In what is bound to kick off debate about how citizens media will evolve, Dan Gillmor writes an open letter about why he has stopped spending VC money on his Bayosphere citizens media startup and how Bayosphere may be turned over to some other site to run.
The letter is a fascinating read, complete with an explanation of how he tried to turn Bayosphere into a business and what he learned from those efforts, both personally and as a entrepreneur. Gillmor's venture was being closely watched. (We included him in our cover story about blogging last year.) As an author "We the Media" and a former journalist, Gillmor has been a big proponent of grassroots media. And still is, by the sounds of the letter.
"I learned some things last year, about media, about citizens, about myself. Although citizen media, broadly defined, was taking the world by storm, the experiment with Bayosphere didn’t turn out the way I had hoped. Many fewer citizens participated, they were less interested in collaborating with one another, and the response to our initiatives was underwhelming. I would do things differently if I was starting over."
"I share the disappointment of some of our citizen journalists. And I respect their skepticism; we encouraged it, after all. It's definitely no fun to have disappointed folks (starting with Michael and our investors, and myself). Still, I owe those of you who participated and visited my thanks for being part of the experiment."