24 hour news at an end says former Sky News boss Nick Pollard from david dunkley gyimah on Vimeo.
24 hour news on its last legs says a former senior executive of 24 hour news. Nick Pollard was former head of news at Sky News for 10 years. He resigned in 2006.
He says the biggest and most profitable news market in the next seven years will be India
Thursday, July 31, 2008
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
It's a biggie of a story, and I wish I could say the above rare interview with the BBC Newsnight Editor last year gave some clues, but then I'd be fibbing.
But it's worth listening to Peter nonetheless talk about extreme transparency, blogging and the rest.
Peter as I said back in 2007 in this interview republished above is one of the most progressive television bods you'll meet.
"I hadn't intended the interview. I was showing Peter the gear to report digital broadcast stuff and how the next generation of journalists will really be IM6VJs ( interactive multimedia video journalists)
So as we finished talking and he was in a rush to another interview, I asked him a few questions. Now that's one of the pluses of carrying a small digi-camera, the A1 in your bag.
Peter, whom I first got to know from my tenure at Newsnight as a researcher in 1990 and then a freelance producer at Channel 4 News, is, I'm certain many will say, a good catch for the internet behemoth, Google.
He joins as head of communications and public affairs for the UK, Ireland and Benelux regions.
It certainly is Newsnight's loss, but perhaps signals something greater; that the divide between broadcasting and digital tech media is not like it was.
Yes execs have always shuffled from one job to another, but a high profile move like this at a time when there's a push and pull between broadcasters and Net media will give steam to others to throw away their inhibitions and go digital tech media.
Mind you, only recently Erik Huggers, from Microsoft joined the BBC and is now the BBC director of future media and technology, so it cuts both ways and perhaps suggest there's little between both camps.
You could also argue we shouldn't read to much into Peter's move; its a personal choice after all. The email response I got from him indicates he's raring to go.
Many congratulations to him.
I'm a few minutes away from posting my interview with former Sky News head of News Nick Pollard. If you listen to that, you'll realise no editor is safe.
NB: Alas Peter's departure means I have missed the opportunity of doing a VJ piece behind the scenes, that we discussed.
On viewmagazine.tv you'll find a range of interviews including Bradley Horrowitz ( Yahoo) and Peter Horrocks, BBC Head of Multimedia News.
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Theatre of the mind- Lord Byron Lee's amazing audio show, at the bottom of post
How powerful is sound in video journalism, film, or news?
There's a point in the pleasure of watching a movie, a VJ film, a news item, when the sound becomes mute, imperceptible.
It becomes the vehicle to carry the visuals and vice versa. They're in synch in a more aesthetic manner than applied to the film term.
And its amazing how a slight change in the scale can alter the film's meaning.
The most powerful sound of all is nothing. Now there's a Wittgenstein moment.
W, is purported to have given a lecture by simply sitting down and saying nothing for an hour.
The power of nothing is such that at the right point, white space can be piercingly deafening.
By instinct it's so loud that most people can't stand it.
Politicians and public body speakers loathe it, which is why politicians prefer to be interviewed by professionals than Joe and Josephine public.
Professional interviewees are taught to fill in the space, Josephine may have forgotten what she was going to ask and look blank and her interviewee. Seconds seem like hours. Very uncomfortable.
Conversely some interviewers are comfortable with dead space, prompting you to gabble on. Watch that at your next interview.
Can you teach the synergy of music and visuals?
Yep, but it's more an exercise in indulgence.
The figure who runs the music library, whose credit appears as "music researcher", has a vast knowledge of music: pop, jazz, world, rock, scores and the rest.
And that music prompts: " I see dead people". Or I see "Chariots of Fire".
It's such a gift, but the hard or pleasurable graft comes from watching a century's worth of film, collecting a vast knowledge of music, annotating the best scorers and being just plain curious; the prodigy in the genre being the one who can go onto sound scape.
That's when a bicycle bell, traffic, a dish washer cycle take on different meanings.
In Apocalypse Now, the fan takes on the sound of rotating blades. In Cloverfield tears in the video are accompanied by tear sounds. In the Matrix, the teutonic fight scenes are met with equally hyper beats-per-minute.
While music is eschewed in news, VJs can be taught to use natural sound to scape the piece, thus either upping the tempo of the feature or slowing it down.
And the tonal quality of the voice delivery can further up the drama; the voice box is the best instrument around and those soaring undulating vocal qualities from Arabic speaking states has in recent years become a firm favourite for film makers.
Of course some talent buck the trend. Tarantino's Resevoir Dogs is a fine example way back when: the ear cutting scene.
So how do you go about scoring? That's what I'll explore in more details in the next few days using New Nation Rising - an amazing classical meets rap meets Indian meets Gospel.
Meanwhile if you can, please enjoy this: theatre of the mind, from Lord Byron Lee - an emerging master of sound scaping. This audio piece brings theatre/cinema alive in the imagination.
Monday, July 28, 2008
Posted by David Dunkley Gyimah at 3:52 pm
Probing conversation with Zoe, BBC, this morning; it was a time for my routine stock take anyway - so I went into declaration mood.
I do on occasions know how to get myself into trouble by flagging up red capes.
TV will die!
Nope that's not one of them, more being a good Chancellor doesn't make you a good Prime Minster, as PM Gordon Brown is heaving to hear from some of his back benches.
Did I tell you I once worked for Gordon's brother Andrew; really nice bloke (idiom, top man) two elections ago. Gave me a glowing reference.
The stock take: "Well it's a magazine, but with video and it does this and a bit of that, wheeze", I said.
Dominic, then dep editor of Press Gazette understood the gaps in my breathless talk.
New Statesman offered its own sage words with viewmagazine is better reserved for science fiction; it's too busy and I'm lost said the reviewer in so many words.
Both Dominic and The Statesman used Minority Report to make their case, One man's meat....
Back to the Future
Couple of years on and what do we have?
Stagnant flows with all the creativity taken out of us, or bags of reserve as we move into phase 3 of the web.
What ever the media now know, which you wanted to yourself is now in the open.
The underground moves to the surface and a new underground movement frequenting SXSW and OFF rises.
So what's in store for the next 5-10 years?
I dunno, but mostly all my colleagues have been lending a hand via their immediate response forms when we're giving our presentations.
You should try this; scary but fun. 15 -20 minutes to explain in laymen sans dumbing down terms what it is you have and what you're doing with it.
An array of firm, but fair comments back which can only be grease for the mill.
So onto the summer and conference season and a reminder to myself that whatever was ripe couple of years ago has fallen of the tree, dispersed and that new ideas, associations, the "do something that scares you everyday" might foster more rigorous ways of alt-story telling
Sunday, July 27, 2008
Forget MP3s politicos go Vinyl to impress and ol' skool.
