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strategies of sharing September 22, 2007

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Strategies of Sharing: the Case-study of Deptford.TV

by Maria X & Adnan Hadzi

Watch the video-essay Strategies of Sharing (2006) at http://www.deptford.tv/bm/

Are you ready to share?

Web 2.0 is all about sharing and networking. Software like blogs, wikis, social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook, and file-sharing platforms such as YouTube and Flickr have made it possible for anyone privileged enough to enjoy access to new technologies to publish their thoughts, diaries, personal information, literature, photos and videos, and invite everyone else to access, share and process this information (to varying degrees and subject to authorisation). This article attempts to explore the ‘strategies’ of sharing, using the project Deptford.TV (http://www.deptford.tv) as a case-study.

Deptford.TV is an open and networked project that employs methods of commons-based peer production and uses open source software to build a video database for collective film-making. It is also a community project that attempts to collectively document the regeneration process in the area of Deptford, Southeast London. Deptford.TV was initiated in September 2005 by Adnan Hadzi, in collaboration with SPC.org media lab (http://www.spc.org), Bitnik.org (http://www.bitnik.org/en), the Boundless.coop (http://www.boundless.coop), Liquid Culture (http://www.liquidculture.info) and Goldsmiths University of London.1 It started assembling audiovisual materials about Deptford and the regeneration process taking place in the area by asking local community members, video artists, film-makers, visual artists, activists and students to contribute diverse work2. All the rough materials and edited media content that people have submitted is available on the Deptford.TV database. The material will also be distributed over the boundless.coop wireless network using open content licenses. Deptford.TV is a work in progress which is currently growing by inviting more people to contribute audiovisual work, and by organising events in physical space, such as workshops and screenings.

The Art of Participation

It is old news that we live through ‘the information era’3. Nevertheless N. Katherine Hayles’ (1999) discourse on information as pattern/randomness is very timely: Hayles argues that, whereas materiality is characterised by presence, information is characterised by pattern (as complementary to presence). She further argues that, within the information era, the presence-absence dialectic -although always pertinent- has been pushed into the background. In its place, a new dialectic has been foregrounded: that of pattern and randomness. Hayles goes on to explain that, whereas presence-absence is an oppositional dialectic (absence is the negation of presence), pattern and randomness are not oppositional but complementary. In that sense, randomness is not seen as the absence of pattern -in the way absence is seen as the lack of (material) presence- but as the ground for pattern to emerge. Pattern-randomness implies yet another shift of emphasis, claims Hayles: the shift from ownership to access. Whereas ownership requires a presence (something tangible one would wish to own), access implies pattern recognition.

In the field of art we have witnessed a shift from the material object (painting, sculpture etc.) to immaterial concepts, open-ended processes, distributed systems and relational environments since the early 1960s. Movements such as futurism, conceptual art, environments, events and happenings, and later on digital, new media or computational art, and ideas such as relational aesthetics (Bourriaud, 2001), brought this shift forth. As Hayles points out, whereas art objects were calling for someone to own them, immaterial concepts, open systems, processes and relationalities call for people to ‘embody’ or ‘inhabit’ them, take part in them, contribute to them, co-create or ‘become’ them. Examples of such work are numerous: Tale of Tales’ (http://www.tale-of-tales.com) piece The Endless Forest (http://www.tale-of-tales.com/TheEndlessForest) for example is, among other things, a Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game (MMORPG). The artists wanted the Forest, unlike some of their previous work4 or performances taking place in physical environments, to be always ‘live’. Nevertheless, they did not want the piece to depend on their constant presence for its ‘liveness’, as this would obviously be impossible. This led them to create a consistent virtual world which people can inhabit. The Endless Forest is always (a)live as users animate it through their own presence: in The Forest users become deer (as avatars) who inhabit -and thus become- the art-piece. This is not unlike Alan Kaprow’s environments and Happenings: the audiences were invited to get into Kaprow’s work, ‘become’ it, inhabit, enact and change it.

Networked practices often -but not always- operate as open systems that provide their users/audiences with access to their content, internal dramaturgies, structures, and/or rough materials. Due to their networking quality, which means that such works bring together many interconnected things or people, such practices can be more open, fluid, dynamic and unexpected in comparison to work created and thus ‘controlled’ by one artist or a tightly knit team. Such practices -and Deptford.TV is such as example- invite users/audiences to take part in them, rather than own them. The degree of access and involvement participants are offered depends on the project. It can vary from formal interaction where audiences can make choices within the frame of a predefined narrative, to co-authorship where participants are invited to create the piece together with its initiator(s). Even more radically, communities of users can, sometimes, initiate themselves the collective production of a piece5. Once participants become central to a piece and, possibly, claim co-authorship for it, the power, responsibility, and -conceptual, aesthetic, technical or other- control over the outcomes radically shifts from the ‘creator(s)/producers’ to the ‘audiences/consumers’. This shift challenges the traditional dichotomy between creators /producers vs. consumers of content and context, and calls for the rethinking of such distinctions.

Open projects that challenge the producer vs. consumer dichotomy demonstrate the emergence of a new paradigm called ‘commons-based peer production’. This term was coined by Yochai Benkler (2006) to describe a new model of economic production in which the creative energy of large numbers of people is coordinated (usually with the aid of the internet) into large projects, mostly without traditional hierarchical organisation or financial compensation. The free and open source software movement along with collaborative projects such as wikis are the best known examples of such practice. In the cultural sphere a growing number of projects invite the audiences’ involvement, participation and contribution, and/or use open source software providing their users with access to content and know-how, as well as the possibility of developing or recycling the project for the production of their own work6. Sher Doruff (2003: 73) employs the term ‘collaborative culture’ to describe cultural practices of collaboration and inter-authorship that shift the focus from conventional inter-disciplinary exchanges “towards a synergy that marginalizes individual contribution over the relational dynamics and emergent possibilities of the collective.” The Internet, being a decentralised peer-to-peer environment, provides a good infrastructure for projects that favour open access and collaborative creativity over ownership and authorship.7

Deptford.TV

But who are these people who want to share their work? Who are the Deptford.TV users? In the summer of 2006 there were 54 people involved with Deptford.TV, most of which were locals (living not only in Deptford but also other neigbhouring Southeast London areas such as New Cross, Greenwich, Peckham and Brockley). Although fairly diverse, these people shared three main interests: 1. film-making; 2. practices of file-sharing, open source software, alternative copyright litigation (copylefting) and remix culture; and 3. their local area of Deptford and the regeneration process currently taking place there.

