Copyright/OCL Digital storytelling Interactive Media

Lego Bionicle, power, language, meaning and the global ‘commons’

Excellent, fascinating and thought provoking article, Rhetorical Virtues: Property, Speech, and the Commons on the World-Wide Web by Rosemary coombe and Andrew Herman which examines the particularly American libertarian values behind the current debates around co-creation and digital media.

They look in detail at the Lego Bionicle controversy and the interaction between fan communities who Lego was encourgaing to ‘make meaning’ and effectively remix their toys, and Maori and Polynesian communities whose language and signifiers were ‘appropriated’ not only by Lego but also by these fan communities in their ‘remixes’.

Kataraina’s intervention also sought to disclose the collective social conventions by which the BZ Power virtual community (a “mini-culture” in her words) established rules of communication and interaction that governed their speech. Ownership of property and the sharing of culture is not only socially produced and recognized, it is also contingent upon the specific rules of sociality, reciprocity, and respect that are characteristic of a particular culture’s social space or, to use Kataraina’s term, the norms and values that are embedded in a particular community’s “turf” upon which visitors are greeted and embraced. These cannot be established solely by corporate authors, consumers, or individual creators but will require new forms of collectivity and the negotiation of new forms of digital sociality.

Maori activists ultimately encouraged the users of BZ Power to consider their Lego toys not simply as things to be manipulated, commodities to be consumed, and fantasy objects around which to build imaginary worlds, but as a portal to learning about Maori and other Polynesian cultures, the real faces behind the mask of the commodity fetish Lego had provided them. They linked BZ Power to a number of sites devoted to the preservation and celebration of Maori spirituality. The real point of the dialogue was to introduce an ethics of contingency (Coombe 1998) into cultural circulation. From the Maori point of view, non-Native peoples should recognize the contingency and peculiarity of their own concepts of property and propriety.

Digital storytelling Social networking Web 2.0

On How MySpace beat Friendster / Engaging young people & social networking

Interesting comments from Schonfeld on How MySpace Beat Friendster

But it was Tagworld CEO (and aspiring MySpace competitor) Fred Krueger who really put his finger on why MySpace succeeded and Friendtser didn’t (that’s him in the picture putting his finger on it):

“There is a tendency to over-intellectualize the problem. The reason kids left Friendster is that it did not allow strikethroughs of every word and personal pages with black backgrounds. Have you ever seen a teenager’s room? That’s what MySpace looks like. Friendster took people off because they put up pictures of their dog.”

The lesson there is that if you are trying to build a social network, you need to let the members express themselves however they like, even if you don’t like how they are doing it.

It will be interesting to look at MySpace in 2 years time. Riffing on Krueger’s point, I think that part of the reason MySpace is so attractive to teens is that is repels older people first in terms of visual design, and secondly in terms of content. I often get asked whether band x or y should set up a MySpace site and generally I tell them not to bother – especially not if they already have some other well indexed and SEO-ed web presence, and they are not trying to target the teen market. MySpace is good for storing and streaming audio – but how long will that last after GDrive, Amazon’s S3 etc really get going and limitless online storage becomes a reality? MySpace is also very good for Murdoch/Fox who now own a powerful market research tool – for a particular age group which is generally hard for traditional market research to deal with.

Digital storytelling Interactive Media

Memory Miner – digital storytelling automation

Check out Memory Miner.

Particularly check out the video of it in action.

The first version is available for download/purchase and looks to be a pretty amazing first generation family history tool – but could have wide application within museums not just in public programmes, but also in easily generating image metadata. Its use of XML allows export to future applications and doesn’t lock the resulting product down to any future platform or delivery mechanism.

MemoryMiner is a brand new application that represents the first step towards a long term goal: the creation of the world’s most extensive network of first-person accounts of modern society and culture. Like all big ideas, it starts with a simple premise and a mass appeal for participation. MemoryMiner is an application used to organize and share digital media using a simple, yet powerful metaphor, namely “People, Places and Time.”

At its core, are a simple set of tools for treating photos (particularly rare, “pre-digital” photos) as individual frames in a type of endless story board. The story elements are linked to each other by way of annotation layers identifying the people, places, dates and events captured in each frame. As links are made, it becomes easy and tremendously interesting to explore the threads which link people’s lives across time, place and shared experience.

Over time, a set of network services will link individual MemoryMiner libraries, using the descriptive metadata to help people find these digital story elements securely and efficiently.

Digital storytelling

Viewer-created TVCs

Yep . . . it had to happen.

Current TV, the online TV station that broadcasts your own docos, videos etc now is experimenting with V-Cam – viewer created advertising.

Digital storytelling

Mashable on Current.TV

An more sceptical take on Current.TV and user-generated/co-created content.

AV Related Digital storytelling Interactive Media

ACMI First Person / Digital Storytelling Conference (part two)

Day Two highlights included the comprehensive presentation by the capture wales crew in the first session and the truly wonderful local work being carried out in regional australia by Malcolm McKinnon.

Capture Wales

The BBC supported capture wales project is now quite mature, having recently passed the milestone point at which more content comes in unsolicited than is produced through the project workshops. This represents a significant statement in terms of demand and sustainability. I believe it would be difficult to reproduce this success without the weight and resources of BBC Wales delivering expertise, production and distribution power, however, it remains at its core, a community centred practise. It’s clearly stated purpose is encouraging and acknowledging diverse voices. It provides a fascinating model aiming to change the balance of power between ther broadcaster and the broadcasted.

