Friday, April 07, 2006

New media and the public sphere

As I've mentioned before, I'm a bit of a fan of Open Source radio (1), not just because of its content, but the distinctive and unique way in which it operates and engages with its listeners. A joint initiative between the University of Massachusetts, Lowell and Public Radio International, Open Source broadcasts on radio (in the US) and on the web (via MP3 files or podcasts) hour long conversations about contemporary topics, usually with 3 -4 guests (some contacted by telephone) who are experts in the field under consideration. The unusual aspect though is that the programme themes and topics, as well as suggestions for speakers, are all determined through a blog to which anyone can contribute. It is fascinating to see the process develop as an idea turns from just a suggestion into a finished programme (although the conversation never ends with post-programme comments).

The Center for Social Media has recently made available a Quicktime streamed documentary (2) which covers Open Source, Global Voices Online (3) and PBS's P.O.V (4).: three fascinating examples of new media functioning in an engaged way with civil society. Worth looking at.


Picture from Open Source, with Christopher Lydon

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