Why do these people want to share their work? What kind of work are they prepared to share? Which strategies do they employ in the process of sharing? And how do they tackle the challenges such practices involve?

In that same summer (2006) we interviewed 12 Deptford.TV users. The aim of these interviews was to understand why these people were interested in contributing their work to the Deptford.TV project. We wanted to know what did collaboration mean to them, and how did they feel about their work being shared, remixed, re-edited, re-used, and redistributed.

The first issue we had to tackle was how to select participants for the interviews. Did our interviewees have to be a ‘representative sample’ of the people that took part in the project? Or could they be randomly selected? And what constitutes a ‘representative sample’ within this context? Should we undertake the process of labelling, counting and recruiting our interviewees according to their gender, nationality, and age range? Or should we select people in relation to their fields of expertise and contribution to the project?

We soon decided that a quantitative approach was not the most appropriate within our context, and that statistics were irrelevant. What we needed was for a different type of diversity to be represented: since we are looking at a collaborative project and wish to explore how people work together, we decided to interview people who made different types of contribution to the project: film-makers Janine Lãi, Elvira, and Amanda Egbe shot videos specifically for Deptford.TV; film-maker Gordon Cooper and design collective Raw Nerve contributed videos from their archive material; Bitnik media collective wrote software for Deptford.TV; Stephen Oldfield performed a live music gig which was documented and uploaded on the database; Camden McDonald offered a venue for live events (Mindsweeper); Nik Hilton created and contributed a video from his perspective as an architect; and James Stevens contributed the technical infrastructure for the project through Deckspace and Boundless. Our interviewees also happened to be fairly diverse in terms of gender, ethnicity and age, although this reflects the diversity of the Deptford.TV participants rather than our concern about these interviews.

On Collaboration

Over the past fifteen years artists have clearly become increasingly interested in collective work. The nature of group work has also changed fundamentally. More and more frequently, artists are co-operating with one another (…) in order to exploit shared strengths and talents but also in order to depart from well-trodden paths that are dependent on the subject. (Block & Nollert, 2005: 8)

The first thing we wanted to discuss with the participants of Deptford.TV is the notion of collaboration. The most important element of Deptford.TV as well as many other Web 2.0 practices from YouTube to Wikipedia is a mentality of openness, which becomes manifest in practice as collaboration, exchange and sharing. So we asked the interviewees what collaboration means to them. In asking such a broad question we clearly were not after a dictionary definition of the term – what we wanted was each participant’s very personal take on collaboration as a methodology for producing work -as well as living everyday life.

All the participants talked about collaboration in terms of sharing. For them, it is not just about working together. Most importantly, collaboration is about sharing resources and expertise in order to create collaboratively something that none of them could create on his/her own. They all described collaboration as a rich, enjoyable and productive experience that involves discussion and negotiation and brings together people from diverse backgrounds, disciplines and fields of expertise. Kieran McMillan (Raw Nerve) describes collaboration as “jamming together”, whereas Rebecca Molina (Raw Nerve) talks about it as “empowerment achieved through the exchange of knowledge, expertise, and resources.” Oldfield identifies collaboration with the willingness to explore new ideas and, in doing so, abandon any predefined structures that might prove too rigid or inappropriate.

While in favour of collaboration as a creative practice, the interviewees also described it as a complex and time-consuming process that requires an investment of time and energy. Everyone stressed the importance of allowing time for a collaborative process to evolve organically. Stevens pointed out that lack of time can lead to the formation of what people often consider as more time-effective systems of collaboration such as committees, which often become too rigid and have the opposite results by suppressing communication, creativity and individuality. Everybody agreed that, despite the difficulties it involves, collaboration is a process worth investing in, in terms of the quality of both the experience and its outcomes.

An issue that kept resurfacing is the tackling of hierarchical systems of organisation within collaborative practices. We asked the Deptford.TV participants whether they consider leadership to be necessary in the framework of such practices. Can members of a group operate on equal footing without a leader? If leadership is necessary, can it shift from one person to another rather than being identified with one fixed leader?

Most of the participants declared their preference for collaboration within flexible schemas where roles can shift, and individual leadership -if this emerges as a necessity- can be distributed rather than centralised. Elvira and Lãi declared that, although leadership might be necessary in certain group situations, they are not interested in collaborating within traditional hierarchical scenarios where one leader undertakes overall control. Bitnik agreed, but pointed out that leader-free groups ran a higher risk of ‘failure’: things can easily go wrong and projects can fail to work out. Nevertheless, Bitnik consider the process of equal collaboration within artistic practice so important, that they see this as a risk worth taking. Raw Nerve, on the other hand, think that leadership is necessary in terms of vision and drive -without (a) fixed leader(s), they argue, there is no overall vision (although there can be many clashing ones) and collaboration can lead to chaos and frustration. It is worth observing that, as a design collective that collaborates with the industry, Raw Nerve are more consumer-oriented compared to the rest of the participants, and thus have a stronger interest to secure effective product delivery.

Throughout these interviews the idea of ‘equal footing’ was repeatedly identified as an important aspect of a healthy collaboration. It soon became apparent though that the diverse participants of a collaborative project need not be expected to contribute ‘the same’ or in the same way. Bitnik argued that, within a group, there are always people who need more time than others because they are less articulate /vocal /confident /motivated, or just not clear about what they want to do and/or how to achieve it. Bitnik stressed that a group should actively try and involve such people rather than conveniently push them aside and get on with the work. Nevertheless, they also stressed that no member of a group should be expected to sacrifice or suppress their personality or ideas in order to facilitate the function of the group as a whole, as this is bound to eventually lead to dissatisfaction and conflict.

