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TitleVideo Vortex 2
Tags Mass Media You Tube New Media Video Clip
File Size10.2 MB
Total Pages382
Document Text Contents
Page 191

literacy. Between those who are constantly exposed to the internet, such as activists, NGO
workers, and media professionals, and those who are not, a cultural chasm exists – a local
manifestation of what has been globally termed ‘the digital divide’. 28 Despite the celebratory
accounts of a global technology revolution, some local video activists respond quite critically
to the prospect of online distribution. Yoga from Kawanusa points out that the inequality in
access to information technology can, in turn, establish new power relations between infor-
mation ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’:

Video distribution is prioritized among community members for its “ceremonial” aspects;
to achieve public recognition of their work. They want their videos to be launched at an
event attended by people they know. We are talking about people living in the villages.
They don’t have access to the internet, and perhaps they don’t need to have any. Why
publish the videos online if they don’t know who is accessing them? If we insist on doing
so, who will actually benefit? Of course, the answer is: those who are already literate.

In this sense, it makes sense for grassroots activists to prioritize offline connections. For
many, the immediate concern is to have the video works collectively appreciated at the sites
where they are made. But most activists consider facing the challenges of the internet as
part of their social justice mission. Various critiques 29 regarding the risk of social divisions
reproduced by unequal relations of knowledge and power point out that issues other than
technology need to be considered in the attempt to democratize video for social change.
Aspects such as the society’s cultural readiness to interact with new media, the divergent
economic settings of grassroots communities, and the various desires and approaches to
consuming information are some of the issues that cannot be addressed simply by pro-
curement of media technology or technical-content training. New media require advanced
strategic applications.

The lesson from Indonesia is that the fluidity and flexibility of technology is instrumental
to the various coalitions, movements, and identities in play. This has not only led to em-, movements, and identities in play. This has not only led to em- movements, and identities in play. This has not only led to em-, and identities in play. This has not only led to em-. This has not only led to em-led to em- em-
powerment and democratization, but has also served to reproduce relations of dominance
and exclusion, such as is promoted by fundamentalist religious groups. 30 Along with these
trajectories, which are certainly incongruent with the goals of the activists discussed in this
research, we can also anticipate increasingly banal content flooding the internet. The ubiq-
uity of mainstream video sharing services such as YouTube and Facebook, and the rapid
spread of 3G-based video on mobile phones, has become an arena so extensive that social-
justice and environmental video content is outshone by terabytes of information. Posting
work online is not enough for activist content; an audience must then view it – and then,
ideally, take some form of action.

28. See David J. Gunkel, ‘Second Thoughts: Toward a Critique of the Digital Divide’, New Media &
Society 5 (2003): 499–522.

29. See Sassi Sinikka, ‘Cultural Differentiation or Social Segregation? Four approaches to the Digital
Divide’, New Media & Society 7.5 (2005): 684–700.

30. Merlyna Lim, ‘Lost in Transition: The Internet and Reformasi in Indonesia’.


Page 192

Many of the online videos that grab the public’s attention are those that expose footage of cor-the public’s attention are those that expose footage of cor-public’s attention are those that expose footage of cor-’s attention are those that expose footage of cor- attention are those that expose footage of cor-
ruption and dirty politics, violence and pornography. On one side, this new media landscape
has been made manifest in the digital convergence currently prevailing in which ‘amateur’
video agencies, including forms of citizen journalism, increasingly flow across media, ranging
from television and mobile phones to the internet. On the other hand, the forms, themes and
content of these flows quickly become limited – if not homogeneous – as they are shaped by
the expectation of immediacy and the available technological features. Through new distribu-of immediacy and the available technological features. Through new distribu- immediacy and the available technological features. Through new distribu-
tion models, activists propose to punctuate these flows of amateur videos with social change
content that already exists in offline forms so that audiences can become more receptive to
the diverse range of video works available.

