Chapter 7 – The participative documentary through the lenses of the Live documentary

Massumi, B (2007) The Thinking-Feeling of What Happens. In: Brouwner, Joke and Mulder, Arjen eds. Interact or Die! V2_Publishing/NAi Publishers, p. 70-91


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Massumi, B (2007) The Thinking-Feeling of What Happens. In: Brouwner, Joke and Mulder, Arjen eds. Interact or Die! V2_Publishing/NAi Publishers, p. 70-91.

Morpurgo, Michael (1982). The War Horse. London: Kaye & Ward publishers.

O’Neil, Mathieu (2011) Wikipedia and Authority. In: Critical Point of View: a Wikipedia Reader [Internet], edited by Geert Lovink and Nathaniel Tkacz. Amsterdam: Institute of network Cultures. Available from: [Accessed 5 December 2011].
O’Flynn, Siobhan (2011, forthcoming Spring Issue) Psychogeography as Social Activism in Kat Cizek/NFB’s Highrise/The 100th Tower & Out My Window. In: Letort, D. and Fournier, G. eds. Narrative Practices and Documentary Film-making in the English- speaking World: from Propaganda to Dissent. LISA e-journal [Internet]. Available from: <>
O’Really, Tim (2005) What is Web 2.0? Design Patterns and Business Models for the Next Generation of Software. O’Really Networks [Internet]. Available from: <> [Accessed 28 June 2011].
Orlowski, Andrew. There is no Wikipedia Entry for “Moral responsibility”. The Register [Internet], 13 December 2005. Available from: <> [Accessed 4 January 2012].

Potts, Jason et al. (2008) Consumer co-creation and Situated Creativity. Industry & Innovation 15(5):459-74.

Raymond, Eric (1998) The Cathedral and the Bazaar: Musing on Linux and Open Source by an Accidental Revolutionary. O’Reilly Media.

Raymond, Eric (2004) Open Minds, Open Source. Analog Magazine, June-July. Available from: <> [Accessed 23 September 2011].

Reagle, Joseph (2005) A Case of Mutual Aid: Wikipedia, Politeness and Perspective Taking. In: Wikimania 2005, Frankfurt, Germany, 5th of July 2005.

Rose, Mandy (2011) Umbrella of Crowdsourcing. Collabsdocs, September 20 [Internet blog]. Available from: <> [Accessed 24 September 2011].

Rose, Mandy (2011) Kara Oelher & Jesse Shapins on Mapping Main Street. Collabdocs, June 10 [Internet interview]. Available from: <> [Accessed 3 August 2011].
Sangers, Larry (2007) Who Says We Know: on the New Politics of Knowledge. Edge [Internet]. Available from: <,retrieved> [Accessed 7 January 2012].
Shirkey, Clay (2008) Here comes Everybody; How Change Happens when People Come Together. New York: Penguin Press.
Shirkey, Clay (2009a) Newspapers and Thinking the Unthinkable. Available from: <> [Accessed 5 January 2012].
Shirkey, Clay (2009b) A Speculative Post on the Idea of Algorithmic Authority. Available from: <> [Accessed 5 January 2012].

Spiegl, Andreas (2000) Participation as a Fragment of Functionalism. Available from: < -> [Accessed 5 December 2011].

Surowieky, James (2004). The Wisdom of Crowds. New York: Doubleday.
Sorenssen, Bjorn (2008) Digital Video and Alexandre Astruc’s camera-stylo: the new avant garde in documentary realized ? Studies in Documentary Film, Vol 2 No 1. Bristol: Intellect.
Tapscott, Don and Williams, Anthony D. (2008) Wikinomics, How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything, Atlantic Books.
Williams, Raymond (1958) Culture is Ordinary. Resources of Hope. Culture, Democracy, Socialism. Ed. Robin Gable (1989). London: Verso, p. 3-18.