Nice touch David Cameron, the Tory leader's parting gift to the fleeting visit of presidential hopeful, senator Obama - a playlist from his ipod.
There was a time when obscure hand-painted porcelains from the Far East were the order of the day, now it's an mp3.
Couple of weeks ago Time magazine made great store of Obama's playlist (Stevie Wonder's his fav), which when reported by The Telegraph included a roll coll of celebs and politicians telling us what's on their ipod.
Dark rock lyrics played backwards revealing subliminal messages were not on show, but David Cameron's play list of the Smiths, and radiohead appear to have made into Obama's diplomatic pouch.
But why MP3s? And if you really wanted to impress why not go old school, with both vinyl, which is now in vogue by the way, and ol' tunes.
So if Obama, a jazz and soul fan amongst others, ever visits again and any politician needs help, here's my snapshot selection.
Left to right
- The master himself, Bobby Womack and "if you think you're lonely now". One for you and the missus on the campaign trail, if you pick up the next line that follows.
- The Brother Johnson, er never mind the fist bump, get down for the real booty bump on the dance floor with Stomp - 1980
- Obama likes his Jazz; this is Jazz funk supremo Lonnie Liston Smith's Expansions and the Cosmic Echoes, with lyrics "expand your mind".
- A floor filler from Cameo in their darn funk days of 1980; Cameosis and Shake your pants.
- Still the seminal UK soul hit of any era, OMAR's "There's nothing like this", would give Obama a good idea of UK soul. It had Stevie Wonder chomping at the bits to work with Omar.
- And some mellow thoughtful jazz; no not Coltrane, though he'd do, but Donal Byrd, "Places and Spaces.
Saturday, July 26, 2008
Sent: 30 August 2002 13:01
Subject: Re: David meeting with Stuart Murphy yesterday
I’m on the case with all this. Was really excellent to meet you.
It was for me a simple idea, glimpsing a future of the web; video online.
And for the hour or so with the commissioning editor of BBC 3 the future had arrived.
A film looking at young people in intel and plastic surgery in Ghana met with Stuart's effusive approval.
Both would be accompanied by web promos, viral, made for the attention challenged, which months earlier I'd used with some success working for Lennox Lewis, then gunning for the undisputed title against Mike Tyson.
But 2002 was not quite there; modem speeds averaged 56k and video journalism was to many an anagram for a sexual disease. TV ruled. Yeeah!
In 2004 Viewmagazine.tv became a sandpit to exercise my digital demons; test what could work: embedded video, zoo video, hyperlinking, mash ups, a push from where once video journalism occupied the frayed edges of the media.
It appeared to be working, if awards are an indication of that. Now the web was the only black.
BBC Ariel - Web Innovation
At the BBC today for a meeting, I picked up their in house journal: Ariel.
In it veteran TV maker Mark Harrison, who heads up their multiplatform productions, is extolling the BBC to harness new talent for making TV online.
Ariel's Features Editor Zoe Kleinman reports Mark saying: "that young people with creative ideas won't wait around for an exec producer to give them a TV commission and instruct them to stick to a format".
A similar point was made by the Corporation's Director General, Mark Thompson, when I interviewed him.
Mash up intro viewmagazine.tv from david dunkley gyimah on Vimeo.
TV is spent of new creative ideas, Harrison is quoted: "It's (TV's) scope for innovation has run out".
He points to Bloody Omaha - a youtube video by BBC graphic designers as the most visually exciting piece of work in the last twelve months.
All these hit the spot.
Video journalism, a craft in itself and Siamese of the web, requires different stanzas and visual themes that TV would still consider ill conceived.
Video hyperlinking dismembers the exposition, while the Outernet and multiple screens asks filmmakers to think beyond common visual parlance.
It's no surprise that in one respect graphic designers should be the ones to light Harrison and millions of us' fires. In Digital Diversity, an authored feature aired in Berlin cinemas (sorry Flash had no video controls when I made this so I'll have to re-export), and features such as Ones and zeros for graphic-based magazine's like Blue Print, I've waxed much prose about them.
"It was the graphic community who first got the net; consider what Hillman Curtis would do with a camera; Rob Chiu treats a canvas like he's Pollock; Nine months is the most seminal piece of web multimedia ever; and who can forget the original breakthrough movie 405 by Bruce Branit and Jeremy Hunt - the Blair Witch for online film making"
And the one thing all of the above have in common is they're all graphic designers or visual creatives.
Geekdom is cool
Ahh 1998 the cool era of geekdom, the dogtown of web films, when the geeks traded bit rates and bytes and as a subscriber to the first Computer Arts mag, Production Solutions and Video Age, I might actually make a confession today: " Yes my name is David Dunkley Gyimah and I was a geek, but I'm dry now and have been for many years"
There's something about spatial thinking, that unlike journalism which confides itself to a linear set of parameters: "who, what,when,how and why", allows visual linguists to see beyond the journalists' end point.
TV's 3d becomes the web's 4d, a kind of i-axis (one for the mathematicians - go on you know you want to) and an integrated multimedia video journalism approach to media maker.
"I must think spatial; I must think spatial".
Online then, the final product would be a compositional configuration unlike its TV delivery.
In part its boils down to the skill set within this this evolving construct; nothing is impossible with After Effects, Combustion, Commotion or Flash.
Here's a game: bark the last four pieces of software at a journalist friend and see how the react; then do the same for a graphic designer and listen to them tell you how Gladiator or Saving Private Ryan was created, or Tron, slash, my visual favourite 300 was eked together almost entirely in green screen.
Video Journalism is a sibling of the web age bringing together film making, motion graphics, code, tagging, 369, and an emphasis on right side thinking.
That much I have said in the face of raised eye brows and the odd guffaw.
But it can only be good for the industry to see other professionals, particularly within established media such as newspapers and broadcasters, thinking and rallying the troops.
It makes what we all do all that more acceptable.
Call to arms
Harrison's ask is for the BBC to think beyond TV schedules acknowledging that the skills for the future, as trained storytellers are already in house and that would be true for a vast organisation such as the BBC.
But the seeds for a departure from TV to Kansas-is-going-bye- bye movies, may not necessarily lie in the paradigms of traditional story telling. It may be a whole new discipline in itself and TV grammar style rules which make great TV, may not always suffice.
It would be a bit like a native Indian circa 1700 acquiring a musket for the first time and placing it within their bow, believing if it zinged and fire at the same time as a projectile ..... yep you're ahead of me.
