Photography, Expanded: Collaborative Images – New Models of Authorship & Aggregation

July 24, 2019 posted by

for pioneering photographers re Katya bristle Robert Capa George Roger and David chim Seymour had the insight to claim their editorial independence by retaining ownership of their copyrights there's three really important things in this sentence that I want to foreground which I think helped us understand some of the things at play in the work we're going to be looking at today one is the decisive moment which is inherent in any conversation about someone about about this kind of work and if these origins the second is cooperative action and the third is property ownership when we think of bruh song or kappa we think about the decisive moment and I and the reason why I think that this is important here is because it was about the affordance of the tool it was about the 35 millimeter like the the increasing speed of the film which allowed for this kind of photography to exist and I think something else is happening now which is different right so photography now is so much that the camera is actually a different camera and one of its affordances is the selfie it's kind of the opposite spirit of magnum it's not looking out at the world so much but looking in the other thing that's important is the cooperative action it's a group of people banding together to work together and in terms of that now i think that there's an important there's an importance of the platform and an important considerations about labor in terms of platform do you build your own platform or do you work with an existing platform as i understand it one of the questions underlying this series of photography expanded is what is the role photographers documentarians storytellers and curators when we no longer have exclusive access to stories or rare access to stories and when it's hard to find a story under the Sun that has not been documented by the people living it um as professional storytellers what is our value add and believe me as a storyteller myself as a journalist a filmmaker and advocate I've asked these questions myself and I believe that you know what what we're doing with the human rights channel at witness that I'll be talking about tonight provides one example of the role of curation in documenting human rights and telling stories and understanding our world um so first I just like to get a sense of you guys can you just raise your hand if you're a photographer in the audience and how about those of you who do other forms of storytelling or documentation viet radio or print or multimedia ok a significant amount um and finally who works primarily not with your own footage but with that of others maybe as a curator or an instructor or an editor ok um and I asked because I myself have moved along that trajectory from being primarily a reporter and gathering my own footage in the field to being a curator finding contextualizing and amplifying footage created by others um and that's because when i began my career documentation was left to professionals reporters photojournalists oral historians and investigators we were trained in techniques the mechanics the ethics safety integrity and because of that training because of the publications we worked for we were tested generally um today in the field that I work in human rights and in many other fields this is clearly no longer the case thanks to cheap camera phones thanks to youtube twitter blogging and and on professionals no longer have monopoly on storytelling and documentation and I realize none of this is new or groundbreaking to any of you but I do think it's worth pointing out the implications of this when it comes to human rights reporting five years ago when I worked in a newsroom in but with them I was unable to report on the conflict taking place in the countryside I recall when several indigenous leaders were assassinated and we didn't have the resources to send a reporter to this community and we couldn't even report by phone and confirm these reports learn more because people involved in that conflict were afraid that their phone lines were tapped stories like these were simply not being told because professionals like us did not have access to them today those communities are reporting on their own so last summer when campesinos took to the streets to protest agricultural policy in Colombia they videotape their protests they filmed activists who with gunfire and rubber bullets by the police and this footage this footage garnered domestic attention and international attention um and resulted in the government responding to their protests and agreeing to negotiate with them so this is why human rights group like witness is curating citizen footage two years ago we launched the human rights channel and it's a collaboration with YouTube and the organization's storyfull in which we curate verified citizen footage of human rights issues and abuse in the past two years we've curated 3,000 videos from more than 100 countries and among that footage are images of political rallies in Iran ethnic violence against rahenge of Muslims in Myanmar a protest movement in Sudan the war in Syria and many other human rights stories that would not have been covered if it were not for eyewitnesses local activists and sometimes even perpetrators of abuse they're taking place in countries where professional media is censored prohibited threatened or absent but yet the sheer volume of media being created today by citizens on the ground is itself a barrier to making an impact for the average engaged citizen and for even expert investigators in human rights issues there are simply there's simply too much information to make sense of there's also false information and contextualized information and because citizen reporters are not trained on issues like safety ethics and consent their footage can also risk putting themselves or people in their footage in danger so what my team does on our humble heat YouTube page and blog is verify footage debunk footage and add context to compelling video that lacks it so I'll just give you two examples have any of you been following the social movement against the government in Venezuela so we've been following that on social media and YouTube and there were immediately serious allegations of human rights abuse against the protesters one video that we