Digital works

A Man with a Movie Camera: Global Remake (2007-ongoing) [Online Participatory Video] Authored and directed by Perry Bard, software design by Steven Baun. Available from: <> [Accessed 10 January 2012].
Are you happy? (2011-2012) [Online collaborative documentary] produced by Mandy Rose. Available from: <> [Accessed 11 January 2012].
Conspiracy for Good (2010) [Trans-media narrative] created and directed by Trim Grim [Accessed 11 January 2012].
Gaza Sderot: Life in Spite of Everything (2008) [Online documentary]  co-produced by Arte and Upian. Available from: <> [Accessed 10 January 2012].

GDP: Measuring the human side of the Canadian economic crisis (2009-2010) [Online documentary]  directed by Helene Choquette and produced by the NFB. Available from: <> [Accessed 8 December 2012].

Greenwich Emotion Map (October 2005 - March 2006) [Locative art project] produced and executed by Christian Nold.
Global Lives (2009-ongoing) [Cross-media documentary] initiated by David Evan Harris. Information available from: <> [Accessed 13 January 2012].
Highrise (2009-ongoing) [Online documentary]  directed by Katerina Cizek and produced by the NFB. Available from: <> [Accessed 28 November 2011].
The Jonny Cash Project (2010-ongoing) [Online collective art project] creative directors: Aaron Koblin and Chris Milk. Available from: <> [Accessed 4 February 2011].
Life in a Day (2010) [Film] directed by Kevin Macdonald. RSA Film. Online version available from: <> [Accessed 7 July 2011].
Life in a Day Interactive Gallery (2010) [Online documentary] directed by Kevin Macdonald. Available from: <> [Accessed 10 January 2012].
Mapping Main Street (2009-ongoing) [Online collaborative documentary] created by Oehler, Heppermann, Shapins and Burns. Available from: <> [Accessed 10 January 2012].

Miami/Havana (2010) [Online documentary] co-produced by Arte and Upian. Available from: <> [Accessed 10 January 2012].

One Day on Earth (2010) [Online documentary] Project Founder Kyle Ruddick. Available from: <> [Accessed 5 January 2012].
One Millionth Tower (2011) directed by Katerina Cizek and produced by the NFB. Available from: < > [Accessed 18 November 2011].
Out my Window (2010) [Online documentary]   directed by Katerina Cizek and produced by the NFB. Available from: <> [Accessed 18 November 2011].
Overheated Symphony (9 March 2008) [Live Edit Event] by Sarah Turner.
Participate (2011-ongoing) [Online collaborative documentary]  directed by Katerina Cizek and produced by the NFB. Available from: <> [Accessed 28 November 2011].
Pandemic 1.0 (2011) [Trans-media narrative] created by Lance Weiler. Information available from: <> [Accessed 10 January 2012].
Prison Valley (2010) [Online documentary] directed by David Dufresne et Philippe Brault and produced by Alexandre Brachet. Available from: <> [Accessed20 December 2011].

Rider Spoke (2007) [Locative project] produced and executed by Blast Theory.

RiP: A Remix Manifesto (2004-2009) [Film and collaborative documentary] directed by Brett Gaylor. Available from: <> [Accessed 7 July 2011].
The Thousandth Tower (2010) [Online documentary]  directed by Katerina Cizek and produced by the NFB. Available from: <> [Accessed 10 January 2012].
The Truth About Marika (2008) [Online game and television programme] created and directed by Martin Ericsson for SVT television.
The Waiting Room (2010-ongoing) [Cross-platform documentary] produced by Linda Davis and Peter Nicks. Available from: <> [Accessed 11 January 2012].
6 Billion Others (2003-ongoing) [Cross-platform interactive documentary] created by Yann Arthus-Bertrand. Available from: <> [Accessed 4 February 2011].
#18 days in Egypt (2011-ongoing) [Cross-platform documentary] produced by Jigar Mehta. Available from: <> [Accessed 10 January 2012].

1 Media theorists Boyd an Ellison define social network sites as ‘web-based services that allow individuals to (1) construct a public or semi-public profile within a bounded system, (2) articulate a list of other users with whom they share a connection, and (3) view and traverse their list of connections and those made by others within the system’ (2008:11).

