The future of peer-to-peer journalism

Cory Doctorow of Boing Boing is blogging some talks at the Supernova conference. He’s got a great redaction of Dan Gillmor’s discussion of the impact of various new technologies — P2P, wireless, blogging — on journalism:

First, “Old Media.” Then “New Media.” Now, “We Media” — the power of everyone and everything at the edge.

Sept 11 was the turning-point. Dan was in South Africa and got the same coverage the rest of the world did. Most of us couldn’t get to, but blogs filled in the gap. The next day we had the traditional 32-point screaming headlines and photos. But we also got, through Farber’s Interesting People list, links to satellite photos of the event, first person accounts from Australians explaining how it felt outside of America.

Blogs covered it, and then a personal email from an Afghan American that circulated on the Internet, got posted to blogs, made it onto national news …

Journalism goes from being a lecture to a seminar: we tell you what we have learned, you tell us if you think we’re correct, and then we discuss it: we can fact-check your ass (Ken Layne).

Dan’s new foundation principle: “My readers know more than I do.”

This is true for all working journalists, and not a threat, it’s an opportunity

The new tools of new journliasm: Digital cameras, SMS, writeable web (blogs, wikis, etc), recorded audio and video.

Blogs are the coolest part of it: variety, gifted pros and amateurs, RSS, meme formation and coalescing ideas, real-time (heh — typing as fast as I can).

15-year-olds blog from cellphones today — they’re who I ask for tips on the future. Joi Ito blogs with his camera — so do smart-mobs. (David Sifry: A guy ran a marathon and blogged it from his Sidekick).

The next time there is a major event in Tokyo, there will be 500 images on the web of whatever it was that happened before any professional camera crew arrives on the scene.

That last point is so insanely true. Back when I was watching the World Trade Centers collapse in Brooklyn, I looked around the street. And everyone — every single person — had their mobile phone out and was talking on it, describing the horrific scene. And I realized later on: That was peer to peer newsgathering in action. The first news many people got of the WTC disaster came not from CNN, and not even from a web site, but from a friend calling them. Wireless data devices will massively amplify this trend in the next few years.

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I'm Clive Thompson, the author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better (Penguin Press). You can order the book now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, Indiebound, or through your local bookstore! I'm also a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired magazine. Email is here or ping me via the antiquated form of AOL IM (pomeranian99).

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