saw circulating widely on Twitter was this and it showed authorities using a water cannon against a man strapped to a tree and really compelling and horrific footage but the issue is we had seen this video before just three months prior we saw the video coming out of the context of protests in Colombia and it looked like this and when we did a google reverse image search of this video we actually found that it was used in another country showing abuse against activists in Mexico so this is where the role of the curator comes in and to find this footage to verify it to help audiences understand what is true what is not true and not to fear from trusting any citizen footage but as we talk about this as we curate this sort of video we also provide our audience with audience with ways of verifying this sort of footage and making sense of it another issue we've been following is Western Sahara and where which is a small country in northwest Africa that most of the world recognizes as a country but Morocco does not and Morocco and Moroccan authorities don't accept any Western Sahara Ness to assert independence or to protest for the independence movement or to even film independence protests so when footage is taken of activist movements in Western Sahara they're taken by anonymous filmers who then send their videos to networks of Western Sahara and activists often located outside of the country itself because of the danger of reporting in Western Sahara who then upload it to their YouTube channel and put it out on their media and on Twitter and then curators like us investigators for human rights organizations find this footage and are able to use it to understand what is going on in Western Sahara where the Western media has very little access to report ourselves so well we often curate videos like this with little or no contact with the filmer or uploader I do think of it very much as a collaboration the process of storytelling that in the past may have been done by one solo reporter gathering footage and information in the field and synthesize it synthesizing it on her own is now done by several people in several different platforms oftentimes in many languages and in many different countries so these include the eyewitnesses who are there to film the abuse and it includes others who upload it others who tweet it to the world oftentimes volunteers who translate that footage and re-upload it with subtitles or contacts and titles in another language and curators who come somewhere along the process find that footage and allow audiences around the world to to understand it and fit it into a cohesive story so I'll conclude by quickly raising four considerations some of the issues we grapple with on a day-to-day basis and perhaps we can talk more about these in our discussion so consent if we're sharing citizen footage to expose an issue must we get permission from the filmer what about the documented how can we share how can sharing footage put both the filmer and those filmed at risk authenticity when does authenticity matter how do curators handle footage when we cannot assess with certainty that it is authentic and finally authorship so when an images shared around the world or and around the web who is the author what if the video was taken by one person uploaded by another and circulated by thousands online and doesn't matter if the filmer was a perpetrator a government and eyewitness an activist I'm not saying that any of these questions are easy to answer or that I have any of the answers but as citizen footage plays a greater role in our documentation and understanding of the world it leaves many of these questions up to curators and not only documentarians who used to be deciding each of these questions on an individual basis so I'll leave it at that and I look forward to exploring more of this with you tonight my name is Michael primo I'm an artist a photojournalist a human rights activist my background is in my background I kind of come out of this kind of dual trajectory of theatre which kind of evolved in a documentary style theatre which was interactive and collaborative and I did that work in the US as well as in South Africa which had a parallel track of radio work I was a very early staff member of a project that became StoryCorps and and was a photojournalist for and still am less so now that newspapers some of my favorite local dailies pay interns instead of professionals to shoot their their images right so we left us in a really interesting conundrum between where we were in the radio world what was happening in the photography world and we wanted to figure out how to go deeper into issues in a way that was still uphold an aesthetic standard that that we felt we wanted to impose on a work but still have be collaborative and still be responsive to the prerogatives and direction of communities I had worked out a bunch of projects where I felt like I'd felt kind of weird because I felt extractive where I was benefiting from a process of documentary storytelling where the people who had given their time to participate didn't really I didn't feel like they benefited and I so I'm on this sort of constant quest to think about how we can be more collaborative in the art making as well as responsive to the prerogatives of community so if a project called housing is a human right where we set out to create this space for people to share stories across race class and we do these interactive installations and unconventional spaces like laundromats and vacant storefronts where we'll take over a vacant storefront for a period of time and install this audio and photo slideshow with people from it's like co-designed by people in the media community and when Hurricane sandy happened we knew immediately that this was an event to immense for any one outlet documentarian artist or individual to effectively cover so we wanted to figure out a way that we could really foster a collaborative exploration for how we could really interrogate this situation and also recognizing that after they say the funding world has a sort of paradigm that disaster relief funding completely disappears or is raised in the first three months and that eighty percent of any of the money that will ever go to a recovery of a place is raised in the first three months then after that it's like every man for themselves so knowing knowing this sort