Note: Today is the second day of We Media Miami, where seven entrepreneurs will try to convince a panel of judges that their business idea deserves the $50,000 prize in the PitchIt! competition. I'll be reporting on the winners of that this afternoon, or you can follow along on my Twitter account @BridgetCarey. Below is my story from yesterday highlighting some of the opening talks from the "Game Changers." Pictured below is one of the hosts of the conference, Dale Peskin. Photo by C.M. Guerrero of El Nuevo Herald.
But instead of focusing on the doom and gloom of newspapers losing money, the two-day conference celebrates innovations and entrepreneurs in social media, activism and journalism.
The conference is designed to spark new ideas and discussions among technologists, nonprofits and publishers. This year's call to action: "Almost nothing has been invented yet." It started by awarding four "Game Changers" in media. Those recognized were:
• Demand Media, which uses low-paid freelance writers to fill content on a network of sites like ehow.com and livestrong.com.
• TCKTCKTCK, an environmental campaign produced by a coalition of more than 200 groups to urge government leaders to take action at the 2009 U.N. Climate Summit in Copenhagen. (Pictured here is Kelly Rigg, executive director of the Montreal-based Global Campaign for Climate Action, who accepted the award for TckTckTck. Photo by C.M. Guerrero of El Nuevo Herald.)
• The American Red Cross for the massive reach of its Haiti text-message donation program.
• Winner of the most community votes (about 10,000) is lead developer of The Banyan Project, Tom Stites, whose project is to create a media company owned by its readers, which he feels will build trust.
The stories would be free, but the company would depend on support through a large number of tiny payments from these owners. And he hopes this model would improve democracy by writing for the underserved audience, since readers will direct what areas they want to see covered.
"This is journalism from the readers up, not from the institutions and the experts down," Stites said. "We better respond to the challenge ... or we can just pucker up and kiss democracy goodbye."
About 225 attended the conference -- roughly the same size as last year's crowd -- and tickets started at $950. Speakers included executives and personalities from The Associated Press, Knight Foundation, Turner Communications, BBC, The Takeaway, Vanity Fair, The Miami Herald and the Sacramento Press.
Most of the day was focused around the topic of improving journalism and media business models, but Game Changer Demand Media started the day not talking about its business model. Instead, its chief innovation officer, Byron Reese, presented a future where our daily decisions are based on computers that have collected mundane data from billions of people.
"I think in the future, everything about everyone will be available everywhere," Reese said.
Today, when we want advice on a decision, we turn to friends, online reviews, advice columns or a book. But more technology is tracking our daily actions. Amazon knows what books you buy. GPS systems know your commute to work. Take it a step further, and computers will have data on what you eat, what TV shows you watch, how much energy you use -- and you end up with ``a quadrillion life experiences'' that people won't mind sharing with the world, as long as it is anonymous. So why not use that collective data to make a decision, Reese said, instead of the recommendation of one or two friends.
"People are going to look back at how we made our decisions and will marvel at how we did anything at all,'' Reese said.