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).