Cooper insisted on the importance of collaboration based on equal footing, particularly within the context of a ‘community project’. He has often witnessed people outside a specific community coming in as leaders of projects that are supposedly designed for the benefit of the community; Cooper stressed that this practice can be patronising towards the very community it purports to benefit. Stevens discussed the danger of projects being closely ‘guarded’ by their initiator or a core group of participants who invest too much in them to be able to let go. He believes that the aim of a community project is for the community itself to take over so that the project can be ‘dissolved’ within it. This means that ownership of the project should be dispersed, rather than concentrated in the hands of a single leader or core group.

All the participants agreed that collaborative projects, other than being richer and more enjoyable experiences, often result to better outcomes due to their interdisciplinary nature. Raw Nerve particularly insisted on the quality of the work produced through interdisciplinary collaboration. They argued that such practices can produce outcomes that a sole artist/ professional would never have been able to develop in isolation. Bitnik also stressed their interest in working collaboratively as a collective. They pointed out that, within the field of digital /new media art and activism interdisciplinary collaborations are often necessary, since the sharing of skills and resources is vital for certain projects to be realised. Finally, Lãi and Cooper both pointed out that collaborative work often brings longer-lasting results, as it is the outcome of a more organic process.

On Authorship

There is a tradition that includes Walter Benjamin, Roland Barthes, the comte de Lautréamont, and Jorge Luis Borges that rejects the originality of the author, characterises the author as producer, and identifies a collective authorship: Individuals are the ensemble of their social and cultural relationships. They compile and arrange knowledge and act as mediators of an idea, and ergo exist as a subject in the plural. (Nollert, 2005: 25)

All the interviewees have contributed their own work to Deptford.TV, thus allowing for its re-distribution, remix, re-edit and reuse through alternative licensing systems such as the Creative Commons and GNU General Public license. We wanted to know why they decided to do that. How do they feel about the fact that their work can be reused? Do they think personal attribution is important? Why did they decide to abandon or share control over their own work?

Everyone agreed on the importance of personal attribution in terms of protecting their identity as creators of content or context, as well as the work itself (which can be tracked down and monitored). Having said that, most of the participants also agreed that once their work is in the public domain, it is not their own property any more. Elvira felt that once people watch her films they become theirs too. Oldfield, whose sound performances operate a lot through improvisation, explained that his work emerges as the outcome of specific circumstances the audiences make part of. In that sense his performances are not his own, but belong to everyone present at the time of their creation. Bitnik are happy for their code to be re-authored as they think that this process can threaten neither the work nor their identity as artists as long as they are being attributed as the first authors of the piece.

Many of the participants pointed out that “nothing is new”: we are all already re-using ideas, concepts, forms and aesthetics, and base our work on huge amounts of other work which has influenced us throughout our lives.8 This can be artistic work but also folk stories, music, crafts, common cultural references, and everything else that constitutes our cultural ‘baggage’. Through our work we develop and reproduce a lot of these references, or we use them as stepping stones to get somewhere else. What an author actually does, argued Bitnik, is to give form, identify, make emerge and/or attribute specific meaning to something that is already there, rather than produce something new out of nothing. Since our work is already based on the recycling of culture and ideas, many of the participants argued, why should we be so protective of it? Why shouldn’t we allow for our work to be recycled and for other people to use it as their stepping stone? Why shouldn’t this work belong to the whole community as well as a single author?

Re-using existing work and allowing for one’s own work to be re-used enhances creativity -this is something everybody agreed on. Elvira felt that mainstream litigation often limits creativity through blocking what is a natural process of sharing and re-appropriation. Bitnik see re-appropriation as liberating of both content and practice. Other interviewees, such as Oldfield and Lãi, believe that sharing is beneficial to the work itself, as it allows it to achieve its highest possible impact. Lãi argued that one has to trust that one’s work (in her case film) will not be used in ways that are not appropriate -the only other option is to ‘bury’ the work for fear of something that, most probably, will never happen. Cooper made the same point: one has to either take a risk as a creator and liberate his/her work, or else cling to it for ever, hiding it away from public view and debate.

Raw Nerve described how their designs can acquire a life of their own once allowed to keep developing in the hands of other people -a life that they themselves had not anticipated. They nevertheless made a distinction between sharing their work with communities, and being ‘ripped off’ by big companies who will happily appropriate their designs without paying a fair fee. Cooper was also sceptical in terms of releasing his film archives to the public domain: although he will happily share some pieces, other works are too important for him to share, and he prefers to keep for himself. He thinks that this balance between sharing and holding on to, opening up to public usage and keeping for oneself, is very important in terms of safeguarding one’s individuality as an artist as well as any particularly precious (in terms of either monetary or emotional value) piece of work.

Among the people we interviewed, Stevens was the most sceptical concerning issues of authorship and the use of alternative licenses. He pointed out that currently there is a lot of confusion and contradictions around these issues. Stevens thinks that this confusion deters many artists from taking part in collaborative projects and making their work freely available. According to Stevens, alternative licensing systems attempt to explore and map any ‘open space’ in media production and usage. He explained that such systems support a policy of restrictive openness as an alternative to the current copyright policy of absolute restriction and total overall control. Nevertheless, Stevens argued that alternative licensing systems are extremely complex, and people who make use of these should be prepared to defend themselves and/or their work in case of misuse or misrepresentation. He believes that wider exploitation of these licenses will unavoidably bring forth such issues in the future.

Conclusions (Maria X)

The individual and the group cannot avoid a certain existential plunge into chaos. This is already what we do every night when we abandon ourselves to the world of dreams. The main question is what we gain from this plunge: a sense of disaster, or the revelation of new outlines of the possible? (Guattari, 1992: 1)

We started interviewing Deptford.TV participants in an attempt to understand what made them interested in the project and willing to share their work with potentially anyone who would like to use it. By the end of the interviews we had, as always, even more questions, but we also had some answers: it became clear that all the participants we interviewed enjoyed taking part in Deptford.TV as this provided an opportunity to produce new work (film, performance, software, other) within an interesting and inspiring (to them) social context and/or revive archived projects by contributing them as content within a ‘living’ database. According to Sharon Daniel:

A ‘conception’ of the ‘beauty’ of a database is not located in the viewer’s interpretation of a static form but in the dynamics of how a user inflects the database through interaction with its field or frame. A database incorporates contradiction (…).The aesthetic dimensions of the database arise when the user traverses this field of unresolved contradictions.

