Speaking at San Diego BarCamp 2007

I’m pleased to announce that I’ll be attending and speaking at BarCampSD this year. The topic? #sandiegofire, hashtags, Twitter and what happened with both mainstream and independent media during the course of the San Diego fires (lovingly titled “Firestorm 2007″).

Why should I talk?

Well, my friends Ted and Patrick had the brilliant idea to theme the BarCamp around the fires, seeing as they’re so timely. I fit into that theme because I spent 3 days and nights posting 140 character news updates at least once per minute, if not more. My updates, along with KPBS, the San Diego Fire Department, and a few other individuals became information distillers and aggregators. Mainstream media couldn’t keep up with out information flow or accuracy. The actual results were astounding — helping people as far away as India and as close as next door be able to track the fire progress at a moment’s notice. The fake (yet confirming) results were also astounding — 3 Wired articles, 1 CNET article, some NPR mention, hundreds of blog links, and even a Canadian newspaper article on just my feed alone.

This kind of thing certainly doesn’t make me an expert, although I wish I could claim that. But, what it does do is make me a poster-boy.

And that I’ll take.

I’ll take it because we’ve heard it before and not much has changed. We’ve heard that mainstream media coverage is insufficient in times of emergency. There’s multiple sources, many of which have, by nature, a conflict of interest in covering the facts. They need sensationalism. They need sales and viewership. I wouldn’t mind that either, but there’s some things I’ve come to realize after the craziness.

First, creating a channel or program for the sake of gaining “eyeballs” for later “leverage” during a crisis like this is irresponsible. Current media methods, tactics, and practices have been influenced by what has worked to get eyeballs in the past. It’s irritating that the methods don’t change during a crisis. It’s the same pattern. The same words. The same stories that evoke emotion.

Second, it doesn’t pay, at least not on the web, and if done without the motivation of gaining eyes to watch commercials, it doesn’t pay on TV either. Even though my blog traffic spiked to 5x it’s normal rate during those three days, literally zero people clicked on ads. I forgot I even had ads up during that time (because I block them for non-IE users). I certainly didn’t do what I did for the money, and if I wouldn’t have been caught up in the moment and forgotten, I would have taken them down altogether. They profited me nothing, nada, zilch, zero. In fact, I actually had fewer click-thru’s during that time than I normally do. People don’t want to click on, listen to, or watch advertisements during times of crisis. There are bigger things to worry about and the 30 seconds the media took to run that ad was a waste of valuable time that could have been spent reporting facts.

So, what am I going to talk about at BarCamp San Diego? A proposed solution to these problems — the Aggregated Citizen News Network (or so it’s called right now).

I invite you to come and see what all the fuss is about — why certain reporters (who get “it”) at Wired, CNET, Yahoo News, NPR and even some random Canadian newspaper are looking at the next wave in communication. Guess what, though. You can help bring it to reality before they do. We can do it together. Come to BarCamp San Diego and let’s talk about the possibilities.

Oh, and if you have no idea what a BarCamp is, feel free to see last year’s post on BarCamp San Diego #1.

[tags]barcamp, san diego, sandiego, hashtags, twitter, sandiegofire, wired, cnet, yahoo, npr, mainstream media, msm, independent media, aggregated citizen news network, acnn[/tags]

Nate Ritter lives in San Diego, CA who popularized the #hashtag and creates scaleable web applications for a living. He also does miles and point hacking to enable cheap travel for his family. More here →

7 Comments on "Speaking at San Diego BarCamp 2007"

  1. Agree that you are a definite poster-boy for this topic.

    If you follow some of the links in my October 31 post on my blog (at the http://mrontemp.blogspot.com/2007/10/more-on-mass-coverage-of-last-nights.html URL), you can perhaps cite a second example – coverage of the October 30 earthquake in northern California.

  2. Awesome! I was glad to see you on the list of people attending and double excited to see that there’s to be a presentation about this.

  3. nate says:

    Thanks! I’m excited to be there. It should be a good time, and I’m looking forward to the dialogue (yes I spell it like the English do, it’s much prettier).

  4. Gungus says:

    …creating a channel or program for the sake of gaining “eyeballs” for later “leverage” during a crisis like this is irresponsible. Current media methods, tactics, and practices have been influenced by what has worked to get eyeballs in the past. It’s irritating that the methods don’t change during a crisis. It’s the same pattern. The same words. The same stories that evoke emotion…

    Agreed. Very well said.

    We followed you on Twitter during the fires. Thank you for updating us and the time you put into this. Best of luck.

  5. Moe Smiley says:

    how was the barcamp…i saw the flikr photos looked like Mario bowl was a hit

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