John Jacobs a co-producer of the POOL did a guest lecture for IM2 yesterday.It was inspiring to hear from one of the producers on this project, which included some of the more specific processes that the ABC as a public broadcasters are going through in order to engage with social media.
Following is my perspective, notes and ideas that where generated by this presentation. The POOL is an R&D initiative for the ABC and is being built around a philosophy of open content and open source.
In relation to specifics I was interested in work being done around licensing and the site default setting of the most restrictive Creative Commons license. Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives (by-nc-nd). It is good to see these license options including all rights reserved and public domain. Blip tv for example runs the same options and is known in the online video domain to be far more respectful of licensing than YouTube for example. Also, the ABC seem to be working hard to create an even playing field with the content providers where any rights over content on the POOL is reduced to a minimum.
The key here seems to be about respecting attribution with the POOL also looking at how they can track content right through to a remix. A process of geotagging
which is starting to be reflected in the metadata that is being added to content as it is uploaded. Correcting this geotagging is a concept the POOL would like to look into down the track. The current tracking and tagging of content is included in the drupal upload form. Operating on another level below content tagging there seems to be a method of classification being used to work out what and who uploaded content in terms of the author and specifics of that content. The Drupal system provides the functionality needed to create these types of automated processes with users and very specific forms. In the content tagging on uploading content onto POOL having default categories to chose from creates a delineated type of categorisation in combination with more user-generated type approaches. Drupal signalling may also be worked in over time. A functionality that responds to individual users engagement with the site.
Jacobs pointed out that a remix, a derivative work can in the context of the POOL and further publication on other ABC platforms, be created by as little as adding fade in and outs. It is useful to acknowledge that a subtle change like this to someone’s content could constitute a remix. The POOL has used a .org domain name http://www.pool.org.au/ to reorientate this intiative into the non-proft arena and create some simpatico with open content/opens source communities.
Questioned on gatekeeping and editorial control of content added to the POOL, Jacobs explained that they are working with social media mechanisms that encourage the users to be involved in this process. Where users get to flag what they see as being problem content and at the same time comment on what they consider to be good. The idea is to work on a bottom-up approach where the good material floats forward. There are plans to add a forum, for example.
Also, an aim with the architecture is to create cross-referencing systems that let people see related content. A similar aim in the video blogging community that I have written about in the post hammering vlogs. Jacobs described how the POOL producers had contacted a couple of people who had submitted works, with suggested alterations due to sensitive issues in these pieces. A subtle form of gatekeeping compared to pulling the content off all together.
In fact what I find interesting is the relationship the POOL is setting up with ABC prosumers through specific call outs. People submitting content can get feedback on their work from experienced media producers. From a teirtary education perspective this is where the POOL offers something different, providing a link between the ABC and students/teachers engaged in media training. In the past the ABC as public broadcaster and university media departments generally operate in islolation from each other, apart from traditional work placements. Having the potential to develop dialogue between professional media producers and students around content and social media offers a more level situation for both parties to learn from each other.
The other thing I picked up on is the way the call outs are run to get the public interested in contributing content. Jacobs was reluctant to call these ‘comptetitions’ and I agree with him when you see the way this term has been used and applied by a number of social media sites to generate content and solicit traffic . I also see the competition idea relating too much with the big brother/pop idol mentality of TV where there is always a loser and a winner. I think the idea of there being a best work in a user-generated environment dissolves to a large degree, with the focus shifting to what is relevant for the user and what they are interested in specifically. This goes against the YouTube or Google search process of whatever has the most contact with users rises to the top.
Also, the project ‘call outs’ on the POOL in most cases are targeted around specific ABC programs with the idea that they may generate content for those programs. Like ‘My Street’ for example, the POOL call out and the Radio National program ‘Street Stories‘. Even though this is a radio program the POOL decided to run with all types of rich media in response to these call outs, rather than just audio in this example. I was interested to know whether a photo, writing or a video submitted to this call out was taken up for adaption in some way by the Street Stories producers, as there is the potential to uncover all sorts of stories when a program brief is opened up to the public. There is so many successful examples of user-generated content being driven around very specific constrained briefs. i.e squared circle on flickr.
Another idea is whether the content uploaded around this theme/callout could be curated into other types of public media. For example a short series of videos for ABC 2; A photo gallery of images that shifts to the Street Stories website making a direct connection between the POOL and the Radio National program. In an online environment there are many ways to look at what might constitute public broadcasting and direct publishing. Finally, what might eventuate is scenarios where the public come up with program ideas in reverse. Like what has been happening on open source radio.