The capture walse crew have developed their own approaches based on the Berkeley model which is made quite explicit at

Malcolm is really a community artist who spends significant time in rural and regional communities esp Vic and Sth Aus and has also worked with numerous cultural institutions including many museums. He also works with communities including indigenous to produce beautiful films – again, first person narratives.

Malcolm’s presentation explored notions of places that talk, charting unsignposted local knowledge, artefacts as powerful triggers for untapping residues of memory, and opening up the many narratives which define the history of any place. Through his community filmmaking he seeks to bring forward ‘authentic, idiosyncratic stories’, to acknowledge and celebrate the past in a truthful and useful way. Very excellent.

Check out the MP3 audio files. The best bits (IMHO) of the conference only made available in this place.

AV Related Digital storytelling Interactive Media

ACMI / First Person Conference Audio

Pete has kindly uploaded his audio recordings of some of the sessions.

Feb 3 – 600pm Joe Lambert
Feb 4 – 1115 am John Hartley
Feb 4 – 1115am Ana Serrano
Feb 5 – 900am Capture Wales (fixed)
Feb 5 – 1115am Malcolm McKinnon

AV Related Digital storytelling Interactive Media

ACMI First Person Conference / Digital Storytelling (part one)

ACMI’s Digital Storytelling conference was a bit hit and miss. Pete will need to give you the run down on day two but here’s some thoughts on day one.

The opening plenary from civil rights activist John O’Neal was no doubt honourable but seemed quite tangential to a conference on ‘digital storytelling’ – especially when John told us, 10 minutes from the end, that he’d only recently made ONE digital story himself, and that was as a participant. There was also an audience singalong that was so 60s and repulsive. It reminded me why I liked punk (although strangely now I listen to will happily listen to free folk – a good selection of Finnish free folk was obtained on the journey from my favourite Australian record store Synaesthesia). If it wasn’t the 60s I was reminded of, it was Hillsong. I had really been hoping that O’Neal, having worked a lot in New Orleans might have actually had something to say about the Smithsonian’s Katrina Maps project . . . but alas.

Ok maybe that’s a bit harsh, but digital storytelling HAS to be something more than 70s style community cultural development (CCD) + video + ‘the internet’.

Fortunately things improved – the next session was fantastic. Opening with an excellent run down of old and new models for TV, the speakers engaged with theory, and demonstrated some amazing projects with more than just CCD outcomes.

Daniel Meadows from the BBC’s Capture Wales project introduced the best session of the conference on ‘broadcast convergence – new forms of storytelling’.

John Hartley from QUT offered an insightful look back at the last 50 years of TV and then projected 50 years forwards, exploring the issues and opportunities created by new media, interactivity, and pro-sumer audiences.

Ana Serrano from Canada’s fantastic Habitat labs took us through some amazing interactive media work produced by her Habitat teams.

Some of those she talked about were –

  • Mumur – a locative media project with community audio stories on demand
  • Zed TV – audience driven content and programming for TV
  • Pax Warrior – an amazing interactive documentary project for teens where the players research choices within a game engine set in Rwanda working for the UN brokering peace between the Hutus and Tutsis.
  • Things Left Unsaid – a interactive project as yet unreleased where players particapte in a mobile phone video confessional interactive story
  • Ride on animals with heads-up display video for young children networked together
  • Seedcollective – a group who plant digital forests in public spaces with players interacting with mobiles
  • Paul Vincent from SBS TV was up next talking about the online projects related to their broadcast output. These included –

  • Swapping Lives – a 50 minute documentary about an Indonesion and Australian teenager who swapped lives for a month armed with a video camera. The online site which has 17 hours of footage available.
  • Strait Up – supplemenatry site for the Remote Area Nurse series featuring community stories from the Torres Strait.
  • Sum Of Our Parts – 3 part family stories created by family members then screened to each other. Filmed in a studio setting.
  • Freeload – coming very soon and promises to be the SBS equivalent of Zed TV
  • SBS revealed their site gets 500,000 unique visits per month although it was hard to work out whether this was overall or for specific projects. Either way it seems either very low or high . . . . anyone? Also, they are bedding down Flash Video as a standard for video delivery.

    In the next session was spoilt by the very annoying Chris Crawford (who admits to not playing computer games in the last 15 years – you would think this would disqualify him from answering questions about MMORPGs and The Sims . . but no!).

    But in amongst the guff there was a fantasic presentation by David Vadvideloo who developed the UsMob project with the ABC. UsMob is an amazing interactive storytelling project a little bit like a Choose Your Own Adventure. Developed specificially with indigenous communities in Central Australia and in response to the communities’ own requests for culturally relevant online content for indigenous children and community problems around substance abuse and the long term impact of particular ‘choices’.

    UsMob is a great example of a meaningful storytelling project that is similar in some way to the work of Enda Murray and others in Redfern in terms of collaborative story telling and film creation, but then extended to another level by involving the audience in the project as well through the online elements.

    Pete has some sessions recorded and we will link them through . . . .