A river that needs crossing political and tech blogs - On the political side, there is arrogance and ignorance, on the geek side there is naivety and over- complexity

My videos are on these two youtube channels visionontv 3,832,876 views and undercurrents 22,689,976 views

 

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Entries with tag producers .

Geek Manifesto (DRAFT)

VisionOntv is a project to move people from being passive consumers to taking more of a role in production/curating and hosting news media. Its a project to empower the producers of media. So from a very broad-brush perspective:

Has to be easy for normal people to browse, with a constant pull towards people being more involved – even if this has a balancing affect on the ease of use. Consuming of content isn't social change rather conversation leading to community self action is. Our mission is a hard one to use content to catalyse this change and this is a little harder for users, our website won't run away from this issue.

Has to not be pulled into the Geek ghetto on complexity and obfuscation , even if this on balance affect security and efficiency. The command line and professorial server infrastructure may have advantages but the project will use desktop servers and GUI were ever possible so as not to disempower the producers also taking on the many of the roles of the sysadmins. With out this movement we end of up with a small cartel off Geek gatekeepers rather than a broad empowered community.

So consumers pushed into producers and producers pushed into sysadmins is our core Geek mission. We don't wont to replace one media class with a another, we instead won't to democratise and level the media so that it is a much wider and more embed in community's that it covers.

To do this technology it self and the people who create it have to change.

ClimateCamp Media

The Ratcliffe Swoop prosecutions caused a backlash against activist media that reverberated around the Edinburgh climate camp. We were not present at the Ratcliife Swoop, and played no part in the gathering of video there. When we saw footage posted of identifiable activists doing criminal damage, we were astonished, as throughout the history of video activism this has been an absolute "no no", without the express consent of the activists pictured. We immediately took this material down from visionOntv accounts where it had been posted, and told the Ratclifffe media team why we did so. Regrettably the footage was later re-posted by the producers to accounts outside of our control.  Having said that, as of writing, we have been unable to find out any details of the prosecutions and exactly which footage was used.

But as a response I (perhaps naively) thought it might be helpful to try to do consensus/affinity group process with activist film at the Edinburgh climate camp. To kick this off, we showed a sneak preview of END:CIV on the Saturday to a crowd of around 50-70 people which sparked off a good and respectful debate about aesthetic of activist film and the old spiky/fluffy debate about effective action. People came away challenged and thoughtful.

The next day after the action on the RBS HQ we showed the rough edit of it to get feedback and make sure it was OK to put out. It was enthusiastically received but there was also a very forceful verbal attack of “you must do this” “do it now, or you are endangering activists” and a refusal to answer simple questions about “why” in exchanges with one person. Finally, after some bad feeling, I found out that she had seen an “object for causing criminal damage” being held by one person in the film. OK, that is a genuine issue, so I agreed to look at it again. I asked her to show me where it was in the film but instead she rushed off to tell everyone that climatecamptv had refused to remove the “weapon” and that we were putting out films that were endangering activists. This led later to many different groups and individuals coming along to have their say over the next day about how the film should made.

See later where this led.

I had watched the film 3 times during editing for legals, and had shown it to to a number of other trusted people. After we had packed up the screening we looked at the “object” on the video and found it to be a plastic horn not an “object to cause criminal damage” at all. Humm... a storm in a teacup you would think, but read on.

Let's briefly go through it - the film of the action had a few legal issues.

* The pushing on the bridge (possibly assault) leading to the earlier dressing-up sections (unmasked) being possibly incriminating of this possible assault.

* We had no video of the breaking of windows (criminal damage) thus this was less of an issue in the film. Nor did we have film of any identifiable possible perpetrators.

* There was one additional shot which could potentially have been "creatively" used by police to prosecute an activist.

* The bridge-pushing was problematic as all the activists were unmasked, with all the FIT team on the roof and 3-4 corporate media TV/photo actively filming. Many photos/images would be available so on the one hand it was clearly done in the open, and therefore accountable. On the other, if they were charged, our video would likely be used in the prosecution, both for and against the activists. It's an issue we face many times and it unless we know otherwise we have to have to err on the side of caution. Without the opportunity to ask them whether they were accountable thus OK to show it or not, we decided to blur this section – rendering the need to blur the early stuff irrelevant as we now had no incriminating video of this “crowd” action.

The other potentially incriminating shot was removed, at the request of the individual filmed.

After running it past the affinity group made up of CCTV/visionontv crew and some trusted legal support we left it to a volunteer to polish the final edit for showing that evening before putting out to the web. In my experience you can never run a film past an audience too many times before it's finished from both a legal and an aesthetic point of view.

The day of action was very busy, and we were all running around filming. While we were out and about a number of people came in to look at the earlier action video being edited and asked the editor to make changes – he responede to their requests and made a lot of changes to hide and obscure many details throughout the film.

When we saw the film in the evening just before the screening we were shocked. Editing a film by committee is always a disaster and the film was now an incoherent and sinister mess making climatecamp look like a bunch of criminals. We now had a film we couldn't put out. This wasn't our volunteer editor's fault, it was a problem with the process we had begun but were not around to control. To top this, at the end of the day the editor had found the people who were at the front of the bridge-push and they had made it clear that they were unhappy being blurred out as it was the best thing they had done in ages. They were willing to be accountable for their actions, so we didn't need to thus put any obscuring in the finished film.

