jonathan's blog

Broadband: the next public utility

Glenn Fleishman at PubliCola:

Broadband in 2009 is electricity in 1900. We may think we know all the means to which high-speed Internet access may be put, but we clearly do not: YouTube and Twitter prove that new things are constantly on the way and will emerge as bandwidth and access continues to increase.

Like electricity, the notion of whether broadband is an inherent right and necessity of every citizen is up for grabs in the US. Sweden and Finland have already answered the question: It’s a birthright. Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, and many European countries aren’t far behind in having created the right regulatory and market conditions to bring better and affordable broadband to a greater percentage of its citizens than in the US.

Read the rest, and consider that we may now have federal (FCC) and local (Seattle) public officials who are ready to help launch a new era of communication rights.

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McGinn to keep Schrier in place as tech chief

In an expected move, Seattle Mayor-elect Mike McGinn will keep Bill Schrier in place as Chief Information Officer when he takes office next month. Schrier's office has been working for months on plans to seek federal stimulus funds for broadband/smart grid deployment, work which should only speed up under a McGinn administration. Todd Bishop at TechFlash writes:

As for other goals in 2010, Schrier pointed out that one plank in McGinn's platform is the improvement of broadband infrastructure in the city's neighborhoods. He said he expects the city to apply for federal stimulus money in the first part of the year to move toward that goal. In addition to improving broadband access in homes, the initiative could help Seattle City Light implement smart-grid infrastructure, and improve public safety communications.

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Re-imagining News & Community in the Pacific Northwest

A Seattle conference on journalism that matters: Jan 7-9, 2010
UPDATE: Scholarships available for young media makers!

Across the United States, our media ecosystem is quickly evolving. Old news organizations are shrinking as formerly reliable income streams dry up, and as audiences discover alternative news choices or simply read less. At the same time, new technologies and the work of committed people are making it easier to build new information sources that allow many more people to join the "news" conversation and stoke the fires of civic passion.

In the Pacific Northwest, this evolution is proceeding rapidly. What's working? Are the information needs of our communities being met? How can the public and journalists collaborate?

To find out, Journalism That Matters is convening a regionally-focused conversation, part of an ongoing national series of conferences aimed at provoking critical questions and creating new ideas for journalism that truly serves our communities and our democracy.

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A Week of Seattle WTO commemorations at KBCS

KBCS is commemorating the 10th anniversary of the Seattle WTO protests with a week of radio specials. Be sure to check them out:

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Margins to mainstream: Indymedia anticipated blogs and social media

Norm Stockwell (WORT Madison) spoke on the development of Indymedia during last weekend's People's Summit, marking the tenth anniversary of the Seattle WTO. In today's Capitol Times, he reflects on what Indymedia has meant for the global expansion of participatory media:

On the first day of the WTO protests, Nov. 30, 1999 (now referred to as “N30”), the IndyMedia website claimed over 1 million hits -- more visitors than CNN. The reason was simple: CNN was still echoing the official press releases stating that rubber bullets were not being used against the demonstrators while IndyMedia journalists were grabbing up handfuls of rubber bullets, videotaping them, and putting the news out to the world across the Internet...

Many of the things IndyMedia did in the first half of this decade are now considered mainstream. In 2002-2003, I ran a website built on the IndyMedia experience called “IraqJournal” with independent journalist Jeremy Scahill and filmmaker Jacquie Soohen reporting live from Baghdad before the U.S. invasion. At the time, someone asked us: “Oh, is that a blog?” We said, “No, this is a news site. What’s a blog?”

Read the complete article here.

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WTO media flashback: getting the word out, becoming the media

From the Blind Spot, December 1999: The IMC originally formed when local media activists and others from the independent and alternative media communities (among them Jeff Perlstein, Jimmy Mateson of Media Island International, former KCMU news director Sheri Herndon, and Seattle attorney Dan Merkle) decided to address the fact that information about the WTO was not being made available for public debate. They wrote: "The true impact of the WTO policies and rules on our communities was not being reported on. … Meaningful discussions, public knowledge, participation or scrutiny of the summit issues associated with this new governing body were avoided."

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Amy Goodman opens the People's Summit, Seattle

Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman spoke at Seattle's Town Hall on Nov. 29, 2009, in an event launching Global Justice Forward: A People's Summit--a multisector activist summit marking the tenth anniversary of the Seattle WTO.

Amy Goodman was introduced by Denis Moynihan (Democracy Now!). With MC Jill Freidberg (KBCS) and brief comments from Northwest Media Action Grassroots Network (MAG-Net) representatives Jonathan Lawson (Reclaim the Media), Rahwa Habte (Hidmo) and Marissa Chavez (Youth Media Institute).

Listen now (m3u stream) or download complete audio (mp3), recorded by Yuko Kodama

Watch video (wmv) recorded by Ed Mays/Pirate Television

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WTO media flashback: police snow job blankets media

From the Blind Spot, December 1999: As soon as police forces began shooting, beating, and gassing WTO protesters on November 30, spokespeople for the city began issuing statements to clear the police of all responsibility for their actions. These statements, often employing military jargon, fell roughly into two categories: (1) the misrepresentation and criminalization of nonviolent protests, and (2) the denial that police used excessive force against peaceful protesters.

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WTO media flashback: Ralph Nader and Errol Maitland

Ralph Nader, quoted in the Blind Spot, 3 Dec 1999: "You can see a lot of things happening, but they're not going to happen by thinking that the technology itself will have its own imperative toward democracy. It won't. Again and again … the technology offered the options to open up the system, have a democratic communication process and they were closed down by concentrated corporate power and its influence over our government..."

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WTO media flashback: Seattle TV: Official Media?

From the Blind Spot, 29 Nov 1999: KOMO News has announced a policy of covering only those WTO-related events carrying an official seal of approval from the city government. In an official announcement, the station's news director told viewers that the station was "taking a stand on not giving some protest groups the publicity they want."

One person whose action will likely lose coverage due to this policy is Mario Santos, of the Karapatan Filipino Center for Human Rights. Santos traveled here to take part in the International People's Assembly. "It's significant that the corporate mass communications won't cover our activity," says Santos. "They're losing out on what organized groups, communities of color, and international delegations have come for."

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The media's job is to interest the public in the public interest. -John Dewey