Thursday, September 28, 2006
Hey, here's a piece of push-button publishing I can really get behind:Port Orange Images, a crime news website lovingly crafted by 69 year old Hank Springer, retired cop turned hyper-local media mogul. Though he doesn't walk a beat anymore, this veteran of the force can't get the spot news out of his system. Why even try? Hank didn't; instead he launched POI - a little place on the interweb where he could share photos, spark conversations and post enough car crash porn to make a Driver's Ed instructor run off the road. Up and running since 2002, the site attracts between 800 to 1,000 hits per day. He's even getting some attention from the antiquated press - but who still reads newspapers anyway? I don't.
Okay, so maybe I flip through the N&R every morning, but it's a cursory search for strange images and familiar bylines. I spend alot more time skimming the internets for blogs, vlogs and other citizen-centric sites. Port Orange Images is a living, breathing example of just that: a user-generated, niche-specific localized data stream - one that can be can be as easily embraced by the surfing public as it can be derided or ignored. Surely some will call it a kooky way to spend one's golden years. Others will cite Port Orange Images as another example of The Long Tail.
But maybe it's not so new after all. From family newsletter overlords to ham radio hermits to your smelly cousin who lives to scrapbook ... we all got relatives with information compulsions. Only now, locking them away in some upstairs bedroom won't silence them. Not unless you slice their broadband. And who would do that to a loveable old guy with so many gizmos around his neck? I vote we give him a few free clicks instead. Who knows what the MySpace/FaceBook generation will come up with when they retire? Sure, we'll be disembodied heads in some scientist's jar by then, but a cameraman can dream, can't he?