Video Tagger

This collaborative project the Wiradjuri Digital Platform (which in its current form we refer to as the ‘tagger platform’) – I have been working on with RMIT colleagues Yoko Akama and Peter West here at RMIT, and with Chris Marmo and Reuben Stanton at Papergiant a industry Design, Research & Strategy Studio, since late last year.

This project extends my research interest into documentary design and collaborating on the design of interactive online video platforms.

For more detail there is a collaborative article (just published) on the research that includes reference to the platform prototype:

Speculative Design and Heterogeneity in Indigenous Nation Building

Akama, Seth Keen, and Peter West. “Speculative Design and Heterogeneity in Indigenous Nation-Building.” QUT, Brisbane: SIGCHI, 2016. Print.

The abstract:

This paper presents a methodological exploration in postcolonial HCI. We share early insights of designing a digital platform for Indigenous nation building in Australia that speculate ways to catalyse, provoke and support necessary discussions of governance, plurality, cultural integrity and knowledge ownership. Rather than expecting consensus building or striving for problem-resolution, prototyping this digital platform has begun revealing tensions, complexities and possibilities that are significant to nation building. Manifesting and actively debating these became an epistemological pursuit for knowledge generation, but also a necessary ontological one in actively carving out “agonistic” engagements that challenges hegemony and practice poly-vocal future-making.

Specific notes from the article on the platform and a screenshot (from pg. 897)

Speculating a poly-vocal digital platform

Such conversations led our team to pursue the poly-vocal notion of ‘braided voices’, which aims to move away from the singular perspective of the documentary producer to one that represents the varying viewpoints of the community being recorded [12]. This approach also resonates with the way Crivellaro and colleagues [9:2854] explored poly-vocality as a methodological framework in HCI to turn the mundane and everyday talk as ‘symbolic re-presentations of a social reality’. The variety of voices shaped our consideration for how the digital platform could facilitate ways in which the captured footage could be reviewed, annotated and edited by the research team and the participants. With the aim to continue discussions around the recordings, we wanted to provide the participants with the ability to categorise the material into themes and write comments about what was discussed. The prototype might look like a social media platform for video sharing but it is more than that. Figure 1 is a screen-grab of this prototype in development to speculate what could be possible if such platform was designed and made available for Wiradjuri nation building.

(Click on image to enlarge – Fig. 1. A prototype for nation building digital platform)

Screenshot 2016-06-21 14.37.21

The left column shows un-edited footage of a conversation by a Wiradjuri language teacher, a Wiradjuri elder, a local Indigenous (non-Wiradjuri) researcher and a nonIndigenous person. The site is password protected, accessible only to researchers and the participants who can select segments that interest them as a ‘clip’ and tag it with keywords and comments. The right column allows viewers to see the selection of clips, tags and comments, so they can comment on the comments. This has an ethical dimension of enabling collective analysis and synthesis, thereby preventing misinterpretations or things taken out of context. It also facilitates further dialogue for us all to make sense of the broader themes and insights on nation building. This engagement through the use of ‘granularity’ [19] and collectively seeking out meaningful segments in combination with added meta-data, becomes a participatory action research for knowledge generation on nation building. This approach contrasts with a closed, linear documentary practice that puts forward the singular voice of the producer. It is also different to normative ways in which research participants are asked to check interview transcripts for accuracy. Instead, this prototype aims to be open for ‘braided voices’ to potentially continue through the ongoing contributions of further participants.

references in quotes:

9. Crivellaro, Clara, Rob Comber, Martyn DadeRobertson, Simon Bowen, Peter Wright, Patrick Olivier. 2015. Contesting the City: Enacting the Political Through Digitally Supported Urban Walks.
In Proceedings of CHI ‘15, 2853-2862.

12. Fitzsimmons, Trish. 2009. Braided Channels: A Genealogy of the Voice in Documentary. Studies in
Documentary Film. 3, 2:131–146.

19. Miles, Adrian. 2005. Media Rich versus Rich Media (or Why Video in a Blog Is Not the Same as a Video Blog). In Proceedings of Blog Talk Down Under.

Nonfiction Design studio

I have just completed a rollercoaster studio ride with the Nonfiction Design studio, a collaboration between Communication Design and Media students. After this experience I am (well and truly) hooked into the integration of design methodologies and methods into professional media production as part of working out how documentary practices can be applied to different contexts. In this studio there was a lot of reference to Human-Centred Design (HCD) (or design thinking more broadly). I plan to explore some of the crossovers that documentary design has with HCD at a later date.

RMIT publicity article “Design and media students making a difference with Lentara”.

The studio was a roaring success with plans by Lentara to implement all of the students’ projects.

The studio, which named itself the ‘Idea Collective’ and part of the book cover shown here brings the collective cross-discipline collaboration together.

