Thursday, February 28, 2008

Books Available for Reviewing

Dana Wilber and I are the book review editors for e-Learning. We have a stack of lovely books from Peter Lang and Teachers College Press available for reviewing. the list and associated URL is below--send me (Michele: an email if you're interested in reviewing one or more of these books. I'll see you get the book and some reviewing guidelines.

1. New Media and Public Relations
By: Sandra C. Duhe

Monday, February 25, 2008

The Apple Express base station as teacher's friend

So, Michele is caught in a late winter snowstorm in New Jersey when she's meant to be flying up to do a session in a course we teach by distance. There is no way she can make it on time, but the participants are all assembled and will be ready to roll. This is a course where we encourage everyone to bring laptops and we just set up a wireless network with an Apple Airport Express base station and folk can be online getting resources as they work in teams to complete hands on research tasks. (The Express weighs next to nothing, fits in your pocket and we never travel without one.) Part of the unstated message of these courses – and one we always hope folk will pick up on – is that wireless pedagogy has a lot going for it when it comes to situated learning, and that if it works for participants in these courses then it might be worth trying in their own classrooms if they don't already have it (and notwithstanding the sorts of impediments that education administrations still widely impose on classroom internet access).

Eventually there is a flight and Michele arrives late at the venue to find everyone heads down and going for it on their work, all nicely online and getting whatever is needed. It turns out that one of the participants had gone out some weeks earlier and bought a base station and, moreover, had brought it with him to class. He'd set it up and things were flyng along as per usual. Michele thanks him and they have a brief chat about the virtues of portable wireless networking.

It turns out that a short time ago someone from the local school board had objected to the amount of time the students in our friend's (J) classroom had been spending online and had used their authority to get all the cables removed from J's classroom. Undeterred, J had simply begun using the base station and class sets of laptops. The principal was sympathetic to the use of the internet for legitimate teaching and learning purposes and, feeling bad about the situation, had brought the cables back, but they were not needed. Shortly afterwards the Superintendent of J's school district was talking to J and said he'd been given a quote for setting up wireless capacity in a school, and mentioned a very sizable sum of money. The Superintendent, knowing J knew a bit about such things,asked what J thought of the quote. “Well”, says J, it's a lot of money. I can do the same thing for around $130 a classroom if it has an Ethernet connection.”

This is the kind of story that makes us super happy. The classes are always their own reward, but when the hidden curriculum goes home in this kind of way it really adds a powerful reinforcer to eveything else.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Internet minimalism

Who would've guessed that within the virtually limitless spaces of the interwebs that a phenomenon like "single serve websites" would appear? These "websites" comprise a single page only, and there is often humorous interplay between the site's URL and its content, or the URL and the content of the single serve site comprise a communique or message or personal statement, or provide a public service. Take, for example, or Is it Christmas?, The Daily Nice, or (my personal fave) Thank you, Andy Warhol (I wonder if Hallmark know that hoops and yoyo are Warhol fans?) and, of course, the Spinning Beachball of Death.

In celebration of the visual

Hot on the heels of the flowchart meme that poked glorious fun at serious corporatist flowchart culture comes the song chart meme. Interested in how your favourite and not so favourite songs shape up as charts? Then this is the site for you!

via LittleYellowDifferent.

Monday, February 18, 2008

A web 2.0 portkey

This website touts itself as "The complete Web 2.0 directory"--I haven't had a chance to look at it closely yet so can't verify its claim, but it certainly links to some interesting services!

Update: Using the tag menu option to navigate the site is really useful. I'm still not sure if I'd consider everything listed here as embodying a Web 2.0 ethos, though....

Friday, February 15, 2008

Shoetube has been launched!

My life is now complete.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Loving my "Stallman" machine: The Asus Eee PC

One of the consequences of being in Mexico throughout the last part of December and all of January was missing the launch of the stunning Asus sub-notebook(the EeePC) According to some yahoo stories going back to December it seems that one of these machines was selling every 6 seconds at one point as it became the hottest must have for Christmas gadget in North America.

