1/21/2005

A United Nations of Technology

Yesterday I ended by mentioning the launch of Ourmedia, a site involving California journalist JD Lasica and featuring collaborators such as the libertarian-sounding documentary maker The Lexington League (which promises to show individuals planning and carrying out acts of civil disobedience). While I wait to see what other creative types avail themselves of this new forum, I want to look at some of the technology and partnerships Ourmedia has announced to pull this community together. Ourmedia says it will be based on an Open Source content-management system called Drupal. Similar to Linux, Drupal seems to have been launched by a Belgian computer scientist named Dries Buytaert who is in his mid-twenties. From what I gather, Buytaert threw the software out there about four years ago and a community of developers formed around the code. Ourmedia's particular brand of Drupal will be provided by a Vancouver (British Columbia) technology firm called Bryght. Again, as was the case with Linux, although the Drupal source code is free, its implementation appears to be sufficiently complex to justify the creation of specialty firms to make the magic work. Other collaborators include the Creative Commons, which is popularizing new and less restrictive forms of intellectual property; Wikipedia, the astonishing Open Source encyclopedia and community (which I believe has recently spawned a real-time news posting offshoot, a sort of come-one, come-all wire service); and the Internet Archive, an effort to save and promulgate creative works in the public domain (the project was launched by netizen Brewster Kahle who, in addition to bringing people together in cyberspace, also holds regular salon dinners in his home overlooking San Francisco’s Golden Gate). A recent BusinessWeek article says Ourmedia is working with Yahoo, the Creative Commons and independent short-film distributor Atom Films to develop a video version of RSS, the technology that lets bloggers “broadcast” text to subscribers. Surely, I am just nibbling at the edges of the new media coalitions that are forming. It’s like a United Nations of Technology. I’ll nibble away some more, but later. Tom Abate

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