Screenshot 2016-06-09 12.35.12

Overview text about from the book produced on the studio:

In semester 1 of 2016, the Communication Design and Media Programs in the School of Media and Communication at RMIT University were presented with the opportunity to collaborate with the not-for-profit ‘Lentara United Care’, known as ‘Lentara’ a community services organisation affiliated to the United Church, Australia. Lentara was looking for new ways to communicate the social service work they do to their volunteers, supporters and the public.

The industry partnership with Lentara was established from a studio model of teaching and learning, which aims to foster interdisciplinary and real-world engagement with industry practices. In this studio titled ‘Nonfiction Design’ there was an opportunity to explore how the two disciplines of Communication Design and Media could work together. The envisioned outcomes from this interdisciplinary collaboration was some prototype ideas that mixed together graphic design, advertising, branding, film, television, radio and new media practices.

The collaboration with Lentara went through three distinct phases over a 12 week period, which was set around the establishment of six project groups working on: Asylum Seeker Housing, United Women, Men’s Shed, a Shower Bus initiative, Recycled Clothing and the Lentara Winter Appeal. The first phase involved project groups liaising with the client to clarify a creative brief and carrying out global research. In the second phase, studio participants worked towards presenting several concepts to Lentara. Feedback from these presentations was then used in the final phase to develop ideas into working prototypes.

Design of World Machines

Going to this workshop ‘The Design of World Machines: Sharing, Caring and Global Technologies’ tomorrow here at RMIT. I like the concept it will be interesting to see what it is all about in the flesh. Text from the RMIT callout.

A previous article “World Machines”: Discourse, Design and Global Technologies for Greater-than-self Issues” with readings.

The overview:

The “sharing economy” deals with spare capacity that can be rented out. File sharing makes replicable digital content illicitly available. Both developments exist in a culture of owned personal or corporate resources (Light and Miskelly 2014). What if we turn our focus to shared world resources?
World Machines are a new archetype for the design of systems that draw together computational powers to connect, sense and infer with a social agenda of cross-world collaboration. A world machine equips global citizens with access to the means to sample, test and report on their circumstances and what they see (or can sense with tools), as well as to find each other, analyze the meaning of the data and link up for action upon what is found.

New tools give us a new ability to trace actions and manage attribution. Connected data points to cause, effect and correlations more powerfully, showing the impact of activity taking place in one situation in terms of social, environmental or economic change elsewhere. Systems that articulate these relations, as well as engender them, can be seen as a class of political action related to maker/making movements, with a particular ecological vision that resists current notions of progress and economic rationalism. The workshop will be focusing on how such socio-technical systems can be put to use and ways of thinking about the potential of networks that contribute to a new global relations, without damaging local cultures.

Anne Light

This workshop is facilitated by Ann Light who has conducted World Machines workshops so far in Denmark and the UK. She is a Professor of Design and Creative Technology at the University of Sussex and was principal investigator on the UK Digital Economy’s Design for Sharing research project and research director on Fair Tracing – global research into providing producer-generated provenance information to support ethical buying decisions – as well as several Connected Communities projects looking at how we dwell together in the highly mediated and mediatized world of the 21st century. She is particularly concerned by patterns of inclusion and the politics of design.

i-doc tool design

Good news! I got a very small seeding fund through the non/fictionLAB here at RMIT to start on a dream project I have had for awhile – the design of an i-doc tool. This is exciting!

In the mid-year period between teaching studios I am clabbering (or itching) to make a start, which will involve setting up a network and getting collaborators. More to come soon.

Documentary Design Studio

I am putting forward a Documentary Design Studio in the media undergraduate program today, which will involve working in an external collaboration, using Korsakow.

The studio will be forming a partnership with an art gallery, and we will be collaborating with an award winning photographer/videographer, and youth theatre group – on the repurposing of a theatrical art project into experimental interactive documentary forms.

The curator of the gallery is interested in this studio producing outcomes that can potentially be published on the Internet, and set up as screen installations in the gallery space. The actual outcomes will be determined through a design process that involves working with the collaborators.

All this will involve putting Korsakow through the mill (so to speak) make or break.

Docuverse – Complexity

The notion of “complexity” has been coming up lately across i-doc presentations I have been attending. I am looking forward to this masterclass by Judith Aston from the UK.

Overview of Judith Aston masterclass from the non/fictionLAB blog post Docuverse presents Snapshots 2: A talk by Judith Aston (written by Hannah Brasier):

Judith’s talk will show the trajectory that she has taken over the years, discussing the various projects that she’s worked on along the way. This will include videodisc, CD-ROM, installations and live performance. Throughout this time, a consistent theme in her work has been her belief in the potential for interactive documentary and non-linear forms of representation in helping us to better understand complexity. Ending up with her take on where interactive documentary might be heading, she will argue that it’s ‘intertwingularity’ makes it an important tool for twentieth first century problem solving. She will also make a plea for interactive documentary to remain an open-ended field of enquiry, incorporating a range of forms and processes and not becoming all consumed by current interest in virtual and augmented realities.

