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Wikimania 2007 Taipei :: a Globe in Accord

This page is part of the Proceedings of Wikimania 2007 (Index of presentations)

Citizen media: Why Global Voices isn't trying to be a news agency.

Author Rebecca MacKinnon (Global Voices Online)
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License GNU Free Documentation License (details)
About the author
Rebecca MacKinnon

Rebecca MacKinnon is currently an Assistant Professor at the University of Hong Kong's Journalism and Media Studies Centre, where she teaches "new media", examining the intersection between the Internet and journalism. At the Berkman Center, MacKinnon and her colleague Ethan Zuckerman co-founded Global Voices Online, an award-winning international citizen media community, with which she remains involved in management. Starting at the bottom of CNN's Beijing bureau, she became a correspondent for the news channel, and Bureau Chief from 1998-2001. She served as the Tokyo Bureau Chief from 2001-03.

MacKinnon started a fellowship at the Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government in January 2004. Her research focus was on blogs and participatory online media, especially as relates to international news. Three months in, she resigned from CNN, and was invited to stay at Harvard as a Research Fellow at Harvard Law School's Berkman Center for Internet and Society. The enabled her to re-direct her career from TV news to online media.

Her ongoing research interests are the future of media in the Internet age, freedom of speech online, and the Internet in China. She serves on the Board of Directors for Tor, which aims to improve safety and security on the Internet, and the US Advisory Board for FON, for most of 2006. Wikipedia article, Rebecca MacKinnon's blog, Global Voices Online

What motivates people to join and contribute to large ongoing citizen media projects like Wikipedia, Wikinews, Ohmynews, Global Voices, and others? How do you sustain a community of enthusiastic, reliable, and quality contributors over an indefinite period of time? What keeps people motivated as the project matures? How might those motivations change over time and what does that mean for the evolution of the organization? I will talk about how Global Voices, an international bloggers' network, was inspired by the success of projects like Wikipedia and OhMyNews but has made different choices about structure. I will then raise some questions about how the differing motivations of volunteers and professionals may ultimately shape the structure, content, goals, and evolution of a large citizen media organization. I will also raise a provocative question: if the motivations of volunteers and professionals are fundamentally different, is it realistic to expect that a volunteer organization will be able to sustain the same kind of product that full-time paid professionals would? Or should we not be trying to emulate professionally-produced formats and structures - creating completely new forms of media that have no parallel "type" in the professional world?
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