of the the difference between the reality of the disaster time clock that is how communities develop and the perception we wanted to create a way that would allow people to engage for the long term and so we had a relationship with the with MIT center for civic media and we have been collaborated on ways for people to be able to participate and contribute content and so we started sandy stolen and we called it's sandy storyline for two reasons the first reason was because we had a literal phone line a little story line we had an 800 number set up immediately this was set up the hurricane hit on October 29th by Friday we had the phone line set up as well as the mobile texting tool that allowed people to be able to contribute and via their cell phones and you know and I think it would across economic demographics cell phones with the maging technology as you know is becoming ubiquitous and where I grew up in my community when I was little it was all about getting the fly of sneakers you could imagine and that the kids that age now get the flyest phones you can imagine and so the people have this capability and where we wanted to enter the conversation was to assist them to help use those what they already have in their pocket to do it a little bit more beautifully and with higher potential we've absolutely resisted the term crowdfund crowdsourcing and we are not crowd sourcing that's something else although what we do is crowd-sourced right but we we like to pretend we have a higher sort of level of curation which is involved and so we are so you can text a photo into us with your cell phone you can go to the website to contribute stories you can call the 800 number the 800 number is used by a lot of elderly people or people without broadband access we know that the dominant narrative is often about the physical infrastructure it's about dunes and buildings and roads which are important but like the average neighbor community member has a lot of trouble talking about that and there is it in our opinion enough talk about social infrastructure and without the people and healthy robust networks within community all the physical infrastructure would be empty so we created a way for people to contribute their stories and the so the other reason we call this a nice story line was that as people continue to contribute their stories it begins to create different storylines or thematic tropes throughout the net the broader narrative and as people be share their story these tropes then create the sort of web of connectivity around across place race class gender & geography and these these particular story lines we we explicitly made the curatorial decision to be able to organize these these are these different storylines not around the typical kind of like you know housing jobs health care but we we made the decision explicitly to be able to group diverse topics together that have an emotional through line so there there we have themes like alone together a common theme following disasters is often people are sort of overjoyed often by the outpouring of love and support they find in unexpected ways from unexpected sectors of their community the stories are primarily shared through a variety of different ways it's photos audio video and the most unexpected form of submission that we received that we never actively solicited was written text messages text submission so people would write as long letters and people would write these long long letters and it was an internal debate that we had among ourselves when we were first setting up the website where we were asking ourselves well should we put a word cap on the text submission should we do that like we don't want like a novel or do we r and I'm glad we made the decision in the end to not put a cap on it we kind of put a suggested duration around it because I think people like to hold a container of size around what they're submitting but it was a great decision not to put a cap on it because some of the most beautiful stories one in particular was 2,000 words that someone felt compelled to share the texting tool was also part of our model represents part of our model and part of our model is like we are we don't have a lot of resources we were primarily volunteer funded everything we've built we've built with only sixty thousand dollars so far and we want to raise a lot more to do a lot of the things we want to do but we've tried to be transparent with what we've been able to do with what we've been able to do to be able to put a real face on the actual real hard costs of this the irony in this new media world is that developers are the only people in our world that can command 175 dollars an hour and you can't really say anything it's just like oh you don't got it talk to you later bro but it's it's a it's a very real reality we're trying to navigate but the technology was what four years we've kind of been scanning the landscape and we have an idea of what what we prefer as like the the pieces of tools that are out there and so weak we brought those tools together within the first week the mobile texting tool came from MIT this organization called cowbird reached out to us in the very early days and was like hey do you want to use our platform we were like cool and using other people's tools kind of constrained us to what types of media we could use because calibre doesn't use video so we were we didn't necessarily have video up on our website we were using Facebook to put out videos and since then we've now transitioned off of all external platforms and are now our now are in like what we call internally our third stage of evolution but it represents significant step for us because we've consolidated all of our external technologies we've moved off all of that and now we're using all our own native technology that we're slowly developing which allows us to accept submissions and it allows us to share and distribute these stories in addition to that we also had these education programs you know we had a professional photographer friends doing photo workshops with kids you know basic framing photo composition and stuff like that and we engage young people and being able to investigate their surroundings which was also really important it was really an imperative for us to engage young people in this way because it's a an important part of the larger story that's always