This is part one of a two or three part interview. I asked the questions for the first part. You get to ask the questions for the next part(s).
I am publishing this to Newsvine's Good News Wednesday group because the addition of this site to the Web, as well as its author approaching me to help publicize it, is, in my book, good news. This site, Socialbrite.org, sounds like a great collaborative effort.
I'm a fan of JD Lasica. His book, Darknet, is a classic about the Internet and if you have not read it, you should. His blog site also has good information. More on that shortly.
When he approached me about doing an interview about his new site, I jumped at the chance.
Let's cut straight to the interview we did by email during the following/last 24 hours.
Scott: What niche is this filling?
Hey, look. It's not about niches. The whole world seems to be hurling headlong into a world of nicheification and fragmentation. We're saying something else.
Nonprofits, citizen journalists and cause organizations have a lot of things in common, but we're not talking with each other. We're hunkered down in our silos, our bunkers. But we're in a new world now where we're all making media, we're all connecting with each other to share stories and ideas, and we need to get acquainted with this new landscape.
It's happening slowly, but the evidence is clear: Traditional media is giving way to social media, and that has important ramifications for all kinds of organizations and private and public institutions.
What sites might be hurt by your site's start?
Our goal is not to displace anyone. Our mission is to add to the media ecosystem, one Lego piece at a time, until we can stand back and say, Wow. Isn't that something?
Right now Mashable is the site doing this the best. I admire the hell out of them.
Mashable rebranded itself earlier this year as "The Social Media Guide," and that filled a gap in the market. We hope to work with them in sharing content and sponsoring fundraisers and events that support social causes.
When hundreds of more newspapers and print magazines die, we think we'll still be here, because we're not counting on huge readership and advertising dollars to keep us afloat. We're counting on our skills and relationships.
Is this site intended to help people, or groups or both?
Definitely both. First of all, I've never seen a group without people.
While a lot of Socialbrite.org's business will come from nonprofits and social change organizations that want to figure out how to navigate this new terrain, the fact is that we're all in this together. And most of the really amazing advances in Web 2.0 and social media have come from individuals, not organizations.
Just taking your camera or video-enabled cell phone into a street scene, uploading to a media sharing site, reporting on what's happening on the ground in Baghdad while armed goon squads descend on your friends and neighbors -- damn, that's where the next-gen Pulitzers should be given out.
I think nonprofits and foundations as a group tend to be conservative in nature, so we're speaking to the thought leaders and early adopters who understand the dramatic changes we're going through as a society and are willing to embrace the shift to a more democratic, decentralized, edges-based media reality.
That's one reason we built the site on the open-source WordPress platform and all of our content is released under Creative Commons licenses. We trust the blogosphere and Twitterverse to make use of these educational resources as they see fit.
Some hear social and think social media like Facebook, Myspace, Newsvine but you're not talking about that kind of thing, are you?
Yes and no. For sure, the large social media and social news sites are helping people connect with each other and add to the collective discourse. But there's more to it than that. I think we need to start working on tools to bring us greater relevance and understanding. Socialbrite.org lets anyone add to our knowledge base ... as long as it's signal and not noise.
How'd you guys come up with the name?
Threw a lot of darts at the wall. Socialgoodness-meets-socialmedia.com was taken (oh, wait, it's not!). It has to fit on a bumper sticker, right? Just bummed that socialbrite.com was snapped up a couple of
months before we hit on socialbrite.org. But the .org tells you we're not evil, right?
Seriously, we've spent months of work and lot of dough building Socialbrite.org and hope that we can add to the conversation around how to harness these amazing new social tools to advance the social good.
Old school journalists sometimes express concern that "new" media and social media online are missing ethical requirements that newspapers have. Where do you stand on this front? Personally I stand more with Lawrence Lessig, who I interviewed here than with Andrew Keen, who I interviewed here than ranted about here.
Put another way, do they have a point that there are some kind of dangers to the fact that some might see Wikipedia or other web sites as a credible sources?
This battle is over and the people have won. It's time for professional journalists to realize that a lot of what they do can be learned and replicated by others. But it's also dawning on amateurs that if they want to do more than commit "randoms acts of journalism" (a phrase I coined), it's hard work to do quality journalism -- and you don't start from a blank slate.
Monday's launch of the YouTube Reporters' Center was instructive -- to get background on journalism standards and storytelling techniques, they went to the pros who have been doing it best. I wrote about it here
I think we'll be seeing a lot of this cross-pollination in the years ahead: New media (like YouTube and Wikipedia) and social media (Facebook and Twitter, where lots of people have been reporting breaking news) borrowing some precepts and ideas from traditional media and discarding traditions that no longer work.
Can you give us some background on yourself? Have you written other books besides Darknet? If so, what are they? What was Darknet about? What do you write about via your Web site?
I'm a social media strategist, journalist, author and conference speaker. I work with corporations, startups and nonprofits, and just gave a workshop for the Poynter Institute on how news organizations need to embrace the social Web. In March 2005 I co-founded Ourmedia.org, the first video and hosting site (yes, before YouTube). My book, Darknet, was about the emerging media ecosystem and the failure of copyright law to keep pace with grassroots media.
I write about social media on my group blog Socialmedia.biz and about social tools, the social good and open source on Socialbrite.org. I've also written three reports for the Aspen Institute that they've turned into books: The Mobile Generation, Civic Engagement on the Move, and Identity in the Age of Cloud Computing. CNET named me one of the top 100 media bloggers in the world, for what it's worth. (Follow me on Twitter at @jdlasica.)