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Dan Gillmor

We’ve been following the noble efforts of Dan Gillmor, our former colleague at the Mercury News, as he left last year to build a new “citizen media” project called Bayosphere.

He’d wanted to give tools to regular people so that they could become journalists, and Bayosphere was supposed to be a place where people in the San Francisco Bay Area could, via his site, produce great, bottom-up media — learn and discuss the regional scene, with a focus on technology.

But it just didn’t work out. His full post is worth reading, but here is the crux:

I learned some things last year, about media, about citizens, about myself. Although citizen media, broadly defined, was taking the world by storm, the experiment with Bayosphere didn’t turn out the way I had hoped. Many fewer citizens participated, they were less interested in collaborating with one another, and the response to our initiatives was underwhelming. I would do things differently if I was starting over….

…and under lessons learned:

Tools matter, but they’re no substitute for community building. (This is a special skill that I’m only beginning to understand even now.)

:Martin, in comment below, has a good point:

[Dan] lists seven or eight completely different paths they considered early on, paths that don’t show much in the way of concrete, real world practicality…..The point here is that editing style, vision and business sense should be the driving forces in creating a new media company, rather than amorphous idealism. Projects like Bayosphere need to be driven, from the outset, by a clear, unrelenting idea, rather than a shopping list of several possible directions that might pan out. (emphasis ours)