Friday, July 11, 2008

Rheingold Sprouts

I've been following various fascinating micro-bloggers via Twitter recently and really sneaking in the backdoor on some "conversations" around the web related to new/social media, journalism, and politics.

One of the great debates going on (thanks Jay Rosen) is the battle of newsroom traditionalists to save their profession in the face of almost certain extinction. Newspapers, and to some extent television organizations, are now forced to compete with interactive media which can be generated and disseminated from anyone's laptop. This isn't to say that the skills, wisdom, and resourcefulness of journalism are on the way out. On the contrary. They'll be in greater demand than ever, but the paradigm has shifted and public communication doesn't look the same as only a few short years ago. The gap will surely grow exponentially in the coming few years.

Another fascinating collection of material comes from technology/communication guru Howard Rheingold of Smart Mobs fame (among many other things). Thanks to following his tweets I managed to discover a new widget generator from Sprout(beta) that has many, many potential applications. I created a personal promotion widget in about 20 minutes, which you can find if you scroll all the way down to the bottom of this blog, just above my sitemeter. (I would have it in the sidebar at the top if it fit, but Blogger isn't very module friendly. I'll work on it.) Howard's widget features a teaching application with an RSS feed and a presentation video. I'm embedding it here:

The potential for mass communication of various kinds is interesting, given the opportunity to share this widget with others. The idea that one could build an entire community of widgets to generate content and promote communication is very interesting. "Gluing" these widgets together could build a mosaic of content that would certainly resemble a quilt or mosaic of individual content. I'm going to keep up on this and see where it goes. I think, technically speaking, there's a lot of room for improvement, but the concept is good.

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