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Geoff Daily

App-Rising.com covers the development and adoption of broadband applications, the deployment of and need for broadband networks, and the demands placed on policy to adapt to the revolutionary opportunities made possible by the Internet.

App-Rising.com is written by Geoff Daily, a DC-based technology journalist, broadband activist, marketing consultant, and Internet entrepreneur.

App-Rising.com is supported in part by AT&T;, however all views and opinions expressed herein are solely my own.

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July 11, 2008 12:37 PM

Coolest Thing I've Learned At The ACM 2008 Conference

Yesterday at the Alliance for Community Media 2008 Conference I had the great fortune to sit in on a session about the opportunities of new media for PEG channels.

While the bulk of the session focused on a terrific introduction to Web 2.0 terms and technologies, what most captured my attention was learning about the amazing things going on at Denver Open Media.

I've already invited Tony Shawcross, their executive director, to do a VidChat with me at which point we can really go into all the details about what they're doing, but for now here's a broadstroke overview:

Tony and his team are developing a model for PEG access centers that introduces new efficiencies through automation and open source software, and that redefines what it means to have a community channel.

One big way they're accomplishing both goals is through their system for taking in video. Instead of handing a tape to a person, at Denver Open Media content creators have the responsibility of submitting their video on their own.

They can do this by using one of the kiosks at the access center, or they can upload videos over the Internet right from their home, though doing so requires they register and pay an annual fee. In addition to submitting the video, they also are able to insert metadata, or text that describes the content of that video.

One thing Tony mentioned is that everything that's submitted that's appropriate will make it onto the air at some point, but there's a twist. Denver Open Media solicits the opinions and votes of its viewers on its website in order to determine the most popular shows and therefore program them more prominently and frequently.

They also encourage viewers to contact them when something's wrong with a video or they see something potential inappropriate. In this way, Denver Open Media leverages the power of its audience to handle administrative tasks that used to require paid staffers.

These efforts are extremely intentional and stem from the models for people-powered initiatives managed by small staffs proven possible by Internet giants like YouTube, eBay, and Wikipedia. Wikipedia in particular seems to be an inspiration for Tony as it's a project that's had tremendous success both in terms of readership and audience participation, and still to this day it makes due with a staff of only handful of people.

It's Tony's vision to bring the same paradigm to PEG. And not just for Denver. They recently won a grant from the Knight Foundation of $380,000 intended for the express purpose of funding the development and implementation of this model in PEG centers across the country. The first outgrowth of this is an initial test deployment with a half dozen communities Tony is looking to get underway over the first half of '09.

What's remarkable about what Denver Open Media's doing is that they're helping to define what PEG 2.0 can mean right before our eyes. Their public access channels truly are of, by, and for the people. And even better, by pursuing this model it's reducing the demands for the access center to have paid staff handling what's now being taken care of by producers and viewers.

Even more exciting is that afterwards as I introduced myself to Tony and mentioned my interest in fiber and in particular the opportunity a community like Lafayette, LA presents, his eyes lit up and he expressed a strong interest in helping figure out what they can do with all that bandwidth and with a cable provider that sees PEG as an opportunity and not a burden.

To top it all off, they've even got a great video on their homepage about the remarkable transformation the TV industry specifically and media distribution in general are undergoing, what it means to the PEG community, and how PEG can establish itself as an integral part of this new media age. It's 27 minutes long, but very well produced and well worth the time. Click on the link above to go to their homepage where you can watch it.

There's little doubt that Denver Open Media is on the cutting edge of defining what PEG 2.0 can mean, and I'm eager to learn more from them and others as we move further down this path of figuring out what community media can mean in the 21st century.

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