Building on Will Richardson’s FAME idea, Flemington’s Got Stories is an idea to create a local documentary project.
Project Name: FLEMINGTON’S GOT STORIES
Organization Name: Mediatech Foundation
Address: 118 Main Street (2nd Floor) City: Flemington State: NJ Zip Code: 08822
Web site: www.mediatech.org
Project Description: This is an American Idol-like event designed to highlight digital reporting on a local level. In order to enter, residents must apply their digital publishing abilities, either on their own or with the help of the volunteers at Mediatech, a library-based technology center. We will try this in one town (Flemington, NJ, pop. 5000) as a test. The project could be applied to any community; just change the name. If successful, the project can sustain itself with local sponsorships. The stars of this project are found in any town. These are the people you see, but take for granted, like Archie, an 83-year old WWII vet who is well known on our grocery store PA system. When he says “fresh bread, straight out of the oven,” people line up. But nobody knows his last name, what he did in the war or where he lives. Tomas is a bright, 12-year-old refugee from Central Africa, who rides a seatless bike to the library. He has an uncanny ability for mastering the nuances of English and middle school culture. Whenever he sees a dog, he gets sad however; remembered a pet he left behind, and (perhaps) a story waiting to be told. Eleven-year-old Maggie has been called an “illegal” on the street because she her parents are first generation immigrants from Mexico. Few people know that Irma’s mother is the inventor of the famous sauce at a successful restaurant. A cooking documentary could share the recipe.
This project has six parts. (1) Upgrade the technology in an existing library-based technology center with video editing stations and coaches; (2) host free, weekly digital publishing workshops for residents; (3) enhance an existing WordPress blog with embedded video samples; (4) host a public “American Idol” style contest in the summer; (5) award a scholarship to an aspiring journalist, and (6) create a dissemination video so that others can replicate this plan.
6. How will your project improve the way news and information are delivered to geographic communities? By significantly increasing a town’s public access to affordable, powerful digital publishing technologies, and then by giving people a reason to use the technology, we’ll make it possible for any person to apply new digital skills. They may be in front of the camera, or working as a video editor. Or they may simply bring in a box of old photos to be digitized by a young volunteer. The recruiting tool will be your ego. Once you’ve edited and uploaded your first video, or seen a collection of a neighbor’s digital family album set to a symphony, you feel a sense of empowerment, or perhaps see somebody familiar, in a new way.
7. How is your idea innovative? Video harvesting initiatives and community technology centers are not new ideas. But combining the two, with a mix of YouTube, Flickr, Facebook and fresh coffee, plus an “American Idol” style contest to feed your ego, is a new mix. Thanks to Moore’s law, we now have cheaper, better technology to use, including cheap and powerful HD cameras, flat screens, and nearly unlimited storage. The cost vs. power ratio has swung toward the direction of this idea. This is an early attempt to use this recent technology.
Mediatech is the ideal center to host this effort, and it is in need of an annual fundraising effort. Mediatech is a five-year old experiment in our town library that has been cited by Governor Jon S. Corzine for “helping to keep New Jersey at the forefront of scientific and technological innovation” (http://bit.ly/4vsfpn). The open-source Mediatech recipe can be created by any school or library. The concept was initially inspired from a center in Northern Italy; the relationship is explained here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S4h8W5bhRyc.
We have proven to ourselves and our own town that we can turn a small investment into a digital oasis by harnessing a common vision and dedicated volunteers.Â This project — Flemington’s Got Stories is a natural extension the Mediatech’s mission, to create better life with technology.