always left out of the sort of broader conversation in social documentation and often for aesthetic reasons but we we ended up winning this you know this award from Tribeca Film Festival and the US there are two submissions in our final piece that were from from youth and nobody could tell the difference in addition to the youth programs we were also mobilizing this sort of network of professionals we recognize the privilege we have living in New York City where we have just a litany profession the witness was providing a space to be able to like convene our media makers after hours in addition to the submissions that we were getting from individuals we were curating a cast of characters of media professionals who were out and about scouring the city for stories and they would go out talk to people encourage people to contribute their own story while they were in the process of documenting their story as an external force final platform was the exhibit that we did at Rebecca Film Festival where we brought together lots of stories and curated an hour of content that was a combination of film stills and audios and created this immersive interactive experience we had these photo frames as an RSS feed people could Texas our photos five minutes later they would appear as part of the exhibition that's about it I look forward to engaging in conversation with you my background was in photography and I moved to New York City after undergrad in the middle of the dot-com height of the dot-com in the mid-1990s and I got swept away by HTML and photoshop and all these you know the gee whiz bang of the the internet craze and kind of lived that life for about a year year and a half until I fled to graduate school but that point I was doing new media and I kind of left photography or it got bundled into this other kind of experimentation and discipline but then 10 years later in the mid about 2000-2005 I was yearning to go back to photography and it's because I was doing a lot of projects that were highly they were always in beta I guess kind of like Google this is a project called air from 2006 where we were monitoring air quality with these mobile custom-made devices this was a commission from I beam I show this work because it actually it was through that project that I became interested in the topic of air quality and the environment professor at Ithaca College said if you're thinking about air quality New York City you must speak with Robert Martin he told me his story and he talked about the the week after 911 and he's Ombudsman in 2001 and you talked about driving to work in Washington DC and hearing that the Twin Towers had fallen and he talked about that first week and how the whole agency was mobilizing to investigate and in lower Manhattan it was a record amount of the worst toxic contamination known to mankind and it was all over lower Manhattan this investigation into lower Manhattan and what should be done was totally put to a halt Robert was telling me because of christine Todd Whitman Proclamation there is safe to breathe the water is safe to drink that was just seven days after September 11th of 2001 and Robert said to me all of the qualifiers were there to declare all of lower Manhattan a Superfund site and I went off and finished the air project and was still thinking about what does it mean that all of lower Manhattan should have been a Superfund site what is super fund and I knew it was a really extreme scary statement especially as a New Yorker to hear right but the first place you go to if you look up super fund if you google super fund you're going to end up at the circulus database and these kind of forms I run away from and I it's akin to me like going to a big mall to go shopping I go in and I get out I don't go to one if I'm just gonna browse right and look around and have fun I go for a very specific purpose and so the next project I did was super fun 365 and the idea here was to create a better interface for this information right one thing you have to think about when moving to an online space and working with data and information or crowdsourcing is the quantities right the massive quantities and how do we make it digestible and how do we think about limiting ourselves so that it's welcoming so what I did is I use the model of you know one a day so the 365 worst Superfund sites you can click through this is day one and day too so another thing it does quickly is that you can compare the different sites and what it's doing is showing the contaminants are these colored spokes if you pop up in the key it will show you that Brown is soil and that's represents benzene you can click on that and go to the agency for toxic substance disease registry and read about benzene if you want and its health implications so along with launching the site and each day a new page on the site would go live I traveled with the the website so on day one was quanta resources that was a closest site to New York City and I basically made it so that it traveled around the country started in the new york city area at that time there are no super fund in New York City so Jersey was the closest ended in Pearl Harbor Hawaii and for the first several months I traveled around went to side to side and was photographing these snapshots was really struck by what I saw this was actually the last image is the only one of the only sites I saw an actual sign saying EPA Superfund site and it's on an eight and a half by 11 sheet of paper on a door roosevelt field is a Superfund site and it's on top of the former roosevelt field which is where Charles Lindbergh took off in the late 1920s the first transatlantic flight took off from here and it's contaminated with organic solvents which are basically were used to clean the airplanes there in the groundwater so I'll click through a few more of these other ones this was a long text I appreciate Michaels point about how do you do limit do you let people write I really let people write as much as they wanted to there's some kind of limitation in terms of habit the field is it may prompts you to end but you can keep going on and this woman talked about her breast cancer and how she was sure was linked the Superfund site in her neighborhood you know I think in terms of collaboration my collaborators range from the EPA and the people who I would visit and talk to and call up and the managers at