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The Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard has a paper out on the future of public broadcasting (download the PDF). Among the trends and forecasts, authors Pat Aufderheide and Jessica Clark note “a few participatory media public broadcasting experiments gesture to a future in which audiences are treated as both trusted partners and engaged citizens.” One of these experiments is Minnesota Public Radio’s Public Insight Network, whose members serve as sources, story suggesters, brainstorming allies, and volunteer interviewees for reporters. The other is the World Without Oil game:
“A web-based project of ITVS’s Independent Lens, World Without Oil not only demonstrated the potential of online role-playing games to spark participation around social issues, but foreshadowed public reactions to our current oil price crunch. More than 1900 gamers from 40-plus countries collaboratively imagined their reactions to a simulated 8-month energy crisis through submissions via blogs, Flickr, YouTube, and podcasts. Participants virtually carpooled and bought bikes, moved out of transportation-poor suburbs, and started backyard gardens—and then reported corresponding changes in their real lives.”
The report summarizes: “Such immersive, authentic engagement with both audiences and issues is what is needed to ensure public broadcasters’ relevance in an ever-more participatory media universe.” One exciting idea: Local stations could change what they define as their core task, becoming more like an electronic public library for the
community. Except that the “library” focuses on futures (and the local actions that choose among them) rather than the past? That’s a value proposition that’s relevant to our time. Photo by Will Survive via Flickr.
WWO fan Leslie and others alert me that an interview I did last year for NPR with Jim Fleming has been recycled as part of a To The Best Of Our Knowledge segment on going green. You might give it a listen – not for my segment necessarily (about 40 min in) but for the fascinating (and WWO-echoing) early segments with Colin Beavan and Jeff Ferrell and right after mine, the “kid’s future” segment by Anne Strainchamps.
Leslie notes, “The host asked about your favorite WWO posting. One of my favorites was from a pharmacist who worked out a delivery route to serve his customers who lived at a nearby retirement home. I also appreciated the folks who were digging up their lawns to put in vegetable gardens. We have a couple of beds and will probably add more in time. My mother-in-law’s neighbors in Dubuque landscape with vegetables tucked in and around the shrubs. Very pretty.” Photo by tofutti break via Flickr.
“What began as a marketing tool has now become a lot more useful: playing with alternate realities can solve real problems.” The writer is Anne Wollenberg, her article’s in The Guardian, and she’s talking about the genre started by the World Without Oil game. Read the article; it’s really excellent and lays out pretty clearly the potential that these collaborative games have to save the world. (And let’s shout out to WWO player RockLobster, quoted in the article! Woo!)
As a result of our current concatenation of calamities, future thinking and what-if scenarios have suddenly become the thing to do. Witness a CNN Special titled “We Were Warned: Out of Gas,” sent my way by alert WWO fan Diane. The behind-the-scenes commentary, however, is more interesting and real to me than the Hollywood-style cinematic premise. The revolution will not be telescripted; it’s already begun. Video scene from Kalwithoutoil.
Via Independent Lens, ITVS has published the World Without Oil lesson plans on the Public Broadcasting System website – PBS.org. The announcement went out Thursday in the PBS Teachers newsletter for April 20-26, 2008. So that’s a big honor – and a nice way to direct teachers to this novel way to engage students with energy policy, sustainability, and the role energy plays in the American economy, culture, worldview, and history. The lesson plans now include an independent study track, so self-directed students can get themselves into the serious game. You can also find the lesson plans on the WWO site, right here at worldwithoutoil.org/teach.
In case you haven’t seen it…
World Without Oil has been nominated for a number of web awards, and yesterday we got word that it’s a Top Five finalist in the 2008 South By Southwest Interactive competition, in the “Activism” category. You can see the list of finalists here (some pretty cool sites, yow). Plus WWO sponsor ITVS has its Independent Lens website as a finalist in the “Classic” category… plus WWO’s participation architect Jane McGonigal (some of you know her as mpathytest) will be a keynote speaker at SXSW Interactive on Tuesday, March 11. So we look to be well represented at SXSW – let me know if you’re gonna be around.
Iowa Public Television hosts a premier event for TV and video production, technical and education professionals, and this year they invited WWO Creative Director Ken Eklund to speak about crowd-sourced storytelling. Listen to the MP3, or go here and scroll down to Tuesday, Oct. 2, 9:30 am to view his snappy presentation.