AssignmentZero: Calling All Culturites!

AssignmentZero

As some of you may know, I’m very interested in emergent citizen journalism initiatives that are pushing the idea forward in exciting and dynamic new ways. I’ve been involved with the NowPublic.com site as a contributing editor to their culture section, and this week I’ve signed on as the Culture Editor of AssignmentZero – a really exciting crowdsourcing journalism project headed up by Jay Rosen in collaboration with NewAssignment.net and Wired Magazine.

If you haven’t heard about the project, you can read Jay’s original Wired article here. The main question that AZ is hoping to address is this:

“Can large groups of widely scattered people, working together voluntarily on the net, report on something happening in their world right now, and by dividing the work wisely tell the story more completely, while hitting high standards in truth, accuracy and free expression?”

Sound familiar? If you know anything about NowPublic.com, then I’m sure you’ll see the parallels and similarities.

Interestingly, however, AZ has decided to focus on a time-specific project of 6-8 weeks, in which various contributors, writers, researchers, and editors will work together to cover a wide range of topics and stories related to the concept of crowdsourcing.

The site has attracted almost 1,000 contributors in its first few weeks online, and there is a great roster of talent on-board to edit topics on crowdsourced: politics, news, law, ideas, design, Second Life, journalism, media and publishing, science, technology, Wikipedia, graffiti, international stories and, my personal favourite, arts & culture. Quite the list.

No one’s sure exactly what will be produced in the process, or exactly what the process will be, but that’s entirely the point. The finished articles, interviews and pieces will be featured online in a new and expanded AssignmentZero website, possibly in the print edition of Wired Magazine, and perhaps beyond.

For my part, I will be working as the Culture Editor on the project, and helping to guide coverage of stories on: webTV, film, art, funding, music, and whatever else we decide is exciting and important to explore.

And this is where you come in.

There are some fascinating stories to cover and we’re looking for contributors to get involved with researching, writing, and editing stories – and you might even end up in Wired Magazine!

I’m specifically looking for other like-minded ‘culturites‘ to get on board with the Culture section – but there are plenty of ways to be involved.

For my part, I’m hoping to focus the AZ culture section on several key ideas and stories, and I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas about where we should take them:

Are you involved in any of these projects? Have you worked for, or contributed to, CurrentTV? Do you have first-hand experience as a cultural creator (artist, filmmaker, online video producer), or as part of an arts organization trying to get a crowdfunding project off the ground? I’d like for us to cover these topics through a a blend of: interviews with key people, first-hand accounts of experience with these topics, and researched features on how these topics are developing and evolving.

And, although the site Sellaband is already being covered by Jeffrey Sykes, I think there is still some ground for us to cover in the area of crowdsourced music. I’m particularly interested in looking at some emergent music/web 2.0 hybrids like the revenue-sharing music site AmieStreet.com and the self-described “hip-hop 2.0” site RapSpace.tv.

How are these sites changing the way a crowdpowered 2.0 community of users interacts with content? Who is getting involved in these sites and who are they being marketed to? What kind of content is most valued on the site and how does the crowd drive its success?

More generally, and perhaps somewhat philosophically, I’m also interested in the ‘experiential’ aspects of crowdsourced culture, both from the perspectives of artists and of the public. In parallel with AZ’s nascent, open -editorial processes of producing ‘crowdsourced journalism’ which, will be well-documented and much blogged about, I’m also interested in considering what the experience of actually making these new kinds of art is like. How is it similar or different to other forms of artistic collaboration?

What new forms and ideas could emerge from engaging with art and culture in this way? And are there dangers of these projects being co-opted or (mis)guided by outside interests, corporate or otherwise?

All of this and a whole lot more, I’m sure. We’ve got until the end of May to produced finalized features and content – so it’s a highly compressed timeline, but there is some great work ahead, and much that is already in progress/process.

Please get in touch if you’re interested in getting involved with the Culture section. I’m at jarrett.newassignment@gmail.com and you can keep up to date with AZ culture developments on my blog at http://zero.newassignment.net/user/jarrettmartineau.

If you’d like to be contribute in other ways or to other topics at AZ, please get in touch with managing editor Lauren Sandler.

It promises to be quite an adventure!

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