Regarding the issue of audience receptiveness to information through online video, Ade Dar-
mawan from ruangrupa has called for more advanced strategies in designing online video
interfaces. One strategy would be to employ a ‘curatorial logic’:

Basically, online video sharing channels need to provide clearer frameworks to as-
sist the audience in contextualising the work being presented. Given the immensity of
content flooding the internet nowadays, how are we going to attract audiences relevant
to specific topics presented in the videos? If there is no curatorial explanation, I think
there won’t be much difference in the experience from watching YouTube.

In addition to the need to democratize access through structural provisions, it is clear that
strategies are required to address the particular cultural characteristics of the internet in
order to not only allow, but also enable equal public participation. One element that is lacking
is a local, successful example of online distribution being used to garner a wide audience or
to generate real change, an example that others could find convincing and worth replicating.

Given this range of technical, economic and socio-cultural barriers in relation to online video
distribution, the practices of Indonesian activists must be tactical. As far as having an online
presence, almost all the groups represented in this research have their own website, and
communicate through email, instant messaging, mailing lists, and forums as well as publish-
ing weblogs. Kampung Halaman, Etnoreflika, Ragam, Gekko Studio, Offstream, Javin, UPC,
and Forum Lenteng all use social networking sites such as FaceBook and Multiply, and
upload content to existing online video sharing sites such as YouTube, Vimeo, and DailyMo-
tion. Also emerging are more specific online video sharing spaces such as Video Battle, and

Even within these common ways of using the internet, each group generates different cultural
practices. To the grassroots video activist embedded in local communities, resource mobili-
zation is focused on community empowerment. Even though the groups integrate information
and communication technology into their daily activism, the basis of their interaction with
communities is often based on face-to-face contact. Therefore, the distribution of the videos
produced tends to also be through physical means. To realize the goals of online distribu-ze the goals of online distribu-e the goals of online distribu-
tion requires additional support and access to hubs that would enable ongoing connections
between the communities and diverse networks of global social movements.


Page 382

Video Vortex Reader II

Video Vortex Reader II is the Institute of Network Cultures’ second collection
of texts that critically explore the rapidly changing landscape of online video
and its use. With the success of YouTube (‘2 billion views per day’) and the
rise of other online video sharing platforms, the moving image has become
expansively more popular on the Web, significantly contributing to the culture
and ecology of the internet and our every day lives. In response, the Video
Vortex project continues to examine critical issues that are emerging around
the production and distribution of online video content.

Following the success of the mailing list, the website and first Video Vortex
Reader in 2008, recent Video Vortex conferences in Ankara (October 2008),
Split (May 2009) and Brussels (November 2009) have sparked a number
of new insights, debates and conversations regarding the politics, aesthetics,
and artistic possibilities of online video. Through contributions from scholars,
artists, activists and many more, Video Vortex Reader II asks what is occurring
within and beyond the bounds of Google’s YouTube? How are the possibilities
of online video, from the accessibility of reusable content to the internet as
a distribution channel, being distinctly shaped by the increasing diversity of
users taking part in creating and sharing moving images over the web?

Contributors: Perry Bard, Natalie Bookchin, Vito Campanelli, Andrew Clay,
Alexandra Crosby, Alejandro Duque, Sandra Fauconnier, Albert Figurt, Sam
Gregory, Cecilia Guida, Stefan Heidenreich, Larissa Hjorth, Mél Hogan,
Nuraini Juliastuti, Sarah Késenne, Elizabeth Losh, Geert Lovink, Andrew
Lowenthal, Rosa Menkman, Gabriel Menotti, Rachel Somers Miles, Andrew
Gryf Paterson, Teague Schneiter, Jan Simons, Evelin Stermitz, Blake Stimson,
David Teh, Ferdiansyah Thajib, Andreas Treske, Robrecht Vanderbeeken,
Linda Wallace, Brian Willems, Matthew Williamson, Tara Zepel.

Institute of Network Cultures, Amsterdam 2011

ISBN 978-90-78146-12-4

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