Thursday, June 12, 2008

6/4 evening: Building and Engaging Community... with Folklore?

Michelle again mentions folklore: fascinating word, and apt! Folklore is the stuff we tell each other, the stories that move through and fix themselves in the collective consciousness organically. Folklore reinforces community. If journalists hop online from the mainstream media but still turn to their same old Rolodex of sources, they may be failing to engage the community.

Online citizen journalism works differently. If it works within Michelle's folklore paradigm (and perhaps I overtag it as a paradigm -- what do you think?), our form of journalism finds its stories in what people are talking about before the media get to them. We tell our version of those stories, and then leave the door open for others to add to and remake those stories and tell their own stories on top of it all. That's the interactive community-building folklore that can happen online.

Now maybe my kind of blogging fits here too. At the Kiwanis meeting in Madison right before the conference, Charlie Stoneback said that my blog puts big stories in a local perspective that no one else gives. Who else talks about the farm bill or the presidential race or the cyclone in Burma in terms of Madison, South Dakota? Well, we do. My blog does. Folklore is about local events and mores, but it also reaches out to the stories of the larger world to put them in our own terms. Folklore isn't just local tales. It is the stories we tell to make sense of our world, the whole world.

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