This is something I wrote back in May (this version dates from 21st) that hasn’t received a public airing.  Interested in your thoughts.  I wrote it in Word and have just pasted it in below… forgive the crappy formatting.

Community Broadcasting and Public Sphere 2.0

ALP Senator Kate Lundy announced on 29th April 2009, via her website, that she was involved in the creation of an online public sphere. In her post she said that the aim of the exercise was too “facilitate regular topics of interest to both the general public and to the government. This way people from all around Australia can participate online.” (more…)

There’s been a bit of blog attention to Stilgherrian’s project TOTO, and while some people, such as @kcarruthers, have blogged about it, @SilkCharm has pointed out that coverage by Australian bloggers has been a little poor.

This brings me to make a point, and yes I’m pushing my own adgenda here too, lets be clear there.

In Australia we’ve had a robust Community Broadcasting sector since 1975 (and some station’s pre-dating that).  In many respects we can consider the similarities between Community and Social Media, and others have done this before, so I won’t rehash that.

But Australia has the oldest and probably the broadest Communtiy Broadcasting in the world.  In other areas there’s considrably more cross-over with the Public Broadcasting modle, and in the UK fully-licenced Community Broadcasting is still surprisingly new.

Community Media has driven social changes around the world over the past 30 years.  While its not necessarily clear in Australia today, Community Radio has had considerable impact in the past, and no doubt it will continue to do so however it evolves over the next few years.  And it can work that way anywhere.

There are considerable overheads in establishing broadcasting services, and while these exist even in poorer countries (including Tanzania), they’re limited to geographic coverage – whilst it’s participatory media, it’s also heritage media, limited by geography.  Blogs and new Social media are important because of the lower setup costs (though the cost of receivers is probably higher).  We have already seen the way blogs can impact society in the Western world.

The power of what Stil’s done with project TOTO and ActionAid is just in it infancy.  It’s not about communicating for people.  It’s about people communicating with the rest of the world themselves.  There’s considerable power in participatory media, it’s a driver of openness and democracy and provides an exchange of ideas which isn’t available elsewhere.

Get along and read the first of the blogs.  And well done to all involved in the project.

I hope we can all see these blogs have a impact, for the bloggers, for Tanzinia and for us as Westerners.  Here’s to learning more about our fellow humans.