We caught up with it in Toronto at the end of January whilst teaching a Saturday class for Mount St Vincent University. One of the participants in the program, Mario, brought one along to class. It was the first we'd heard of it. But it quickly became an obsession -- one that was realized yesterday. There is a new version slated for around April or May, and we'll look forward to seeing that as well. Mario says he prefers the Cloudbook equivalent, but the Asus is sublime and I love it. There may be degrees of excellence, but I'm a simple soul, and excellent is good enough for now.

Some background. Years ago I got an HP Jornada because I wanted something that could keep me computing on the run that did not involve lugging a laptop everywhere. With its tiny keyboard the Jornada was just a bit too small for this klutz to key quickly on. But it had the look and feel of a tiny laptop, and took a modem. Between keying standard docs, accessing the Web and doing email it was fantastic. When HP moved to the iPaq style I lamented the passing of the Jornada, but went to the palm and got reasonably fluent with the iPaq. With its wireless capacity and bluetooth it was a brilliant accompaniment to a laptop. When the iPod batteries ran out on the long flights I could haul another 3 hours of music out of the iPaq. For skype calls on the run in wireless environments it was fantastic.

Until I saw the Eee PC I was beyond gung ho for the release of the new iPaq Handheld Enterprise machine -- just out -- with a big 4inch screen. The Windows Vista OS filled me with doubts, of course, but I needed an up to date pocket PC OS, and this looked the best option.

However, there were two other considerations. With my brutal travel regime I had always craved a machine that did not require its own bag but, rather, that would just go into my homeless bag with the iPods and that could do all the work I needed a machine to do for a week or more at a time. Also, like anyone else, I guess, I was getting beyond fed up with the directions (and other trappings) of proprietary software. We vowed we would never ever get Vista, having seen it close up. This, for the first time, began pushing me toward a Mac, but there is more than a ton of proprietary ugly stuff around that as well. Over the past year I just increasingly kept thinking Linux.

Enter the Asus. Linux-based, no moving parts, and all pre-packaged with open source software permanently updatable on the Asus server off an icon in Settings. With 3 USB ports it takes a light and transportable external HDD. It also takes SD memory cards and any size of thumb drive you want. It weights slightly more than a feather. Has a powerful wireless capacity, takes an ethernet cable (or phone line), has a built in web cam, and an elegant functions-based interface. It has a port for connecting to a data projector. It is absolutely intuitive, and the keyboard is perfectly viable. You can't drop a ROM or DVD into it, of course, but if you can carry your music and videos by other means you are away laughing. And it is a perfect size for those economy cabin tray tables. The built-in microphone and pre-set settings for the mike and speakers delivered perfect Skype quality without touching a thing -- to both landline and computer options. At US$399.

I like value for money, no question. But this is more than that by a long way. This is my Stallman machine, embedded deep in principles of open source/free software and Web 2.0. For sure Asus and others are making bucks off it, but I can feel an integrity through the mere touch of the thing that makes me think that maybe we are getting a glimpse of a future where things may be a little less proprietary and a little more user friendly. This is the kind of technology that will doubtless encourage lots of tinkering. While it is open to being loaded with XP the question is "why bother?". With a full suite of Open Office applications on board, why not just work on getting the most out of them? Selling in the millions and, seemingly, with a bright future ahead, this is a mass way into using open source software which, in turn, for the tinkerers, becomes an incentive to contribute to further developing open source software and to embracing the ethos of people like Richard Stallman and Lawrence Lessig.

Of course, this is not a laptop replacement -- not yet. But one of the joys lying ahead will involve seeing just which of the things I routinely do can't and can't be done on this basic beauty, with the help of an EHDD. And the thought of being able to be on the road for a week or more without needing to lug a laptop around feels pretty liberating right now.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Flickr photos from the 24/7 DIY Video conference

Using the "video247" tag, it's possible to list everyone's photos from the conference posted to Flickr. Check it out if you're partial to lots of photos of people sitting in a big room... ^_^


video247 Saturday, Panel 1: DIY Tools and Platforms

This panel focussed on new and emerged Web 2.0 services ad platforms that aim at furthering developing opportunities for DIYers to access, share and distribute their work. A range of models were presented, and all of them were thought-provoking. I'm going to shift to a bullet-point mode of reporting to hep speed up posting time.

