Twenty years ago today, I gave a talk about “Journalism 3.0” at the O’Reilly Emerging Tech conference, which in those days was a don’t-miss annual gathering in the tech world, or at least the part of it where I found my professional tribe.

When I suggested that mobile-phone cameras would revolutionize our view of the world (they were years away from becoming ubiquitous), Cory Doctorow zeroed in on my notion that we were creating a “former audience” that would become participants, not just consumers.

I’m at Dan Gillmor’s talk on Journalism 3.0. He’s just said something that galvanized me: “The former audience.” As in “Some day soon, there will be a major, newsworthy event in Japan and there will be 400 photos taken of it in the first minute by cam-equipped cellphones. Those 400 photos will make their way to news organizations and to individuals and we will have 400 visual perspectives of that event from the ‘former audience.’”

After the talk, he urged me to turn it all into a book. Surprisingly, this hadn’t yet occurred to me, even though I’d been assembling the evidence — as a participant, not just an observer — for some time. But Cory’s imagination has always been superior to mine!

Ultimately, “We the Media” happened. And I have Cory to thank, in a major way.

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