The other story I like pulling out in my quasi comedy act, is that of travellers finding new land only to be met by natives who speak a 'primitive' language'.
Captain: "Giles go over there and communicate with those people, you're a linguist
Giles to natives: "HEY YOU ( really shouting) DO YOU SPEAK ENGLISH, YES ENGLISH?
Natives: ( Stare with bemused expressions)
100 years on all the Islanders are speaking English - a superior alphabet-numero system
1000 years on historians discover those travellers wiped away a highly complex and unique language.
Perhaps in time, the new dawn could embrace emerging talent both within and outside the corporation with a whole new commissioning process.
For it's possible, history has shown us that the disruptive forces that have brought traditional and citizen TV makers, for want of a better word, together, now, may have a bigger surprise in store.
We're averaging 4-8mb at the moment.
In a world of 100mb standard we'll be hyperlinking ourselves through presence reality and a host of story telling techniques which will make TV, barely 50 years old, seem like a walk on the heath.
And then the next generation of young people may not even gives us notice of their intent. We'll need each other even more.
Disclosure: emails are a personal communication and as a member of and active endorser of Chatham house rules, I have only published a benign part of mt email exchanges with BBC 3's commissioner, Stuart Murphy.
David Dunkley Gyimah started his broadcast career with the BBC in 1987. He's now a senior lecturer and practicing VJ doing his PhD in storytelling innovation. He is one of the jury members at this year's International Video Journalism Awards in Mainz
Friday, July 25, 2008
Thursday, July 24, 2008
The tag line for Knol is a "unit of knowledge" and thats how Blogger.com released it today.
It's a drive to make blogs authoritive with the authors providing their true name and details.
Presumably, also to invite more reasoned comments.
I posted my last blog entry there and just to see how the interface looks, it's a 15 second peak.
Does that mean I'm not going to migrate to Wordpress which I have had humming on my desktop for the last few weeks.
For ten years he was at the helm of Rupert Murdoch's flagship Sky News enterprise. And in those ten years there has been much change in Isleworth, home to Murdoch's brand on the rim of London
Among them, the network has massively boosted its web presence and the floor of their news production truly is like stepping into something out of Deep Space Nine.
But we're in Central London today and two years on from leaving Sky, one of the most sought after editorial jobs, but one in which Nick Pollard jokingly reminds himself of a story that: "No editor should be in their post for more than 10 years", we're swapping stories on news and journalism's future.
Correction! I'm doing a lot of the listening, before I reach for my A1 Sony Camera to record a quick and "dirty" interview.
Dirty because, my battery is all but drained of power, so I'm prohibited from any set up shots for a location or prepping the camera for fear it'll fizz out on me.
Nick's in good fettle, but for anyone who's not seen him in person or within the pages of the industry magazine, "Broadcast", the beard might come as a surprise; indeed I almost didn't recognise him.
He is an affable man, and an editor who regularly debunked the notion that journalists are the sole harbingers of news, by welcoming anyone, cleaners etc to his news' conferences.
But that's not to say he has firm views on the role of what we might call the traditional journalists in these grey and morphing times.
And in spite of my new media credentials and charge of the citizen journalism brigade, I'm nodding in agreement about the architecture of journalists' news making.
The Perils of First Strike News
The late Charles Wheeler, one of the most venerable journalists of his time and praised for being one of the best UK TV correspondents ever raised a similar point with a cadre of senior journalists in 1997, as 24 hour television was taking hold.
The turn around in news, the agility and swiftness required is so consuming that there's little room for analysis from journalists.
The implication that it potentially increases the risk for not quite getting it as right as one would have hoped.
Nick's point echoes this in an environment where the stakes are much higher; every news website, blog is fighting for a scrap of attention and everyone is a journalist.
"I agree with Nick Davie's and his book Flat Earth News about the explosion in outlets in news, comments and observation", he says adding, "the decline in the number of people gathering in primary sources, and a lot of people don't realise this, that the number of journalists in newsrooms is declining, the ability for news agencies to collect news is declining as well because of pressures on staffing".
"There is", he continues, "a danger that news gathering falls while commentary and reporting from armchairs and in front of computer screens increases exponentially and that's something that I think everybody who's interested in the sources of news should be aware of".
We move on to the future of the web and news.
Should a website's composition be more televisual or keep hold of its characteristic texts output?
There are pros and cons for both: SEO indexing versus rich screen multiplatform content.
And we also talk about the BBC's move towards local community news.
The model of Channel One TV, Britain's first VJ station, in which Nick was the managing director, was 10 years ahead of its time.
It ceremoniously whittled away unable to get any financial-returning penetration with its dependency back in 1994 on cable.
What might it do today in Broadband?
Nick posits a different thought whether any new station could sustain itself in today's market saturated with news for which the advertising cake is more than divvied up amongst existing players.
After an hour, it's time for his Nick's next meeting.
No less busy I think.
So what's he up to now I ask.
Eye brows raising he talks about his new projects and recently returning from India, divulging his 40 years of news experience that includes Sky, Channel One, ITN, newspapers and others.
" Projects, projects", he smiles, "fascinating exercise, I was there helping an Indian enterprise set up a 24 hour news station. India by 2015 will be the biggest lucrative news market in the world, but the competition there is absolutely ferocious".
A 3 minute video interview with Nick will be posted shortly
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
That old conference trick eh!
Tell the audience what you intend to tell em, then tell em again, and end with a summary of what you have told them.
Frankly why use powerpoints; I use keynote myself, but that's not the point.
Coming up tomorrow
A nice quick interview with Nick Pollard, whom until two years ago was the head of news at Sky News. What's he doing now and what's that he says about India and News production?
Finally I can dump the whole of 8 days, which I'm exporting at the moment, onto the front page of viewmagazine, which has also undergone a face tuck.
I'm reviving the idea that web sites, if they'll continue to be called that, will take on a more televisual role - a point I made at the National Press Club in DC some time back.
So going to get a bit more aggressive with some reduxed video stories. C u tomorrow. It's just gone past 12 midnite here.
Boasting twenty four screens, is it the multiplex cinema of the future - the screens are all in the same room - or an endeavor in giving new meaning to artistic cinema?"The films you are about to watch were made specifically for this screen" said Professor Haim Bresheeth, Director of the outfit, Matrix East Research Centre, which houses this multiplex, adding "if you're wondering why you're sitting on the floor that's because there is no prescribed way of watching the screen... we're still experimenting with the form".
And then eight shorts made their stand at EVA London 2008.
The film makers, some of whom have travelled from as far as Canada, varied widely in their styles; the audience ranged from preteens onwards.
