We the Media: Grassroots Journalism by the People, for the People Hardcover – Jul 29 2004
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"We the Media vividly demonstrates how technology can help save journalism." Ken Auletta, author of "Backstory: Inside the Business of News"
About the Author
Dan Gillmor is founder of Grassroots Media Inc., a project aimed at enabling grassroots journalism and expanding its reach. The company's first launch is Bayosphere.com, a site "of, by and for the Bay Area." Gillmor is is author of We the Media: Grassroots Journalism by the People, for the People (O'Reilly Media, 2004), a book that explains the rise of citizens' media and why it matters.
From 1994-2004, Gillmor was a columnist at the San Jose Mercury News, Silicon Valley's daily newspaper, and wrote a weblog for SiliconValley.com. He joined the Mercury News after six years with the Detroit Free Press. Before that, he was with the Kansas City Times and several newspapers in Vermont. A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Vermont, Gillmor received a Herbert Davenport fellowship in 1982 for economics and business reporting at the University of Missouri School of Journalism. During the 1986-87 academic year he was a journalism fellow at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, where he studied history, political theory and economics. He has won or shared in several regional and national journalism awards. Before becoming a journalist he played music professionally for seven years.
Top Customer Reviews
Here Gilmor gives an enlightening look at the changing face of journalism and the negative and positive changes it makes.
I'm not a professional journalist, but I found this book to be fascinating and informative. I credit it with helping me to stick with blogging, and seeing it as something more significant than a passing fad. All journalists should read this, I believe!
A waste of money, this book.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Joe Trippi's book, The Revolution Will Not Be Televised: Democracy, the Internet, and the Overthrow of Everything joins Howard Rheingold's book, Smart Mobs: The Next Social Revolution and Bill Moyer's collaborative book, Doing Democracy as the companions for this book--taken together, the four books provide everything any group needs to "take back the power."
Whereas Trippi provides a personal story that illuminates the new power that comes from combining citizen activism with Internet-enabled networking, this book focuses more on the role the Internet and blogs play in the perception and dissemination of accurate unbiased information. It is not only an elegant presentation, easy to read, with good notes and a fine seven-page listing of cool web sites, but it also provides a useful survey of past writings on this topic--with due credit to Alvin Toffler's first perception of the trend toward mass customization and the elimination of intermediaries, together with original thoughts from the author.
This book could become a standard undergraduate reference on non-standard news sources and the blurring of the lines between producers and consumers of information (or in the government world, of intelligence).
Resistance to change by established media; the incredible emotional and intellectual growth that comes from having a "media" of, by, and for the people that is ***open*** to new facts and context and constantly being ***refreshed***, and the undeniable ability of the people in the aggregate to triumph in their assembled expertise, over niche experts spouting biases funded by specific institutions, all come across early in the book.
The book is provocative, exploring what it means when more and more information is available to the citizen, to include information embedded in foods or objects that communicates, in effect, "if you eat me I will kill you," the author's most memorable turn of phase that really makes the point.
While respecting privacy, the author notes that this may, as David Brin has suggested, be a relic of a pre-technological time. Indeed, I was reminded of the scene in Sho-Gun, where a person had to pause to defecate along the side of the trail, and everyone else simply stood around and did not pay attention--a very old form of privacy that we may be going back to.
Feedster gets some good advertising, and it bears mention that Trippi is still at the Google/email stage, while Gillmor is at the Feedster/RSS/Wiki stage.
Between Trippi and Gillmor, the term "open source politics" can now be said to be established. The line between open source software, open source intelligence or information, and open spectrum can be expected to blur further as public demands for openness and transparency are backed up with the financial power that only an aroused and engaged public can bring to bear.
Gilmor is riveting and 100% on target when he explores the meaning of all this for Homeland Security. He points out that not only is localized observation going to be the critical factor in preventing another 9-11, but that the existing budget and program for homeland security does not provide one iota of attention to the challenge of soliciting information from citizens, and ensuring that the "dots" from citizens get processed and made sense of.
The book slows in the middle with some case studies I could have done without, and then picks up for a strong conclusion by reviewing the basic laws (Moore, Metcalfe, Reed) in order to make the point, as John Gage noted in 2000, that once you have playstations wired for Internet access, and DoKoMo mobile phones that pre-teens can afford, the people ***own*** the world of information.
Spies and others concerned about deception and mischief on the Internet will appreciate the chapter on trolls, spin, and the boundaries of trust. Bottom line: there are public solutions to private misbehavior.
