Participation Week 2

Publish a review of a link to an article or academic reference based on weekly topic.

For this week’s article, I will be publishing a review link to one of the prominent figures in the discourse of networked media and its affiliated field of user-based journalism. In view of the Astruc’s discourse of the changing face of documentary filmmaking, the article examines a commentary on Geert Lovink’s position of the current age of user-based media and its implications on the current taxonomically organized system of journalism production based on his book “Networks without a cause”.

What lies interesting in this article is Geert Lovink’s statement of how the inclusion of Web 2.0 is promoting a more decentralized approach to the dissemination of information with the rise of the web documentary and decline in popularity of the traditional documentary production model. As such, Geert proposes a new shift in the industry that is calling such established production means to action in either embracing this new shift of less-centralized and time-orientated journalism with a more sporadic and efficient reporting that will start to match the new user demographic of web-based platforms.

Additionally he comes to outline how such news agencies and journalistic powerhouses chose to incite or provoke a response through their presence disallowing a more naturalistic observation of situations which he proposes occurs through the simple phenomenon of a user-made video. Such an example would be the dissemination of current affairs through users in the twitter-sphere. Such a situation illustrates a paradigm in which the conscientious user creates content through continuous accessibility to user-media tools.


Reflect on Reading for the week and pose thoughts on symposium question

This week’s reading ‘Digital Video and Alexandre Astruc’s Camera-Stylo: the new avant-garde documentary’ by Bjorn Sorenssen comments on Alexandre Astruc’s postulated theory of a de-centralized era of mass-media production empowered by the general public rather than capitally empowered corporations or organizations due to mass accessibility of media production tools. Bjorn first addresses how this so-called ‘prediction’, which was initially intended to foreshadow the changes to the industry via the introduction of 16mm Film format,  mirrors very closely the developments to media production that have come about from the past few decades from the initial introduction of the VCR and Camcorder to the more sophisticated tools and platforms we have today such as mini cameras on iPhones to the accessibility of open hosting platforms such as Youtube.

Bjorn goes further into this theory to discuss how this breakthrough of digital production and distribution of documentary films has truly lived up to Astruc’s prophecy. Ultimately using a Youtube user ‘Geriatric1927’ as a case study and point of comparison, Bjorn relates to Astruc’s theory of a democratic media sphere through usage of ‘Geriatric1927s’ videos exemplifying it as a perfect example of a form of individualized documentary.

The key list of criterion Bjorn states in summary of Astruc’s vision are as follows:

1)New Technology Provides new means of expression. The development of the film medium from being exclusive to becoming a commonplace form of expression

2)Resulting in more democratic use of medium (film in this case)

3)Hence opening up new possibilities and different forms and usage (the birth of a contemporary use of medium and experimental use of medium)

Bjorn attempts to link these criterions through the reflection of video communication technology and its developments over the years. Concurrently, Bjorn also addresses the many fears and issues Astruc actualized in his prophecy of this supposed ‘new-age’ of mass visual media production and distribution.

Raising the VCR and Camcorder as the first successful frontier of mass-media production (with consideration of the 16mm’s potential but costly implications that failed its mass-distrubtive success), Bjorn also considers the fear of dilution in the general quality of distributed work which was carried through Astruc’s words. He shows this indicative through the notion of how most individuals who did acquire the Camcorder had less awareness of cinematic techniques and aesthetics hence still distinguishing it far from its more professional, corporate powered film theatre counterparts. As such most videos were depicting of the home environment and related spheres, holding little interest for the general viewership of Television.

Another core concern raised by Astruc was the formation of segmented social groups he feared would occur in the public space. He had suggested how despite the enabling nature of such technology, there will be individuals who identify to certain values due to pure embracement of a particular aesthetic. Bjorn evaluates this on the current scale of media production, wherein which he relates to the common youtube user Geriatric1927. Using Geriatic1927 as an example, he illustrates how the very personal commentary carried forth by the user and its following support and fandom are indicative of rather the converse, in which individuals are truly and more openly connected due to the realm of user-made content and the Web 2.0.

Ultimately, Bjorn associates the paradigm shift in documentaries from a entity-centralized genre (exemplifying industry documentaries on one end) to a more egalitarian paradigm in which the genre is now more decentralized (Holding a user like Geriatric1927 as and example of the other). As such, the following implications such as the quality of the work and the idea of widespread dissemination of information VS structured media focus come to follow. Bjorn comes to show how ultimately holding both its positives and negatives, the shift is nonetheless a new foray into documentary making and individual film expression that brings the camera as a pen to the everyday individual.

Symposium question for the Week

1. Documentary as a ‘project’ in regards to definition is becoming very broad – so, does it need to be redefined or broken up into categories? Does a taxonomy of definitions need to be created?

This question poses great relevance especially in regards to the reading which handles the issue of taxonomy. As outlined by Astruc, The defining parties of documentary films have always been placed in a position to dictate the genre’s developments and positions as it lies natural in the fact that they are the dictating powers at hand. Such with the inclusion of Web 2.0 and user made content, the diversity and variety of new forms of genre expression are changing the definition of a documentary making. So the ideal is the notion of a ever-changing genre. However, if one was to dictate a system of Taxonomical identification, it can be argued that it will hold limited relevance in a position of time due to the genre’s ever expanding nature. As such, a counter argument would propose that such taxonomy is void of function as the dynamically evolving genre of documentary film making is reaching new heights from day to day.

Personal Assesment Matrix (Total Grade for Matrix is Sum of points= Total % weightage)
WEEK Analysis Execution Reflection Learning Total
2 5 4 4 4 18

Provide a link to form of MultiMedia

Given this week’s topic, my multimedia upload for the week is going to be about the one and only ‘Geriatric1927’.


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