In the coming weeks EngageMedia is undertaking a re-design of our video-sharing website focused on social justice and environmental video in the Asia Pacific.
Our original design has served us well since 2006, but its definitely time for a revamp. For various technical reasons, we have been limited in terms of our design to something close to the look of an older version of the Plone content management framework on which Plumi, our free software video sharing application, is based. Changes we are working on now in Plumi are enabling us to separate the design from the content management system, and have a freer approach to create the kind of user-interface people expect from today's online video applications.
We're using Diazo to re-theme EngageMedia.org and Plumi. Diazo "allows you to apply a theme contained in a static HTML web page to a dynamic website created using any server-side technology. With Diazo, you can take an HTML wireframe created by a web designer and turn it into a theme for your favourite CMS, redesign the user interface of a legacy web application without even having access to the original source code, or build a unified user experience across multiple disparate systems..".
I'm currently in Athens with Unweb, the programmers who work with us to develop Plumi and the EngageMedia.org website (I'm a co-founder of EngageMedia, but these days I usually focus on Plumi development, as well as my own film production work). It's very hot in Athens, but we're hiding inside from the heat, getting deeper into the new design and functionality required for our new look.
I'm here working with Dimitris, Christos and Markos from Unweb. Yiannis, our designer and front-end developer has joined us in Athens, and is now working with us from the Netherlands. Mike from Unweb will be coming to work with us next week.
Unweb are not only great programmers, but excellent cooks! As is their housemate Nikos :) We will have produced a lot of code and consumed a lot of food by the end of our sprint ;)
Why Athens, you may ask? Well, Unweb are experts in Plone and have been the main developers of Plumi for some years now. They're also comrades from our days as part of the Indymedia network.
Normally we work together online, but I happen to be here in Athens to work with them on another project based on the Plumi video-sharing app, called Critical Commons. This is an online cinema educational tool originally built by myself, Infinite Recursion and EngageMedia for the Institute for Multimedia Literacy at the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts (a project developed by Steve Anderson and Erik Loyer). It's also a project designed to push the boundaries of fair use in an educational context, challenging the legal limitations copyright places on distributing film clips online. It also forms the multimedia backbone for Scalar, an open-source platform for media-rich scholarly publishing.
For the EngageMedia re-design, we're also looking at re-engineering the way video activists interact with the site, in terms of building better steps towards activism and advocacy into the user-interface. Basically we want to encourage users to take the next step after watching a video - whether that's finding out more info on the issue, taking part in discussions, finding others who are active around the issues and taking part in social movements, and/or taking direct action.
This will all happen in the next stage of the re-design. We're looking for feedback and thoughts on implementing this "video for change" philosophy into our website design, so get in touch if you're interested in giving your input.
We've also just released a new version of Plumi, which includes major improvments to the way videos are published via Plumi, which I'll post some news about shortly. Exciting times for EngageMedia and Plumi development! We'll keep you posted in the coming weeks...
It's been so positively busy at EngageMedia recently! Last month, we had our first workshop in Singapore, Video4Change retreat in Indonesia, and video production and distribution training for Indonesian migrant workers in Malaysia.
This month, we had our first TV show broadcasted, saw 2 'Papuan Voices' videomakers win awards, launched a video competition, and I just returned from our introductory trip to Thailand.
Over 2 weeks in early July, I traveled across 3 provinces in the conflict zone of Southern Thailand, and to the capital city of Bangkok, conducting workshops and presentations on video distribution and online subtitling (using Amara) to activists, video makers, students, migrant workers, and the independent media.
Starting off in the Southern province of Pattani, I made my way to the neighbouring provinces of Yala and Narathiwat with the help of our partners, Southern Peace Media and InSouth. Members from both organisations were participants in Camp Sambel 2, and they were very heartened to see us follow up from the event.
Since the resurgence of a separatist movement in 2004, the 3 provinces have seen constant bomb attacks, shootings, and human rights violations. Most of the people in the region are Muslim and speak a Malay dialect, in contrast to most Thais, who are Buddhist and speak Thai. More than 4,300 people have been killed in the violence there, and as of 2011, the Thai army had 60,000 forces stationed in the region.
In recent years, the independent media organisations in South Thailand have organised themselves under the Deep South Watch network and website, with our partners being the main producers of video material.
Using their videos, we held a subtitling and video distribution workshop in the Prince of Songkla University. The 12 participants included students, video makers, and NGO activists. As participants could use both Thai and Malay, it was a particularly interesting subtitling session, and further proved how crucial translation is in sharing and understanding critical issues.
The next week was spent in Bangkok, the capital city of Thailand, and a hotbed of regional NGOs. With the help of our partner Prachatai, an independent media organisation, I met with almost 20 organisations there, and held 3 workshops.
