Wednesday, May 19, 2010

"Towards a more robust discourse of meaning in the media"

I'm still exploring the open source/new media education thread at EatTheOther...

Open source media paves a new way of communicating ideas collaboratively so that the old models of journalism and documentary narrative no longer apply. The monopoly of a handful of media moguls is crumbling. Bloggers, citizen journalists and aggregators have disrupted the system of distribution and now provide ever expanding alternatives to the traditional distribution streams. A new, New Journalism is on the rise with social networking creating a linchpin culture of leaders within this movement.

One of these cultural linchpins is the Brave New Foundation’s Brave New Educators (BNE) project. BNE’s mission is to engage people in a narrative to provide context and meaning. By using access to primary sources of moving imagery we practice constructing meaning and use these sources to create a new, unique and evolving sense of perspective in a digital form narrative.

BNE creates an incubator for social change by engaging educators and their student scholars with the catalysts of shock, shame, fear, and anger – the elephants in the room that people avoid.

Though critics may suggest that this bricolage methodology is documentary filmmaking 2.0, however documentaries don’t fully engage their audience. They tend to present an “ain’t it awful” scenario, leaving the viewer feeling disengaged and disempowered. The difference with the experience of Brave New Educators is that the activity of remixing exposes the creator to the negative material while allowing them to move through it and create their own narrative from it, thus empowering students and giving them essential tools for critical thinking in a media convergent society. These multimedia, hypertextual digital texts are light years from the traditional, dry college essays. Students in the BNE pilot program reported that while they found the material surprising, shocking and disturbing, it was the act of engaging with material they found uncomfortable that helped them gain new perspectives and create their own narrative.

Collaboratively involving others in a collective organized movement is a work of activism. Remixed narratives ignite the thought process and become a catalyst for collaborative change. In this way, ideas function as viruses, jumping from place to place until they go viral and create a wave of participatory culture that has the power to effect real change. This sharing and collaboration produce an innovative hybrid in the truest democratic form – organized chaos. The wisdom of crowds is founded on diverse opinions and ideologies. The new media is the catalyst for that.

1 comment:

bake said...

I'm very intriqued...so many elephants in the room I can hardly move sometimes...but carefully navigate my way through hoping to not cause a stampede...for heaven's sake. I want to incorporate eye opening and sometimes inherently disturbing content into the curriculum that challenges students' perspectives about preconceived notions but at the same time leaves them empowered in their new knowledge and not jaded or overwhelmed.

At the intersection of art and new media, a place where the convergence emerges.