The chapter on lawyers and the grotesque manner in which copyright law is being extended and perverted, allowing a few to steal from our common heritage while hindering innovation (the author's words), should outrage. Lawrence Lessin and Cass Sunstein are still the top minds on this topic, but Gillmore does a fine job of articulating some of the key points.
The book ends on a great note: for the first time in history, a global, continuous feedback loop among a considerable number of the people in possible. This may not overthrow everything, as Trippi suggests, but it most assuredly does ***change*** everything.
I have taken one star away because of really rotten binding--the book, elegant in both substance and presentation, started falling apart in my hands within an hour of my cracking it open.
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Escaping the Matrix: How We the People can change the world
Society's Breakthrough!: Releasing Essential Wisdom and Virtue in All the People
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A Power Governments Cannot Suppress
Dan tackles how it works, why it's happening, and what this means. He sourced it with online research. And by thorough investigation, interviewing people on all sides of the phenomenon, by traveling in Asia, North America, and Europe to meet them.
If you've enjoyed his Mercury News column or his popular weblog, you'll enjoy his writing here. More importantly, if you are a J-school student or professor, a working news professional, an investor or manager in news media, this is a must read. The insights and conclusions will be useful as personal publishing, blogging included, continues to spread around the world.
How significant is this? It indicates that the power of internet publishing, today's equivalent of samizdat (which in most slavic languages means self-published), is being recognized not only by those who consume and produce blog-based news, but also by those who fear the power of media when in the hands of the people.
I grew up in a communist country where every typewriter (machine) had to be registered with the police department. A friend of mine from a different town had asked me to buy him a typewriter because in his hometown his name was on a list banning him from owning a typewriter.
Today, everyone can start a Blogger account or install a Movable Type on a web server and start publishing. With this power, of course, comes enormous responsibility.
This book, "We The Media", is a fascinating look on the way the internet self-publishing and blogging phenomenon has changed the way we produce, consume, and share news.
The author is more than respectable--Dan Gillmor, the business and technology columnist from SilliconValley.com. The publisher, O'Reilly, is more than knowledgable on the subject of the convergence of new technologies, business and society. The result is enjoyable, educating, thought-provoking. In my humble, unprofessional opinion, this book fully deserves 5 out of 5 stars!
"We the Media" is certainly the most important journalism book of the year, for it aptly details a gathering storm that is about to sweep away everything we thought we knew about the news.
Gillmor lays out his basic premise with his familiar mantra: My readers know more than I do-and that's an opportunity. He writes: "[R]eaders (or viewers or listeners) collectively know more than media professionals do. This is true by definition: they are many, and we are often just one. We need to recognize and, in the best sense of the word, use their knowledge. If we don't, our former audience will bolt when they realize they don't have to settle for half-baked coverage; they can come into the kitchen themselves."
In a real sense, we're all journalists now. Gillmor passes along approvingly the citizens media credo of Oh Yeon Ho, the reformist founder of South Korea's largest online paper, OhmyNews: "Every citizen's a reporter. Journalists aren't some exotic species, they're everyone who seeks to take new developments, put them into writing, and share them with others."
The author recounts the time a Slashdot reader uncovered the misrepresentation in Microsoft's "Mac to PC" advertising campaign (the photo of the supposed Mac user who switched over to Windows actually came from a Getty Images archive). He capably relates a number of such episodes, such as the scoop scored last spring by the operator of the Memory Hole, who used a Freedom of Information Act request to obtain the military's photos of the flag-draped caskets of U.S. soldiers-something no news organization thought to do.
Blogs have been slow to take off in the mainstream media in part, Gillmor writes, because of "mistrust among traditional editors of a genre that threatens to undermine what they consider core values-namely editorial control" and "objectivity and fairness."
But he also tempers his embrace of this new world by tamping down any suggestion that blogs will put old media out of business or editors out of a job. "Bloggers who disdain editors entirely, or who say they're largely irrelevant to the process, are mistaken." At the same time, "my readers make me a better journalist because they find my mistakes, tell me what I'm missing, and help me understand nuances."
Despite the news industry's slow, plodding response to all this, Gillmor has come to reform big media, not to bury it. He writes with the passion of someone who desperately wants journalism to find its way in the digital age-and laments what will happen if it does not. "I'm absolutely certain that the journalism industry's modern structure has fostered a dangerous conservatism-from a business sense more than a political sense, though both are apparent-that threatens our future."
Gillmor saves his best admonition for last: "You can make your own news. We all can. Let's get started."
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