Up to this point, burning bridge has been a very informal blog; a place for me to work through some ideas about digital media and conflict without thinking too much about presentation or form, or even whether I’ll have any readers. A lot of my time has been spent looking into participatory media projects, and throughout the last year I’ve been following the innovative and often compelling experiment that is Global Voices Online. GVO was started a few years back by Rebecca MacKinnon and Ethan Zuckerman while they were fellows at the Berkman Center. It’s blossomed into a diverse and energetic international community of writers and bloggers who together curate and aggregate blogs from around the world. The resulting stream of information and stories is a kind of alternative news feed that presents information from local perspectives, conversations, and debates. It not only fills gaps left behind by a shrinking international news media; it provides a completely different perspective, both local and global at the same time. It’s got a news frame that’s not dictated by commercial interests, or the national perspective of any particular country, but is itself the product of an ongoing discussion.
Starting in August, as I finish up my fellowship at USIP, I’m going to have the privilege of working with GVO, as their executive director. They’ve just written some incredibly flattering and kind things on their respective blogs. And flattery will get you everywhere. I’m feeling very lucky and a bit daunted to have the chance to work with such a great project, and with a really talented (and prolific) bunch of writers. One of the nicest things about having a fellowship is the chance to slow down and reflect a bit, and for the last year, I’ve had that with USIP. I’m clearly going to have to pick up the pace again to keep up with these guys. I’m looking forward to being schooled by Georgia, Solana, Sami, David, Jeremy, Portnoy, and Leonard – the core staff at GVO, as well as all the editors, translators and authors from around the world.
One of my favorite things about GVO is its dynamism. A look at all the energy and ideas created out of the GVO summit in Budapest in June ’08 is a window into that world. Links to liveblog and video archives as well as other coverage will give you a taste of this world, as will Joi Ito’s photostream.
I could spend the next day linking to everyone involved at GVO, but that’s what the site is for, right? And I’ve got a last few weeks of fellowship to savor (and a research paper to finish) before the GVO pace kicks in in earnest. But I’ll be working on turning this site into something a bit more active, and expanding beyond the fairly narrow focus of my research. Unless, of course, GVO takes all my time! Not the worst fate, I think.