2 In his article What is Web 2.0 Tim O’Reilly underlines that in Web 2.0 ‘there is an implicit “architecture of participation”, a built-in ethic of cooperation, in which the service acts primarily as an intelligent broker, connecting the edges to each other and harnessing the power of the users themselves’ (2005:6).

3 In Wikinomics, How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything, Tapscott and Williams, explain how a new generation of consumers are emerging as a result of social media: the “pro-sumers”. Those are not just consuming content as they also generate it. The pro-sumer ‘treats the world as a place for creation, not for consumption’ (2008:127).

4 In Here Comes Everybody Shirky defines user-generated content as ‘a group phenomenon, and an amateur one’. When people talk about user-generated content, he says, ‘they are describing the ways that users create and share media with one another, with no professionals anywhere in sight’ (2008:99).

5 See chapter 1 for the definitions of those models.

6 Trans-media documentaries are part of the larger form of trans-media narratives, which include fictional narratives. In 2003, MIT media studies Professor, Henry Jenkins used the term in his Technology Review article, "Transmedia Storytelling". Since then the term has clearly differentiate itself from cross-platform narratives. In a cross-platform narrative a same story can be present on different formats (and example would be Michael Morpurgo’s book The War Horse that has inspired a play and that will become a movie) while in a trans-media story each platform only contains certain parts if the story, and the user/participant needs to move from one media to the other to have the full picture (examples would be Lance Weiler’s Pandemic 1.0, Trim Grim’s Conspiracy for Good, and Martin Ericsson’s The Truth About Marika).

7 See Life in Day’s dedicated YouTube channel at

8 See Life in Day’s Interactive Gallery at

9 Avatar’s trans-media producer Jeff Gomez, CEO of New York-based Starlight Runner Entertainment, explained at the trans-media conference Power to the Pixel 2011 how American majors film companies, including Disney, are now using trans-media strategies to have a higher return on their investments. Effectively using more than one platform gives a longer life to a film, and allows multiple access points into a story from a variety of different audiences.

10 See Glorianna Davenport’s ‘evolving documentary’ in chapter 1, page ??.

11 Potentially participation could also mean changing the structure of the database, or the modes of interaction, but as we will see in this chapter this is an area still to be explored.

12 Definition from the Oxford Dictionary (2010 Edition).

13 In their book YouTube, Burgess and Green define vernacular creativity as ‘the wide range of everyday creative practices (from scrapbooking to family photography to the storytelling that forms part of casual chat) practised outside the cultural value systems of either high culture or commercial creative practice’ (Burgess & Green, 2009:25).

14 See, accessed 8.10.11.

15 For many cultural theorists (Hoggart, 1957; Williams, 1958, Fiske, 1989, 1992, Hall, 1981) bottom-up participation matter insofar ‘as they can be understood as a part of a political project of emancipation and democracy, tied to the politics of class, race, and gender’ (Jenkins, 2009:11).

16 This open-source culture has its roots back in the late 1960’s when ARPAnet, the internet predecessor, allowed programmers to exchange source code to solve problems. Most of today’s internet is the result of such voluntary collaboration. This logic of peer production became recognized as a possible mainstream form of software development when in the second part of the 1990’s open source operating system Linux started to be widely recognized, Netscape released its source code, and Eric Raymond published his paper The Cathedral and the Bazaar (where he clearly explained the ethics and culture of the open source movement).

17 Moody, Glyn (2001) Rebel Code: Linux and the Open Source Revolution, The Penguin Press. Page 86.

18 Until then most freeware programmes had chosen the GNU General Public Licence (GPL) because as Linux’s creator Linus Torvalds said “the only thing the copyright forbids is that other people start making money off it, and don’t make source available (to others)” (as quoted in Rebel Code, p.79).

19 For the full definition of Open source see, while for Bruce Perens’ analysis of the definition see , accessed 6.6.10.

20 This definition was accepted by the Open Source Initiative -an organization that was founded in February 1998, by computer programmers Bruce Perens and Eric S. Raymond.