At times we fixed our gaze, our line of sight intersecting with others.
Otherwise the film makers had a trick or two which forced us to one of the many screens.
Jana Riedel, a film maker and documentary maker based at the smart lab was hailed by Professor Bresheeth as the best film to make use of the form.
And I agree. There was a rubikness about the narratives folding inside and out of each other with various screens playing supporting roles to each other.
Jana has some new ideas to go a stage further. Watch this space, er screens.
Professor Haim Bresheeth, Clash of Civilisation - note the audience's line of sight
The professor's own eight-part allegorical interpretation of The Clash of Civilizations by political scientist Samuel P. Huntington, featured dancers Professor Lizbeth Goodman and Bobby Byrne working the scientist's political themes.
It culminated in a series of atomic explosions, giving Jana's piece a run for its money.
It's impossible to be too deterministic or even dismissive about this form - Sony have thrown their weight of support behind the venture.
And consider this thought: cinema is barely a hundred years old meaning hypothetically if you're grandmother had never been to the cinema in her life, she'd probably find one screen as exciting or equally baffling as twenty four.
John Frans Holder - two anime at opposite ends of the screen exchange poetic dialogue
You could argue that with the advent of painting or even the zoetrope, we've been accustomed to fixing on a single perspective point.
Equally you could argue in our multisensory, media age, we're forever stealing a look here, shifting our concentration there.
If you're a teenager you'll be able to testify to how many times your mum or dad have told you to either turn the TV, radio, computer, 360, off as you bone up on the next day's exams.
We've become peripheral sight-beings; we always were, but it's any wonder we don't have eyes around our heads. That's a job for evolution.
I have got six screens in front of me, though only four tend to be on at any one time and they're not all playing at once.
In 2001 a colleague and I attempted this multiscreen narrative, The Family, which you can play here, which was a finalist in Channel 4's Unleash the Talent mixed media competition, and led to a commission to write up the concept in Blue Print that august architectural/design magazine.
The Family, a finalist in C4's mixed media comp. which led to work with boxer Lennox Lewis
But I can see how a Rashomon (羅生門, approach to film making could have some currency for the screens. Yep I too have an idea, and if you have to you're encouraged to get in touch with the unit here
post script: Big shout to Tamarin Norwood and Taey Kim, both Smart Labbers, and all the other artists for their films and a good night out
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Unity in Chicago, Disunity in London: as you read this scores of journalists of colour are congregating in Chicago.It is that time again, a four year in cycle in which ethnic media networks join forces.
That is the Asian American Journalists Association, the National Association of Black Journalists, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and the Native American Journalists Association
And at 10,000 journalists and media execs, what a force it is.
If Unity 1996 in Atlanta, which I attended is anything to go by, after me altogether: "wow!"
Then just as now, employment, equality, sustainability will be on the menu.
And via satellite, or often in person, the Clintons will make their own pilgrimage to pay respect.
An African American editor on your side delivers a powerful message both visually for that photo op and to the editor's constituents if votes are needed.
Perhaps this year, the Clinton's will give way, but the jamboree of zeal, "lets push forward" motive and expand, consolidate, expand sermon will be no less.
Oh by the way, yep just learned it's Gworge double yer talking to Unity.
More Unity 08 and disunity
In Chicago, conference goers might play down their successes; it's all relative after all, but compared to what's going on in London broad success amongst ethnic journalists is as elusive as that bloke, Nato's pursuing.
What's his name, Radovan Karadzic .
Last week Channel 4 upped the ante or played a brilliant PR card at ticking boxes as some of the industry's most senior "unity" journalists gathered to hear what race Czar Trevor Phillips had planned in a make-believe reality game "Super Diversity".
Channel 4 endorsed. A big brother for ethnics? It was their commissioning money after all.
So here's where I link to the report, but stone the crows I google and google and I can't find it.
Who's Channel 4's link-builder, c'mon? Here's a less obvious alternative link instead.
A day later and the vibrancy of emails messaging journalists to attend Trevor's speech looks like something that took place in the Jurassic age; emails aren't being returned by Channel 4's execs, no one I asked has any idea of the follow ups and it's back to training binoculars on the box looking for that rare thing.
There's one! And another.. Oh yes and that one too. people of colour.
Unity 24 hours before, is now disunity.
So much for a new dawn.
Disunity breads unity, right!
Most media (ethnic) Brits, can only look to the US unfairly with envy. Unfairly because the dynamics are different, and frankly it's a larger playing field to pool resources and find your next job.
If you want a career in broadcasting in the UK, count the BBC, Channel 4, ITV, and the super indies and the super employers are fast drying up.
But there is something to be said about "Unity", which if I was a TV exec I might be having a right giggle into my Moca.
The TV industry built on favours, suffrage and Uni links knocks out many journalists of colour from getting a look in, and what hope for those on the sharp end unifying is as elusive as that, er what's his name: Radovan Karadzic
This office isn't big enough for the both of us, is the missive that dare not speak it's name, so er I'm not going to share with you where I work.
Truth though within the pitches for work, it always appears to be an appeal to a sense of fair play, which has never really worked. "please, please gisa job?"
When, however the internet posed a threat, economics rather than morals played out a much stronger card and it looked like execs were beginning to shift ground.
Digital Diversity, was a thought for a short film shown in Berlin which wraps up both contemporary and traditional issues of diversity and poses a couple of questions which I hope looks beyond the current jousting rounds.
As Orlando Sentinel Editor Anthony Moor said in his seminal article; Go to the web young journalists. The web is yet, just, to be colonised into the old ways of media.
The past is passed
But this schism on all sides wasn't always like that as Mssr David Upshal (now a heavy hitting tv exec) and Joel Kibazo (formerly of the FT) will tell you when we gathered of Oxford Street for drinks and chats in the early 90s.
What would we be doing in years to come and who could help whom?
So the pass the parcel of work continues.
Ethnics blame the media. The media, as Trevor Phillips put it and I have always held this belief, shrugs its shoulders: I owe you nothing.
And anyway it's not as big an issue as it's often made out, is it?
Otherwise there might be some unity.
What! Radovan Karadzic's been caught. Hope yet huh!
David Dunkley Gyimah started his broadcast career in 87 at the BBC in Leicester and has since worked for Newsnight, Channel 4 News, ABC News, PowerHouse, Breakfast News, BBC GLR, Channel One and others. He's now senior lecturer, consultant and Phd Student believes if you want it bad enough, you'll get it.
You can find clips of digital diversity 2 - the series on viewmagazine.tv
Monday, July 21, 2008
With the arrival of new students, often international ones where journalism practised in their country of origin borders on government support or party-state interests, one of the biggest revelations for our trainee journalists is "attribution" and "objectivity and impartiality".
