Bored By The Bayosphere

I signed up for Dan Gillmor’s Bayosphere real quick (apparently I’m user #99), even though I was a little put off by the idea of a “Bay”-osphere and not a “Whole Damn World”-osphere. I thought it was pretty lame to confine the boundaries of the thing to the Bay Area, but I watched and waited.

I read Dan’s blog, and I read the email I get, so when it came time to sign up to be a Citizen Journalist, I filled out the form and hit reply. Good for me. But I still wasn’t hanging around Bayosphere reading anything, and I rarely saw it referred to anywhere else other than folks linking to Dan’s blog.

I just wasn’t interested. Interested in Citizen Journalism, sure. Interested in belonging to a membership-based organized effort? Not so much. Maybe it’s the rebel/loner in me, but I don’t like to hang around in forums or groups or anywhere where everything’s sort of walled-in. I like what I hear to come from anywhere and everywhere, and I like what I say to go anywhere and everywhere.

Anyway, here’s an excerpt from the email I received earlier in the week:

“You signed up as a citizen journalist a while back yet we haven’t had the opportunity to read any of your post, blogs or comments. Is there something you don’t like about the site? Is it too hard to navigate? Are you confused on how to post? Do you not know where exactly to begin?”

To Bayosphere’s credit, the email goes on to offer to call me up on the phone and get my opinion on Bayosphere. Well here it is.

My reply, as sent via email, including some stone-throwing from glass houses for sure, but it’s my honest opinion, whether or not it’s right:


Regarding Bayosphere and Citizen Journalism:

Truth be told, I was excited about *whatever it was* that Dan Gillmor was brewing up. I was expecting something innovative; Bayosphere is nothing exciting to me.

I’m in my first year of a Graduate program in Mass Communications at San Jose State University, and my focus is on the intersection of journalism, technology, and education, with a strong interest in communication studies.

The number of feeds in my aggregator varies between 200-300 depending on my mood and amount of classwork to do at any given moment.

I started reading Dan’s blog when he left the Mercury News, and almost until the moment Bayosphere launched, I was interested in what he had to say.

Since then, I find Dan’s own blog to be derivative, preachy, and irrelevant. If I want to read about the real estate bubble, I’ll read about the real estate bubble. I’ve had a hard time finding any real analysis in Dan’s writing for the last few months. Today I’m being preached to about Cindy Sheehan and electronic voting. I can read political blogs for that.

Regardless of my drooping interest in what Dan has to say, the amount of attention I’ve paid to the insides of Bayosphere have been on the lines of zero.

Notice the phrase: “insides of Bayosphere”. Frankly, I wasn’t expecting something as droll as a Drupal blog/forum site. If I don’t bother reading past the front page of Daily Kos, why would I bother reading past the front page of Bayosphere?

Bayosphere enables me to…to what? To write what I would on my own blog? To have a space to publish citizen journalism where it is labeled as such and deemed as such by an authoritative figure on the subject?

No thanks. Not interested.

I was expecting something global, something not focused on, God help us, the Bayosphere. What I got was a little walled garden, redundant and a waste of my time.

So thanks, but I think Bayosphere was prematurely irrelevant. I’ll stick with my feeds and a Technorati search to get information that wasn’t crafted with the intention of impressing Mr. Gillmor.

Thanks for making the effort,

Ryan Sholin

PS: I think the last straw that cemented my disinterest in Bayosphere was when an early Citizen Journalism assignment was given to J.D. Lasica. Why even offer the assignment to anyone if you’re willing to give it to an already-established and well-known New Media pioneer? What’s next, a podcast from Steve Gillmor? I like the idea of providing a platform for everyday people, but when you sent Lasica out on assignment, I went ahead and tuned out.

UPDATE: As a logical experiment, I’ve cross-posted this on Bayosphere on my previously-unused blog there, and in fact, the experiment is paying off with some decent conversation and a little investigation, too. Check it out.

MORE: Dan responds in the comments to this post.

[tags]bayosphere, dan gillmor[/tags]

6 thoughts on “Bored By The Bayosphere”

  1. My Reply To Bayosphere’s Question: Why Haven’t I Posted Anything Here?

    The following is cross-posted here from a post on my off-site blog.
    I signed up for Dan Gillmor’s Bayosphere real quick (app


  2. Ryan, none of this is about impressing me. It’s about trying to create a place where we have a civil and informed conversation mostly about, yes, this specific place and the issues that matter to people here.

    Sorry to lose your interest, but I’ll keep watching what you write on your own blog.


  3. Thanks for commenting, Dan. I just think it gets real presumptuous real quick when you start investing authority and credibility in citizen journalists based on the fact that they, er, play on your playground.

    I realize it’s a hard thing to balance, but my comment when you launched the beta Bayosphere was “Hoping this becomes more horizontal bonds than echo chamber.” I’m having a hard time figuring out where the discourse comes in; like Daily Kos, the insides of Bayosphere look like the choir preaching to the choir.


  4. Wow! It is very refreshing over here. Romance, fresh air, driving through forests (you’re talking about the ride over the hill? scary that).

    Still, I like it. Much more homey. Real folks sitting around telling each other things that we didn’t know about one another before.

    Thanks for stirring up the Bayosphere. Woke me up. [;<).


  5. Hey, thanks for visiting the Lair. I’ve been thinking about a follow-up on AttentionTrust, and I’ll look into what you’ve suggested before I do that (and after avoided failing my own thesis project on trustworthiness).


  6. […] This might have been part of my problem with Bayosphere, Dan Gillmor’s SF Bay Area community site that eventually became a part of Backfence. I stated a variety of cases here, and Dan engaged me in conversation in comment threads here and where I posted it on Bayosphere, and we’ve talked about other things since, but I think when it came down to it, I wanted a little space for my own neighborhood, where I could find out where to play pickup soccer on Sundays, how to sign up for the softball league in the spring, and where parents in my town sent their kids to preschool. […]


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