21 “The license must explicitly permit distribution of software built from modified source code. The license may require derived works to carry a different name or version number from the original software. This means that Netscape, for example, can insist that only they can name a version of the program Netscape Navigator(tm) while all free versions of the program must be called Mozilla or something else”. From

22 Since some modifications could embarrass the original programmer of the code it is said that “the license may restrict source code from being distributed in modified form only if the license allows the distribution of "patch files" with the source code for the purpose of modifying the program at build time” ( In other words the original source code must be kept intact and any modification must be presented as clearly recognisable add-ons to it.

23 Originator and leader of the free Linux operating system.

24 Originator of the free GNU operating system.

25 Originator of the free Debian operating system.

26 See Homesteading the Noosphere by Eric Raymond for a full description of the Hacker’s ideology (page 65 of The Cathedral and the Bazaar).

27 The film is available at, accessed 9.10.10.

28 The log of the tapes can be found at (see Fig.1), and the videos themselves are stored into the DTA open source archive at , accessed 20.10.10.

29 The film is released on the internet under the Creative Commons attribution 2.5 Australia, which gives free rights to copy, adapt, distribute and transmit the work (see

30 This is not to say that there is no aesthetics in code but just that it is not the same one of film’s aesthetics.

31 Two years after Dancing to Architecture was made, three German friends decided to do a road movie about their improvised trip around America. Route 66 quickly became popular as “Germany's first Open Source Film after its release under a Creative Commons License in 2004. Downloaded a million times, spread on 600.000 DVDs and used by artists and colleges around Europe, the movie lead to the foundation of the Open Source Film Netlabel VEB FILM Leipzig”. (Source:, retrieved 17.10.09) In Route 66 people can not only use the film shots but also re-mix the soundtrack. The same group of friends are now working on The last drug, an open source feature film.

32 See, retrieved 21.09.10.

33 From, retrieved 21.09.10.

34 RiP 2.0 has toured several film festivals in 2008 and actually won the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam Audience Award and the Edward Jones Audience Award at the Ann Arbor Film Festival.

35 Private interview held on the 10.11.09.

36 The term crowdsourcing was first coined by journalist Jeff Howe in “The Rise of Crowdsourcing”, Wired Magazine, June 2006. In this article Howe notices that companies are starting to use the Web to tap into a “new pool of cheap labour: everyday people using their spare cycles to create content, solve problems and even do corporate R&D” (Howe, 2006:1). Howe also highlights four groups of people that are being crowd-sourced: the professionals, the packagers, the tinkerers and the masses. Obviously the target group is chosen depending on the needs and enquiries of the crowdsourcer. In Gaylor’s case a group of professional, in the sense of experts, re-mixers was chosen. Although re-mixing is not recognised as a paid profession, its most active members are recognized as experts in the field. Gaylor did not offer a financial retribution to the people that answered his calls to collaboration, but their name was credited in the final movie. Recognition, more than profit, was used as a motivator of participation.

37 In the most famous example of open source software, the operating system Linux, project leader Linus Torvalds was steering the boat: he had the power to take on board, or disregard, other people’s packages of code, and of proposing new development routes, but the whole community was active in proposing solutions, debugging software and pointing out issues. This model of collaboration has later been called ‘the benevolent dictator’ by Eric Raymond in The Cathedral and the Bazaar (1998:110).

38 Recorded interview held on 10.11.09.

39 In software engineering, a project fork happens “when developers take a copy of source code from one software package and start independent development on it, creating a distinct piece of software”. Source:, retrieved 14.11.10.

40 Recorded interview held on 10.11.09.

41 See, retrieved 9.11.11.

42 Here governance is defined as ‘the arrangements of power relations within a group’ (O’Neil, 2011:309).

43 Wikipedia has in turn been seen as an example of bazaar governance (Eric Raymond, 1998), as democratic (Don Descy, 2006), as meritocratic (Axel Bruns, 2008) as anarchic (Joseph Reagle, 2005) as self-generated policing (Bankler and Nissenbaum, 2006) or as a hybrid of different governance systems (Mayo Fuster Morell, 2011). This research is not trying to assess which system is most accurate to describe Wikipedia as what counts is the crisis on the hierarchical model that Wikipedia has engendered, and the opening to new models of self-governance still to be fully experimented.

