Dan Gilmour, author of We Media, a seminal book in citizen journalism, makes the most honest confessions about his experiment in San Francisco. As a team of researchers, we should express great empathy for what he says and his experience. I also take solace in our work, since we often meet with the same result.
Our Vote experience, while brief, peaked at 1,177 visitors. We had 130 visitors Monday night and another 135 Tuesday during our election coverage. It dropped to 22 on Wednesday.
These are not astronomical numbers, but considering our regional audience and our hyper-local focus, they are respectable.
Too often, research is publicized only when it takes huge leaps forward. The public only seems to be aware of high-profile work because it marks a giant step. What is forgotten is all the work leading up to that step and all the smaller works that contribute to the “epiphany”.
I think Gilmour’s experience confirms our own. Citizens are not ready just yet to take advantage of all the tools available to them in interactive media. But, we cannot back down. The Globe and Mail had a piece today about a study that finds the Internet is making us MORE socialized, not less. This refutes an early theory that the web would make us isolated individuals behind our computer screens.
As long as we continue to search for ways to develop our technology, techniques and theories in an effort to better facilitate the goals of e-journalism, it is time well spent.
First posted: 1/26/06
To students in e-journalism program