regional managers who were very welcoming and supportive my collaborators or the database the collaborators were the people who reached out and welcome to be in the commune and showed me around the people i never met who uploaded materials and talked back to the official data or corrected the data that was i was bringing to life and hopefully making more accessible from the EPA I'm wondering if you could talk more about authorship and also the flip side of that might also be to ask who is we because i think the term wheat was used a lot we somewhat side skirt the question of copyright um authorship because we don't um we don't edit or kind of scrape and republish the videos that we curate on the human rights channel what we do is curate them into YouTube playlists and then talk about them on the witness blog when we do reach out to people and ask if if they would have any problem with us using their video the people who are producing this sort of content always like ninety-nine percent of the time say of course like that's why I put it on YouTube I want you to see it and I want people to use it and to amplify it and so I think that's really interesting sometimes those of us who come from more professional backgrounds have a very conservative idea of authorship in curating citizen video of course it's its citizen video of human rights abuse and people want to get this out there that's why they are filming it that question of can we have permission to use your footage do you have an issue with that that's not at the top of people's minds they want people to see it want people to remix it and do what they want with it as long as people are viewing their footage we have layers of collaboration the it's kind of starts with me and my core collaborator Rachel Falcone who is my sort of primary partner and a lot of this work then then sorts and a storyline has six core collaborators who we operate and I have a I have a flowchart if anyone is interested in like thinking about collaborative governance for sandy storyline and I'm happy to share if anyone's really wants to geek out about networks but we have six we have a course a group of six that ranges from a very traditional written journalist who helps the people who submit written work with copy editing and clarity and legibility and then myself Rachel and then to kind of very like designers who help on that tip and then it kind of flows from there we collaborate we we had regular open meetings every Monday and Wednesday throughout new york and new jersey where any we would advertise anyone could come and participate whether was they wanted to contribute content or they want to collaborate on some aspect of the program we had somebody in north jersey who had a whole education series so there's that level and then there's a partnership collaboration where we partner with other institutions that range from neighborhood civic groups to other other media outlets where it's like a content sharing thing that we're trying to develop into a revenue share for some of the content that has been shared out those outlets and all the the content is creative commons share alike i figured what the other three other words after that one but the basically the license that allows does not allow for derivatives or commercial purpose use and yeah that's how we collaborate one thing about the Superfund 365 site is when we were making this in 2007 we decide to go with the flash as our platform and we really thought about this new fangled web programming thing called Ajax for those of you who are web people but it was too knew when we were kind of uncertain about it as really adamant that the the program the application would look a certain way on everyone's computer and flash does that really well there's consistency the problem is its flash is proprietary and I didn't also know going into the project how much work and how much added benefit added improvement we were going to do to the epa's database because it came to me in next Excel spreadsheet they still I think may they just launched a web service to make this easier but they didn't like some contaminants were called were spelled one way and then spelled a different way so if you're doing a search and trying to visualize it was impossible and we spent days going through and cleaning up their spreadsheets and added information from the Census Bureau and from other data sources and if I'd known that I would have made that information you know made it easy for people to take that that data from the site and then visualize it in their own way right and the way it was made it was very contained and it was all about display and not about then reshoring that information or even like downloading with the photographs and taking about to make it their own right and so making it very malleable so now looking back it would have made it in a totally different way looking forward it would be about using the web services so it could be more collaborative meaning whatever we then generate and put out can then be reused and remixed and so that's kind of a hopeful collaboration or you know at a distance collaboration right sharing that information not a kind of in-person collaboration as we as our stop and think about it you talk about the process of deciding which platform or which tools to use you're using YouTube and curating playlists and you decided to run it off of these set of existing tools that are outside of it out of an MIT piece of software etc and then moving on to your own one part of the idea of us using YouTube as the platform for the human rights channel um well for those of you who are familiar with witness you may recall a project that we started before YouTube which was called the hub and it was our own space that we created to curate human rights video um and when YouTube came around that's where everyone was putting their footage and part of the idea of the channel is really to find footage of people who may not themselves consider themselves human rights documentaries or advocates or organizations but simple I eyewitnesses who wouldn't be searching for a site and for tools to amplify this footage we would find them and part of the kind of secondary mission of the project is is to learn about how people are using this platform and as the most used platform for video distribution but it is a challenge because there are a lot of human