Dan Gillmor’s Center for Citizen Media & Reinstitutionalizing Serendipity

I’m listening to the audio from Dan Gillmor’s lunch talk yesterday at the Berkman Center, in which he is describing just what his Center will do.

Exciting stuff.

Update- Ethan Zuckerman has a detailed report on the talk. Ethan paraphrases Dan:

The threat to journalism is not from the bloggers, but is a business-side threat. Now that classified ads have moved to the web, and readers have gotten used to tivo’ing through ads, it’s a real problem to figure out who’ll pay for investigative journalism. Foundations will help pay for some reporting – see the Center for Public Integrity as an example of this model at work.

Dan has a wonderful idea: “Reinstitutionalize Serendipity?. By this, Dan’s referring to the story in the lower right hand side of the page – the story about something you’ve never heard of but end up reading because some editor thought you should know about it. “I had no idea I cared about most of the things I read on BoingBoing – and I don’t care about many of the things I read…? but the fact that you discover issued you’d never expected to explore shows serendipity at work.

Update- Dave Weinberger also has a summary of Dan’s talk:

Q: With the rise of local media, we have this weird idea that they’re going to make particular stories important to us — salmonella down the street is more important than genocide in Rwanda. So far, citizen media seem most interested in technology, etc. Do we run the risk that we’ll be really shittily informed about what’s going on in the Democratic Republic of Congo?

A: We’ll see more of what we are interested in, not what the media decide we’re interested in. I worry about the echo chamber effect, though. But if citizen journalism encourages a deeper involvement with current events, we have a chance at broadening. “We also need to reinstitutionalize serendipity.” [Actually, given how much time I spend getting pulled hither and yon by interesting links, I’ve got more serendipity than I can handle.]


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