The near total dominance of computer search over our information gathering has presented our culture with an interesting (and possibly unique) problem in the history of information management: what you see when you search for something can be quite different from what I see when I search. This is because search engines (and other recommendation services, like the suggestions at Amazon and Netflix) monitor our behavior and tailor the results we see to their records of our past behavior.
The civic media field is often better defined by example than in abstractions. The field is so nascent and fluid that any comprehensive, conceptual definition will likely miss key aspects of the field. For those of us who believe civic media – the various ways communities create, find and share actionable information – is transforming media and civic life, exciting examples are always an opportunity to think about the future of the field.
As revolution and revolt spreads across the Arab world, Americans often see social networking sites and online video as playing a starring role. Whether it is testimony about police brutality or jubilation in the squares, examples of so-called witness journalism captured by cell phone cameras, webcams, and other mobile devices have made many citizens feel more engaged with the political plight of those struggling against authoritarian regimes in the Middle East.