We Media – What’s Next?

OK, I’m ending my post-London silence. I’ve been in recovery mode, catching up on sleep, reflecting and thinking a lot about what happened at the We Media Global Forum in London. Richard Dreyfuss spoke there about the power and danger of speed, and about the need for reflection and civil discourse. Response to Richard was pretty divided, and I’m pretty sure I heard more negative comments than positive about his talk. I thought it was one of the more challenging and important contributions to the program. You can listen and decide for yourself. I agree with Richard’s central point – that sometimes the best ideas, and responses, take time to form. So … I’ve taken some time to think.\

I hope you heard something about what happened in London – thanks if you loved it, sorry if you didn’t – and thanks especially if you were there, followed online or sent someone. If not, you can catch up at your leisure with reports, audio and more at the conference web site.

Whatever comes next, we want and need help.

To begin with, I hope the conversation here on our blog can resume – not by dissecting what worked and didn’t work in London (plenty of both), but by looking ahead and talking about ideas and actions we need to pursue to expand and improve the conversation. Let us know if you’d like to become a regular contributor to this blog.

We also need to refine and figure out if there’s any interest or relevance in the Call to Action we discussed in London. PLEASE take a look at the wiki and please tell people about it.

1. What Happened

More than 300 people from 27 countries attended the forum, along with tens of thousands of people who connected one way or another through the internet, through coverage in blogs and other media and through a live worldwide radio broadcast from the BBC. More than 47,000 completed an e-survey conducted during the forum. The forum included, as usual for us, an intentionally eclectic mix of participants, representing not only different regions but different industries, professions, personal circumstances and worldviews.

We released new data collected in 10 countries that showed, among other things, that young adults are passionately interested in news and current events, that they prefer to check many sources for their news and, no surprise, that they’re going online to get it. Here’s what else we found: nearly 1 in 3 people said they trust blogs AND 1 in 4 said they dropped a news sources in the last year because it lost their trust. Hmmm …

That’s a tough act to follow. We don’t know that we can reach more people or achieve more impact with our next projects. But we’re going to give it a shot. We do know that any success and any impact will depend on collaboration, ideas and support from around the world. We hope you’ll keep the conversation going and bring others into it.

2. What’s Next

We announced a call to action to support and participate in something big: the We Media Global Initiative.

The intent of the initiative is to harness the power of information technologies and human ingenuity for the common good by inspiring and incubating investment in bottom-up media.

To learn more about the initiative, please study and contribute to this WE MEDIA wiki.

The We Media Global Initiative is a work in progress. It’s meant to be an inspiration and provocation – and a set of specific objectives. We hope many organizations and individuals can adopt and become partners in the Initiative and then act to meet the objectives.

Please spread the word – tell people about the initiative, link to it- and help us refine the thinking and gather commitments. You can start by forwarding this note to your friends, your family, your board, your staff, your investors, your key executives and anyone else you think would be interested. Ask them all to think about how they can get involved. Can they commit time, people, resources, ideas or money?

3. Make a Commitment

Post your ideas in the wiki, or call us if you want to talk privately.

Can you help? Do you want to? How about your organization, or those of your friends? In London last week we saw two examples of corporate commitments: Picsel, a technology company based in Glasgow, said it would provide, at no cost, its mobile content system to any non-commercial pilot project. We’ll work with Picsel to clarify what that means. Meanwhile, Marcus Xiang, CEO of PDX.cn, also made a commitment in response to our call to action. He offered his Chinese language mobile blog platform to Self-Help for the Elderly, a San Francisco non-profit that works with Chinese Americans. He met the group’s CEO, Anni Chung, at the forum last week.

4. Stay Connected

Our events, research, networking and other projects are driven by our social mission: to enable a better-informed idea. The We Media Global Initiative is an explicit attempt to couple ideas and good intentions with actions.

If you’ve followed our work closely then you know that the changing nature of what we call “Know-Trust” networks is one of the three major factors we’ve identified to explain culture in the connected society. (The others are the digital everything and the empowered individual). What is trust? Good question, we don’t know exactly, and that’s why trust was the theme of the London forum and still the primary focus of our research this year. We’ll be working on some additional analysis of the poll data in the next few weeks. The global poll was itself just the first step. We’re also working with one of the world’s foremost experts on trust networks, cultural anthropologist Karen Stephenson, to help us hone our thinking on the role of trust in a networked society.

Our 10-nation study explored trust in media and governments “to operate in the best interest of our society.” Is that part of your mission? One of the theories we’re testing is that social responsibility is a necessary, core value for businesses in the connected society – and the study suggests this is certainly the case for media.

You can dig into the poll data here.

Let us know if you’d like to arrange a private briefing or consultation on what it all means.

One message we heard loud and clear in London: we need to “put more we” in We Media. That will certainly be among our goals for our next projects, and for the projects we hope will emerge long before we meet again.

5. Mark Your Calendars

The 2007 We Media forum will be February 8 in Miami. We hope you’ll be there, bring some friends AND bring some new ideas. We hope some of what you’ll bring will be successes or new ideas to fulfill the objectives of the We Media Global Initiative. We will again do our best to bring people and ideas from a variety of sectors to provoke both conversation and action.

Let me know if you have ideas or speaker suggestions for Miami – or post your ideas in our wiki.

And, of course, we maintain one small outpost of the conversation – let us know if you’d like to become a regular contributor to this blog. We need some help getting it going again. Or, please comment when the mood strikes.

TAG: wemedia

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