Many find it very difficult to shake what I might call the "blog effect", the inexorable rise in personal commentary.
Commentary in preference of attributed reportage didn't start with blogs, but it's become more common place amongst students substituting one legitimate form for another.
Couple of years back, one of my students libeled, in principle, a subject in her article.
Her own prejudices, I later discovered, had coloured her report about what it meant to be gay in the army.
She was from one of the African countries (not fair to id country, as her friends might then know who I'm talking about) where sexuality/gay is an incendiary topic.
And yes, it can be a hot topic elsewhere.
I informed her that in spite of hew views, she couldn't make what was an offensive remark in her copy.
She ooomed and aaamed, "but it's true, everyone knows that", she quipped.
"Aha" I chimed,"who's everyone?".
If you can attribute your own comments to a source that's one thing. You're a reporter you don't have the expert view to take the moral or superior high ground, that's for a priest or pundit to make. That's unless you believe you're qualified - a result of your expertise and often qualifications of sorts in the said area.
Her eyes lit up.
She had found a reason to attribute, mask her own thoughts by finding someone to articulate them for her.
Not a particular noble thought, journalism by subscription, but whilst professionals won't quite put it that way, they can more or less do the same.
"Ahh" I came back, "but even if you find someone to say what you feel, you have to ask whether it has caused offence past the mark of fair comment. Does it qualify as libel?"
A whole session on libel then followed, again.
By the time she'd rewritten, she'd exercised a satisfactory degree of objectivity, but the report had now skewed towards being partial.
"Have you called up the person in your report to ask them their views?", I asked.
"Should I?", she replied.
"Well you've made a point in your copy and the person on the end of that needs to have the opportunity to respond before you publish".
Back to Basics
Today, I'm meeting with an old friend and one of Africa's most respected journalists Mathatha Tsedu Editor-in-Chief of City Press in South Africa, Chairperson of The African Editors Forum and a Nieman Fellow (Harvard).
Mathatha was recently awarded a Lifetime achievement award and is on a fact finding tour of which I hope to learn more about, taking in the UK, US (Poynter) and Germany.
South Africa has an enviable tradition of robust journalism, but you get the feeling from exchanging thoughts with professional educators as I did at that there's some concern at the next generation.
I'm speculating, but that might describe Mathatha's trip. I'll find out.
If it is, then mixed with the expanding bubble of new media initiatives, blogs, video journalism, multimedia, etc, there appears to be a desire, a want, for a "lets get back to basics".
And that doesn't just refer to those across waters, but here on our own turfs.
It may be common sense but there's no substitute for the course attributes of delivering a story that works, not because it's a good read, a skill in itself, but because, we've been fair and justified in what we've written.
Friday, July 18, 2008
When I met Mandela, like anyone else who's met him, you go deaf for the duration.
There could be a nuclear explosion around you, but for that 15 seconds, time stands still.
When I met Mandela which I have previously posted here has become one of those dinner table moments you can recount and recount.
South Africa circa 1992 was an incredible place to be and that's where I ended up, determined to witness and report on the story of the decade.
I boarded a plane with one friend, a pen friend, to hold my arm.
Today, Alan Swerdlow, a well known theatre director ( he was back then) and neighbour to the UK's future SA-UK Ambassador is a life-long friend.
There's so much I could tell you about being in South Africa during that time; being one of few black British broadcasters to look for stories to report.
Being a Brit; that always amused the South Africans, black and white.
But I also speak two African languages which helped me on a number of occasions.
And often when I never spoke I was mistaken for a "coloured".
It was enough to give you chameleon identity syndrome. "Who the £@$%^& am I?"
On one occasion working as an associate producer for ABC News, I had to go to a press conference and who was giving it but Mr Mandela.
To get my three questions in I had to ask the first.
I'd never felt so nervous: 100s of correspondents and there, Mr Mandela.
And they couldn't be push-over questions either, even if one's conscious made you think differently.
So Mandela 90 today. Wow what a story!
And for the 15 seconds that I shook his hand and he said hello, I guess will provide me with the sort of private memories to celebrate such a public event.
Nelson Mandela Tribute Concert 1988 - One of my earliest BBC radio reports
Finally real people on BBC as opposed to so called officials who are experts on knife crime.
This morning two youngsters, from the Foundation4Life, on the Today Programme (well done) saying what is so obvious.
I'll precise: We (youngster) don't care about any sentences when we've got a knife, jail doesn't hold out any fear for us...
Couple of days back I spoke about the lost generation, a reference to South African youngsters in SA I came across as a reporter: Nothing to lose, a lot to gain by crime:
"Controversially will anyone of note in the UK say the knife/gun culture has no solution?
That a generation 'Don't ****ing cares" has taken root. And that the best MPs and others can do is to follow South Africa's example.
Otherwise make a lot of huffaw, hoping the following day, bad news of a kind they have an inkling to talk about will arrive e.g. stamp duty.
Course not, but some solutions seem blindingly obvious at least in addressing a symptom that leads to some youngsters losing their way".
The foundation 4 life which I imagine will see a spike in its web traffic today is one of many agencies working in this area that presumably are given p***poor funds to do their extraordinary work.
Perhaps politician's can stop looking for arm chair solutions, or even photo/ publicity opps and support these outfits to do what they do so well.
p.s One reason why it's a good idea for interviewees to spell out their url address online is that Foundation for Life is a pregnancy site. Foundation4life is the young person's help agency. This should be made clear
Two days ago, the Independent (newspaper) broke a huge story in a triple page spread about a number of resturaunts and eateries denying their staff a basic wage by using the "tip" system to bolster their pay packet.
This morning the BBC's, Today programme, revealed what sounded like an exclusive. The report, a look at the Hard Rock Cafe's tipping/basic pay to staff.
Could well be.
However as a former broadcaster, I can see how I'd have picked up the Indies Report and attempt to deliver the equivalent broadcast package and I'd most likely not refer to the paper, unless that is I couldn't stand up the report.
But in today's social media 2.0 climate should an outfit refer to another if it's been the source of its report i.e. attribution?
In many cases news producers do, at times they don't and it was this coupled with the BBC's move to very local news coverage (which has been given the green light recently) that prompted UK regional newspapers to pick up video journalism.
Why wait for the broadcaster, any broadcaster to turn around your exclusive, when you can do it yourself?
So should the Indie take some credit and does it matter whether it's a public service body or commercial outfit in competition.
The Indie by the way doesn't do video journalism at the moment, otherwise their expose would also have made for a strong broadcast package
Online, a link to and reference of the Indie's piece adds value to the host as well as the recipient.
