Last Thursday, I spoke to my friend Steve Klein’s multimedia journalism class at George Mason University on one of my last days in Washington. I’ve spoken to his classes before, and I usually have highlighted some of my own multimedia projects.
But this time, I wanted to show them some of the stuff that was happening at the grassroots level with third party web tools instead of Flash or big monolithic content management systems that are good at serving up lots of pages but not so flexible. I was really inspired by a post by Argentinean journalism professor Julian Gallo who showed how easy it was to tell multimedia stories using these new tools.
I kinda assume that anyone younger than me eats, sleeps and breathes this stuff, so I was a little surprised that very few of them had heard of sites like Flickr, Odeo, OurMedia, CastPost etc. By using these sites and services, it’s possible to build very compelling multimedia stories.
They hadn’t heard of these sites, but they all knew about MySpace and Facebook. I didn’t think that the class was somehow behind the curve; instead it reinforced a couple of ideas.
1) Don’t be fundamentalist about my tools.
2) The internet isn’t just about information. It is social.
3) My tools for my community. Your tools for your community.
Blogs and Flickr really do help knit my London social network together. When I got back, friends said I must have had a nice break based on my pics in Flickr.
I never got into MySpace because it disturbs my sense of online feng shui. But these kids talked about how their friends were trying to get them onto Facebook or MySpace. And one student wanted to do her project on how other students were passionate about MySpace.
They were doing the same thing I am doing, but their community uses a different site or service.
I shouldn’t gloss over point two. I have a really hard time getting people to understand that using the internet is social, not anti-social.
It’s anti-geek prejudice that just doesn’t square with reality, but that’s another post for another late night.