Social design

I just watched the Professor Pelle Ehn video, which is part of the a 10 x 10 Design Futures video series. In this video the Pelle mentions “social design” and the process of working with marginalised groups. The notion of social design (wikipedia starting point) caught my ear because of the studio I am co-facilitating at the moment. In this studio media students are working with communication design students on communication strategies for the not-for-profit Lentara. Some recent publicity on the studio…on mediafactory and via RMIT news – Design and media students making a difference with Lentara

Follow up reading:

Agonistic participatory design: working with marginalised social movements
by Erling Björgvinssona, Pelle Ehna* & Per-Anders Hillgrena

Nonfiction transmedia

Below is a call for articles for a ‘Nonfiction Transmedia’ issue in a Journal. This call is useful in regards to my own work around ‘nonfiction design’. Currently I am co-teaching a design-media studio titled ‘nonfiction design’. This studio is a collaboration between communication design and media students at RMIT and involves working with an external client/organisation.

The call:

CfP VIEW Journal Vol. 5, Issue 10 / 2016
Non-Fiction Transmedia

Over the last decade, the technological tool set for audiovisual storytelling has vastly expanded. On-going developments in fields including data visualisation, social media, interactive video, second screens, haptic devices, artificial intelligence and virtual reality have led to a proliferation of opportunities for media makers to reconceptualise linear narrative formats, to embed them in non-linear structures and networks, or to abandon them altogether.

The term “non-fiction” has been used in film language to describe movies that are not in the area that the industry and the audience define as “fictional cinema”. Audiovisual non-fiction is a vast field containing documentary, journalism, film essays, educational videos, museum exhibitions, scientific films, institutional, industrial or propaganda videos, etc. Over the last years, interactive digital media have greatly affected the logics of production, exhibition and reception of non-fiction audiovisual works, leading to the emergence of a new area called “interactive and transmedia non-fiction”. One of its key points is that it can deal with factual material in such a way that it influences and transforms the real world around us. While the audiovisual non-fiction field has been partially studied, a few years ago emerged a new field focusing on interactive and transmedia non-fiction narratives, an unexplored territory that needs new theories and taxonomies to differentiate from its audiovisual counterpart.

How have established media organisations responded to these developments? While some have provided support networks, funding, and online broadcast opportunities to help foster experimentation in the cross-over domain of ‘transmedia’, other media organisations – including many public service and commercial broadcasters, archives, and publishers – have stuck to known business models. The result is that many areas of transmedia (for example, interactive documentary) remain niche offerings.

With this issue we aim to offer a scholarly perspective on the emergence of transmedia forms, their technological and aesthetic characteristics, the types of audience engagement they engender, the possibilities they create for engagement with archival content, the technological predecessors that they may or may not have emerged from, and the institutional and creative milieux in which they thrive (or don’t thrive). We welcome contributions from all perspectives including but not restricted to aesthetic, sociological, industrial, media archaeological, and audience/reception studies perspectives.

*** Proposals are invited on (but not limited to) ***

– What predecessors for transmedia storytelling can be found in television’s past
– What support mechanisms have enabled the current wave of productions and could in future foster a further European (re-)naissance of the form
– What role have audiovisual archive materials to play in the expanded possibilities of transmedia storytelling
How have media producers and consumers responded to the opportunities for non-linear delivery made possible by the latest wave of interactive video production apps
– What technological, conceptual, institutional, or other limitations are currently at play in global transmedia culture
– How could transmedia storytelling benefit/boost the non-fiction field
– Exploration of main fields of non-fiction storytelling through a transmedia approach: documentary, journalism, essay, museums, education, etc.
– Interactions between fiction & non-fiction in transmedia
– …

*** Practicals ***

Contributions are encouraged from authors with different kinds of expertise and interests in television and media history.

Paper proposals (max. 500 words) are due on March 12th, 2016.
A notice of acceptance will be sent to authors in the 1st week of April.
Articles (3 – 6,000 words) will be due on July 3d, 2016.
Longer articles are welcome, given that they comply with the journal’s author guidelines.

Docuverse Symposium

I Presented at Docuverse last week. This was a great Melbourne initiative brought together by RMIT postgrads and the nonfictionLab. Pictures from the event.

Docuverse Faceboook page

In my presentation titled ‘Documentary Design in the Design of Interactive Systems’ I put forward the proposition: ‘What can a Documentary Designer learn from Participatory and Speculative Design?’, which was taken from a digital platform design project I am working on at RMIT.

MIT Docubase playlist- Gaudenzi

I found this MIT Open Documentary Lab docubase playlist by Sandra Gaudnezi via iFlab. Useful collection of reviewed interactive works.

There other playlists on docubase worth checking out there by other interactive documentary producers.