Angela Gyetvan

• Angela spoke about Revver, a video sharing platform for hosting and promoting user-generated videos. The difference between Revver and say, YouTube is that Revver shares advertising revenue with posters (i.e., the more popular your video post becomes, the greater the proportion of the advertising revenue you'll obtain from Revver).
• Revver deals with copyright issues right up front by requiring posters to use Creative Commons copyright licences on their work; they also ask that posters not include hate speech, pornography, etc.
• Revver, right from the start, has focused on being a server for folk interested in producing regular web shows. is also geared more towards people producing shows on a regular basis, however, advertising can be turned off by the poster and advertising revenue is not shared with posters.

Dean Jansen?
Dean spoke about Miro is an open source internet TV platform. I found this service especially interesting because it really does work at becoming a visual media portal for users. For example, users can link teir RSS feeds to their profile, as well as searching across a range of existing video hosting platforms (e.g., YouTube,
• Miro acts like a TiVO and automatically downloads videos you’re interested in and marks viewed shows for deletion etc.
NRK 365 -- a public Norwegian broadcaster -- has made available a large amount of Hi-definition bit torrent files from their programs. Miro can also grab bit torrent files from peer-to-peer networks, such as the NRK 365 files.

Marc Davis
Marc is an advocate for focusing on--and making visible--process approaches to media production and distribution online. He presented a new service developed by Yahoo! called "Tag maps". These servcie aims at:
TagMaps is a toolkit to visualize text (well, tags) geographically on a map. Check out the sample applications, where we use Flickr tags on a map to build a world exploration tool. (quoted from here)
I'll need to check it out to see how this is different to the Flickr-Google maps, mashup, Panoramio, or more ground-breaking than Microsoft's Photosynth.

Joi Ito
Joi spoke about the importance of paying attention to the ethical dimensions of the media we post media to the internet (e.g., posting unflattering photos or video clips of others). He raised a good point--that he himself tied directly to literacy--about the need for people to understand the normative dimensions of what it’s okay to do/post, in what country it’s okay to post what etc. He argued for the need to develop a better sense of copyright issues among everyday folk -- he claimed (and I agree) that a lot of people really don’t understand copyright laws and what these mean. Joi again linked this very much to literacy and helping people to read their media productions with an eye to copyright laws and suchlike.

This panel is certainly generating lively whole-group debate about surveillance nd privacy, about freedom and corporate control, bandwidth issues, about mobile computing (where the panelists all agree that the U.S. is seriously slow in developing computing and communications and media mobility).

Just as an aside, one of the audience members just mentioned this fascinating online services--dotSUB--which enables users to add subtitles ot videos in a wide range of languages.

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Video247: Tagmapping with Marc Davis

I'm smack bang in the middle of a presentation by Marc Davis from Yahoo! who is talking about mashing geotags on Flickr photos to "show" where photos "are".

So, here are some pics of the room where I'm currently sitting in downtown LA. If you look closely in the top right hand corner of the room in the picbelow from Marc's Flickr site, you'll see a head shot of me...


Friday, February 08, 2008

Second Video247 Panel: State of the Art

This panel session focussed on a range of applications of DIY media production within diverse settings.

Alexandra Juhasz: YouTube and education
The first speaker, Alexandra Juhasz, spoke about recent work she has been doing with her uni students exploring YouTube as a space for higher forms of learning and academic engagement. I'll be upfront and let you know that the I couldn't quite grasp the point of this presentation because I found her basic assumption -- that YouTube should be a resource for higher learning -- to be misplaced. YouTube has certainly never presented itself as an academic learning resource, so to claim that it isn't seems odd to me (although the twist is in the tail is that at the very end of her presentation, Alexandra ended by saying that through creating their own YouTube videos an their critiques of YouTub content, the group did find YouTube worked to promote "higher learning". You can see some of the videos this group developed here.

Alexandra identified number of binaries that impacted impacted her teaching and her students’ learning within the context of their critique of YouTube content:

• Public/private
• Cyber/real
• Oral/visual culture
• Edutainment/education
• Amateur/expert
• Control/chaos

Her stated goals were to impose control on a chaotic site, to build community and ideas together.

