Archives » September 6th, 2006

September 6, 2006

SkokieTalk and UNR

Last week I worked myself up into a froth about placeblogging, and in particular placeblogs that are set up and championed by outsiders, people who don’t live in the community the site is covering. I mentioned GoSkokie, a site that was built by university students as a class project. They picked a suburb of Chicago and built a community site for them. But after the class was over and they got their grade, the students pulled out and the site collapsed. Nobody was willing to stick around and tend to the site when it needed it most. This story pisses me off every time I think about it, and just bringing it up led me off on this tirade against newspapers and universities.

But this week, I have two good pieces of news to report:

1) I found out from Jeff Jarvis, who was as pleasantly surprised as I was, that GoSkokie didn’t in fact dry up and go away. After the university kids dropped the ball, the Skokie Public Library picked it up and built SkokieTalk, a true placeblog run by members of the community. Same idea, different URL. And the site seems to be thriving, which is good to see.

2) In the comments I lashed out at Mr. Jerz for being involved in one of these university projects, which led him to post a really impassioned defense of it. He came back with some good points that show he’s committed to the site he’s building, which is a good sign. Here’s what he said:

We’re doing Tahoe because we’re focusing on environmental issues and not just news. It’s about citizen participation in government, so we need something that people are fired up about. TRPA fires people up. At least, that’s how I see it. The Sagebrush is entirely its own entity, and despite the many shortcomings, it does well for itself, so they’re not exactly in the market to be overhauled.

I see your point about the J-school sites. Two things here. First, one thing our program did was to bring in people who live in, work in, and care deeply about Tahoe. There are also old-school reporters, graphics people, photogs, and tech nerds like me. We’ll make this thing happen (and get our grades)! Second, we’re a graduate program dedicated to this website and this website alone, so I’d hope the interest is greater than a jerkaround three-credit prerequisite for the TV class.

And how many people, exactly, call the campus home? I take issue with calling us out on UNR issues. The most impossible people to get involved, at least in my experience, are college kids. Ever seen the returns on an election up there? Somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,500 people vote. That’s under 10%. Why? Because way too many people have become accustomed to rolling onto campus, hitting their class or two, and immediately heading out. Nobody is on campus, it seems. So why talk about campus life when there really isn’t campus life?

I like being wrong, because it lets other people teach me how to be right. I should do it more often.