The lock-in was an effort by LOTV founder Silona Bonewald to build the infrastructure for a community of geeks that could advise legislators and their staff on technology issues. The goal of LOTV is to make smarter laws that have to do with technology. The goal of the lock-in was to jump start development so she could get funding to finish it out the web community tools.
I popped in and out of the lock-in the whole weekend, being fortunate that it was down the street from my house. Silona had booked a gaming center in a strip mall because they had the bandwidth. Maybe 40 people showed up, geeks, non-profits, and even an international radio consultant. While Silona had booked a variety of entertainment and distractions for the programmers (fire dancers, zombies, etc.), people came to work. For 48 hrs, they had design conversations about what the software should do and lots of coding sessions. It was serious software development, but in an ad-hoc way.
This was my first pitch to NPR. While I received a positive response from my local affiliate, they really weren’t quite sure what to do with me, because I’m not really a reporter. I just wanted to tell what I thought was a good story, but they struggled with me working for an ad agency for my day job. I asked they judge the story on its own merit, but in the end, they posted the story to their website but didn’t run it on the air. For me, this experience made real the struggle that media is having with the revolution in consumer generated content, especially as us podcasters look around and say, “Hey, with a little more effort, I think I can get on the air!” I felt their concerns about impartiality, reporting, and technical excellence are legitimate, but solvable. The good news is, they’re willing to continue the conversation.