Thenmozhi Soundarajan: Six Years of Media Justice
Thenmozhi opened her presentation with the clip, "Who we be", spoken poetry film about identity and ethnicity made in 2001 (well before accessible video editing software became available).
• Thenmozhi asked the provocative question: "What does media equity look like?" she defined "media justice" as: "our belief that we all have the human right to communicate" targets people who have limited access to the means of media production
• she Spoke about the importance of focussing on access and aesthetics, including teaching DIY movie makers--especially those from marginalised cultural groups--directing processes, for example. In her work, she begins this process with people directing live-action skits. another example of a practical strategy she uses is what she calls "How do we flip the script to tell our stories?". This entails thinking about the frames that currently define your story (e.g., "illegal alien" and deconstructing a range of imposed labels) and redefining them (e.g., unpacking the distinction between "looting" and "salvaging" in reports of Hurricane Katrina’s aftermath).

Sam Gregory
Sam is the program director of "Witness", a non-profit orgnisation that focuses on raising awareness of human rights violations around the world.
• Sam spoke about a new proect that aims at collating witness a commentary videos dealing with human rights violations within a single video hosting and comments site, while at the same time he usefully problematised the project itself by asking: Is smart 'narrowcasting' the right approach for advocacy?"
• Sam himself spearheaded a project that gave out hundreds of video cameras to human rights groups around the world. However, the model itself proved to be ineffective because they hadn’t trained people in how to use the cameras, how to tell video narratives, and so on.
• He also explained that Youtube is not proving to be an effective medium for sharing videos made by human rights groups because it is too dispersed in terms of focus, and comments left by veiwers tend to comprise a lot of "hater" speech, so they’ve set up The Hub as a space for groups to post their human rights violation videos (e.g., actual evidence, interviews with victims/witnesses etc.)
• The Hub (launched December 10, 2007) aims at serving specific needs; in contrast, the torrent of clips available on YouTube is too overwhelming. The most-viewed videos on YouTube are viewed 150 times more than the most popular human rights videos posted to the same site. moreover, the human rights videos that do tend to attract attention on YouTube tend to include violence or torture which risks promoting a narrow view of what comprises human rights violations.
• Human rights videos posted to generalist video hosting sites tend to attract racist comments from a "transitory audience" rather than from an "engaged public"
• The Hub aims at being an ethical alternative to YouTube (e.g., it doesn’t track IP addresses); it values ensuring videos posted to the site easy to download and use in other contexts; it's open source; editorial control is in the hands of the community
• Sam asks:
o "What are the implications of this kind of ubiquity of images for human rights work?" Ironically, he explained, much of the human rights abuse videos are shot by the abusers themselves (i.e., trophy videos, brag videos etc.)
o "How do we emphasize human dignity and protect identity in human rights videos?" (e.g., the Burmese government used activist video footage to track down and kill dissidents). "How do we protect people when we use online video posting to engage public comment?"
o "How does remix come into play in activist videos?" Sam thinks it can be a positive effect because it promotes public engagement. But what happens, he asks, when this remixing itself violates human dignity and rights etc.
o "How do we motivate action?" Sam wants to promote ways of responsibly moving testimony images and clips between and across different contexts, an--particularly within (over)developed countries--generating meaningful texts within contexts that often value irony and humour over everything else.
o One of the problems facing activist video-making is providing access to an audience without a loss of integrity while still appealing to the audience and prompting them to action. This is why storytelling elements need to be taught explicitly. Sam calls for a DIO approach -- "doing it with others" -- and a co-production approach to video-making; and a distributed, network-centric approach (e.g., the 30-second anti-Bush ads).

Juan Davis
Juan Davis is a "web producer" involved at present in developing programs broadcast on television and online (hope I have that correct!). He is currently working for KCET TV, a Los Angeles based public television station. Juan himself explains that he was invited to work at USC producing local content in order to reach an 18-35 demographic, in particular. at present he is producing a series called, ""Sustaining LA"", which includes shows like "Fallen Fruit", which documents fruit trees throughout Los Angeles. Other projects include a series of films about Malibu beaches and finding public spaces on the beach, and "Departures". Each show in this series looks at one block in a neighbourhood in term of its rich history and humanity to trump the bad press Los Angeles often gets. The series is accompanied by a blog and a 360 degrees navigable panorama of each neighbourhood featured in the series. In this set of shows, Juan explained, they deliberately avoided historians and academics in putting each show together, and simply talked to people they met while walking around a block and recorded what they had to say about themselves and about their neighbourhood. Juan hopes that in 4 years, they’ll have hundreds of rich portraits of Angelenos.