Talking with its participants we understood how Deptford.TV, as a database film-making project, exists as a dynamic, permanently in flux “field of unresolved contradictions”: the participants talked to us about their will to share one’s work with like-minded people and their fear of the work being misused; their wish to explore alternative copyright litigation and their scepticism regarding the legal complexities alternative licensing systems are bound to unearth; their feelings of ownership and protectiveness towards their own work, as well as their desire to see the work evolve and acquire several unpredictable lives of its own. According to Hadzi (2006: 8) one of the aims of Deptford.TV is to raise awareness about individual responsibility in the way we relate to mass media, through providing a multiplicity of accessible standpoints which await for us to select and possibly shape into potential ‘news-feeds’. Through these discussions I remain positive that Deptford.TV succeeds to generate an open, flexible and dynamic pool of contradictions that demands from its spectators to create their own ‘spectacles’. How many people will actually take the challenge though? We’ll have to wait and see.

P.s.

You are personally invited to rewrite this essay. You can watch the edited video essay Strategies of Sharing (2006) at http://www.deptford.tv/bm/

You can access the full unedited interviews on http://watch.deptford.tv (you need to register as a deptford.tv user to be able to access these and more than 2,000 other clips online, as well as use the technical platform for collaborative film-editing).

Your video essay will be published on deptford.tv. Your essay will be published on both blogs. Information will be sent out to the deptford.tv and cybertheatres mailing-lists.

this text is also published in the body, space & technology journal

NOTES

1 Deptford.TV was initiated and is currently managed by Adnan Hadzi (2006) as a practice-led research project. Hadzi’s research focuses on new forms of film-making and the development of technologies and platforms that can support collective post-production, which he believes is the most difficult part of film production in terms of collaborative work. This is the main difference between Deptford.TV and other file-sharing platforms such as YouTube: the aim of Deptford.TV is not just to provide a database of videos that everyone can access, but also to provide the technical platform that will allow for the collaborative processing and post-production of these film materials. Another major difference is that Deptford.TV is a thematic project which collects videos that relate to the area of Deptford in Southeast London and the regeneration process that takes place there. Deptford is one of Southeast London’s oldest industrial areas and has always been one of the most underprivileged areas of the country. According to Heidi Seetzen (2006), “Deptford is now the site of a number of high-profile buildings and cultural projects, to the point that there is now talk of the emergence of a ‘Deptford Riviera’ and a limited amount of media speculation that the area may finally emerge as “Britain’s answer to Left Bank.””

2 For example current work, archives, rough materials, edited content, but also performances in physical space which are documented and put on the web.

3 For example see Toffler, A. (1980) The Third Wave. New York: William Morrow & Co.; and Bell, D. (1973) The Coming of Post Industrial Society: A Venture in Social Forecasting. New York: Basic Groups

4 See for example Wirefire (1999-2003) http://www.etrnopy8zuper.org/wirefire, or 8 (2003-4, exists only as prototype) http://www.tale-of-tales.com/8/

5 The First Person Shooter game Counter Strike is a good example: according to Celia Pearce (2003), the first version of the game was created entirely by its players using the level-builders in the Half Life game engine.

6 See for example the work of UK-based group Radioqualia http://www.radioqualia.net, Danish collective Superflex http://www.superflex.net, as well as the work of programmer /artist Jaromil http://rastasoft.org

7 In saying that it is important to point out that I in no way consider the Internet to be a ‘pure’ medium – I would rather think that it is, by now, clear to all that it has become heavily controlled by corporate giants such as Microsoft and AOL. To quote Doruff again (2003: 77), “There is no guarantee that the self-organizational innovation commons of the Net will continue under the potentially crippling controls of wireless protocols, perhaps dead-ending the future of proliferating communities.”

8 When it comes to literature Julia Kristeva (1980: 69) has introduced this idea through her notion of ‘intertextuality’, which refers to the vertical connection of a text to other texts. This notion is very much associated with poststructuralist theory.

REFERENCES

Benkler, Y. (2006) The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom. http://www.benkler.org/wealth_of_networks/index.php?title=Main_Page#Read_the_book (accessed 1/12/2006).

Block, R. and Nollert, A. (eds) (2005) Collective Creativity. Kassel & Munich: Kunsthalle Fridericianum & Siemens Arts Program: 8.

Bourriaud, N. (2001) Esthétique Relationelle. Paris: Les Presses du Réel.

Daniel, S. Database Aesthetics: Issues of Organization and Category in Online Art. http://time.arts.ucla.edu/Al_Society/daniel.ht

Doruff, S. (2003) “Collaborative Culture” in Brouwer, J., Mulder, A and Charlton, S. (eds) (2003) Making Art of Databases. Rotterdam: V2 &NAi Publishers.

Guattari, F. (1992) “Pour une refondation des pratiques socials”. Le Monde Diplomatique, October 1992: 1 in Block, R. and Nollert, A. (eds) (2005) Collective Creativity. Kassel & Munich: Kunsthalle Fridericianum & Siemens Arts Program.

Hadzi, A. (2006) “What is Deptford.TV?” in Deptford.TV (eds) (2006) Deptford.TV diaries. London: OWN, SPC Media Lab & Deckspace: 7-9.

Hayles, K. N. (1999) How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature and Informatics. Chicago & London: University of Chicago Press.

Kristeva, J. (1980) Desire in Language: A Semiotic Approach to Literature and Art. New York: Columbia University Press.

Nollert, A. (2005) “Art is Life, and Life is Art”, in Block, R. and Nollert, A. (eds) Collective Creativity. Kassel & Munich: Kunsthalle Fridericianum & Siemens Arts Program: 25

Pearce, C. (2002) “Emergent Authorship: the Next Interactive Revolution”. http://www.cpandfriends.com/writing/computers-graphics.html (retrieved February 2003).

Seetzen, H. (2006) “The Production of Place: the Renewal of Deptford Creekside” in Deptford.TV (eds) (2006) Deptford.TV diaries. London: OWN, SPC Media Lab & Deckspace: 29-44

converge research September 22, 2007

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The converge project in collaboration with transmission.cc & flossmanuals.net is finishing towards the end of september. A book with OpenMute as print on demand will be published alongside the website http://www.converge.org.uk explaining FLOSS tools for videodistribution over the internet.

