Rob Paterson writes (today on the FASTForward blog) about The Power of the Personal – Voice? He visualizes this with an Alexa Internet chart/data showing how quickly the recent web sites that allow individuals to broadcast their personal voice have risen.
Most particularly, the data show that Wikipedia rose from zero to “Daily Traffic Rank” of about “10” in about four years, and YouTube rose to “10” in about a year and a half. (Making them among the top sites on the web.)
You’d have to attribute this to the fact that these sites are created by, or at least “formed” in some way by, their users. That belies the suspicion that people are couch potatoes and won’t lift a finger to create their own media entertainment, other than to channel-surf. Yeah, yeah, there’s a lot of channel-surfing going on at YouTube, but there’s also lots of participation, even if 90% of it is deadheaded talking-head responses. And Wikipedia is certainly a creation of its readers (even though there’s a core group that does a huge percentage of the heavy lifting).
So, I want to know if this phenomenon only gives “voice” to those with broad Internet connections, or whether it can be used by those with only occasional access to the net. Can conversation take place offline and then be put online in the form of blog postings, or wikipedia entries or online video?
The proof so far – and I’d say it’s working – is that it may actually work. Our friends – teen-age Tibetan refugees living in India – have now made a dozen video segments and posted them online – and my gosh all we had to do was provide them with a digital video camera and some online time. They do their video work offline, produce a great little movie, and upload it for all of us to see. In Nigeria, our friends have far less Internet connectivity, and yet they have made movies to share with us, and have made more which are being burned to CD to be physically shipped to us!
I’m making a trip, next month, with a group of bloggers, to the Middle East. My formal role is to “blog the bloggers” – there will be a dozen or so prominent bloggers going on that trip – and I will mostly be attending to the process they use and how their perceptions and interactions develop over time. But – we are going to visit with a number of people who are using technology for social good – and I will track and write about all of that so you can share in the information. You will have a chance to feed me (and the group) some questions you’d like to ask – and I will soon give you the info on how you can ask your own questions.
I think this phenomenon of using digital media to spark two-way conversations is really going to take off. Everywhere! This is more than just a YouTube thing. It’s true two-way storytelling and conversation. And 2008 is the year when it will really bloom.