The first was held with activists, video makers, and journalists. I introduced them to EngageMedia, and went on to conduct sessions on video distribution and online subtitling. A rather interesting video called Witch Hunt Online, on the control of and threats on the Internet in Thailand was subtitled into English. I'd recommend everyone to watch it.
The second workshop was held with workers from the Try Arm workers cooperative and fair trade fashion company. The company was started by ex-workers who were retrenched by Triumph International. They found the workshop to be of great interest, and feel encouraged to produce more videos, and share the skills they learnt with their colleagues.
A final workshop was held in an interesting space called the Labour Culture Centre set up by Burmese migrant workers in Bangkok. The workers pooled funds and filled a 2-storey building with computers, making it a free IT training centre for fellow Burmese.
The online subtitling session there was also very interesting, as videos that were transcribed into Thai at the first workshop were translated into Burmese. An example of such a translated video is available here.
The feedback from participants of all the workshops was that they find Amara to be the fastest and easiest way to subtitle videos. They also continue to use and share knowledge of the tool with their networks.
Throughout the week, I met with a host of different organisations, including Amnesty International Thailand, Thai Netizen, Siam Intelligence Unit (think tank), and the nation-wide Topporn Student Network, all of whom have expressed that our work is unique, and that we should work together on future projects.
We will be looking at all our prospective partnerships and working on them in the months ahead. In the meantime, feel free to look through all the amazing new content that's come to us from Thailand, Singapore, and Malaysia.
Every single day in Thailand was a valuable learning experience for EngageMedia and myself, and I'd like to extend my gratitude to all hosts and partner organisations there. In particular, I'd like to express my appreciation to Bree from Southern Peace Media, and Pongpan from Prachatai for being my guides and making all our work in Thailand possible. More photos from the trip are available here.
I'd also like to happily mention that I've also learnt enough Thai, so I was able to conduct workshops and presentations in a combination of Thai, English, and Malay (especially in the South).
There's more exciting news coming from us in the next couple of months. The Papuan Voices DVD is set to be launched in Indonesia in September. And in the same month, we'd be screening selected videos from EngageMedia at Palate Palette in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
I'll continue building on our old and newfound networks and community of subtitlers to continue transcribing and translating content from all over the region. I'm also working on improving the Amara system, and users may want to to note that 2 new Persian languages (Dari and Hazaragi), and 2 new Indonesian languages (Buginese and Seko Padang) have been made available.
If you'd like to help us, join the EngageMedia team page, and you can quickly and easily add more translations in the languages you know, contributing to having more people around the world understand these important stories.
On July 7, EngageMedia broadcasted our first TV show on RuaiTV's Channel 43 UHF in Pontianak, West Kalimantan. The episodes will run every fortnight. The schedules are available here. RuaiTV is affiliated with ASTEKI - a TV association that consisted of nine news agencies and three active local stations. Since 2011 EngageMedia has organised three basic online distribution workshops in Gurindam12 and Kendari TV.
Each episode of “Serangkai Kabar dan Cerita” will focus on a specific issue and will be produced in collaboration with an organisation specialising in that issue. We will subtitle all of the dispatches to English and Bahasa Indonesia to ensure as wide audience as possible for the work and greater awareness of the global issues.
“Serangkai Kabar dan Cerita” aims to connect active movements and campaigns, to provide them both with resources to assist them in their work. Through EngageMedia, we try to distribute them online and offline, while encouraging people to become active. “Media plus organisation” is the key here to catalysing information into action.
The program will allow people to view EngageMedia videos offline, and encourage more video activists to contribute. All works are licensed under Creative Commons as it goes with our video 'religion'.
EngageMedia plans to continue collaborating with other local media network throughout Indonesia. The most important element in EngageMedia's projects is to inspire communities to become active in creating a more sustainable, liveable environment and to advocate for greater social justice outcomes. Video can play a key role in raising public awareness and educating key target audiences about a particular issue. In other cases, there is the potential for substantive changes not only on how people see the world but also to take action and be part of bigger movement.
The key for this awareness is to understand the state of the movement and how the video and outreach initiative can move it to next level. In other words, we need to be clear as to what type of outreach is most appropriate and set reasonable expectations in terms of impact. It is not reasonable to expect broad social change if there is little public awareness that a problem exists. In some cases, just getting audiences to see the video, connect with the story and better understand an issue is enough. This awareness is the first step to social change. If an issue is well‐understood, it would shift to something more concrete than simply dialogue. How then, can a video, the one that uses an alternative form of distribution (i.e. online downloads) have the kind of impact that changes minds, inspires action, and ignites social change?
Online campaign video is not enough, it must be packaged and delivered in a way that creates wider public engagement with social and environmental issues. An informed and motivated public can effect tangible and progressive change in their communities. Although the future of video distribution depends on the online media technology, offline distro can't be ignored, in fact these two can be fused into a hybrid media outreach as to garner broader audience for change.
