Four short links: 8 May 2009

  1. Citizen Journalism and Civic Reporting — Gawker rebuts the nonsense that reporters will be the only people at council meetings: as a newspaper reporter who spent a few years covering a town much like Baltimore — Oakland, California — I often found that bloggers were the only other writers in the room at certain city council committee meetings and at certain community events. They tended to be the sort of persistently-involved residents newspapermen often refer to as “gadflies” — deeply, obsessively concerned about issues large and infinitesimal in the communities where they lived. I know my local newspaper only paraphrases council press releases, they rarely actually attend the meetings. (via waxy)
  2. Keeping Score (Rowan Simpson) — It makes me wonder what other things we dismiss as being too simple to be useful. Inspired by Atul Gawande’s books, which I highly recommend.
  3. The Extraordinaries — micro-volunteer opportunities on the mobile phone. (Think of it as Mobile Turk) Another way to harness our great cognitive surplus.
  4. Visualization in Sports — roundup of the use of computer graphics and visualization in sports. Sports is competitive, lucrative, and quite fast-paced. I love to see sport and business learning from each other. (via tomc on delicious)
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  • I noticed that Gawker article too and was mighty impressed. Here is another anecdote about how citizens can do investigative journalism:

    The current edition of the Berkeley Daily Planet contains a reader-contributed piece. The reader represented a political action group of people with an interest in the management of our public libraries. The group is critical of the city’s decision, some years back, to spend lots of money on an RFID system for the books. The group conducted a lot of very careful, systematic, and well designed tests to see whether the system was living up to the promises made when funding it was decided. (Of course, it failed miserably.)

    Here is a link to the citizen conducted library investigation article.

    I am impressed at the investigation and reporting in that one. All kinds of questions arise. Have such citizens any of the special consideration given to professional journalists in court? Is the evidence from their investigation available to citizens? They were not “overseen” by an editorial staff who decided whether or not they should attempt the things they did: is the loss of that oversight function harmful to civility?


  • See also: for a mobile mechanical turk initiative, providing mostly micropayments to Africa.