44 See, retrieved 15.12.10.

45 Actually, as Jeff Howe noticed in 2006, the skilled photographer amateurs of iStockphoto, and later, do put in peril the professional fees of so called professional photographers by simply offering for free, or next to it, a service and expertise that used to be rare, and therefore costly.

46 One of the changes that Web 2.0 has made possible, according to media specialist Clay Shirky, is that ‘rather than limiting our communications to one-to-one and one-to-many tools, which have always been a bad fit to social life, we now have many-to-many tools that support and accelerate cooperation and action’ (2008:158).

47 A few active members of the Wikipedia collective can actually participate to some decisions taken by the governance body, the Wikimedia Foundation. This represent a minimal fraction of the people that use and edit Wikipedia every day , and the decision they can take part in are more of internal editorial organization than of strategic nature.

48 Global Lives, analysed later as main case study of this chapter is the project that comes closer to a co-authoring logic where the benevolent dictator’s role is kept to a minimum, and where the form of the documentary is opened to future evolutions.

49 See, accessed 10.10.11.

50 Out of the 80,000 contribution that were sent, worth 4500 hours of video footage, only around 1000 became part of the final linear movie but all the material was presented at a touchscreen gallery exhibition and most of it is accessible through the interactive interface available at, menu “explore”. For the gallery exhibition see, accessed 10.10.11.

51 Wikipedia refers to Life in a Day as a ‘crowdsourced documentary film’. Source:, accessed 03.10.11.

52 See Rose’s post of the 7th of July 2010 in her blog, accessed 3.10.11.

53 See Rose’s post of the 7th of July 2010 in her blog, accessed 3.10.11.

54 6 Billion Others also invites web and exhibition visitors to add their contributions to the online database via the use of a webcam, or through a special recording boot that is present in all the exhibition spaces of 6 Billion Others. The project was launched with 5,000 interviews but it is now an evolving database of interviews.

55 Source:, accessed 4.10.11.

56 One Day on Earth’s first media creation event occurred on 10.10.10. ‘The collaboration was the first ever simultaneous filming event occurring in every country of the world. It created a unique geo-tagged video archive as well as an upcoming feature film’. Source:, accessed 10.10.11.

57 Source:, accessed 10.10.11.

58 This myth of the universality of human condition was already criticised by Roland Barthes in 1957 as too simplistic. Describing a touring photographic exhibition, The Family of Man, where photos of birth, death, work, knowledge and play coming from all around the world seemed to propose the idea that “there is a family of Man” (2009:121), Barthes notices how, out of an such apparent diversity of morphologies, races and customs the exhibition tries to hint at the message that “there is underlying each one an identical ‘nature’, that their [our] diversity is only formal and does not belie the existence of a common mould” (2009:121). For Barthes the myth of universality of human condition lays on the belief of nature and religion as global unifiers. One could question if in projects such as 6 Billion Others it is still nature and religion that are seen as unifiers, or if it is the Web, and its networking action that is being mystified.

59 Source: Wikipeadia. Available at, accessed 7.10.11.

60 It is interesting to notice that after a long career in participatory TV Mandy Rose has recently started a web based participatory project, Are you happy? that revisits Jean Rouch’s seminal documentary Chronicle of a Summer in the context of global web collaboration, open video and HTML5. She is also the writer of, a blog dedicated to the meeting point between documentary, collaborative practice and the semantic web.

61 This was for example made possible in Prison Valley (2010), where web users could get in touch with the subjects of the interactive documentary in the forum hosted by production company Upian.

