Dan Gillmor’s Bayosphere, one of the first sites to try and organize a “citizen journalism” effort — or whatever you want to call it — has been absorbed by Backfence, another attempt at creating a regional user-generated media network. Dan’s effort, while well intentioned and flush with funding from eBay founder Pierre Omidyar and former Lotus Notes inventor honcho Mitch Kapor, didn’t really work very well, and Dan effectively shut it down in January.

He later wrote an excellent overview of what he tried to do and why he thought it failed. Tim Porter also had an interesting analysis of why it failed, and included on his list of things to remember that “community can’t be forced.” In other words, you can’t just set up a nice site and wave a magic wand and create a network of passionate citizen journalists.

Now, Backfence has made Bayosphere one of its regional startup sites, and Dan is now working with the Center for Citizen Media, which he helped set up. But will Backfence have any better luck than Bayosphere did? That remains to be seen. Liz George of Baristanet took a look around in November and said it seemed a little like a ghost town. Backfence — which is also funded by Pierre Omidyar — says it plans to launch several new regional sites and has 100,000 unique visitors a month.

Update:

Christine Herron, who works with the Omidyar Network and also blogs at christine.net, has a pretty comprehensive list of some of the commentary in and around the blogosphere relating to the Backfence/Bayosphere deal.

About the author

Mathew 2415 posts

I'm a Toronto-based former senior writer with Gigaom and my favorite things to write about are social technology, media and the evolution of online behavior

5 Responses to “Bayosphere becomes part of Backfence”
  1. Mitch Kapor is not the inventor of Lotus Notes. He was the CEO of Lotus and he made the agreement that resulted in Lotus funding Ray Ozzie’s company Iris Associates, which developed Notes. It was a team effort, but if anyone gets the credit as inventor, it’s Ray.

  2. Thanks for pointing that out, Richard. I will edit the post to reflect that.

    Mathew

  3. Collective Wisdom on the Backfence-Bayosphere Acquisition

    There’s been a lot of interesting press today about the acquisition of Bayosphere by Backfence. (Disclosure note: Omidyar Network is a co-investor in both firms, and I serve on the board of Backfence.) It’s been amazing to watch the landscape

  4. […] I don’t live in the areas covered by Backfence, which has 13 sites in three metropolitan areas (Washington, Chicago and the Bay Area), but I have taken a look at it from time to time because I’m interested in local citizen journalism efforts — and spent a bit of time looking at Backfence after it absorbed Dan Gillmor’s failed local CitJ experiment, Bayosphere, which I wrote about here. And it certainly never seemed like a thriving entity to me. […]

  5. […] I don’t live in the areas covered by Backfence, which has 13 sites in three metropolitan areas (Washington, Chicago and the Bay Area), but I have taken a look at it from time to time because I’m interested in local citizen journalism efforts — and spent a bit of time looking at Backfence after it absorbed Dan Gillmor’s failed local CitJ experiment, Bayosphere, which I wrote about here. And it certainly never seemed like a thriving entity to me. […]

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