But the broadcast environment do old habits prevail?
If it is plaintively obvious, but can't be proved, should there be a code of ethics for digital piggybacking ?
Incidentally, in my own digital piggybacking of a BBC programme, 'The Trouble with Black Men' I stated from the start how I produced my report.
But then again I had less to lose.
I'll post a video of a report from the Telegraph's head of multimedia, which should prove interesting and perhaps shed some light on an old practice in today's media.
Thursday, July 17, 2008
I have heard of nibbles, canapes, a bit of a bite.. but this.. c'mon
They're like, smarties.. maltesers.. little squiggly things.
There was a time when you could go to a function and feel well fed afterwards.
This, this makes me more hungry.
I didn't have any by the way, but the thought of taking ten just to sate my appetite would probably result in me never being invited back to one of their dos.
Aahh perhaps it's art!
Can you guess what it is yet?
a) a moon docking device?
b) piece of art?
e) 3d printer?
f) Brain pattern movement device?
It's a 3d printing device that can actually print physical objects. Dr Rachel Armstrong, a friend, will tell us more later.
If it looks like video journalism, if it's made by a video journalist, is it video journalism?
Yes. Obviously and what a daft question. Those in favour say aye. Aye!
No. Well it depends what you define as video journalism.
If it's a news piece created by a traditional camera operator/ a journalist/ citizen journalist, is that video journalism? Those on the left say naye!
OK then this is a question of semantics, and frankly who cares.
Lots of talented camera operators e.g Claudio Von Planta have been making docs for years with beta cams and now he uses the Sony A1. But he does not call himself a video journalist.
He is a dv director/ producer, who edits and often voices his own reports.
Does it matter then what we call ourselves?
Does it matter who we are, or once were, so long as we're operating the camera beyond the traditional function of the camera man/woman where a director directs you to shoot, and a producers produces a crib sheet about whom to interview next?
Does it matter?
Probably not one jot.
Video what... Journalism :^%$£
So what's the defining quality?
Perhaps it's a tad ethereal at the moment, because videojournalism embodies more of a style, a sub culture come good over the years, an attitude to the way you work, aided by guidelines but not constrained by them.
You're a Pollock action painting, and you only know when to daub the last stroke.
Sometimes, they'll get it sometimes they won't, but you hold the video paint brush and each time you think of a piece, its execution is different.
Consider this, 50 years of being told that's the way it is, you've finally been told "go make" but forget everything.
It's in the story, the execution, the follow on, the camera thinking, it's anything but zoo tv, but it's something that's supposed to be unlike anything we usually do.
You pause, think ??????????????????? Wot the ^%$£@ And then do what we all do uttering the words:"Forget this nonsense this is rubbish".
In 2001 I presented to BBC Management in Birmingham. It was their first foray into Video journalism.
After my piece, one manager commented.. "Yeah, Phwer but that looks like normal TV" and he was right. All the films stemmed from the mid on 90s, shot on beta cams, and pretty much stuck rigidly to a visual language we all know too well.
A couple of years on, I thought:
"If you could combine the art of motion graphics and photography, the mis en scene and arcing of cinema, the language of television, the skill of radio broadcasting with users behaviour online, I believe we'd be closer to understanding the power of Video Journalism."
In the end if its good story telling, does it matter?
David Dunkley Gyimah is one of the twelve international judges for the 2008 International Video Journalism Awards in Mainz, Germany, the birth place of Johannes Gutenberg who revolutionised the world with his printing machine.
To submit a story and learn more about the VJ awards go to www.vjawards.com/
They are never seen nor heard. They are a silent minority going about their work, selflessly, under the radar.
They're like government advisors, civil servants.
Now whilst I could be referring to my colleagues above - all lecturers, all leaders in their field - I'm not referring to them.
Though many of them mentor already.
No, we've chosen a path to work with the next generation. Many mentors are called upon to do something that's almost diametric to their journey.
However many are mentors-in-waiting if you were to consider my vote in Paul Macey - more on him in a moment.
But why all the talk of mentors?
The UK government's gone on a mentor drive to assist failing youngsters, black youngsters who need guidance.
No this is not a punt to get on the scheme but indulge in a debate of sorts.
Who decides who's a mentor?
What criteria is required and is it universal?
Can your mentoring badge qualify you to speak to students as much as those already in the criminal justice system?
Is the racing car driver Lewis Hamilton a mentor? Or is Shirley Thompson, an amazing woman, multiple award winning composer who's scored for the Royal Philharmonic, Push and played had her scores played on Broadway?
Does Hamilton have what it takes to mentor a troubled teenager from the life of crime?
Would most black youngsters want to listen to Shirley talk classical music?
Incidentally Shirley's opus -an album called New Nation Rising mixes classical with the spoken word - awesome!
Must a mentor have something in common with their charge?
Because then the governments could call on Britain's talented black musicians or footballers?
Or does that reinforce an aged stereotype?
What about Kienda Hoji on the far left?
Chinese speaking, but equally if not more important Director of music at the University of Westminster, who has revolutionised the programme. He's past has involved looking after a number of high profile bands. He was responsible for getting Russel Simmons and Reverend Run to the University. He has launched the only, as far as I know, record label, within a university.
Do you know him?
Mykael Rilley second from right was a founding member of Dub reggae outfit Steel Pulse and founded and fronted the Reggae Philharmonic Orchestra. Equally awesome, he's in the middle of his PhD on amongst others archiving jazz music etc. And is a tour de force.
Far right is the extraordinary David Matthews, lecturing in journalism, behind two very well received books that exercises the art of gonzism. In one Dave becomes a boxer, Looking for a fight, to write about his account. In the other he buys a grey hound dog to understand what grey hound racing is all about in Man Buys Dog - A Loser's Guide to the World of Greyhound Racing
Does Dave( street-sussed) Matthews qualify as a mentor?
We took this photo last year, dreaming up what could be done when you combine education with ones own professional background.
There are untold number of mentor schemes, and I'm sure we'll do something which doesn't have the bells and whistles but gets the job done. As lecturers that's what we do.
It will be interesting to see who makes it onto the Government's Mentor Scheme. Oh Yes!
My choice: one of the hardest working, nicest guys, whose experience with young people at the coal face is outstanding is Paul Macey, whom I had the pleasure of getting to know when many years back five of us launched a creative multi-disciplinary agency.
In an article one viewmagazine, I'll flesh out Mentors with video etc and comments from the aforementioned themselves.
And later today, hopefully I'll find some links of my colleagues above, mainly from films I have shot of them.
