This past week, I attended two different conferences, the Games for Change conference, (), and the Media Giraffe Project conference ().

In many ways, they were the same conference. They both talked about the changing media landscape and what could be done to harness this change to bring about a more just and democratic world.

Yet within both of these conferences, there seemed to be two different conferences. The bifurcation could perhaps best be summed up with the old quote from George Bernard Shaw, that Robert Kennedy is so well known for adapting, “Some see things as they are, and ask why? I see things as they should be and ask why not?”

These were the two conferences. To play with stereotypes for a moment, one conference was of old white men asking why things were the way they are. Why is newspaper readership declining? Why is civic engagement declining?

The other conference was of wild eyed idealistic bloggers, dreamers, and assorted teachers asking why don’t we start teaching people the excitement of analyzing, understanding, and ultimately creating our own media? Some people even spent time talking about ways we can start doing this.

Granted, this is an over simplification, not meant to disparage old white men. Some people would probably call me an old white man, even though I was wearing a shirt that said ‘blogger’ instead of a suit. Yet this gets to where the real beauty of the conference was, when people from the two different conferences met one another and shared concerns and ideas, a sort of Project Harmony for media mavens.

I spoke a lot about encouraging people to make their own media. A lot of my focus was on encouraging a new breed of people making and distributing videos online. Yet with the taste of the Games for Social Change conference still in my mouth, I encouraged everyone to be thinking about the role of video games in the media landscape and how we can encourage new media creators to include videos games into their mix.

As I stood outside one of the sessions, I spoke with some friends about my own media experiences. I have often told my children that they can play any video game that they could write. This wasn’t so much about being able to pull together the time and resources to create the actual game, but at least understand what goes into creating games, how to do it, and even writing a few sample games.

I now give my older kids pretty much free range in the gaming world because they have this understanding. Thinking about it, perhaps this should be expanded to access to any media.

The other thought that ties together some of this was from my line on the panel about emerging trends in online political organizing. I was on a panel with ‘Richard Viguerie’. He spoke about the importance of marketing and about how the Republicans have been taken over by ‘big government’ Republicans. I suggested that the real issue is less about whether ‘big government’ or ‘big business’ is the biggest threat to democracy, but how we can work together to return our government to being of, by, and for the people. As I listen to everyone talking about the media here, it seems that this is another part of the challenge, we need a media that is of, by and for the people.

Teaching people to be critical users and ultimately creators of the media is an important step in that direction, and these conferences are part of a move in that direction.