like-minded projects

As my Bronx Blog Project has come into focus over the last couple of weeks I’ve been more willing to share it with people. Though it’s not finished (will it ever be?) I feel like the web site and the content is at least viewable. The results of this sem-launch have been great. I’ve heard from a bunch of people that are interested in the project and some that are doing interesting, similar projects of their own.

To refresh your memory, the BBP is a web and video documentary project in which I’m teaching an ESL class at Bronx Community College how to blog and documening the process on video. I’m curious to see how a group of immigrants respond to blogging, and I’m examining how immigrant and minority communities can use social media. There’s more about it here.

Onto the others. Scott Wallick is involved in two interesting projects: A blogger named Ore has started the Blogs for African Women project, which, in her words, is

a project for African women who want to start blogging or who are new to blogging. The young bloggers will post each week on an assigned topic. They will also be expected to comment on each other’s posts as well as the mentors.

The new bloggers will be coached by mentors, established bloggers who will guide the learning process:

Each mentor is assigned a week to post. You will post once at the start of the week. Your post will provide the young bloggers with ideas and guidance for their own posts.
You will comment on the young women’s posts.
You are also encouraged to comment on the other mentors’ posts during their assigned weeks.

This is exciting work and I’ll be checking in on it regularly.

Another similar project is the Young Caucasus Women Project, which is similar to Blogs for African Women but serves women Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia.

And Sean Coon has started a project (I wish I had another word for project) called The People, Eyes, in which the poor and homeless population of Greensboro, North Carolina will be blogging. In his words:

we’re going after the unheard voices of the people in our own backyard, people who live beneath the poverty line and/or are homeless…
We’re creating a platform to enable people who are interested in sharing their personal experiences and POV’s with the world via a collaborative blog.

I like the idea of the blog as POV. It extends a metaphor I’ve been using in my head lately, of the blog as open-ended web documentary. Sean is also connected to some folks who are trying to bridge blogging and documentary film in a way that’s similar to what I’m doing. One of these projects (that word again!) is the Echo Chamber Project, which is

an open source, investigative documentary about how the television news media became an uncritical echo chamber to the Executive Branch leading up to the war in Iraq.

So add another metaphor to the pot: the open-source documentary. What we’re seeing here is a reliance on a community to produce media, not just on individuals, with a relaxed sense of ownership but with a strong emphasis on point-of-view. This could usher in a new generation of blog projects/documentaries (I would say blogumentaries but that sounds pretty lame) that may occupy a similar space in our time to what Jean Rouch’s participatory ethno-documentaries occupied in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Exciting stuff.

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