Another accolade for the Papuan Voices team! Frengky Making and Nico Tunjanan, both working for the Secretariat of Justice and Peace (SKPKC Fransiskan Papua) in Jayapura, West Papua, took home the first and second prize for best short videos in the 'Yuk Awasi!' Short Video Competition, organised by budget accountability and transparency group PATTIRO.
The competition is part of the group's Strengthen Integrity and Accountability Program (SIAP) which highlights: (1) Manipulation or success story on the government subsidised school operations funds (BOS); (2) manipulation or success story on rice for poor people program (RASKIN); and (3) manipulation or success story on fertilizer distribution.
Frengky's video, Curhat Guru Honor (Casual Teacher Holds a Grudge), won first prize and Nico's , won second prize. ?Curhat Guru Honor is about Yosina Dike, a teacher in Doyo Baru. She has tried numerous times to take the civil servant enrollment test but the local administration never selected her. She continues to work despite only earning Rp 400 thousand per month. As the video went viral on YouTube and EngageMedia.org, several local Jayapura media have taken up the Yosina's story also. Raskin Untuk Siapa? questions the government's monitoring of subsidised rice products. Instead of being distributed to the poor, Nico found the same products being sold in Sentani markets.
"I wanted the organisers to fly Yosina Dike instead of me, but the insisted I should come to Jakarta," said Frengky Making while visiting the EngageMedia office in Jakarta. "They gave me Rp5 million of prize money, and I will donate most of that to Ibu Yosina."
Frengky's film was also screened on Metro TV's Wide Shot program on Friday, July 6, 2012.
Frengky and Nico were part of the Papuan Voices team that made the videos such as 'Saving the Pinang Culture', 'Sa Pu Hutan', 'Hope of the Cendrawasih Children', 'Left to Survive' and 'Papua Calling'.
This wasn't the first time that a Papuan Voices videomaker won an award. In February, Wenda Tokomonowir's video, 'Love Letter to the Soldier' won best documentary in the South to South Film Festival in Jakarta.
Congratulations Frengky and Nico!
After quite a long process of planning and organizing our migrant workers project, started with a Focus Group Discussion with some migrant worker organizations and competent individuals on the issues in Jakarta, meeting with relevant stakeholders, and so on, we finally conducted our first training for Indonesian migrant workers in Malaysia supported by Malaysia Kini and Tifa.
On June 23rd I traveled to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to help the local organizers with the last preparation of the training. In this opportunity I had the chance to meet many Indonesian migrant workers (BMI) in Malaysia, who are for most people in Malaysia are invisible. Due to the legal status and other conditions that might present dangers to the BMI, they choose not to be visibly present in the society in Malaysia. But with the help of local organizers, I could come to places where BMIs hang out in their free times (on Sunday). I used this opportunity to talk to them and to explore the issues that often faced by BMIs in Malaysia.
On Monday, June 25th, my colleague Yerry, joined me in Kuala Lumpur to conduct the training. The training took place at a BMI shelter in Kajang, an area located in the outskirt of Kuala Lumpur. The shelter was actually a large somewhat rundown rented flat managed by a woman who has been a migrant worker in Malaysia for many many years. The training started in early evening of June 25th after the BMIs got off work. Most of the BMIs joined the training came from all over KL, but some traveled from as far as Kuantan and Perak province. There were around 20 BMIs in the training. In the first day, we explained the objectives and expected outputs and outcomes of the project and delivered mostly basic theories on basic journalism and citizen journalism, as well as interview techniques. We also touched a little bit about safety and security of video making for video makers and resource persons who might be in the video.
On the second day, Yerry and I decided to hold two shifts (morning to late afternoon and early evening to late evening) to accommodate all participants who could only attend the training after working hours. Although the morning session was only attended by six people, but it was a great and very effective training. On this second day, the participants from both shifts learned about Five Basic Shots, building storyboard and spent most of the time learning to shoot with whatever mobile phone camera they have and a pocket video camera that we brought from Jakarta. We ended the day around 10:30 PM.
On the third day, we divided the participants into two groups and asked each group to build a storyboard and got out to shoot footages needed for the story they have decided in their group. One group decided to make a video in the form of news reporting on BMI working in Malaysia and went to interview a real BMI working a construction site nearby. The other group made a video about the living conditions of BMI and showed a place where migrant workers live. After they got enough footages to make a video, they learned to edit their footages and produced a complete video. Last session of Day 3, the participants learned about distribution and uploading their videos to online sites. To wrap up the training, they uploaded their videos to EngageMedia site and we watched them together.
All and all, the training went successfully and some of the participants were so eager to make videos to be included in the DVD compilation on migrant workers as one of the outputs of the project. Ideas were flying around and being discussed together and hopefully we all can watch them in videos real soon.
Now that we have finished our KL training, we will conduct three other similar trainings in three different areas in Indonesia. I will certainly share with you all in my next blog posts. Later, folks! - dhyta-
Please check link below for video made by migrant workers: