Posted: December 30th, 2008 | Author: James Glave | Filed under: Almost Green, top | Tags: 2009 | 5 Comments »
A few things I want to do, and do more of, in 2009:
- Get more involved in helping my community prepare for the coming ground shifts. I’m hoping to work with the municipality to develop an active-transportation plan for the island, which is a prerequisite for implementation — going after public funds to build the stuff. Going to try and use social-media tools to get as much input as possible.
- Working with my wife, Elle, to launch several Bowfeast farmer’s markets over the summer. We are eyeing the North Dock as a location for this year’s market — a little- used space over the water next to the Island’s ferry dock that has huge potential — see below to get your bearings. Hope to bring back all the farmers, apiarists, and food gardeners from last year, and add a few more.
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- I’m going to work to more closely align my work with my values; I’m hoping to keep writing, but also develop an impresario role, using Web 2.0 tools such as mapping, tagging, and wikis to help people of common purpose connect with each other.
- Buy more second-hand, everything. Value Village, yeah.
- Ramp up the food garden. Last year was a great disappointment but we have been working on improving the soil over the fall and winter, and we have great hopes for a bumper crop this year. We’ve been hoarding mason jars for at least a year, and hope to do some canning and preserving.
- Camping, kayaking, and canoeing. The kids are big enough to appreciate all of it now.
And how about you? What do you want to accomplish?
Posted: December 27th, 2008 | Author: James Glave | Filed under: Media, top | Tags: media newmedia web2.0, media web2.0 | 8 Comments »
Over recent months, I have watched the slow and painful implosion of my profession. The media industry was in steep decline before the bottom fell out of the market; and with recession-era marketing budgets now in full retreat, the happy marriage of advertising and editorial has entered its death spiral. Many magazines have folded; whole newspaper chains shut down. There is less money available for freelance writers–there are fewer pages for to fill, and fewer assignments to go around.
Readers are abandoning print newspapers in droves, preferring to pluck their bulletins and analysis via any manner of friend feeds, and preferring not to pay for it. Audiences have become immune to advertising–in a saturated atmosphere of 24/7 persuasive messages, we have by practical necessity turned ourselves into human TiVos. We dislike the old "one-way model" of media serving audience, opting instead for dynamic conversation in specialized forums a mile wide and an inch deep.
Big Media, it seems, is toast, and though the replacement model has yet to emerge, everyone has a theory about what it might look like. Including me.
I believe citizen journalists have a role to play in the new world. But they will not likely spend two months working a complex piece, filing Freedom of Information Act requests, tracking down sources who don’t want to talk right away, or aren’t easy to find. These are the stories that just don’t happen with a Google search, a Wiki graft, and a couple phone calls. This kind of work is now and will remain the domain of the professional journalist.
But is the term becoming an oxymoron? It’s good work, but who is footing the bill.
I believe people are reluctant to pay for this so-called "premium content" on the Web today because the infrastructure does not yet exist for them to do so without the tedium of passwords, memberships, cookies, popups, and endless logins to remember and forget. At present, online newspapers ask me to pay a blanket fee for access to a whole paper, when 98.9 percent of the content (picture advertiser-driven dreck like "Homes" or "Wheels") does not interest me. I believe people will pay a modest amount — a micropayment of perhaps .
$0.25 or so — what we used to pay for newspapers when we still bought them — for a single original story so long as it delivers strong value, and so long as it can be done securely with one button, one click, and so long as it goes straight into the hands of the writer.
I suspect pro-journalists will become free agents who carry with them a verifiable credibility ranking, much like sellers on eBay. They might work for umbrella brands that vet their credibility and deliver a broad audience base in exchange for a modest fee of some kind. And they will collect payments directly from their individual readers, a few quarters at a time, nothing much in small amounts, but depending on the impact and spread of the piece, it could be significant enough to sustain the writer. Consumers will pay for a great story or column if if means they only have to fork over $0.35 or $0.50 cents or so, and provided there is a seamless, hassle-free, transparent instant mechanism that allows them to do it, while the impulse is there. That mechanism might be as simple as a button on a browser or embedded in a web page: "Send .50 to this Writer."
There are snags with this, of course. Writers might be vulnerable to corruption, receiving micropayments from corporations angling for a more favorable follow-up piece. That happens today with press junkets, swag, and similar thinly veiled bribes. But that’s where the credibility ranking and transparency comes in. For the micropayment to work, you’d need to show browsers all the contributions to date, the amounts and the sources. If anything looks unusually large or out of place, the collective would quickly sniff it out. You know how much a writer has made on a story, and where the money came from. Total transparency.
Someone out there has probably already floated this scheme. If so, let me know below. It can’t work right now, but it might be within reach within a few years. Maybe…?
01.01.09 Update : Spot.us is in the ballpark, an "open-source project to pioneer community funded reporting" in the San Francisco Bay Area. Worth a look to see how they are doing it.
Typewriter key image by Emdot .
Posted: December 16th, 2008 | Author: James Glave | Filed under: Almost Green, Green Building, top | Tags: eco-shed bowenisland passive solar | 2 Comments »
My wife came into the Eco-Shed yesterday while I was working in there and straight away told me to “turn down the damn heat.” It was so warm in the place that I was stripped down to my T-shirt, and such luxuries are expensive when it’s five degrees below freezing outside — which it is these days. “Just turn it down and put on a sweater!,” she implored.
But the heat was free. This is The Eco-Shed’s first full winter and so long as we have sunny skies — like we do right now — I’ll be damned if it the place doesn’t warm up all by itself just as we hoped it would.
For those of you just joining us, it’s a passive solar building with generous amounts of Low-E “Hard Coat” glass, which admits more thermal radiation, combined with a concrete floor that soaks up that heat, and excellent insulation to keep it inside. If anything, it works a little too well, it was a bit of a solar oven in there yesterday afternoon. I pulled the shades, bumped up the ventilation system and cracked a window.
I bleemed off the shed weather report to Dan Parke , my architect. “Beautiful,” he replied. Indeed.