When the documentary is not a film: Tales from launching a web-native collaborative project
Guest post by Jigar Mehta, i-Docs 2012 keynote speaker on Thursday 22 March.
On January 25th 2012, the one-year anniversary of the start of the Egyptian revolution, we launched 18DaysinEgypt.com. No red carpet, no world premiere. It was a moment that we had spent many months building towards, but the site was not our final product. The launch was the beginning of our documentary about the revolution. Our audience is our collaborator.
18 Days in Egypt is an interactive documentary project that tells the story of the ongoing Egyptian uprising, using the personal media created by Egyptians in the crucible of the revolution. We want Egyptians to tell this story together, with their footage, their photos, their e-mails, their texts, even their Tweets and Facebook status updates, all created during the last year in Egypt, particularly but not limited to the first 18 days of the uprising, January 25th to February 11th, 2011.
Not a blank canvas
When we opened the project on January 25th, we did not want participants to see a blank website waiting for the first person to tell their story. We wanted them to see an active community that encouraged them to join in the conversation and contribute to the larger story. Our approach was to start with a small group of beta users two weeks before launch to populate the site. Not only were these users populating the site with content; they were helping to set the tone for the larger community.
One of the keys to the early success of pre-populating the site was our fellows program. We have used part of our funding to hire 6 young Egyptian journalists and students to work with us as field producers. They act as the bridge between the online platform we developed and the reality of Egypt, helping others use the site but also sourcing stories from those who don’t have access to the Internet. They help digitally divided Egyptians get their stories onto the site.
read the full post on the i-Docs site:
Can't wait for the conference!