Video: Cultura Libre – What Do You Think Open Access Culture Is?

As discussed in the companion report to this case study, digital empowerment-focused nonprofit SocialTIC is not yet engaged with formal methods of measuring or assessing the impact of their work. In order to examine the organization’s implicit understanding of the importance of video as a tool for change, and the likely indicators for SocialTIC of Video for Change impact, this case study discusses an in-progress video addressing Open Access Culture being produced by Alberto Ramírez Martinell (Phd)., Secretary at Social TIC and Full time researcher at the Universidad Veracruzana. The hope is that a discussion of the goals of this video project will illuminate SocialTIC’s understanding of Video for Change’s efficacy and forms of impact within their broader organizational mission to engage people in digital culture, digital production, and networked conversations, debates and social campaigns.

About the Project

Alberto describes this video as a discussion with leading professionals and thinkers in the realm of Open Access culture in Mexico. The goal is to reveal their views on the subject in order to raise awareness and to generate an on-going conversation about the issues. Open Access culture, as an international movement or framing of the internet’s potential and future directions, is a key component of SocialTIC’s vision of inclusive digital empowerment.

“We have tried to interview people with clear thoughts and with the possibility to change policy in Mexico or in institutions here. We are interviewing the leader of Creative Commons in our country; the president of Wikimedia, Mexico; OpenSUSE developers and programmers; and collaborators in Mozilla, Mexico, as well as academics and the social sector. The idea is to clarify what people think Open Access Culture is and then to disperse the video through social media, and see what people can learn from it.”

The other video they produced for this project is:

Video: Open Access – Best Practices

Video for Change @ SocialTIC

For SocialTIC, the end goal of social empowerment is sought by harnessing the full array of networked technologies and open web access; video is just one part of their approach. Alberto notes, “It’s about changing people’s lives, and video is just one means to do so.”

When asked about the potential for personal or community empowerment via the V4C production process itself, Alberto agrees that this is a part of the value of Video for Change. He notes that it’s the same kind of empowerment and discovery that SocialTIC sees occurring through blogging, social media engagement, and other aspects of internet participatory culture. He states, “It’s not just the product but the process where the value lies.”

However, when thinking about video as a part of their wider strategy to achieve social change, SocialTIC’s video work is mostly professionally created content aimed at broad dissemination, with the goal of increasing awareness and dialogue. “There’s still value in the product. If we produce something valuable and it becomes viral, then everybody’s happy. But what we do is empower people, and show them how to do things. But we do things too. And it’s important to us that people see things we make as tools for empowerment or for learning.”

Video Goals: What Signals Success, What Generates Impact

Alberto takes a very specific view of the goal for this series of internally produced SocialTIC videos. “The idea is to put them online, to hopefully make them viral, to present them in universities and schools and in front of people as well.”

For SocialTIC, besides the quality of content, another facet of video for change is the viral element, to put content in front of as many viewers as possible. In this case, not only is awareness and reach an implicit indicator of impact, but it is the type of impact that can be measured numerically, either by tracking video views online or pathways of sharing through social networks, but also by keeping track of the number of people who gather to view the video as an offline audience.

These videos fall into a broader project at Alberto’s university base, where researchers are creating a network for Open Access Culture. These videos are meant to address the idea of Open Access for unfamiliar audiences. Alberto specifies that the videos are “meant to start generating conversation and ideas about [Open Access culture]. So there are videos with specific answers, specific ideas.”

Because these videos are being produced in the hopes that they will ‘go viral’, SocialTIC had particular considerations about the form and content in order to make it as engaging as possible. These considerations included the length of the videos, Alberto noting that “One minute was too short, these videos are about five minutes each, which is still a good length for watching this type of mini-documentary.

Alberto also discussed the rationale for choosing leaders from internet culture, technology and academia as a way to get the Open Access discussion started. He notes, “All of the [interviewees] have interesting positions for the audience. They hold positions in enterprises, organizations, universities and NGOs, positions which validate their opinions for the viewer.” To spark a wider discussion about issues of Open Access culture amongst viewers, SocialTIC felt that the impact of the video would be strongest by talking to well-credentialed individuals about the meaning of Open Access in their own lives and work.

Key Learnings

  • Video is only one aspect of the work done by SocialTIC, but they do create their own video content because they see it as an engaging way to generate interest and conversation about their issues (internet culture and inclusivity)
  • This series of videos was produced with the implicit understanding that impact could be seen in the number of views of the video (the hope for the project being that it would ‘go viral’) and the level of conversation it generated in its audience about the Open Access issues presented
  • SocialTIC relies on the Creative Commons license because it aligns with their visions of a free, open and fair culture of creation and remixing online, it benefits them or protects their content by requiring credit for such reuses of their content, and it serves as a marker of their level of professionalism and understanding of web culture.
  • SocialTIC hopes to see broader adoption of the Creative Commons licensing system among V4C producers