CIL 2007 – Using Social Media for Community Engagement – Andy Carvin

Andy is Senior Product Manager for Online Communities at National Public Radio and was a last minute replacement for the scheduled speaker who was unable to attend. His powerpoint slides are available at

If you wanted to produce content for a mass audience you needed to be a publisher, broadcaster, billboard owner, sky writer or guy holding a sign up at a televised event. Enter Web 1.0 (40 years ago!), but producers still needed HTML, programming and graphic design skills, hosting ability and promotion mechanisms.

Today= Web2.0. New online software in late 1990s allowing people to focus on the content, rather than the technical know-how. A mass democratization of content with a common thread of online communities where people are actively encouraged to use and share each other’s original content.

Content Production: all the cool kids are doing it. Young people are more likely to post content, although race, income and education are less of a factor. Shared stats from Pew which were blogged yesterday! Web 2.0 Universe is changing so quickly, so the slide of things happening is already out of date as new tools are developing almost daily.

Most famous example are blogs – began as geek personal homepages. Blogging software has made it easier for anyone to do it – like me! Fill out a form publishing, with the result of 60-100 million blogs online, Andy thinks thats conservative. Guestimate that there are more bloggers in China than there are English bloggers worldwide.

Media hates bloggers! Cant trust citizen journalists to get the story right, they have biases, a mob mentality and more. Bloggers don’t trust big media, claim they’re unbiased – right!, dominated by soundbites, don’t respect the public’s intelligence and pandering to lowest common denominator. Happy Internet – concerted efforts at finding understanding between the media and the blogosphere. Media/blog collaboration now more common, with a greater emphasis on networked journalism, finding ways for the media to work with “The people formerly known as the audience”. (Jay Rosen)

Why do Media outlets embrace 2.0 – improving journalistic transparency, creating a public dialogue, tapping into public knowledge and creativity, new collaborative opportunities with affiliates and maybe its profitable too?

At NPR have been involved in Open Piloting. They invite the public to help create new broadcast programming, sharing rough drafts of shows before they’re ready for prime time. A focus group concept, but everyone’s welcome. Examples – Rough Cuts – Tell me more, Bryant Park. Aim to make better programming that better meets their listeners needs. Would put podcasts of pilots up for people to listen, sometimes several options and invite them to discuss the good, the bad, the better options, which they have been contributing to.

Radio Open Source – Blog with a radio show. Not about open source software. Website with blog supporting the development and continued improvement of shows broadcast. Opens editorial process to the public, users recommend guests and questions and participate on-air. Hosts online debriefs after shows.

BBC Have your say. Centralized forum for discussing news, only select stories covered, highlights user comments at the top of the page. CNN iReport citizen journalism project, with users asked to submit photos, video for specific stories, very best clips are included online other are archived in a gallery. Published early video from VT shooting. USA Today embedding social networking across site, not just in one section, users can comment on any story, comments featured throughout the website and are now syndicating blogs from around the world. Irony that users were using the new social networking features to complain about the change to the new social networking features.

Ohmynews – Korean online news service, publishes in Korean, English and Japanese, dedicates 20% of its space to citizen journalists and invites content submission as volunteers, those that submit consistently get paid. Global Voices Online (Harvard), international news media service using bridge bloggers – Reuters are working with them to get content from places that they don’t have news outlets. Many more examples including New Assignment.Net, VoteGuide and Minnesota E-Debate, H2OTown.