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everyone has a piece of the puzzle

Making public media future-relevant: everyone has a piece of the puzzle

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.

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It's got a cup holder and everything

It's got a cup holder and everything

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.

Dick Gordon, host of The StoryToday on The Story, the subject is “oil games.” It’s worth a listen: go here and click the “LISTEN HERE” icon at top right to grab the MP3.

The first segment of the radio show from American Public Media deals with a simulation called “Oil Shockwave” put on by SAFE (Securing America’s Future Energy) in early November. I think that WWO followers will find it very interesting – and eerily alarming in its familiarity. “We found that once the crisis has started, there’s not much that the government can do…” The second segment is all about World Without Oil, and it’s a good summary of what the game was all about. Featuring starring roles by Rocklobster and other players! Thanks to Cori Princell and host Dick Gordon of The Story, and to North Carolina Public Radio – WUNC where the show is produced.  And to bloggers like Annette in Anaheim who are already picking up on and amplifying the story.

Yours Truly appeared today on Your Call at KALW 91.7. The subject was purportedly, “do videogames have the power to change history?” but the other panelists and I never got around to answering that question. Best moment for the listeners: when host Sandip Roy gets one of us to admit that in actuality (s)he has never played a videogame.

It was the world's first serious alternate reality game, a cooperative pre-imagining of a global oil crisis. Over 1900 players collaborated in May 2007 to chronicle the oil crisis with their own personal blog posts, videos, images and voicemails. The game ended after simulating the first 32 weeks of the oil shock, but its effects continue, as game designers analyze its unique gameplay and we all watch the continuing drama with global oil prices and supply.