Inclusion Through Media at Goldsmiths

Inclusion Through Media (ITM) is a programme of projects across the UK which use audio-visual media to engage young people and excluded individuals and communities. It focuses on projects that bring the target groups together with media professionals to produce high-quality products for maximum impact. ITM projects stress innovative methods and participatory approaches.

Goldsmiths is leading on four Inclusion Through Media projects:

Converge

One of ITM’s objectives is using ICT for the production and distribution of learning materials and products developed by partners and target groups. Converge is a programme to enable young people to showcase their work on the web. Adnan Hadzi of Deptford.tv is working with Goldsmiths to produce a handbook and workshop programme to enable young people to fully utilise both existing offers and build their own open source software based sites. These will be piloted with Hi8us partipatory youth media projects across the UK.

Project leader: Rebecca Maguire, e-mail r.maguire@gold.ac.uk, Business Development Office
Partner: Hi8us Projects, Hi8us South, Hi8us Midlands, Hi8us North, CIDA

The Inclusion Through Media Publication
A book about the themes explored in Inclusion Through Media, to be published in Autumn 2007.
Project leader: Tony Dowmunt, e-mail t.dowmunt@gold.ac.uk, Department of Media and Communications
Partner: Hi8us Projects

Beyond the Numbers Game

Research project looking at the efficacy of existing performance measures for participatory media work and developing an alternative approach to making the case for the value of creativity in general, and participatory media in particular, as a tool for engagement and social inclusion, especially with young people. The Centre for Urban and Community Research (CUCR) is developing an evaluation toolkit for Inclusion Through Media, working with Hi8us Midlands on an interactive on-line version. The project sits within CUCR’s research programme in the visual cultures of contemporary urbanism, and our track record of high-quality innovative evaluation work. See our Beyond the Numbers Game Page for more information.

Project leader: Ben Gidley, e-mail b.gidley@gold.ac.uk, CUCR
Partners: Hi8us Projects, Hi8us Projects limited, Hi8us Midlands.

no border camp at gatewick, 19th – 24th of septemer September 22, 2007

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No Borders – No Nations – No Prisons

An Invitation To The Gatwick No Border Camp 2007

From 19th to 24th September 07 we will gather at Gatwick Airport for the first No Border Camp in the UK. This camp will be a chance to work together to try and stop the building of a new detention centre, and to gather ideas for how to build up the fight against the system of migration controls.

Gatwick Aiport – The Border Point

Gatwick is a border in the middle of Britain. People arrive here everyday. People are forcibly deported from here everyday. It is a place where people are imprisoned for unlimited lengths of time without trial, where people are forced to hide underground and be invisible, where people are treated as criminals for the ‘crime’ of crossing the border.

In Britain, the government has recently announced its intention to build a new detention centre, near Tinsley House, another detention centre at Gatwick airport. This will be another in a long line of barbarous prisons across the world, imprisoning people who migrate. Unless we stop it from being built.

Not far from Gatwick there are other border fortifications: the immigration reporting centre at Croydon, the airline companies who charter deportation flights and the ID Interview centre in Crawley. And a few miles away are the border posts at Dover and Folkstone, where fear of detection by the border police forces people to risk their lives hiding under lorries, or in suffocating containers.

While the physical borders get fortified, governments also tighten up the internal controls: from international databases to video surveillance, biometric ID cards to electronic tagging. Just recently, the UK government has announced the introduction of the Sirene System. This will grant Britain access to the SIS (Schengen Information System), a EU wide police database for refugees and migrants, planned to be extended to keep protesters from moving around.

A Tactics Laboratory

How does daily life, from the need to work for survival to the welfare system, reinforce these borders? How can we fight against the common acceptance of borders, the idea of an inside and outside? How can we claim freedom of movement as a basic right? How do we assert our ability to decide whether to go or stay, according to our needs and desires, not the needs of the state or the economy? How can we escape control, and start building a movement powerful enough to challenge the divisions between people?

We need to share knowledge with those who have broken these borders, the hackers who escape control, those who survive without work and money, those who fight the detention system , those who question identities, those who have learnt to organise themselves without hierarchy or divisions.

Camp(aign)ing Against Borders

This camp is continuing the tradition of the No Border camps across the world since the late 1990s, and like the camps taking place this year in the Ukraine in August and on the US/Mexican border in November. It will be a space to share information, skills, knowledge and experiences. A place to plan actions together against the system of borders which divides us.

We are aware that the struggles for “no borders” reach far beyond “open borders”. Without borders the idea of states will become obsolete, without states the national economies will be history. In a world without borders, nobody will ask for papers anymore.

The camp will also be a laboratory of political and practical self-organisation. The camp will consist only of people’s contributions to this. We are aware of the borders which divide ourselves from each other, be it sex, class, race, nationality, or whatever. The border camps are experiments in how to overcome these artificial and separating identities.

No Borders

No Borders is a network of groups struggling for the freedom of movement for all and an end to all migration controls. We call for a radical movement against the system of control, dividing us into citizens and non-citizens.

We demand the end of the border regime for everyone, including ourselves, to enable us to live another way, without fear, racism and nationalism.

We move, we meet. We talk, we fight.

Come camp with us. read more.

lewisham 77, 15th september 2007 September 22, 2007

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the next Deptford.TV workshops during october will produce short films for the lewisham 77 exhibition in november. more here.

On 13 August 1977, the far-right National Front attempted to march from New Cross to Lewisham in South East London. Local people and anti-racists from all over London and beyond mobilised to oppose them, and the NF were humiliated as their march was disrupted and banners seized.

To mark the 30th anniversary of the ‘Battle of Lewisham’ a series of commemorations are planned in the area where it took place, including:

- a walk along the route of the march/counter-protest, including people involved at the time. This will start from Clifton Rise, New Cross at 3 pm on Saturday 15th September 2007. Google map here

- a Love Music Hate Racism gig at Goldsmiths Student Union on Saturday 27th October 2007.

- a half day event in New Cross on Saturday 10th November with speakers, films and a social event in the evening (2 pm start at Goldsmiths College, New Cross).

More here
 

Key posts

 


 

Tell us your story

Do you have any memories, leaflets, photographs, video footage or other material relating to the ‘Battle of Lewisham’? If so please email us (lewisham77@gmail.com) or post a comment on this site. As well as the events of August 13th, we are interested in the build up of racism and resistance prior to the day, and the aftermath, such as court cases.

migrating universities, 14th-15th september 2007 September 22, 2007

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migrating University Goldsmiths to Gatwick

mig | 11.09.2007 22:40 | No Border Camp 2007 | Migration

 

from indymedia

 

General enthusiasm for this event is very high. A feeling of frustration, and therefore energy for exploring activist options, is strong on campus. This is the joint result of the ongoing managerialism that afflicts the ‘teaching factory’ at all levels, alongside the wider malaise of neo-liberal war-mongering imperialism/Border-ism evident in the current conjuncture, everywhere. The role of the university in relation to borders between people and knowledge, between different knowledges, between peoples, between students, between students who pay ‘overseas’ fees and those who pay too much (‘training’ for industrial gain, paid for by the student??) and the ever extended morale crush that afflicts staff… linked to the obsolescence of older ideas of ‘education’ in favour of opportunism and productivity… Exclusions and …racism, murder-death-kill… there is much good reason to explore these concerns in our workshop.


No Detention, No Deportation;
No Borders in Education:
Freedom of Movement for All

Migrating University, at Goldsmiths,
September 14-15th 2007;
From Goldsmiths to Gatwick. ( http://noborders.org.uk )

At the last meeting we had taken decisions on the date, timetable and format, five panels plus Battle of Lewisham Walk (met with them and agreed mutual co-ordination); prepared a preliminary blurb (now on CCS website [currently goldsmiths sites are down]), arranged to make a banner, booked a room, still in discussion with College over the marquee; organised with Joan Kelly to visit; linked with No Borders London and No Borders general.

Confirmed speakers so far include: Ken Fero (Injustice), David Graeber (activist anthrop), Ava Caradonna (sex worker education group), Susan Cueva (union), Sanjay Sharma (author of Multicultural Encounters), Hari Kunzru (novelist), Mao Mollona (anthropologist), Harmit Athwal (Inst Race Relations), Katherine Mann (musician), Paul Hendrich (Pirate dad) and Joan Kelly (artist).

Panels and format as it stands now [this draft is not yet confirmed]:

Friday 14th September

10.30 – Introduction, note that this is a meeting to encourage attendance at No Borders Camp at Gatwick – indicate table and meeting in evening.

10.45 -12.30 – Panel 1 – open university open source – (Brian)

12.30-2pm – Picnic on Back Field/in tent or inside if rain. 2.00-4.00 – Panel 2 – radical pedagogy/immaterial labour – (Francisco)

4.15-6.15 – Panel 3 – racism, immigration/detention, police, ‘injustice (new film promo), Inst Race Relations (Olivia)

6.15 – meeting upstairs in Goldsmiths Tavern about collective attendance at Gatwick.

7.00-9 Joan Kelly from Singapore for workshop upstairs in Tavern (food and drinks).

Saturday 15th September

10.30-12.30. Panel 4 – Teaching Factory/Critique/uses of the University (John)

12.50-2.30 Panel 5 – local campaigns, Wilberforce/pirates, Sex Workers Education campaign, trades union, Detention support (Cam)

2.30 Quick lunch

3pm-6pm – “Battle of Lewisham commemorative walk” along the route of the march/counter-protest against the National Front in 1977, including people involved at the time. At present this will start from Clifton Rise, New Cross at 3.

AVPhD, manchester, 14th-15th september 2007 September 22, 2007

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Deptford.TV presentation see slides1 & slides2 (as .pdf files).

AVPhD project

The AVPhD project began October 2005 and we have AHRC funding until September 2008 to consolidate, expand and develop the project UK wide, and develop more national (and potentially international) collaborative connections. Audiovisual practice research PhDs were first accepted little over a decade ago and are now increasingly in demand. Our initiative is the first systematically to address the training needs of this growing community of doctoral students. One of the effects of our work to date has been to reveal the need for students to discuss issues with the (still relatively small) group of experienced supervisors and examiners, and vice-versa.

Our primary objective is to create a sustainable, engaging and lively UK wide training network for all those working towards audiovisual practice research PhDs. We believe this will involve a long term commitment to training, especially as the nature of the PhD is itself long term, and both students and staff will benefit from sustained and continuous networking, both live and online, which of course will help their developing academic careers.

These are our main aims:

  1. To sponsor and help organise a series of training events and workshops across the UK, covering the major aspects of embarking on an AVPhD, aimed at current and prospective candidates. The first of these has already happened in Belfast – others are planned for Brighton, Edinburgh, Cardiff, London, Manchester and Bristol. These events will also give doctoral students a chance to see and discuss each other’s work, in a form of a ‘peer review’ process. At least one of them will also afford an opportunity for supervisors and examiners to discuss standards and criteria.
  2. To develop an online education pack to compliment the workshops, including (for example) case-studies of universities and their differing approaches to AVPhDs, and methodological publications (perhaps a collection of essays generated by contributions to the training events).
  3. Set up and maintain a dynamic, intuitive website that includes a database of examiners, supervisors and students of AVPhDs with their profiles and links, an online forum for ongoing discussions and support, as well as relevant articles and audio-visual works.
  4. Collaborate with the Bristol University based ScreenWork initiative – a peer reviewed DVD to be published by Intellect in association with the Journal of Media Practice.
  5. To develop a future plan for the website, DVD distribution, and the workshops to ensure long-term sustainability of AVPhD, for example looking into institutional subscription to the scheme.

The AVPhD steering group now comprises:

Ian Christie
Professor of Film and Media History, School of History of Art, Film and Visual Media, Birkbeck
Jon Dovey
Reader in Screen Media, Department of Drama: Theatre, Film, Television, University of Bristol
Tony Dowmunt
Department of Media & Communications, Goldsmiths College (which remains the lead institution) – Senior Lecturer, Media Studies, University of Ulster
Robin Nelson
Professor, Department of Contemporary Arts, Manchester Metropolitan University
Gail Pearce
Lecturer, Media Arts, Royal Holloway, University of London
Al Rees
Research Tutor, Department of Communication, Art and Design, Royal College of Art
Joram Ten Brink
Reader in Film, Head of the PhD programme (practice based), University of Westminster
Rosie Thomas
Reader in Art and Media Practice and Director of Centre for Research and Education in Art and Media (CREAM), University of Westminster
  

 

The Manchester workshop will focus upon digital media and new media arts and invites current (or recently-completed) PhD students to present their work (see ‘Call for Presentations’) and we ask presenters to foreground issues of methods and methodology. Proposals with other interesting topics and perspectives will, however, be considered.

 

Though there is considerable interest in ‘practice as research’, the AVPhD project is concerned with all approaches to PhDs in the Audio-Visual media (broadly understood to cover everything from fine art and sonics to social anthropology using sound, video/film as a means of investigation).

AVPhD ‘North’: Regional Workshop

Friday 14th September 9.30am – 6pm, Saturday 15th September 9.45am – 5pm

 

Geoffrey Manton Building, Manchester Metropolitan University,

Oxford Road, Manchester, M15 6BH

(Organisers – Jim Aulich, Jane Linden, Robin Nelson)

 

NB There is no charge for this AHRC-funded workshop. Lunch will be provided on both days BUT delegates are asked to register their intention to attend for catering and organisational purposes:

TO:   Cheryl Platt (c.platt@mmu.ac.uk)  BY:    Friday 31 August 2007

 

 

Friday 14 September

 

09.30   Arrival and tea/coffee

 

10.00  Welcome and Introduction

 

10.15  Keynote: Charlie Gere, Reader in New Media and Director of Research in the Institute for Cultural Research at Lancaster University.

 

11.30  Methods/Methodologies (1)

Digital Practices – Applications: Chair – Jane Linden

 (Eunice CHAN, Mike GOLDING, Anne KELLOCK)

 

13.00  Lunch

 

14.00  Innovations in publishing PaR (Ric Allsopp)

 

15.00    a) Examiners workshop – tutors only (Robin Nelson)

 

b) Introduction and screening: Transfiction

by Johannes Sjöberg + discussion

 

17.00  Short plenary followed by wine reception


Saturday 15 September

 

09.45   Arrival

 

10.00   Keynote: Andrea Zapp, researcher-practitioner and Route Leader for MA Media Arts at Manchester Metropolitan University

 

11.00   Methods/Methodologies (2)

Lanscapes and Communities: Chair – Jim Aulich

(Veronica VIERIN, Lisa STANSBIE, Adnan HADZI)

 + Summary of issues identified (Jane Linden)

 

13.00  Lunch

 

14.00  Workshop: Modes of Writing for PaR PhDs

(Robin Nelson et al)

 

16.00    Plenary discussion

 

17.00  Close

 

drha07, ahds misery, 10th september 2007 September 22, 2007

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Strategies of Sharing: the Case-study of Deptford.TV
Maria Chatzichristodoulou (aka Maria X) presented at DRHA 2007

Web 2.0 is about sharing and networking. Software like wikis and social networking sites have made it possible for anyone privileged enough to enjoy access to new technologies to publish any type of content online and invite everyone else to access, share and process this.

This paper will attempt to explore the ‘strategies’ of sharing, using the project Deptford.TV (http://www.deptford.tv) as a case-study: Initiated in 2005 by Adnan Hadzi, Deptford.TV is an open and networked project that employs methods of commons-based peer production and uses open source software to build a video database for collective film-making. It also is a community project that attempts to collectively document the regeneration process in Deptford (Southeast London). I wanted to know: Who are the Deptford.TV participants? Why do they want to share their work? What kind of work are they prepared to share? Which strategies do they employ in the process of sharing? How do they tackle the challenges such practices involve?

This paper will be based on video interviews with Deptford.TV participants and their analysis, discussing issues of collaboration, authorship, community and documentation within the context of socially engaged Web 2.0 practices.

————————————————-

What was more shocking was the discussion around the shutting down of the ahds and that there is no proper solution for the vacuum to come, as a lot of outcomes from research around new media relies on the ahds as archive.

from the ahds blog

After the AHDS: the end of national support

 

A panel discussion at the opening of the recent Digital Resources in the Humanities and Arts conference at Dartington College of the Arts posed the question what happens after the end of the Arts and Humanities Data Service (AHDS); is this the end of national support?

The Arts and Humanities Data Service is a national service with the primary role to preserve, curate, and provide access to the digital output of the humanities in the UK. The Service is also active in the enhancement and promotion of digital scholarship in the UK as well as internationally. After eleven years of service, the AHDS recently lost its funding from the JISC (Joint Information Services Committee) and the AHRC (Arts and Humanities Research Council). The Service will cease to exist in its present form in March of 2008.

The panel discussion was introduced by the head of the Arts and Humanities Research Council’s ICT in Arts and Humanities Research Programme, Professor David Robey. The other members of the panel were Lorna Hughes, Manager of the AHRC ICT Methods Network, and Professor David Shepherd, Director of the Humanities Research Institute.

Professor Robey stated that the end of the AHDS may be decisive in the history of digital scholarship in the UK as this may be the end of national support. It is national support that has defined digital scholarship in the UK for many years and has helped the nation to become one of the world-leaders in the field. Without a national approach, the field may flounder or return to the dark days of scattered digital scholarship with little coherence or ambitions as a field.

At the present time, the AHDS preserves over one thousand projects in various digital forms, some of which include the Stormont Papers (the complete collection of the parliamentary debates of the Northern Irish Parliament under British rule), and Designing Shakespeare, (a multi-media database of the performances of Shakespeare over a forty year period). The collection of the AHDS is undoubtedly one of the most important digital collections in the world and some of it ‘born-digital’ collections exist in no other location.

The panel discussed some of the problems that may occur after the closure of the AHDS. There is no indication as to what will happen to the collection after the closure, except that the responsibility for preservation of the individual projects may be handed to institutional repositories. Although institutional repositories are responsible for collecting, preserving, and dissemination the intellectual output of universities in a digital form, there are some reservations, as express by David Shepherd, that institutional repositories are up to the task. Preservation requires projects to be prepared in a certain way and is an ongoing process. It also requires the ability to deal with complex data in various forms. There is also the serious problem that not all universities have institutional repositories, ironically including King’s College; London, the principal home of the AHDS. Although institutional repositories may one day be able to handle the tasks of the AHDS, there was great concern, as expressed by all members of the panel, that this was yet some time away. In the longer term institutional repositories may be able to look after complex data, but not now. David Robey also expressed the loss of the AHDS may also mean the end of its integrated catalogue to search the collections under its umbrella.

Lorna Hughes, the Manager of the AHRC Methods Network, stated that the decision to cease funding of the AHDS came at the same time that digital resources had reached a critical mass and access to this was altering the very nature of scholarship across the spectrum. To withdraw funding now may impact upon the ability to reuse this significant resource and to curate and present it in a user-friendly and innovative way in the future.

The program that Lorna Hughes is Manager, the highly inventive Methods Network, also ceases to be funded in 2008. The Methods Network is involved in numerous activities to promote the use of digital technologies in the humanities through workshops and other events. As the name indicates, the Methods Network is active in promoting digital scholarship through connecting individuals across various disciplines through such things as the computational methods that they employ in their work. For instance, scholars may come together through tools (like text mining) or through methods (like visualisation). It is this cross-fertilisation that is vital to the promotion of digital scholarship as a field, not only because of the economic efficiencies that it provides, but also because central to the concept of ‘innovation’ is the sharing of knowledge across disciplinary and institutional boundaries.

Lorna Hughes also lamented that there was a serious dearth of tools available to scholars to properly exploit digital resources; perhaps another activity that could benefit from greater central coordination. One way that this could be achieved is through online resources such as the arts-humanities.net community platform being developed by the Methods Network. It is hoped that this community platform will continue part of the work of the Methods Network in a virtual form and carry on the conversation that will take digital humanities and its methods forward.

David Shepherd discussed what universities can do in this post-AHDS period. His own experience from running the Humanities Research Institute at the University of Sheffield; one of the UK’s premier centres within the Digital Humanities, is that institutional repositories are no where near close to being able to support complex data as made by HRI Sheffield. He made the case that universities have additional responsibilities now that the AHDS is gone, but there is a gap between what they can do and what is needed. 50% of all projects funded by the AHRC in 2006 had some sort of digital output that indicated that we cannot now make a divide between the digital and the posing of research questions.

The demise of the AHDS is a challenging period and institutions need to move quickly to overcome any gaps in the services offered by the AHDS. If they don’t move quickly, there is a danger that some of the digital output of the humanities in the UK will be lost along with the skills needed to preserve and provide access to this data.

burningdork07, 1st – 3rd september 2007 September 22, 2007

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this was great! let’s do it again!

http://dorkbot.org/dorkbotlondon/wiki/index.php/DorkCamp07

iamcr, paris, 23rd – 25th of july September 22, 2007

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the programme and abstracts as .pdf file. Deptford.TV as poster presentation.

Media, Communication, Information: Celebrating 50 Years of Theories and Practices
These last fifty years have seen a number of theoretical evolutions and practical advances in the domains which relate media to the inter-or multi-disciplinary field of information and communication. Some of them have emanated from European and Western research centres, others from diverse regions of the world scientific community. These various bodies of research have supplied analytical tools that cover the whole range of the field of media, information and communication, in a global perspective: from the production and the international circulation of news and data, images and texts, to their reception, by a wide range of publics. They have critically examined such issues as public space and democracy, actor networks and agency or technological mediation and its modalities.

New theoretical spaces of development and applications are also emerging, apparent in a number of pioneering works, with original and innovative approaches. Issues such as internet governance and co-regulation of the media resonate with questions on diasporic publics, cultural and trans-cultural diversities. The theoretical contributions of other fields, such as economics, cognition, politics, or urban studies, to name a few, have been facilitating new readings of semiotic processes and media representations, and fostering a deeper understanding of the tensions between genres and gender, minorities and communities, “youth” cultures and subcultures, worldwide. The modifications of the market and the political economy of the media in the context of globalization have cast in new perspectives such issues as cultural goods and services, e-learning industries and media literacies, not to mention sustainable development alternatives via media and new technologies for information and communication.

These developments, old and new, coincide with the areas of inquiry and the directions for research that IAMCR has fully embraced over the past fifty years. In celebration of this anniversary, The IAMCR 2007 conference will try to reflect these tendencies and to test how they intersect with more classical thematic strands such as media history, political communication, political economy, participatory communication, media education, information and ICT policy, etc. Sections and Working groups will analyze in their sessions innovative connections between theory and practice, notably the contribution of empirical work to research, and evaluate new original methodologies, protocols, instruments and indicators. Perspectives and trends for the future will also be delineated, so as to provide new paths for investigation by IAMCR members in the next 50 years.

Website: iamcr.org

transmission documentation workshop, 22nd may 2007 September 22, 2007

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Deptford.TV organised the transmission.cc documentation workshop looking at how to create manuals for FLOSS. See the wiki for further infos & outcomes.

London Docs Gathering

A few of the crew from the Transmission documentation working group are going to be meeting up in London in a couple of weeks to talk online video distribution documentation.

The aim to create a common repository for housing and collaborating on documentation to avoid re-inventing the wheel and to create a better resource.

The dates are May 22/23. More info can be found here

http://wiki.transmission.cc/index.php/Documentation_working_group

and’s blog | login or register to post comments

nice meeting

Submitted by zoe on Sat, 2007-06-02 13:59.

and a very nice meeting it was too, productive with friendly people, nice views and very tasty munchies, thanks adnan! best thing about it from my perspective was the decision to create ‘ways in’ to floss documentation for users with specific needs and tasks to achieve. we used a free mind plugin (what a lovely name) to map the routes that people with a video to put online might find they want to take to their goal. By asking basic questions at every level, I suspect that people will be better able to identify and locate the free software they need, not just be presented with a smart looking guide to using some inexplicably named ffmpegahedron software to achieve some obscure sounding task relating to codecs and other stuff they’ve never heard of…. so hurray for a new, user friendly way forward for online video floss documentation : ))