What if Boston Common went away?

To be replaced by something better, that is?

A couple weeks ago, I had lunch with Steve Garfield to talk about "community journalism;" the idea that all of us with our blogs and digital cameras and Flickr accounts and copies of Word 97 could create a new information resource, one that could tell the stories that will never appear in the Globe or Herald - or provide a different perspective than you'd see on Channel 7.

After all, who hasn't seen a zillion police cars with their lights going and wondered what's going on? Who didn't rush outside over the weekend to describe and photograph the blizzard?

Or take that church in Jamaica Plain that burned down. Steve lives near the church and writes of looking for video on local BigName news sites:

Last night when helicopters were buzzing overhead and sirens were blaring, we all went to these websites to see video. It was 6:45 PM and the local TV stations were showing the national network news.

We wanted local video on the web but were dissapointed to only get a small screen shot of video from WCVB.

Why couldn't they have the video up on the web sooner?

Guess who has a videocamera? And guess who went down the next day to file a video report on the church?

What if we had a central site where all that interesting stuff was aggregated and organized by topic and neighborhood?

Now, I do some of that already with Boston Common. But I'm just one person and what I'm interested in might not be the same as what you care about. What if we had a place where you could file interesting tidbits and have a say in what goes on the front page? And what if it were all organized by topic and neighborhood - so folks could quickly get to the news they care about?

I've been playing with Universal Hub as a platform. It allows for multiple users (and different levels of access, or responsibility, if you will) and has a great system for categorizing content.

It would also duplicate what I'm doing here with Boston Common. So I've been thinking of moving from here to Universal Hub (there are some boring technical reasons why I can't run Universal Hub's software here; details on request). I realize there are some issues to doing that (think of all those links that now point at Boston Common), but a real community news site would far outweigh them.

So who's in? Anybody want to get together to talk about community reporting and how to do it? Let me know or Vote on transmogrifying Boston Common into Universal Hub.

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