A few weeks ago I attended the Making Your Media Matter conference put on by the stupendous folks at the Center for Social Media at American University. A report is now available produced by the conference rapporteur here which is a useful round up of major themes and ideas discussed, broken down into the various panel sessions and key notes given during those busy 2 days in Washington D.C.

I spoke on the last panel of the conference entitled “Short Shorts and Hot Platforms” about emerging distribution scenarios especially for short form documentaries. I naturally spoke about the Hub and was pleased to participate with fellow panelists Leba Haber, independent online filmmaker who discussed her project Where My Ladies At?; Melissa Robers of Free Range Studios (the masterminds behind The Meatrix and now “The Story of Stuff“) and Leighton Woodhouse of Brave New Films showcasing a new short Mr. Greenwald and co have created called “Fight the War on Greed“. We had some good questions from the audience about translation issues (i.e. for the Hub to be calling itself a global platform what about languages its available in- admittedly its only currently navigable in English, Spanish and French); access issues- people still pointing out that the digital divide makes internet-only based content worthless to many segments of society, perhaps less so in North America, all over the world.

This is where I brought up the question of the mobile platform. The prevailing statistic is that half of the world’s population will have a cell phone by 2009- that is next year- and that is about 3 billion people! Staggering. At WITNESS we’re trying to address that asap by making mobile-to-Hub uploads of video and still image content available – this functionality is going to be available within the next few months. Check back for more details.

I’m sure mobile distribution will be a frequently mentioned topic at the upcoming WeMedia conference I’m attending this week in Miami. The main ideas being explored over this packed 2.5 day conference are: ….

  • The Power To Change The World: … exploring how media and communications in a multitude of forms, produced or influenced by an ever-expanding multitude of sources, can make the world a better place for more people.
  • Networked Economics: In a shifting communications marketplace we will consider how to pay for and sustain the civic enterprises through media that can influence and change the world, including news and information.

The ‘how we pay for and keep this stuff going’ is of great interest as we continue to hear news of a recession coming or already here. Even for-profit media and technology companies don’t have it fully figured out. Business Week reported today that the technology company DivX is shutting down its UGC video community site Stage6. Interesting because the quality of DivX videos online are near DVD quality, but the community isn’t thriving so its not worth it… so it seems. We’ve also been hearing about trouble for Revver, one of the first websites that allowed UGC video uploads and sharing (yes, even before people knew YouTube). Last week CNET News.com reported that the company was purchased by LiveUniverse (owned by MySpace.com). I wonder how that will change the direction of the company, especially being affiliated with the online giant owned by News Corps.

Most of us using communications for social change don’t have the capital that a technology company like DivX has. But clearly we’ve all got to make our efforts matter with emerging communications technologies. Check out the WeMedia blog where lots of these issues are already being discussed in advance of the gathering.

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