rights organizers and activists who don't use YouTube because they want to have complete ownership of their video and they've created their own platforms which is very commendable but we cannot share them we also can't share videos that are posted on Instagram and Facebook and we're seeing a lot more of people using those different platforms depending on the region depending on the language depending on the Internet service and where they are I do want to shout out a new resource called the verification handbook that is all about tools and best practices to verify user-generated citizen content online and there you'll find a lot of like Google reverse image search so that you can search the web by images and not just by text and other ways to verify photos and videos and other images that you find online another plug for witness though is that they have an amazing resource page on their website their homepage is a witness or go whatever it is I don't know if they have tools about this specific but there's a really kind of robust set of like releases and like things about all these kind of things answer a better provide them resources so a lot of these questions we like I said we started off with cowbird which is very pretty if people know it it's a thing that people use will never use it again ever in any way but it was great that we that existed for a small period of time and provided us a necessary service the other part of our story is that we're building a bunch of tools for artists and people who have sort of visual aesthetic considerations and don't want to have to worry about the tech so they don't have to worry about the tech and you can just like have an out-of-the-box solution that will also support an independent project the mobile texting tool specifically it's a it's a platform called foho that's a spanish j v oj o dot co and that's completely out there it's open source and if you're interested in using it you can just go to that website and some there's some really interesting folks as these photographers in Tijuana that have a really interesting border project that they're using the technology a public PBS station in boston is doing some interesting stuff with it so that's it at the thing that's out there i would just kind of counter what michael is saying in terms of using packages that look pretty and then you can put your content into and I understand the need for that and the desire for that this kind of you know plug and play and drop it and done kind of mentality but if there could be pro bono developers who are working with artists because you're never going to have that aesthetic control and what Michael the question is without building it from this from scratch right because there's a medium these imposed limitations technically they're going to impose lamentation aesthetically and the more I mean I'm also a professor and an immediate program and so students coming in everyone wants to make photographs and videos and interactive installations maybe but not program and so we're really really trying to get the students to be very proficient programmers by the time they're out and those who are programmers can make $175 when i get so that is a little bit of incentive but really you know collaboration again is key because these are to program a site like super fund 365 or something that's made from scratch and have and that works and that you maintain and sustain it as a whole nother can of worms really takes a lot of either fundraising or people who are really believing in the work and will give up their time maybe for ten dollars an hour no dollars an hour because they believe in the work and that's a core of a collaboration i would love a day dream of having some platform where viewers could search by country and by human rights issue and by date and time and look on a map and and i realized i needed i need to stop wasting my time daydreaming of that we're a non-profit and and i think one thing we learned with the hub was that we are expertise is on human rights video and you know given that we don't have a huge budget to create a new website you know we should focus our efforts on on what we do and on what we do well hi um I have a question that you all implicitly sort of talked about but not specifically and it's about power and about authorship in some ways but also like race and class and issues of who is who is an author and who gets to generate content in some cases but also like aesthetics how we navigate this territory politically and I just wondered if anybody could talk about power if you go to sandy storyline com to weave because this is a conversation we in the About section there's a short little essay on what is a participatory documentary which is our just contribution to other people the esoteric world of other people thinking about this but yeah power and privilege and access or like why how we approach the work that we do and it also was the one of the primary motivators of working with young people and young people of color in the communities that we felt were least represented by the dominant narrative and part of why part of like more part of the backstory is a so I come out of housing like being a photojournalist in the housing world then also got sucked into organizing around housing and land got sucked into post-katrina New Orleans went with a camera left as an organizer and we started this as an initiative because of the democratization so-called democratization of technology that even in low income communities people still have these cell phones to be able to create a way that people can share their stories and even the way that we we organize our weekly meetings which are collaborative meetings where we had rotating facilitation that was designed to minimize the amount of men who are facilitating meetings first of all and especially certain kinds of men and because you know you guys talk a lot I talk a lot so how do we diversify this but these were there were little ways that we did that within our internal processes that would that we were trying to encourage a diversification of the voices that were to participate in and ultimately the outcome of the design of the project because these meetings were designed for participation just for not just for contributions but people who had ideas about what the project should look like how it should be shaped what it