Reflection on Gathering 1: Launch sparks debate

by Tony Robertsco-founder of Web Gathering and PhD student of PV

At Web Gathering Ltd. he is the Twitter Tsar and he spends an awful lot of valuable time on social media sites.

 

I thought I had died and gone to PV Heaven…

First, on the campus of the UK Open University, we got to share experience with real-life PV Gurus including Jackie Shaw and Clive Robertson from Real Time Video, with Nick Lunch and Gareth Benest from InsightShare, Julia & Rick Goldsmith from Catcher Media, Christoph Warrack from OpenCinema and event host Chris High.

As a rookie PV practitioner myself, I confess that I was a little star-struck! After all they have decades of experience using video for change, and between them they wrote some of the founding texts of PV. Jackie and Clive of course wrote the original 1997 how-to guide on Participatory Video, a decade later Nick and Chris Lunch produced an updated free and open-source handbook, and Gareth added the rights-based toolkit for PV in 2010.

As if the chance to work alongside these PV superstars was not enough excitement for one day we then got to take part in the largest ever on-line ‘Web Gathering‘ of participatory video practitioners, experts and enthusiasts. 90 more participants joined us in an online discussion from their homes and workplaces in 20 different countries – from India and Australia to Canada and Nigeria.

At the launch event I especially enjoyed the debate with Jackie Shaw and Nick Lunch about how we can avoid participatory video being co-opted and watered-down. We discussed how we might act in order to retain (or regain) the original emancipatory intent so evident in their founding texts on PV. I know from my own experience of running two ‘development’ organisations how easy it is for an emancipatory founding vision to become diluted by daily pragmatics and funding realities. It would be a terrible shame if PV ended up as PR – merely providing window-dressing videos for development initiatives that leave the status-quo’ intact. I’m personally grateful to Jackie, Nick and their colleagues for the inspiring Freirian ethic that they put at the heart of their guide-books and at the heart of their PV practice, and I fervently hope that the “Better PV Practice” series will serve to re-emphasise that critical intent and radical purpose of participatory video.

This excellent first event was just the curtain-raising launch for an even more impressive new series of PV web-gatherings that are free and open to anyone interested in ”Better PV Practice”. The next event, on July 16th takes the form of a ‘virtual field-visit’ to India to exchange learning with some of the most exciting participatory video practitioners in the world. The final list of presenters has not yet been announced but will be published in the next few days. Then the ‘virtual field-trip’ to India will be followed up with virtual field-trips to Nepal and other sites of PV best practice.

This innovative and ambitious series of on-line events will bring together over 500 PV practitioners, academics and enthusiasts from 50 different countries with the shared aim of helping each other achieve “Better PV Practice”. The events are all free and open to anyone. Just register here and follow the Twitter discussion at #BetterPV.

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