You can scarcely turn around these days without seeing another project announced to promote what's now being called "citizens media" -- the bottom-up, edge-to-center notion that once everyday people have the tools with which to create their own media, they will. Now, increasingly, they are.
My current focus is on citizens' journalism, but the move toward a more democratic media structure transcends traditional reporting and editing. It includes the fast-growing genre of podcasting, video blogging and a variety of other styles and techniques. We are truly in the early days, because only now is technology cheap enough and bandwidth (sort of) sufficiently available for many more folks to join the global conversation.
But we need to ask ourselves a bunch of questions. For example, will Draconian copyright laws will stifle people's ability to make their media available? Do all that many other people want to read, listen to or watch what we create? Will cable and phone companies, moving quickly to create a broadband duopoly in data services, make today's version of media consolidation seem tame by comparison -- with the obvious risks to freedom of expression? While the cost is dropping for creating media, will the tools will get sufficiently easy to use for truly average folks, as opposed to early adopters like us who will try anything just to see what happens? And so on.
I'm leading a session about all this at the BlogNashville gathering on May 7, and I'm interested in the issues you think we should raise. Post below, send me an e-mail or, best of all, come in person.