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Al Jazeera's Rageh Omar and Race Czar Trevor Phillips at Channel 4 event on diversity
Several posts coming up.
If you work, or have aspirations of working in British television and are a minority then former tv presenter/producer turned Race Czar Trevor Phillips' findings co-published with Channel 4 may bring some comfort.
[Trevor could be described when he worked in television as Britain's answer to a Bryant Gumbel. Well respected, he was everywhere]
I got to speak to him at the end about how new media could drive the new economy. Trevor agreed. [luvvie fact (this is for peter@ shooting by numbers, who called me a Luvvie. I'm wounded @££!£$@
When I worked in television we shared the same agent, so at least he remembered me. Now what!]
I also bumped into an old friend Rageh Omar. We did our "arm reach-hug". I guess fist bumping's out of fashion after the New Yorker- Obama spat cover.
Never did get the cover's monty python irony folded on itself.
Rageh and I had a good short-power chat and I hope to bring you a vid interview with him in the future. Around 1993/94 we both freelanced for the BBC WS, African Service. Gosh! Those were the days.
Also there and friends from the past the talented tv maker Geoff Small, Guardian/BBC Radio 4's Safraz Mansoor ( we were at Channel 4 together) and the lovely Marcia Williams, exec at the UK film council.
Meanwhile the Government launches an initiative to find role models, black role models. But how do you judge someone as being a role model? I have posted a short clip of equality race champion Doreen Lawrence on Viewmagazine.tv( she lost a son, murdered, in the 90s in race attack)
Dr Rachel Armstrong, Bruce Damer (all Phd smart labbers) came along to the channel 4 conference and we have some pictures to share with you.
And coming soon, finally the Apprentice. I'm close to cutting the package sent to me from South Africa which was turned into a mash-up prog.
Tomorrow will also post Bruce talking about creating life within - Darwinian stuff - in avatar world. Cooool!
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
The 4th International Video Journalism Awards, Mainz, Germany: "Unlimited access"
CALL FOR ENTRIES Deadline 15th of October 2008
Go out - find a story – publish it:
The „4th International Video Journalism Awards” is calling for entries!
The Video Journalism Awards is looking for non-fiction videos from single authors, the so called videojournalists (short VJs). A VJ is responsible for the whole creative process starting from research and shooting as well as covering the whole process of editing and sometimes even the publication of the film.
A small camcorder and a laptop are the tools of the VJ, which is comparable to the pen and paper a newspaper journalist uses.
The final deadline for entering films for the 4th International Video Journalism Awards is the 15th of October 2008. The awards are produced by vjawards.com , the host is ZDF German Television in Mainz.
The internet is converging all kinds of media, which is reflected by this year's theme "unlimited access".
The awards try to cover all known fields of video journalism: films from TV-stations and publishing companies and productions from an independent background are awarded with a total of 12.000 € of prize money going to the seperated categories "independent and online" and "TV production".
Recent developements that influence the VJ-scene and future perspectives are discussed in the supporting programme of the 4th International Video Journalism Awards.
INTERNATIONAL VIDEO JOURNALISM AWARD
a) TV production – broadcast reports (2000 €)
A journalistic or documentary report with a maximum duration of 15 minutes, produced by one or more video journalists/video reporters, and which has already been broadcast.
b) independent or online video (2000 €)
A journalistic or documentary report with a maximum duration of 15 minutes, produced by one or more video journalists/video reporters, but which has not necessarily been broadcast.
GERMAN VIDEO JOURNALISM AWARD
a) TV production - broadcast reports (2000 €)
A journalistic or documentary report with a maximum duration of 15 minutes, produced by one or more video journalists/video reporters and which has been aired by a German-language television channel (please indicate the station and broadcast date). All genres.
b) Independent or online video (2000 €)
A journalistic or documentary report with a maximum duration of 15 minutes, produced by one or more video journalists/video reporters, but which has not necessarily been broadcast.
REPORTAGE AWARD (2500 €)
A feature report in the German language with a minimum duration of 15 minutes and a maximum duration of 29 minutes, produced by one or more video journalists/video reporters, but which has not necessarily been broadcast.
NEWCOMER VIDEO JOURNALISM AWARD (1000 €)
A journalistic or documentary report with a maximum duration of 15 minutes, produced by one or more video journalists/video reporters. The applicants must be under 30 years of age or currently enrolled in an institution of higher education. Those productions will be considered for awards whose appeal lies in a unique style of content or cinematography and indicate a great potential of the applicant.
Online- audience prize (500 €)
A specially developed open online voting system will allow the users to cast votes for their favorite entries.
Special mentioning of the jury
The jury nominates a film, that impressed them, and that might expand the term video journalism.
Further information is provided on the website: http://www.vjawards.com
Note from David Dunkley Gyimah, one of this years jury members for the International Video Journalism Awards and a recipient of the International Video Journalism Awards in 2006 for 8 Days.
5 reasons to submit to the awards
...And another teenager is murdered in London...".
The news alone is enough to make you feel physically ill, and somehow the reporting of it, perhaps, the wording also instills a sense of unease.
Is there any other way this can be reported sans dramatic voice?
Meanwhile politicians, idiotically play the crassest of "pass the problem". They clearly have no idea.
In South Africa, while reporting there in 92, a good friend of mine who lived to tell the tale - he's now at MSF - got stabbed near the heart.
He says he saw it coming, walking down an alley in the early morning in downtown joburg as two men closed in on him either side
There was a time, I can't speak for now (limited knowledge) when South African friends would lament the value of life.
There were, still are, car jackings, muggings, gun crimes.
Crime South Africa
On one occasion listening to 702 - a popular radio station - jackers had made off with a mini bus with a baby inside.
While driving around with a radio exec in Soweto, he showed me his hand piece which a couple of days earlier he'd shot and fatally wounded a car jacker after his car.
At the police station, the duty Sergeant dismissed him saying the day he empties two whole clips he'd have something to answer for. The exec let off 6 rounds.
What happens when young people have little regard for their own lives, let alone those they resent or have no relationship with.
Well-off South Africans took to erecting fortresses e.g. Four ways; whole streets have become small self contained towns cordoned off by security check points determining who enters.
Controversially will anyone of note in the UK say the knife/gun culture has no solution?
That a generation 'Don't ****ing cares" has taken root. And that the best MPs and others can do is to follow South Africa's example.
Otherwise make a lot of huffaw, hoping the following day, bad news of a kind they have an inkling to talk about will arrive e.g. stamp duty.
Course not, but some solutions seem blindingly obvious at least in addressing a symptom that leads to some youngsters losing their way.
Youth Crime Action Plan
In 1992 under a tory government the perception of crime appears to have as much resonance then as it does now.