One of the really ground-breaking things about this particular website companion to the television series is that Juan and his team have written instructions for how to build your own version of their website (including for the panorama and embedding the video portraits etc.). They are currently working with a Los Angeles highschool to create their own community version, and then this will be given to the KCET TV station to host on their website.

Henry Jenkins
Henry calls for more exploration of what DIY media can do, as well as what needs to change in order to enable us to do more.
• He is currently thinking more about the "you" in YouTube these days. In English, this pronoun is both singular and plural. He asks: "Is this a space of individualism and narcissism, or is it a space around which we can mobilize valuable stuff?"
• For Henry, YouTube is the intersection of many participatory cultures, each of which has a much longer history than YouTube (e.g., citizen media, fan culture, skateboard culture)
• New forms of mixing popular culture and activism are arising through DIY media. For example, the character and films featuring "Mr Bill" grew out of a Saturday Night Live series of home video competitions. Most recently, the "Mr Bill" videos have started to focus more on environmental issues and to embody environmental activism. Similarly, a popular set of videos on YouTube, Billiam the Snowman, which were made as part of CNN's YouTube debate series. One of these clips was selected to play on CNN during their televised debates, but then-presedential hopeful, Mitt Romni refused to respond to the question asked by Billiam the Snowman or to even talk about this popular clip. The Snowman video-makers went on to create a range of videos critiquing Romni's campaign. Thus, Henry argues, Youtube does develop conversation, it just isn't necessarily--or even often--confined to the YouTube comments posts. Instead, this dialogue takes place across the internet, via the blogosphere etc. It also enables the flow of media that can be re-localized within blog contexts etc.
• Henry also spoke of a "participation gap": that is, disparate access to social skills and cultural competencies that enable us to feel competent to pariticpate in something like YouTube. He asked: "Why is it that some sections of the community participate and others don’t?"(e.g., on YouTube the most popular videos tend to be made by white, middle class males). How can minority perspectives been made more visible on YouTube? Henry explained that "hater" talk in YouTube comment posts often belittles people who choose to challenge anti-racist messages. However, on th other hand, Henry also asked whether if we create exclusive enclaves like "The Hub" then is it only preaching to the choir? there is a real paradox regarding how we mobilize ideas within or via YouTube.
• Henry mentioned an interesting study by Justine Purcell who analyzed current politician's talk posted online (e.g., text of speeches, videos). She found that if you look at older politicians, the most used pronoun in their texts is "I" and in younger politicos, the pronoun is "we"
• Henry himself calls for "WeTube" rather than "YouTube"


Video247, Eric Garland and BigChampagne: Online media measurement

I'll be honest and mention at this point that I did start to flag a bit, so will move at this point to listing key things I took from this talk.

BigChampagne is a service that generates quantitative measures of digital media engagement online.

• Superusers of YouTube have migrated to Stickam
• We may be looking at an expanded notion of DIY (one that includes interactivity etc.)
• It's important to look at user created and user distributed video (this was an important point for me, because distributing media online is a really significant practice, but one that typically tends to be overlooked by the research world). Thus, according to Eric, DIY can mean something wholly created by you, or remixed by you, or wholly appropriated by you (e.g., engaged in an alternative distribution network that is wholly cannibalistic in term of distributing entire chunks of media made by others; in fact, according to Eric, lots of people who distribute television shows online don’t actually watch television themselves)
•Quantitative research looking at what types of media are being used to distribute media across the internet is useful.
•Between 2005 and September 2007, there was a 53% growth in the percentage of computers with a bit torrent client installed. This is about 60 million users of bit torrent clients and servers in the U.S. alone. this speaks directly to the everyday importance of sharing media files among people.

All of the presentations sparked interesting discussion, but the following was particularly interest. The discussion had been focussing on much of YouTube (for some reason YouTube has really been dominating a lot of the presentations--not sure why, apart from the obvious video connections, of course) is being used by "wannabe" actors and directors trying to get a start Eric recounted a very interesting story about Colt Whitmore, a young lad whose YouTube video diary clips became extremely popular. Hollywood came courting and dragged him here and there to this event and that event, but in the end it turned out that his extraordinariness in his video clips didn't translate to other contexts, and the lad himself wasn't interested in pursuing a movie career (i.e., he wasn’t an amateur they could turn pro). Paying attention to intent and venue, said Eric, is important in any analysis of people's purposes in posting to YouTube.