should what should be mean so we felt that it was important in every part of what we did from like who was a part of those meetings who's a part of our score who was a part who are interns are like what languages they speak our first flyer was ridiculous because it was had like 10 languages on onyx I thought that was a good idea cuz I was in like these Chinese neighborhoods and his Russian neighborhoods and but I was a terrible idea but you know it was an attempt and it didn't work and so that was a you know one thing we one rabbit hole we went down when we talk globally about citizen video there are still many communities that don't have access to cell phones that don't have access to internet that is changing very rapidly but I do my best in leading the human rights channel to look for regions that are not in the news that are not being being covered by the mainstream media because this is where so this in video can really amplify those stories but we constantly want to be thinking of the communities that that don't have access to this not only because of technology but because their rights have been taken away they whether we're talking about people behind bars or people in countries that have internet censorship or people who have been trafficked and you know just recently we we curated a video from an Indian and community media organization that trains correspondence from villages all over India to document their own issues and they had a fantastic report about a human trafficking and people who had travel to go up for labor and this reporter actually helped a relative find them and and take them out of bonded labor and one thing that they said was the first thing their employer did was take away their cell phones so you know we constantly have to fight for you know the right to to record whether that's on in workplaces um or what not but you know I think it's a really good point to think of the digital divide not only technologically but in terms of the enforcement of rights to record what's going on in our own communities the big kind of impetus for the Superfund 365 was looking at the EPA's circulus database and it's not good enough to have the information available right it's got to be accessible and understandable and we're talking about across demographics and age group smell that so you know it's interesting Obama's one of his first I think the first presidential memo was about open government and making sure that agencies put out data in a timely fashion and putting the pressure on to do so and so I really see the site and saw the site at the time as part of that conversation as it's not enough just to make it open right we have to be able to find it which be able to understand it we actually able to parse it has to be organized and you know kind of codified correctly right and the government can very easily get their hands in our private data so this public data that we pay for right through our tax dollars right where is that and why is it so hard to find and get to under the collaboration tip it's for us like I approached it someone as a community organizer so it's all about self-interest and identifying mutual alignment around moments and points of self-interest self-interest is often a dirty word but it's like it's what we all do we all have something we want to get out of something and that's cool let's find the the ways in which we want to get out of something together and that that provides an opportunity to build power among multiple people so we can amplify whatever whatever resources we might have as individuals as a group and we do we teach these workshops to artists around community partnerships and we do it to the lens of what we call the nuptials it's kind of like kicking game or cording a potential mate you know it's like you know a partnership and collaboration is not that different that first conversation is kind of like a first date you know you kind of just kind of try to feel each other out and see what up and you know if it goes to the next date that's cool and and I don't think partnerships are any more complicated than that but of course dating is probably the most complicated thing on earth so I don't know if that helps at all but it's kind of a frame that we have that we use to think about it because it's a familiar terminology big mistake I think we made we at our height we were at we were getting like three four thousand hits a week like unique hits a week on our site I made a lot of mistakes on leveraging that in capturing that data because we were running around managing you know we had like it we had 300 volunteers that were like kind of being coordinated by like six of us at one time so there was like there's a lot of things that fell off our plate if this happened again if anyone finds himself in a crisis moment be hyper aware that your interest will disappear within 60 days and so that your most important task in those first 30 to 60 days is being able to elect solidify and codify and identify your core audience set and then build that audience and continue to build that audience and we didn't do that as good as I think we should have I think we did some things well and we could have done that better and then I think so that's a mistake that was that was a lesson learned in that moment and another lesson learned from being able to like stay relevant was again identifying self interest being able to like you know because a lot of our media partners they're not you know gonna syndicate our content anymore because sandy is old news right so you know it's it's figuring out and why I left the news world because I was sick of news holes like trying to figure out how to like pitch a story to fit a news hole in a new cycle kind of made my head hurt so but they're still relevant like this is the 50 year anniversary of the war on poverty our F K's Robert Kennedy's war on poverty so you know if there's a lot of opportunities where we've been sort of like finding holes to fit and syndicate content that is using the event like a hurricane which naturally exposes deep systemic inequities within society which are structurally which are structured around structural racism and structural inequality and so we've been trying to like daylight a lot of the stories that are you know have were shared initially through that lens you you

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