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.

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 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.

Article – Using Video to Present Ethnography

An article by Paper Giant, ‘Using Video to Present Ethnography’ on a the project ‘Energy and Digital Living’ that looks at a video tool that works with tagging.

An excerpt from the article:

Whilst video has been used as a tool in ethnographic practice for some time, research that uses video often avoids using it in the dissemination of that research — some academic journals accept video essays or documentaries, but most still rely primarily on written articles. In these cases, researchers are relegated to using screen-captures of video or linking to external content in order to demonstrate their findings. Fewer still recognise the reflexive relationship between the synthesis of research and video representations of the research context.

This site is an attempt to address these concerns. First, it aims to present video alongside descriptive texts in a way that grants it equal weight and criticism. Second, it actively recognises the reflexive relationship between the synthesis of the research context and the video representations of it, as demonstrated through the way video is tagged, described and embedded in the content of the site. Finally, it opens up this reflexive relationship to the research community by providing an archive of the video content generated through the research.

Documentary design at !Flab

This is excerpt from the about page of the recent !Flab initiative developed to support the design and production of interactive nonfiction projects. I have highlighted aspects which tie in with my own thoughts on documentary design.

The world of documentary filmmaking is progressing fast forward. New digital platforms are rapidly expanding the possibilities for factual storytelling. Interaction becomes the essential key and your skills as a documentary film practitioner are subject to the rapid changing cross-disciplinary context. !Flab aims to facilitate that brand-new change. !Flab is a ground-breaking, innovative Creative Europe initiative and provides a series of three sandbox-labs designed to facilitate creative individuals with the production of successful, factual interactive stories. There are other training initiatives available, but they are either aimed at inspiring people, mentoring them, or at working on their IP. !Flab aspires to be a hands-on Lab rather than a series of inspirational events. It starts from the realisation that there is no clear methodology of work in interactive storytelling and that there needs to be a space for experimentation. It also keeps at its core the importance of merging design techniques with storytelling techniques – hence putting a big emphasis on audiences, testing and design problem solving techniques.

Visible Evidence rehearsal

Only a couple weeks until Visible Evidence XXII in Toronto. We, myself and follow nonfictionLab, documentary node colleagues who are attending from RMIT have a presentation rehearsal next week.

Screenshot 2015-07-31 13.18.34