Video247: Mike Wesch and his YouTube ethnographies

The title of Mike Wesch's talk was "Mediated culture: steps towards an ethnography of YouTube" and was a very interesting account of how research methods themselves need to change in response to new contexts of study. This is something that Colin and I have been interested in for a few years now.

Mike opened his talk with some pretty compelling YoutTube stats. I think i have these numbers right: around about now, there are 70 million video clips uploaded to YouTube at any one point in time; the average length of clips is 2.8 minutes each, which adds up to about 3.3 million hours or 377 years of viewing pleasure. this is also more hours of video footage than that created by major broadcast networks combined. YouTube is added to 135 times faster than you can watch it.

Mike and his students' explorations of ethnography and YouTube by asking: "How can you step into YouTube and get noticed?" They began, in 2005, with a viral video contest amongst themseleves to see who could get noticed. Many of the student participants in this project (10 in all) were first time video makers; nonetheless, many of them were able to attract thousands of viewers. The "winner" of this competition was this video: "The Internet has a Face" which has well over 10,000 views at this point (posted April 7, 2007).

At this point, Mike also gave us some very interesting backstory to his own hugely successful viral video which he created in 2005: The Web is Us/ing Us. His clip received 250 views on the first day it was uploaded to YouTube; by the second day it was 1, 154 views. the URL for the clip was distributed heavily via blogs and discussion boards and lists, and online services like Digg (where it moved to the front page of Digg--a keen index of its popularity--by the third day of release; the clip was also tagged on Delicious and aggregated by RSS feeds. Four days out from its initial posting, the clip was listed at top of the most most viewed on Technorati. Right now, it has had almost 5 million views (not counting views of downloaded copies and shown in lecture halls).

For their ethnography of YouTube, Mike and his students set up a purpose-built graphical user interface through which to view and comment on YoutTube videos as a way of generating fieldstudy-like notes. They began by stuyding the front page of Youtube. they found that 59% of YouTube clips are in English, and that a large proportion of the clips are actually commercially made. They also found that about 2 percent of the clips were directly about or to do with the "YouTube community" (e.g., users who see themselves as members of the YouTube community often refer to "YouTubia" as community space). Video diary posts are a classic example of this.

Within this latter subset of video clip types--those focussed on vlog posts--they found:

• Strong love and hate expressed. This included, for example, "haters" making movies in response to other people's vlog clips that basically said, "You suck". the group argued that these hater videos were made possible through the relative anonymity of YouTube (despite the visual element and people being quite happy about showing their faces). They also found people making profound connections through the same "distancing" effect of YouTube that attracts haters. David argues that these "connection" videos are popular because it enables viewers to seeing someone’s humanity without having to immediately provide a social response as is required in face-to-face encounters.
• Interestingly, they also speculated the people bonding on YouTube aren’t the sort who typically bond in meat space
• they found that "authenticity" was very much valued among vloggers (about getting yourself "real" on your vlog clips)
• The group also noticed quite a few moments of catharsis where people often display a sense of "identity resolution" where they seem to come to know themselves better, or obtain important insights into who they are (or, as I see it, insights into revelations of some version of who they are)
• Interestingly, even though it’s one of the most public spaces online, YouTube often is treated like a private confessional.

As part of their rethinking of ethnographic research methods, the group arrived at the concept of "armchair participant observation" to describe how they were collecting their data. A key element of their participatory observation involved them in making their own diary vlog clips. This had interesting outcomes for this group of researchers who found themselves having to face the fact that they were in a sense speaking to themselves in the future because their videos can be revisited any number of years hence. they also reported struggling with which dimension(s) of themselves to present in their respective vlogs. One outcome of this struggle was the development of the concept of "fake authenticity" or "contrived authenticity" to help them explain the very public persona they felt compelled to adopt as they made their video diaries.

Results of their study can be found here.


