"What I teach in my classes is that the evolution of media sees control of the story move away from the teller, and towards the reader or listener.... Although TV set things back a bit, deconstruction and post-modernism came to the rescue, giving us all the ability to take apart what we see, and dissemble the many messages being piped into our living rooms and brains....Of course, they were only foretelling the advent of the Internet, which turned the whole mediascape – the primary landscape of alternative media creation – over to us. Now, at least in theory, we are as capable of creating and disseminating a message as anyone else." Douglas Rushkoff, Reality as Subversion *
From the discipline of Digital Storytelling we know that the relating of a story is a process of creation, regardless of whether or not the person telling the story is actually filming it themselves and that the telling of the story is often more purposeful for the teller more so than for the audience (Lambert, 2002).
This possibility for web3.0 everyone keeps going on about -- the reflexivity that participatory web2.0 offers us in terms of the evolution of apps and computing via the internet, isn't terribly new. we're just noticing it again, that's all.**
Last year as part of my PhD research I wrote a literature review of McLuhan and Fiore's now immortalised the Medium is the Massage in which the authors hail the transportation of images of our fellow global citizens via television as a great beginning for social engagement.
Following the cognitive surplus thesis most socialweb pundits are happy to write off television as the antithesis of participatory media or likewise a media that is ripe for a participatory layar to be grafted over it.
McLuhan and Fiore might have been right in that images are inherently dialectical and participatory, regardless of our historical (in-)ability to remix them for ourselves (the digital pro-am revolution, see Shirky, Rosenberg, Jenkins).
Last month at the iDocs conference we, whipper-snappers of documentary media were quite rightly harangued by Dr Brian Winston (Lincoln) for being in danger of losing the narrative in all our transmedia, gamification, socialweb flurry.
Winston*** once worked for Granada TV's "World in Action" which once made a documentary about the Harlan County miners strike in 1970's Apalachia. He offered us testimony from a colleague involved in filming the strike from another perspective, John Gaventa. Gaventa explained the simple but elegant catalyst those miners' stories had in the broader narrative arc of international mining at the time, when those stories made their way to mining communities in Wales:
"That’s where I recall first using video simply to record people’s stories, and then to share those stories back to them and their neighbours, just to build awareness in this one community in a very interactive way about what some of the issues were....
For people to actually see themselves in a new way, particularly when video was so new. Recording people’s stories and showing them back to themselves was an incredibly powerful reflective tool for recovering people’s voices and knowledge."
The films--yes, shot professionally-- started a dialogue and a *learning process* between the two communities.
"Let me give you an example, and it’s not causal but it’s associative. Those videos lead to direct exchanges between miners in Wales and miners in Appalachia; those built personal relationships that continue.
As part of those exchanges we brought the first women miners in the US to Wales; the Welsh miners were appalled. They said, “son, we fought to get women out of the mines”. And of course in the States, the women were trying to get into the mines because it was the only decent employment.
I’ve gone back to those Welsh valleys saying that having those women miners there, which happened because of that video exchange, changed their conception of the role of women in the mining fields and contributed enormously to the role women miners played in the later miners strike in the 1980’s, which you remember is quite famous, the role that they played at that time and people still remember that and people trace it back to those original video exchanges."
Television wasn't a waste, indeed analogue film had both the experience of web2.0 and web3.0.
If web2.0 is about networked connection, web3.0 is how that technology becomes reflexive, or as @debs is fond of saying on @tummelvision, how that data makes us smarter about ourselves.
In terms of interactivity, we are none of us nearly as modern as we think. We would do well to heed Dr Winston, and not get so lost in the flashy technology that we lose the story:
"What’s really critical here is a sense of purpose. John wanted to help organise these people. No shibboleths about the public right to know. No masturbatory stuff about giving people a voice, etc etc. This is direct stuff!...
But if we’re going to do this kind of work, I think we have to have a very hard nosed sense of what the political agenda is...
The technology is breathtaking it’s wonderful, remember the roadmap. The roadmap in this instance — for me, because I am a dinosaur — political activism. That’s what it’s about. Not the technology.”
click here to download a (mostly complete) transcript of Winston and Gaventa's (Gaventa via recorded video) remarks at iDocs 2012.
*on my goodreads account, looking for 'program or be programmed', browsed to Roushkof's website
** hat-tip, nod to @smartco who is constantly reminding me of this.
*** Winston appeared on a panel about activism and idocs. John Dovey at UWE has said repeatedly that there is a happy overlap between activism and the possibility for idocs. At the same time, we must acknowledge the fine line that exists between journalism and activism -- this is simply the acknowledgement that over the course of their careers, most journalists develop topic area expertise and end up writing books about it, and many times get involved in charitable or not-for-profit initiatives related to it. Some easy examples of this are Anderson Cooper and Nicholas Kristof.