62 From the "about" section of Highrise's website. Source , accessed 10.10.11.

63 From “the story so far”. Available at, accessed 03.10.11.

64 Private discussion with Katerine Cisek, on the 16.09.11.

65 Wording taken from Cizek’s presentation slide, British Library presentation on the 16.09.11.

66 From private recording of Cizek’s presentation, on the 16.09.11.

67 Information given during Katerine Cisek’s presentation of Highrise at the British Library on the 16.09.11.

68 Recorded conversation, 16.09.11.

69 Superchannel is a company started in 1999 by the Superflex artist community, in collaboration with programmer Sean Treadway. It offered live internet TV, using cheap, existing technology and software. Anyone who wanted to start their own channel had just to send an email with a proposal. Every show had its own live online chat-room where viewers could discuss the programme and talk directly to the broadcasters. It was designed to be used by anyone with access to an ordinary computer, a video camera and an internet connection.

70 The first Superchannel was broadcast from Artspace 1% in Copenhagen in the summer of 1999 broadcasting live music and a regular dub reggae show. Since then a wide variety of other channels have started up in other countries (for example in the UK, Japan and Thailand).

71 The Echo Chamber Project, by filmmaker Kent Bye, started in 2002 when Bye decided to act against the absence of independent journalism during the build-up to the war in Iraq. “I watched and recorded five months of ABC, CBS and NBC footage leading up to the war” says Kent in his blog, “then in the summer of 2004, my wife and I went on a journey of interviewing 45 different experts who described the general symptoms and underlying illnesses of American Journalism as well as the specific pre-war media failings” (source:, retrieved 20.09.09). During the first six months of the conflict Kent recorded all major news coverage on the subject (from ABC, CBS and NBC American television) and conducted more than 50 hours of interviews. He then wanted to upload the material online and invite users to tag and rate the visual clips in order to place them on play lists that would respect the collective user’s point of view, rather than the media point of view, or his own. In his blog Kent calls this process “collaborative sense making”: ideally, he says, ‘such system would allow people to add their own context through each of these phases in a way that is both easy to participate and easy to productively make sense of the user input in a cumulative fashion’ (source:, retrieved 10.10.09). Effectively Bye wanted to let the crowd edit the film. Unfortunately, after being donated a $55,000 production grant in 2007 from an unnamed foundation, the project seems to have stopped. Kent’s blog went silent after his entry of the 2007-01-05 and is now not online anymore.

72 This is the term Harris has used in his online bibliography. The full sentence is ‘David is a cross-disciplinary mediamaker, working at the intersection of art, activism and academic inquiry on the politically charged questions surrounding globalization and social justice’ . (Source:, Retrieved 7.12.11). His background is in Sociology, but he has also written a book, You Will Serve Me, a comparative ethnographic study of relationships between domestic workers and their employers in Brazil and the US. Harris is therefore not coming from a documentary background at all, and in a conversation we had on the 15.11.11 he admitted that the world of film production does not interest him at all. For him Global Lives is an ethnographic experiment that links his interest on the cultural effects of globalization to his belief in collective practices as an alternative model of cultural creation.

73 On his third year as an undergraduate at Berkley Harris spent eight months abroad for his studies and lived with families in Tanzania, India, Philippines, Mexico and the UK. In an interview with Mandy Rose, Harris explains how this experience made him made him want to ‘communicate not just the political and social justice issues and deep inequality that I [he] had seen, but also the emotional side of this experience of travel and life outside of my [his] tiny bubble in the US’ (source:, accessed 7.12.11).

74 Harris recalls being particularly touched by the Nam June Paik retrospective (the Worlds of Nam June Paik, 2000) and the piece Going Forth By Day, 2002, by Bill Viola – both exhibited at the Guggenheim Museum. .

75 People who consider editing as the only way to pass across the voice of the documentary author will struggle to see Global Lives as a documentary at all. My position is that form, location and media are themselves part of the documentary narration and I therefore consider that several streams of unedited rushes shown in a public gallery (or on the web) do represent a creative treatment of actuality, and are therefore part of the documentary family. The layers of interaction that are added to this project, and that will be discussed later, will then position Global Lives in the family of participative interactive documentaries.

76 As in November 2012.

77 See for the first rushes that have been uploaded by Global Lives.

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