Happy 2013! The new independent economy is upon us. Brooklyn needs community media by and for our makers: artists, writers, small business owners, Etsy retailers, and the myriad voices that make up Brooklyn’s brilliant yet fragmented digital life.
From this premise a new model for BrooklynTheBorough.com was born, and we now introduce to you Brooklyn’s first borough wide collaborative media community. We call it cooperative public media.
This means the artists, musicians and authors who join can share their events, coupons, ticket sales, mp3s and e-books directly with an engaged community of adventurous local spirits who love to make and share with others. We won’t get in your way.
It is likely you are already making content and putting it out into the digital world for people to see. Whether that is on Facebook or your own website you can engage with the community by sharing your wares.
Many companies are working to “capture the hyper local market” as they say. Large banks have made investments in algorithmic activity that will try to measure us by our consumption.
Over four years BrooklynTheBorough.com has created free local media for and by the community as the basis for a platform set apart from data mining media.
Now is the time to jump ship from inauthentic corporate platforms that offer media created by the insecure or corrupt, lacking perspective, who build and burn our creative makers.
Here’s what we’ve got:
-Skillshare forums by neighborhood or interest.
-E-commerce programmed by you: ticket sales, coupons, downloads, physical goods.
-A free local media that features actual Brooklyn, not PR-made culture.
-Build a profile and connect to the community whether you’re an individual, business or collective.
-No corporate masters.
Unlike most advances, the early adopters of this new technology will be rewarded with the lowest cost to join. A tax-deductible membership fee of $60 listed in the perks section will open an e-commerce shop on BrooklynTheBorough.com for two years.
We’ve never taken a dime from investors or corporations and want to keep it that way. Small contributions go a long way towards public ownership of free media.
Join us in building the media we need to connect, together.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT!
-Nicole Brydson, Publisher
BTB’s amazingly talented original 41 contributors have enticed over 150,000 people to visit our pages 500,000 times – sometimes for upwards of 15 minutes per page.
BTB has done hyperlocal reporting on the rising artists, musicians, DIY businesses, writers and current events of Brooklyn’s urban artisanal landscape.
We have experimented with various models of design, content aggregation and community engagement; hosted live events like Patti Smith with Shilpa Ray and Outernational at Southpaw in 2010 (OG DIY ex-Brooklynite meets new DIY Brooklynites); and posted intimate profiles of and contributions from prominent authors, artists and filmmakers in service of establishing a new model for local digital media.
Brooklyn The Borough is totally independent and has been sourced by many of New York City’s prominent media – including WNYC Radio, the New York Times and Huffington Post.
The hierarchical structure of traditional media and the business interests that support it means that power and money are centralized with information, repackaged and filmed or printed up nice and pretty for consumption. That is a passive action.
The inherent problem the internet poses to this model is that replicating the passive hierarchical structure here is antithetical to what the internet naturally wants to be: a horizontal network of equal interests who all have something to say.
There is much value in the vaunted halls of American journalism and scholarship and the daily reporting done all over the world. The people who bring you those stories are professionals and they should be compensated as such. Frankly, if we want this type of honest journalism to flourish, public media and non-profits like ProPublica are the way to go. There just isn’t one way to do things anymore, there are many.
As the world moves to a mobile digital platform, our devices have become our megaphones out to the world. Local Wikis have popped up to crowdsource the local knowledge base of colleges and towns across the country. On twitter we have seen private people instantly transform themselves into citizen journalists, relaying what they see. Many of our mainstream media networks have begun culling this citizen data to report on their communities. Many more will follow the crowdsourcing trend and try to profit from it. They will want you to give them your time and your content for free and they will sell advertising based upon that value.
There is no financial or reputational reward for citizens who distribute information in this way. Information and profits are centralized with the media company. This is especially true for performance and art related content. Media organizations want your video, interview and special streaming audio for free, but don't feel comfortable posting links to where an audience can actually support artists financially.
Here is why we need cooperative public media: so that our local information systems are kept democratic and reward quality culture, not pageviews and advertisers. Citizens, artists and DIY businesses should have as much of a voice and control over their local media as any corporation. Those free speech values are overwhelmingly supported by the creative and independent commercial ventures in Brooklyn. Now this new central media information source will connect us all in the same decentralized way we share and learn in real life.
After much research, development and strategic partnership building, we were able to create a new model that connects citizens with local retail and e-commerce as well as publishing content by informed citizens about the entertainment, art, food and news in our borough.
Many of our formerly independent local news sources are now mediated by their corporate interests. News Corp owns The Brooklyn Paper, AOL owns the Patch blog network, and by the looks of local web ads, the dominant local blogs in Brooklyn sway heavily in the favor of local real estate interests.
Local food entrepreneurs need more than Groupon and Yelp. Many of us live here and actively participate in the cultural landscape Brooklyn offers; now that landscape requires its own cultural media and digital economy that is not the passive consumption experience offered by Time Out, Ticketmaster and iTunes. Did you know that while small businesses lose money on group deals, Groupon walks away with an 87% profit margin on them?
Brooklyn The Borough’s new model for cooperative public media taps into the cooperative culture that has taken hold all over the borough. In fragments on blogs, we see citizen journalists popping up where they see a void in relaying crucial information, building blogs and live streams for local bands to promote themselves and artisan e-commerce is booming. Let’s get together and build a place for everyone to connect these dots, share art, dialogue and the necessary information to be informed citizens who support our local economy.
Brooklyn The Borough is a platform that builds out into the digital world what our real physical culture is eating, seeing, doing and sharing. It connects people to local ideas and resources in a natural word-of-mouth way that supports our independent culture and economy. The more of us reporting on it from all angles and interests, the better quality information we’ll get.
People follow information that provides substance and connection to their interests and we've built with that in mind. By getting rid of banner ads and building a borough-wide skill and resource share forum; Indie Interchange marketplace for local sales, openings, deals and tickets; and a central events calendar for art, music and civic events, we will engage all corners of Brooklyn to participate in sharing and expanding our local knowledge base of creative culture by inviting the crowd to participate. But it will take all of us to join in one tiny little piece at a time and contribute actively to make this community a success.
We’d like to work on sustaining our local DIY culture all year around by expanding their audience and informing people about the DIY culture and cooperative lifestyle all around the borough. This sounds better than swooping in on Tuesdays and Thursdays to call our artisans trendy.
Here, independent speech and independent commerce go hand in hand. Forums for sharing resources and local sales of deals for food, art and live music will live next to citizen and cultural reporting on the real time news happening all over the borough. The more you contribute content, the more visible your reputation and your business will be to the community and you can translate that cultural capital into real sales in the same place.
If you’re an author with a new book out, contribute an essay or excerpt of your book and we’ll link to where readers can buy it. If you have a band, post your new video or audio stream and link to where people can get tickets to see you. If you run a movie theatre, post reviews of the films you screen and we’ll post ticket links. If you run an art gallery write about the artists you love and add your opening event to the borough’s events calendar for maximum draw.
The incentive will be to contribute content that reflects your experience, art and business in Brooklyn. Everyone can contribute to the community, on whatever topic they choose, and all authors will have profiles that denote their business and interests, as they desire. As in life, the source of information will mediate the trust we have for the content. Editors of the site will copy edit and post the content, meaning that quality will be top priority and you won’t get stuck with a libelous Yelp review.
*If you would like to donate because you think this is a good idea but you don't live in Brooklyn, you may use your contribution to sponsor an account for a locally based person or group of your choice or ours. Thank you!
*Please note that in order to contribute content to BrooklynTheBorough.com when it officially launches you must currently live in Brooklyn or be an ex-pat of significance, to be determined at the discretion of editors.
Team on This Campaign:
Founding Editor & Publisher