Science Addiction

A dormant blog by Devanshu Mehta Community Funded Citizen Journalism

Via Dan Gilmor, we hear about the launch of the nonprofit, funded by the Knight Foundation. It is a novel idea-

Through Spot.Us the public can commission journalists to do investigations on important and perhaps overlooked stories. […] It’s a marketplace where independent reporters, community members and news organizations can come together and collaborate.

This has real potential. Think about a local government problem that needs investigating- you can get your neighbors together to fund a citizen to work on it. Think about the (many) issues that traditional media chooses to ignore- either due to a perceived lack of audience, corporate interests or political implications. You can fund the stories you believe should be covered, and so can traditional news organizations.

As founder David Cohn notes, “The process of journalism should be participatory – and perhaps one way it can be made participatory is if the public has the opportunity to commission the journalism they want to see.” Go make a pitch or fund a story today.

Will the Web Kill the Two Party System?

Via Julian Sanchez and the newly launched Law & Disorder journal at Ars Technica, here’s an excerpt of David Carr’s piece in the New York Times:

More profoundly, while many people think that President-elect Obama is a gift to the Democratic Party, he could actually hasten its demise. Political parties supply brand, ground troops, money and relationships, all things that Mr. Obama already owns.

It’s a novel idea, but Sanchez is rightly skeptical- the system and its participants have a strong interest in maintaining the status quo. The way the electoral college works- where one candidate needs to get more than half- means that a simple plurality of votes is not sufficient and this is not going to get resolved any time soon. People are more likely to vote for a lesser of two evils who might actually win, than the better candidate who will not.

The Internets Hijack Online GOP Rebuilding Efforts

It started out as a good idea, but how long could it have lasted? Well, less than a week.

Last week, a few young, forward-thinking Republicans launched Rebuild the Party– a web site that would allow the community to suggest and vote on ideas to rebuild the Republican party. It went well for a couple of days, while suggestions ranged from “Small “c” conservatives” to “Be more inclusive”.

Pretty soon, the progressive masses of the Internets and the Ron-Paul-ers learned of the site. Look at it now. The top suggestion with more than four thousand votes is to “Give all Red Blooded Americans a pair of Truck Nuts for their F150’s!” Not a bad idea if you’re a funny trucker. A horrible idea if you’re trying to rebuild a party. Ron Paulers have taken the next few slots, though the liberal hoi polloi have managed to sneak in “Scratch backwards B into own face; teach themselves a lesson”.

Once the liberal blogs took notice, this was bound to happen. Remember, liberal blogs are more popular than conservative. Of course, as Wikipedia has taught us, trolls tire faster than a sincere community- so the web site should survive once the masses find a new toy.

UPDATE: And now all the “spam” has been deleted, but the RonPaulers remain.