The above video is from NYC visual artist and designer Ron Gabriel, who wanted to show what happens at a busy NYC city intersection. From his blog:

By summer 2010, the expansion of bike lanes exposed a clash of long-standing bad habits — such as pedestrians jaywalking, cyclists running red lights, and motorists plowing through crosswalks. The old habits exacerbate attempts to expand ways to use our streets; existing disfunction makes change more difficult.

My master’s thesis project at SVA focused on one intersection as a case study. The video aims to show our interconnected role in improving the safety and usability of our streets. The campaign is named ‘3-Way Street’ and is made up of a poster series, a video and website.

H/T Gizmodo.

Photo: Heinrich Schoeneich/European Pressphoto Agency

With the death toll in Myanmar rising following the cyclone that devastated the area, the NY Times used its blog, ‘The Lede’, to put out the call for help covering the disaster. They asked for first-hand accounts, photos and even have a submission form for video.

Twelve hours later they had vivid descriptions of the devastation and pictures to accentuate those descriptions. Below is an account from Henry Webb, a lawyer from the U.S. that teaches in Vietnam:

About 3 a.m., when we were about 40 or 50 miles outside of Yangon, we started seeing the first trees and signs that had been blown down. (I did not sleep during the taxi ride — the Spanish couple slept off and on and I was afraid that if I went to sleep the driver might fall asleep as well — despite the fact that he was chugging Red Bull and coffee throughout the night.)

It took about two hours to cover those remaining 40 or 50 miles to the airport, and it was only in those last two hours — between 3 a.m. and 5 a.m. — that we began to appreciate the amount of devastation wrought by the cyclone. There were long stretches where nearly every tree along both sides of the road had been blown down, split into, uprooted, etc.

Almost all of the billboards were shredded, and most other signs had been either torn apart or blown down, and I saw several street signs — like stop signs or yield signs (the writing was in Burmese script so I don’t know what they actually said) — that had literally had their metal poles bent in half by the force of the winds. Many streetlights were also blown down. Many of the buildings had been damaged, and there was wind-blown debris everywhere.

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This is the sort of “open-source” journalism that I think is going to push online content into the future. On the smaller scale news organizations could cover everything from city council meetings to softball games in the same manner, by allowing citizens to watch, report and file small pieces about what they see.

The eroding of the sense of community newspapers are supposed to build could perhaps be saved by again allowing citizens to be a part of the news process. No longer should they feel they are just being fed the news but that they are contributing to the overall process of distributing the news and spreading information.

This doesn’t meant that journalists have to feel like they are obsolete or that citizens are going to take over their paper. It simply means that by allowing the people to have an avenue to contribute then we have more eyes and ears on the streets. We still act as the filterers, the organizers and the distributors of the news.

We’ll have to wait and see how the NY Times and other organizations continue to cover this story and what they do with the content they get.

Facebook Chat

You may or may not have noticed that social networking site Facebook recently launched its online, real-time chat service. The beauty of it is, much like Gmail chat, it is integrated into your Facebook front end with nothing to install and no changes to make. You can disable it, but it’s an opt-out feature rather than an opt-in.

Your “buddy list” is populated by your friends as they sign in and out of Facebook. You send them messages just like a third-party chatting client and they respond. Easy as cake (though it is a lie).

What can this do for (online) journalists?

While not having a drastic effect, it does open yet another door for quickly sourcing or touching base with anyone on your friends list. If you want to forgo a Twitter message or e-mail, spotting one of your friends, or sources, on Facebook can be a quick way to grab their attention. With the plethora of chatting clients and different services people have, there may be people on your friends list that aren’t on any of your chatting buddy lists (and who you may not want there either). This could serve to keep you connected without having to make a full-time buddy connection.

The real functionality will be if Facebook integrates a chat room function where people can either chat within groups, events or organizations without actually being friends with the other members. Or, being able to set up temporary, ad-hoc, password-protected and invite-only chat rooms for quick and secure Facebook “conference calls”. That would really make the chatting a robust and useful connection tool for anyone, but for journalists especially.

This of course would open the doors to all of the chat room problems of the old days such as trolls, spammers and guerrilla marketers. I’m sure the Facebook developers could find a way around that though, they’re a smart bunch.

Facebook chat, yay or nay?