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Experimental Media

I like blogging, because it’s still so experimental. Internationally, they might be talking about traditional blogging, but in South Africa we probably don’t even have a thousand serious bloggers.

New media is so new here that we’re still experimenting with “traditional” new media. I want wilder experiments.

Take podcasts for example. Nic Haralambous has tried to make regular podcasts, but so far it has always failed. His conclusion is that regular podcasting doesn’t work, but doing it for special occasions does.

I think he misses the point. It didn’t work because the network infrastructure isn’t there to support it.

Take a hard look at average South Africans. They probably don’t even own a computer, much less have internet access. They might have a radio, or a TV if they’re lucky. About 10% of the most privileged South Africans have dial-up access. A very privileged 1% has broadband.

How do you make podcasting work in such an environment? I would mix up traditional and new media technologies.

It would be cool if radio stations put their shows online as podcasts. It would be even better if they would broadcast locally sourced podcasts. I want radio stations to produce blog posts, and have IRC chat rooms where you can interact with them in real time. Integrate them with wireless cellphone communities.

I don’t want to stop there. There’s all kind of technology mashups that I’d like to see.

I’d like to see video moved through unconventional channels. Do some video logging. Record Second Life events. Do video reports on local geek events or news.

Give DVDs away with newspapers. Distribute the results though the Johannesburg Area Wireless User’s Group. Put it on DVDs in video stores. Give it away at LAN parties, and 27Dinners. Put it on the sharing networks at universities. Make it available on freedom toasters.

As for getting technology in the homes of the average South African, the SABC wants to go all digital, so why not integrate decoders into OLPC style laptops? Broadcast useful educational info in digital format. Give it an hard drive so it can save the interesting bits. Sell simple plug & play wireless networking components so the boxes can be upgraded to plug into a neighborhood network, or the wider Internet. Get the post office to start selling email boxes.

My point is that although our internet infrastructure is deficient, there are other ways to move the data. I want to see people obliterating the digital divide while playing.

One Comment

  1. Nas Hoosen wrote:

    You know, I’ve been saying pretty much the same thing about local media products for a while now. Why aren’t we, with our current ‘deficiency’, seeking to encourage more cross-pollination between multiple media platforms? Of course, we often see why (especially in journalism lectures at university, let me tell you); the old biases are still standing up like barbed wire fencing around each alternate media hub. The newspaper ‘journos’ still see themselves as better than the TV/radio guys, who like to think of themselves as stars (and, honestly, who in South Africa can convince you that they’re an honest-to-gosh “star”?).
    Maybe I’m oversimplifying the issue a little, but I certainly believe that the separatist attitudes of many people in the media hierarchy are afraid of your proposed “Experimental Media”, because it’s not a sure bet and doesn’t allow them to maintain their current attitudes towards other forms of media.
    Just a thought, and I could always be wrong.

    Tuesday, September 2, 2008 at 15:48 | Permalink

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