Monday, September 19, 2005

user-driven media

Blogging is truly a phenomenon that is taking the news world by storm. As people become more computer-friendly and internet connection speeds increase it is becoming easier and easier for just about anyone post opinions and ideas online. This phenomenon is inherently linked to the idea of "Citizen Journalism". Citizen Journalism is a growing trend which pretty much allows anyone to be a journalist. Poynter describes this in terms of newspapers' utilization of citizen journalism, which can be anything from story submissions from readers, to interactive blogs, to community contributions to stories (i.e. open source reporting).

Ohmynews is a great example of citizen journalism at work. Anyone can apply online to be a reporter for the site. Ohmynews has a small staff of reporters who cover broader issues such as international news, government-related news, and the like, while citizen journalists cover smaller, more local stories, with which they are quite familiar.

With the advent of citizen journalism and interactive informative websites comes another phenomena: Wikipedia. Wikipedia is a free online, interactive source of information - a user-friendly encyclopedia, if you will. Not only can you search the site, you can add definitions and edit preexisting entries. Wikipedia allows everyone to get in on the action.

So what is the next step for interactive informational sites? I think the answer lies in the Urban Dictionary. This Wikipedia-esque site is what I have found to be the most comprehensive source of general information on the web. The format is very similar to Wikipedia - anyone can submit or edit an entry. The main difference is that UrbanDictionary seems to have more opinionated definitions than Wikipedia, as it is titled a "slang dictionary". Take for instance the term "Internet". There are 77 definitions on UrbanDictionary.com for this term, ranging from "A world wide network of computers all linked together over the TCP/IP protocol" to "A vast array of pornography and advertisements". UrbanDictionary is an opinonated forum. The availability of multiple definitions allows for a semblence of credibility...the biggest draw of the UrbanDictionary being the entertainment value in the array of definitions.

Is user-driven media headed towards user-driven entertainment?

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