Must admit I hadn't given a lot of thought until journo James Knight asked me what I thought about citizen journalism and the Beijing Olympics. You can read his article here on Journalism.co.uk.
The sheer number of citizen journalists that could descend on Beijing - and with MMS and SMS platforms providing an alternative avenue of publishing - has led some to believe that controlling them could be beyond the notoriously long arms of China's media authorities.
I think most of us in the West pretty much accept that the genie is out of the bottle now, where the genie is free expression and the bottle is content control. Today, it would be surprising if thousands of visitors (including athletes, for that matter) didn't want to live-blog and moblog from the Games. They'll certainly take the technology and the will to do so with them.
The point I made to James is that if the authorities manage to suppress or even limit professional press output, this will doubtless lead to greater international media demand for raw, unfiltered content -- which will surely be available in abundance on the ground. So can the Chinese authorities block or restrict the flow of information from Beijing to, well, to everywhere?
"I would be careful with the suggestion that they can't control it," Hidde Kross, of Dutch citizen journalism site Skoeps.com told Journalism.co.uk.
"Don't underestimate their brilliance in sorting out what's published on the internet. They have the finest brains in the world to work on content publishing, as well as filtering technologies."
Well, they might be able to control content published on websites hosted in China or access frm China to websites hosted elsewhere, but it's hard to see how they'll restrict the flow of content out of Beijing unless they lock down internet and mobile networks. Is this doable? Dunno. Will visitors respect any 'You Can Do This But You Can't Do That' code of practice? Doubt it. Maybe Big Media has more to lose than gain by getting on the wrong side of the Chinese authorities and will toe the line by refusing to publish amateur, unauthorised content. Hmmm... you think?
Anyone know how to say 'snap, send, sell!' in Cantonese?