A friend's son fell by the side, despite being a model student. Stacey worked two jobs to get her son into a good school.
In part she has to from a government that taxes through the nose.
She gets home at 6.30. Her son finishes school at 3.30. There's no such thing as a latch key kid anymore because after school he doesn't come home, he's on the streets with new friends in the rough and tumble of youth culture developing his badness.
He gets home around 7pm.
Couple of months back I visited him at Feltham's Young Offenders prison. He was in good spirit and this time had picked up new fashion statements - a full fro with a three combs in his hair.
Bravado continues inside and as many of the youngsters will tell you prison holds no fear for them.
What's it like here, I asked
Ol right- food sucks though, he answered.
So what if the government underwent a real paradigm and shifted the closing of schools to a later time.
What if 3.30 became 5.30 where youngsters could do post curricula things. Football - now there's an idea!
Yes yes it's not going to reform those who just don't want to be in school in the first place, but it might do something to stem the feral nature of learning how to be "bad".
Don't be silly, do you know how much that would cost?
Not half as much rhetorically as paying for young people who stray into lawlessness, ending up in prison and costing the government a fair whack each week.
Or otherwise what about making it possible for parents to be at home around 3.30 when their young uns leave school.
Yep you're saying that's barking as well. Just think of the productivity we lose in economic value.
But why do we have to work till 5.30? What's the lesser of the trade offs? That's the whole idea around paradigms.
So at some point this week, sadly, as night follows day, the news will report another fatality, and another. And the best solution, one that dare not speak its name will be for those that can to move, yes move away from trouble spots.
Deja Vu. In Britain 2030, Children of Men really does exist.
Incidentally whilst writing this BBC Radio 4 is reporting a youth crime project in Nottingham. While you can't deny the social worth of these schemes, oh how the media loves them as the panacea for youngsters at risk.
In 1992 while reporting for the BBC youth show and BBC Radio 5 I reported on a UK-wide scheme of crime gone rampant
Back then it was cars and joy riding (TWOKING - Taking without consent) which became a media obsession; though there were young teenagers with guns in Manchester we interviewed.
That was 1992, today politicans still haven't found a solution other than: "lets bang em up".
And that's a shame, a real let down to a generation of youngsters who start off their journey growing up just like you and me.
* David Cameron, Tory leader, comments on Radio 4 Today that violent crime has doubled in last ten years
Monday, July 14, 2008
The email came as below:
We’re writing in the hope that you will consent to be a member of our international jury (INTERNATIONAL VIDEO JOURNALISM AWARD) for the 4th International Video Journalism Awards, taking place this year in Mainz from the 28th-29th of November 2008......
I said yes. It's a real honour to be able to witness close up the transformation in video language production from any view, let alone that of a judge for one of the best video journalism awards around.
Congratulations once again to Sabine Streich and Albert Beckmann for selflessly giving us video makers the opportunity to show off our wares.
Each year the standard for this event has uped the ante from winners in 2006 such as German reporter (DW) Stephan Bachenheimer who spent three days in Guantanamo Bay and Dutch video Journalism Ruud Elmendorp.
You can see us here discussing their films after we emerged from the 2006 podium where the two and me came away with awards.
If you've got a film don't forget to send it into the awards at this website where you can find full details of entries etc.
Sabaa Quao's avatar based news takes on where ITN's Ananova left off with superior graphics and a platform centric approach with strong video
Next generation graphics, photo realism, and stronger algorithmic computation are strong contributing factors to the increasing innovation and interests in avatars.
Google's Lively, Bruce Damer's ground breaking avatar work including moon walks with Apollo astronauts, and Ron Edwards Fonterra platform which allows military and emergency services to simulate disaster management, are some of the things I have been tracking here and on Viewmagazine.tv
Sabaa Quao of xcorporation.com and capacity networks is onto a game changer, with his Avatar based news, which he wanted to combine synergistically with Vewmagazine.tv's anti-aesthetic videos.
Media buffs may well remember ITN's avatar, Ananova, modelled on two of its more photogenic newsreaders, however she-avatar had several limitations. Her look was no where near what Sabaa's avatars look like and her speech-lip-synch left a lot to be desired. You might also argue she was before her time.
Sabaa, also behind one of the biggest film festivals, the international one minute film festival combines an entrepreneurial spirit with creative innovations. I hope to bring some video of him talking about what he does soonish.
Here are some slides from the 3 minute broadcast, which I can't quite bring to you now but gives you an idea.
Some of the AI developments with avatars are the stuff of Science fiction. So imagine your avatar in an AI life environment ringing you in real world. Or that bio sensors in virtual world transfer emotions and pain into real world.
It's being researched now and could have a world of implications.
Ozwald Boateng broadcast
Here for viemagazine.tv's story of avatars and futuristic combats
Sunday, July 13, 2008
Video courtesy of the Internet archive and thanks to Bruce Damer. For more go to the Internet archive
Yesterday I was treated to one of the most enlightening lectures I have heard in a long while from Bruce Damer talking at the Computer Society, Covent Garden, whom posited a powerful argument, which is also at the heart of his Phd.
His multifarious sources include the work of Karl Sims a computer whizkid at the time in 1994 at MIT who conducted a unique experiment which would simulate Darwin's theory of evolution.
Sims created virtual blocks and a soup of code which the blocks used to 'evolve'. Their task was to first swim through virtual water and then walk on land.
At each moment of their cycle they would run through a matrix of code and create a new virtual being, which would adapt to its surroundings, eventually learning how to paddle successfully through water and then adapt to mobility on land.
If that was 1994, what might be capable now in 2008 is in part Bruce's line of thinking.
Could we from nothing see how a virtual world evolves?
Bruce's work in what he's termed the evo grid is of such computing magnificence as well as so deeply philosophically penetrating that you need to be at one of his lectures to capture its essence.
I did however VJ his seminar and will be dropping him some mail both to say thank you and how I might be able to develop a film of sorts.
His previous works have included developing AIs/landing capabilites for NASA, physically collecting and documenting for his digibarn collection every computer ever made, and genesis Avatar development from the 90s.
There are some brilliant developments from virtual reality and AI, that almost appear astonishingly unreal, such as printing live tissues, using a 3d printer from a virtual scan, according to Dr Rachel Armstrong.
As a footnote, a couple of us had our own eureka moments thinking our own PhDs could raise their game, and that's one of the fascinating things about the Smart Lab.
It's eclecticism is also one of its strengths, giving people like me access to hear someone like Bruce both in lectures and within the smart lab environment, that I can't think how else I might ever have come by that opportunity.