If Davis, California is any example, mass collaboration may be the future of local media.
The Davis Wiki (http://daviswiki.org), started in 2004, is an entirely community-maintained, collaborative, non-profit effort to compile anything and everything about living in in Davis, California. Unlike a local blog, which may be maintained by at most a handful of individuals, the Davis Wiki allows anyone in the community to contribute back their knowledge of the community with the community. The result is an information resource tailored to the needs of the entire community. The project contains over 15,000 pages on nearly every aspect of living in Davis. Davisites use their wiki for everything from getting detailed information on City Council candidates to finding lost pets.
And unlike conventional local media, the Davis Wiki is truly owned and operated at every level by the community itself. Every page on the wiki is written and maintained by a gaggle of concerned, intrigued and engaged community members. And when it comes to our local communities, everyone really is an expert.
Over the course of several years, the Davis Wiki slowly gained traction in the community. The Davis Wiki is now the most used local media in the city: nearly every resident uses the Davis Wiki in the course of a week, and one in seven residents contribute material to the Davis Wiki at some point during the year. Pages on the Davis Wiki set the tone for city elections, residents coordinate to catch con artists, expose political scandals, document historic buildings, create maps of nasty potholes, and much more. The Davis Wiki represents an ever-changing effort to maintain a collective institutional memory for everything important to the community.
Thus far, the project has been an entirely-volunteer effort, funded through community donations. Right now, we're in the initial stages of an ambitious plan develop an entirely new sort of wiki software designed around the unique needs of local communities -- and empower other communities to create the same kind of vibrant, collaborative local media that the Davis Wiki represents.
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Steven Clift commented
I;d love hear about other successful local wikis. Come tell your story on the Locals Online community of practice: http://e-democracy.org/locals
As a recent example of the real local organizing & information power that the Davis Wiki has in the community, a notorious con artist, unnoticed for 6 months, was recently caught using the Davis Wiki:
If you watch this local TV news story, you'll see that they mostly read off the wiki, and quote lines and information from it throughout the broadcast: