Very prompting.

Displayed here is a picture of the whiteboard from last week. In class we were asked to respond to the prompt for our assignments:

How can social media be used to produce an interactive documentary?

And here is what we came up with 🙂

Thursday 9.30am class response to our prompt

Thursday 9.30am class response to our prompt

I think the most important thing I gathered from this was that social media can be used SO effectively and powerfully by creating a community. Having observed my boyfriend engage in his online communities (video gaming, television, pop culture, YouTube personalities etc.) I have been able to recognise how involved some people become in their online communities (sometimes more so than their real, physical communities). It is only once time has been allowed for a community to be created that participation can be demanded from followers.


Week 4 Lecture: Kyla Brettle

Today we were lectured (hehe) by Kyla Brettle, on social media production and participatory projects. A question from her lecture that stood out was:

Who is the user and who the producer?

…particularly in relation to participatory media. The content is produced by viewers, and who would classically be labelled ‘the audience’, but they are no longer the audience are they? The lines become blurred here. I like how Kyla mentioned the words ‘produser’ and ‘prosumer’ to connect this – describing a new form of user-generation.

Describing her own participatory project My Tribe, Kyla presented the people who contributed not as “junkies packing peanuts” but informed, active users.

I liked her definition of what a participatory project is:

 a project that solicits and draws on user generated content/media for the purposes of creative storytelling and developing collaborative, socially engaged experiences and features.


A rant, a response, a reading

How can social media be used to create an interactive documentary?

In all of the interactive documentaries we have looked at in class, have any of them involved the use of a flash mob? I feel like we are looking at two different uses of social media, for two different results. This has been a bit confusing within our group when discussing what to do for our major assessment task. Half the group has been focusing on the flash-mob side of it, trying to think of an interesting idea that will resound with what a ‘flash mob’ is. As Judith Nicholson puts it:


“Unlike other mobs, flash mobs had no leader, responded to no particular issue and had no specific mandate.”


Focusing on the task this way prompts us to look at ‘public disturbances’, or events in public places that will draw attention, and possibly amusement.


However, the other half of our group has been focused on the final goal of creating an interactive documentary. Therefore, ideas from these few people have revolved around audience participation separate from an actual event.


It is actually a really difficult task to collate the two different ideas of what we are supposed to be working towards, as it seems that this is two separate results combined into one assignment.

  1. Use social media to stage an event/flash mob
  2. Encourage participation and the use of social media AT and AFTER the event/flash mob, in order to create a prototype for an interactive documentary.


This could have been spelled out clearer on the assignment sheet – it is causing so much confusion within our group!


In answer to the prompt however, I think the task we are carrying out is not the most effective way to produce an interactive documentary using social media. Social media in its very essence draws people together virtually, not physically. People are rarely concerned about actual events outside of the virtual communication sphere (i.e. in reality). I feel the best way to create an interactive documentary would be to encourage people to contribute via social media, collecting their own material from their own lives and experiences, and bringing that together on the online format. This is what was done in ‘Highrise’, and it is really effective!


Online communities are created ONLINE. They require time to set up, as people with the same sets of interests/humour/ideas need to be given the ability to find each other. The most important aspect in using social media to create a collection of participatory responses in a documentary format is TIME – something we are not provided with for our assignments.


Finally, I just wanted to make a comment about the Nicholson reading. It was good, but it is like 10 years old! I think this makes it pretty irrelevant. It speaks of the ‘decline’ of the flash mob, which obviously hasn’t happened, and focuses on very small events. There is also little mention of dance flash mobs, which I think have become very prevalent as just a flash mob on its own for the heck of it, as well as an advertising technique (as discussed in an earlier post).

Example of Flash Mob

We were looking in class today at some flash mob movements that we liked, and I came across the T-Mobile Welcome Back campaign.

It’s absolutely amazing.


I am a sucker for the ones with singing and dancing 😉

It was difficult to find an example of a successful flash mob that had evidence of social media planning beforehand. After all, the point is for them to be a surprise to the public, and to leave a social media presence behind AFTER it takes place, not before.


In this case, it was obviously a company that organised it, so no, social media would not have been as prevalent in the planning process. However, I think it is important to note how the company planned the event to have a major social media repercussion. It is now on YouTube, and you can see within the video itself that people witnessing it were taking pictures and video to share on social media themselves. Not to mention, the thousands of Facebook statuses that would have followed…


I think this was a really clever move by the company, and an effective way to circulate themselves on social media.

Just a thought.

You know how the world is all like






…..Yeah, well, I’m over it.

Am I supposed to look at all these ‘latest and greatest’ interactive websites and forums and things and be interested? Because I am actually just not. I feel overwhelmed by media. I feel like I’ve been desensitised to it, but overly so. Rather than not noticing it, I notice that I hate it.

Sometimes I feel that this is all life is! Staring at screens, typing on computers, clicking, double-clicking, pressing ctrl-c, ctrl-v, ctrl-z.

I sit here trying to get work done, and the sun is shining outside.

Is it no wonder we are all depressed, stressed, and obsessed.

Life is a mess!

Of media sadness.

That accidentally turned into a poem. You are welcome.

-Steph out-

To interact with your death.

This blog post will present a brief case study of the online interactive documentary ‘Thanatorama’ – found here.


This ‘webdocumentary’ experience takes us on a journey to the grave and afterlife. In quite vivid detail, the viewer is treated as though they are a corpse experiencing the trip from being prepared for the funeral ceremony to being buried. Along the way they are encouraged to make decisions about their own death journey. In this way, making various choices to direct the narrative, the experience is interactive.


My first reaction this interactive documentary was ‘ewwwwwwww’! Although the concept is very interesting, and the viewer is challenged to imagine what their own afterlife experience will be, it is still shocking and unsettling to see what actually takes place – especially as the body is being preserved and prepared for the funeral. This is quite shocking and unpleasant to experience.


Despite this creepy nature of the piece, it is still engaging and challenging. Though definitely in a documentary style, this project features minimal interaction from viewers. Audiences do not get a chance to add their own content to the project, but they do get to direct the order of the narrative. This style resonates with Galloway’s idea of an ‘active adaptive’ interactive documentary, ‘where the viewer is in control of the documentary’s progression’ (Gaudenzi, pg. 30), as well as Nash’s ‘narrative webdoc’, which ‘tends to propose a dominant narrative, even if the user is free to navigate through it with different logics’ (Gaudenzi, pg. 31). Essentially, the story runs like a choose-your-own-adventure. It is still a truly interactive documentary, yet it does not go to the next level and allow people to add to it themselves.


Much like any usual documentary in form, Thantorama presents the common features of the genre: “use of interviews and observational sequences, sound and images collected on location, and commentary either in the form of voiceover or text” (Nash, pg. 198). Images and film are used to introduce characters throughout the documentary, and one main voice narrates the entire journey. Audio is also used to add a mysterious, eerie mood to the piece, the subject matter obviously warranting this.


Because this example does not heavily rely on social media, I will instead outline a way in which this could have been incorporated. Clearly the webdocumentary could be ‘shared’ on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, and a link could have been provided on the site to encourage and enable this. In terms of using social media to give audiences an opportunity to contribute to the piece, this could have been done by allowing users to send in footage, audio and requests for further options. The only option I can find within the documentary for direct user interaction is a separate ‘condolences’ page, in which people can upload their own condolences/eulogies online about their deceased loved ones.


It is also possibly necessary to mention that this webdocumentary is spoken in French! It was created by Ana Maria de Jésus – who is clearly French. We are provided with English subtitles so we can read along and follow the narrative, yet primarily this is a French documentary. (Could there be cultural differences/differences in translation perhaps?) The format of the piece is a website, and it appears to have been created just as a usual website would be.


“Highrise” as participatory and interactive.

A sprawl of images, videos, audio and text, “Highrise” leans towards the new-age culture of participation and interactivity which is becoming common online. Initially its set-up reminds me of the iPad magazine formats I have recently been introduced to. The way the images overlap and interchange as you scroll down the page makes you feel like you are in a moving space, more than looking at a 2D screen.

Only vaguely do I find it truly participatory. I ask myself how do I participate in this interactive experience? And truthfully, all I can do is click buttons and view the same set material in the order of my choice. I see how different people from all over the world have participated in making this and sharing their experiences of highrise buildings.


Okay so evidently there are ways to get involved as found here.