Now that I have Drupal up, we can start communicating more on the site. I wrote a blog entry called "Expanding from Windows into Cafes and Bridges" where I said:

Up until now, has served as a window for the production of this film for transparency's stake. It can now take it to the next level by treating it more like a cafe where conversations can happen within the internal blogs. It can also now serve more as a community of practice where this virtual space can be used more for collaboration.
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Expanding from Windows into Cafes and Bridges

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Now that I have this site Drupalized, I can now start treating it as a cafe and not just a window into the project. Blogger Hossein Derakhashan talks about blogs being a window into a community, a bridge between communities, and a cafe where people can chat about different topics.

Up until now, has served as a window for the production of this film for transparency's stake. It can now take it to the next level by treating it more like a cafe where conversations can happen within the internal blogs. It can also now serve more as a community of practice where this virtual space can be used more for collaboration.

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Phase 02: Coalition Building

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* Citizen Journalism Toolkit
* Media Reform
* Community of Practice
* Open Source Business Plan
* Symbiotic Relationships
* Ideological, Racial and Gender Diversity


* Provide preliminary proof-of-concept by manifesting an infrastructure in Phase 01.
* Build a coalition of partners interested in reforming the mainstream media and developing a Citizen Journalist toolkit for collaborative content development.
* Open Source the Business Plan to make the strategic intentions for The Echo Chamber documentary more transparent.
* Connect this project with larger institutional agenda setters who are monitoring the progress and willing to adopt the best practices developed through the production of this film.
* Create a Community of Practice where there is enough logistical support to manifest the remaining phases of post-production and distribution.
* Create a diverse network of volunteers who are mutually interested in creating a technological infrastructure and citizen journalism methodologies that make the press more democratic.

What I have:

* I have four advisors: 1 Journalism Professor, 1 Film Advisor, 1 Communications
* Practitioner, and 1 Drupal Developer.
* A brainstormed list of groups potentially interested in collaborating.
* Contacts with some New Media leaders, Activist Technologists, and other SXSW panel participants.
* An e-mail list of contacts

What I need:

* Recruit an outreach director to help with building a broad and diverse coalition.
* Recruit producers to budget and help raise required funds for the remaining phases.
* Recruit more academic advisors from a variety of different disciplines who would be interested in the project.
* Recruit additional logistical support -- legal, technology, etc.
* Collaborate with activists and organizations who are interested in helping develop tools for the remaining phases of this roadmap.
* Help with spreading these intentions and desires to your respective social networks.
* Receive vouchers of credibility from trusted sources within the journalistic and blogging communities
* Marketing support from the center and edges of the blogosphere
* To get this project on the radar screen of small, mid-level or mainstream news organizations
* To create opportunities to speak with strategic decision-makers employed by the press as the project progresses.

On to Phase 03 Recruit Volunteers to Contribute Metadata on Interview Transcripts
Back to Roadmap

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