What do you get when a significant number of your posts are about the same topic? You’re asked to write a weekly column! Thus, I introduce “Media Shower,” whereby I’ll shower you (ha ha) with musings on the intersection of media and the environment. While I’ll focus on television, film, video games, and the internets, no medium will be off-limits. Specifically, I’ll be exploring ways that TV shows, movies, etc. are being used to help the cause. To that end, I give you Jeff Skoll.
Regular Grist readers should probably recognize the name of the ex-president of eBay and founder of Participant Productions, which is responsible for hits such as Syriana and the upcoming documentary about Al Gore and global warming titled An Inconvenient Truth. In a recent Wired interview, Jeff was asked, “Why pick Hollywood as a vehicle for social change?” Here is his response:
When I was a kid, I realized the power of stories to make a difference. Even then, it seemed that the world was going the wrong way: environmental degradation, new diseases, terrible weapons. And I thought, wouldn’t it be great to write stories that got people involved before these problems could get even bigger?
And according to Jeff, it is working:
Last weekend I was reading Yahoo! News and saw an article that explained how groups like the Natural Resources Defense Council are using Syriana to galvanize people to save energy and lobby for alternatives to fossil fuels. At the same time, ultra right-wing groups are using the movie to argue for getting off oil because it compromises national security. That was an aha moment for me because I could actually see one of our movies begin to influence policy.
Witness the revolution
But you don’t need a blockbuster or ex-Veep to make a difference. You just need witnesses. Equipped with cameras. Or mobile phones.
Over at WorldChanging, Jamais Cascio has been writing about Witness, the nonprofit organization founded by musician Peter Gabriel, which “partners with human rights defenders, training them to use video to document abuse and create change.” Specifically, Jamais has been writing about Witness’s recent announcement of an online portal that would allow people to send in video clips from digital cameras and cameraphones. He has also proposed the idea of an “Earth Witness”:
I’ve long admired the Witness project, which provides video cameras to human rights activists around the world in order to document violations and abuses. I was particularly happy to see the recent news that Witness plans to open up a web portal to enable users of digital cameras and cameraphones to send in their recordings over the Internet, rather than just as hand-carried videotape. While thinking about that development, however, it occurred to me that a similar model might work well for a “second superpower” army of networked environmentalists: imagine a web portal collecting recordings and evidence of ecological problems (human-caused or otherwise), environmental crimes, and significant sources of greenhouse gas emissions. It would be, in essence, an “Earth Witness” project.
Read the rest of his idea here.
Bomb it and they will watch
Now with all these great videos circulating the Web, wouldn’t it be great if you could “grab Internet videos you like and publish them as a feed — ‘bomb’ them — that your friends or fans can subscribe to, so all the online video you find ends up in their video player automatically, [and] lets you program and publish your own TV station made up of anything you find online and anything you make and publish”? Now you can, with Video Bomb (hat tip to BoingBoing).
Yes, more SOTU
Okay, that is it for this week. Enjoy!