The events in Gaza did not just elicit online protests, but in fact opened a sort of parallel theater of war in cyberspace. And shortly on the heels of that, another tragedy strikes closer to home.
On New Year’s Day, local transit police fatally shot
a passenger, Oscar Grant, in an Oakland, California, station. This has been caught on video by numerous passers-by. The videos, rapidly spreading via Internet
, left traditional media behind, of course, and generated a backlash
that resulted in disturbances in Oakland
(citizen-journalism footage from which are even more numerous
The revolution will not be televised. But will it be captioned?
But there is a problem here. Even though I am not visually or hearing-impaired, it is very hard for me to understand what is going on just by watching such ad hoc videos.
We get more real-time, unfiltered news thanks to the ubiquity, cheapness and small sizes of consumer devices such as cameras and cell phones. The low prices make them available to more and more people, and the small sizes make them not only portable (and thus available to the public at any time), but also less noticeable to “authorities”
But these same characteristics of these devices mean that the quality of the recording is far from perfect. Now add to that the ambient noise, lighting problems, crowds jostling, and general lack of professional videography experience by the amateurs. As a result, what we gain in speed of getting information we lose in its quality. We know that something happened, but can hardly be certain as to what.
This is where the great real-time reportage by those on the scene can, and should, be enhanced — both by other citizen journalists, and by professionals in the traditional media.
The citizen reporters who happened to be on the scene did their part. And now, the bloggers who sit at their computers will provide their points of view. As Xeni Jardin notes
[M]any YouTube users are annotating and re-uploading video to offer amateur opinions on what’s going on, and who did what, why.
Contribute your skills to provide clearer content and deeper context, not merely opinions.
Speaking one’s piece of mind is great, but we know full well here is no shortage of that on the Internet. Instead, those that can should contribute their time and technical ability in a more objective way. For example, those that possess appropriate skills and technology could analyze and enhance the provided video and audio, and add annotations and captions to them, so that those of us using run-of-the-mill computers to keep up with the news can get some content (and, perhaps, even some context), that is currently obscured by noise.
And as that happens, the traditional media should, in parallel, work hard to add value, in the form of deeper context and analysis, as close to real-time developments as possible. As Om Malik put it:
The eyewitness dispatches (and photos) via social media are an adjunct to the more established media — which needs to focus on providing analysis, context, and crucially, intelligence — in real time. And yet it is old media — and their next-generation counterparts, the blogs and other Internet outlets — that will have to adapt to this.
We already know that the revolution will not be televised
, but it will be on YouTube
But will it be captioned? Annotated? Explained?