Cell Phone Content Creation

20 04 2008

Nokia phone (Courtesy letsgodigital)Tomorrow morning, I’m off to Atlanta to take part in a very very cool project with Nokia, Verizon and the Center For Disease Control (CDC) and it makes me think of Robert Scoble.

Whoa, let me explain.

At this year’s World Economic Conference in Davos, Robert Scoble took his Nokia N95 camera and combined it with qik.com software to create a live Web stream that could be seen by anyone on the web. In a discussion with John C. Dvorak on Tech5 on January 31, 2008, Scoble talks about how streaming the interviews that he did there live, at a remarkably low cost, enabled him to field questions from his web viewers that he could turn around and ask his own interviewees. He wasn’t breaking news live (though it would have been possible) but he was certainly creating more democratized interaction between the attendees at Davos and Scoble’s own viewers/listeners

That’s actually one small use for the technology. What I’m doing in Atlanta is more akin to news gathering.

I’ll be working as a remote producer with a group of students who will be out in the streets of Atlanta, creating content for a PSA (Public Service Announcement) for AIDS Awareness Day. The three students in my team (there will be five teams altogether) will have spent Tuesday in an all-day session with representatives from the CDC, as well develop a few PSAs for them to shoot on Wednesday. Then, as they shoot them, they will send them back to me and a student editor, who will begin editing them together. By 7pm that night, the hope is to have 2-3 PSAs from each of the five teams, that will be complete and ready to put onto Verizon’s network, so everyone in all of the groups can see them.

We’re calling them Personal PSAs (PPSAs) because of the intimate nature of their capture and their cell phone distribution mechanism.

The implications here are enormous. Especially combined with Scoble’s Davos experience. We’ve spent a few posts here talking about democratizing the creation and distribution of content (see here for a bunch of them, and here for one of my favorites). At a talk I gave last year at the Philadelphia Inquirer, I discussed using content created by their readers to extend their reach into the smaller neighborhoods that large newspapers can no longer afford to serve adequately. The idea that parents could upload reports on their children’s high school sports games could enable city newspapers to become more like news-gathering local papers, without much more additional expense.

And now, a mere one year later, the technology to do it with great visual quality is here, and I’m going to get a chance to explore just how it might impact our lives in a few years. The ability to migrate news and entertainment capture into the mobile arena is pretty exciting, and though it will inevitably raise the number of piano-playing cats out there, it can also raise our ability to see local events happen more immediately (both in terms of time as well as the intimacy that being in the middle of those events can bring).

I’m sure there will be issues, but I can’t wait to find out what they are. I’ll keep you posted.

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