We now had to re-do the film from an earlier version. It was dark and we were late for the nightly screening, we had one computer to gather all the films up and convert then to the right format and re-edit this film – we decided it wasn't possible to screen the action film and concentrated on showing the other 9 finished but less exciting films we had ready. We started the screening with non-action films to cries of "we want to see the action". So an old version of the action film was rush-encoded and was ready half-way through the screening. Unfortunately this contained the ptoentially incriminating shot we had earlier taken out, and was screened to about 40 climatecampers. NOT good. Another person had a very solid go at us...

What did we learn from this?

Should protesters never trust any video/photo on an action OR should they trust video activists as THEY know what they are doing?

For me, not trusting experienced video activists leads to the very real danger that through bureaucratisation it pushes the working affinity group structure underground and renders it ineffective – the option of bureaucratic/consensus process isn't an option with film which is at its best a skilled creative story-based process.

But now we have to deal with the rumour mill which quickly churned around the "weapon" / plastic horn issue. Rumour has more power than truth when there isn't a functioning media. I heard the misinformation that we had put out footage of window-smashing weapons three times while leaving the camp to get home. And that's why I wrote this post as this rumour could distort the very real pro/anti-media debate in activism which needs to happen in a constructive way.

On the subject of social media and underground/wannabe mainstream film-makers/photographers, there are very real dangers that is the subject of another post.

What works in Activist video?

Made 2 films with nearly a million views each on youtube, in both cases part of the reason they are "successful" is because people are hating on them.

More than thirty climate activists and local residents took mass direct action to prevent excavation work on Britain's biggest ever open-cast coal mine at Ffos-y-fran in South Wales.

Many people are learning to live sustainably, without money. In this video, they discuss their struggles, how they got to and developed kew bridge eco-village.

Ethical aggregation and conversation - OMN

What is ethical aggregation?

Always link back to the original producer hosting site. The exception to this is when the site is a corporate hosting site such as YouTube, then linking to an embed on an OMN site is preferable linking to that site. The content should be consumed where the producer of the content likes it – this should be built into our open CMS's as far as possible.

Reactive permissioning: the producer of content should be empowered (as far as technically possible) to decide how their content is consumed on sites. Eg, via embedding a simple title link, excerpt, or full content. This is by trusted feed not by genearly ristricting the content of the RSS feed. 

Our databases should be open to exporting of content by simple RSS aggregation or by a XML export option.

Metadata should be synchronised across the networking to enrich all media content.

  • link back to the source
  • reactive permissioning
  • no reposting

It's OK to add additional hosting options for media files – but the original publishers hosting/views should be respected. In the RSS feed, add content file URLs as fallbacks rather than as default media sources. A good aim is to back up media sources tohttp://archive.org and as a torrent file. If new open hosting options come along then these can added. Then only fall back to the original host if the corporate hosting source errors or is censored (respect for producers hosting desion and for reasons of scaling).

Where is the conversation?

This is an unresolved issue that is looking for a good solution. Some key points:

  • Move it off corporate hosting and networking sites as much as you technically can such as FB, twitter and youtube. Use such sites to post links to OMN content and sites.
  • Can we move the conversations with the RSS feeds? So that the conversations happen across sites and

appear across sites in activity streams? This is probably technically possible within the RSS02 spec – let's implement it.

The OMN is a very simple thing

Open media networking

The data cauldron with configurer your own ladle tools.

Hubs/nodes - RSS item in and out ver tag for full participating sites 

Consumers/producers - native plug-ins and JS embeds for displaying and existing RSS out for source sites.

All data in and all data out – by trust, the users built the connections (which leads to paths to excellence)

Its application/platform agnostic.

The base is the hallmarks of ethical aggregation and opendata and (preferably) using openlicensing.

Balance of power in new-media's place in society from 09/05/2009

DRAFT

The balance of power in alt-media is too unbalanced to create an effective alternative voice in the upcoming mainstream media crises. Lets look at video on the web and IPTV

Geeks
Producers
Consumers

Currently alt-media video is scuwred to the geeks, all the current CMS's and tools are to complex and obscurantist to use. The technology needed to produce video content is in place, but only from the corporate providers. If we don’t worry about this then what is missing for video is the craft of story telling and the language of film. Geeks rule, producers are largely ineffective, and consumers very minority.

In mainstream, it is equally skewed to the producers (in this case the owners), geeks are hobbled by blind corporate structures and out of date management, and the consumers are just fed lowest common denominator drip. Sky TV and CNN

In the new social media spheres the consumers and producers have a much more balanced role, but are still healds by the walled gardens of the corporate mindset. The producers of the backbone services such as Twitter and Facebook.

What we have to build is a better balance between the geeks who produces the inherently complex tools in a form that are both accessible and useable by producers and consumers, the producers are left to produces what they wont in freedom and the consumers to consume it and in tern play a role in its production. The consumers choose to support the geeks and producers they favour.

This last outcome is both inevitable and very uncertain depending on which side of the bed you get out of in the morning.

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