Video247: David Buckingham and Camcorder cultures

All of the presentations have been extremely engaging and thought-provoking, and my notes certainly can't capture everything that's being said and discussed. But here's a clumsy precis of David Buckingham's presentation.

The key focus of David's talk dealt with how we might establish a research culture around everyday or vernacular video production etc.

He posed the question: "Why research DIY video?"
• Becuse it's a mass popular phenomenon
• Raises bigger issues about the changing media environment
• Connects to policy issues (especially around media literacy and creativity)

However, acording to David, there has been little research published on DIY video production; in fact, he argues, there's been very little research done on creative uses of "older" media.

David also posed a really ompelling and thought-provoking question that should definitely appeal to anyone looking for an interesting research project: "How people come to see themselves as media makers?"

David gave an interesting overview of key themes and perspectives he's found in existing research and theoretical literature. These include:

• Studies of home movie-making (e.g., a focus on the concept of "home mode" developed by Richard Chalfen). Another influential person--for different reasons to Chalfen's contribution--working in this area is in Patricia Zimmerman, who has produced a history of home videos up until about the 1960s. She is generally dismissive of home videos as being too banal to be worth analyzing closely. Richard Chalfen takes an anthropological approach, and looks at home photography as a "social ritual."
•Studies of photography as private and social practice: there has been a lot of research work published on photography, especially out of theoretical perspectives like feminism. Jo Spence, for example, has published a range of interesting critiques of how women are represented in home family albums that aim at a different politics of representation. Bourdieu and his studies of photography as a cultural practice can also contribute to investigations of camcorder culture.
•The spaces of the amateur offer another angle on DIY video studies: Andrew Keen and his book, "Cult of the Amateur", critiques amateur media makers and argues that they have nothing to offer anyone. Stebbins, on the other hand, works with a "sociology of amateurism" (e.g., he studies things like barbershop quartets) and has developed a concept of the "serious amateur". Similarly, Finnegan has studied amateur musicians across a range of genres in looking at how amateurs teach each other.
• Another angle on studying DIY video production is a focus on everyday or vernacular creativity -- which goes well beyond the assumption that creativity is a "quality of genius" (cf. Willis’ work on creativity as part of everyday life). Negus and Pickering, for example, argue that creativity is not just ordinary but extra-ordinary. Jean Burgess has developed a concept of "vernacular creativity" in her "vernacular creativity" study of Flickr and storytelling (pdf).
• Useful insights into understanding DIY video making cn lso be found in the learning and communities of practice literature. Green hs studied rock musician and learning as a social process.
• Participatory culture theories also offer. This includes work by Jenkins (although Buckingham himself has wider interests beyond what he sees as Henry’s focus on fan culture), Burgess, Jameson. John Dovey's concept of "first-person media" can be useful here, too.

David Buckingham wants to develop a social theory of technology which helps to explain how technologies are developed and used within a range of settings; a social theory of amateur cultural production and of creativity and learning.

The kinds of projects David and his colleagues currently have underway give a good sense of how camcorder research is developing at present. These studies include: movies made by skateboarders, spoofers (parody and bonding), pornographers (amateurs and exhibitionists), along with video diaries (e.g., BBC’s Video Nation), to name a few.

David himself is looking beyond the enthusiasts to focus on everyday people and the kinds of video making in which they can and do engage (he calls it his "household study"). He argues that we shouldn’t look at just "cool" stuff (e.g., machinima, activist videos), but should focus on the banal as well. David and his research team have identified 12 households and given them camcorders. They’re monitoring how creative/production technology enters into family life, and collecting data by means of home visits and examining the footage each family takes.


Blogging live from the 24/7: DIY Video summit

The DIY Video Summit has kicked off with an engaging presentation by David Buckingham about his current program of research, focussing on everyday, vernacular video making. This was followed by an engaging talk by Mike Wesch--creator of this viral video--and his anthropological studies of YouTube conducted in collaboration with his students. Eric Garland is now speaking about his company, BigChampagne, and its work in tallying DIY media distribution online.

If you're interested in joining us, the conference is being streamed live (I'm sitting up the back in the right-hand corner with Lalitha Vasudevan...).

If you're interested in seeing some of the websites referred to by speakers, the tag everyone at the conference is using on is: video247.

Today's video247 panels are being streamed live into Second Life as well:


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