The Social Media “Information Explosion” Spectacle: Perspectives for Documentary Producers

The Social Media “Information Explosion” Spectacle: Perspectives for Documentary Producers

Friedrich H. Kohle (Edinburgh University, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-3822-6.ch015
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The semantic web, social media and the amount of user-generated content continues to grow at a staggering rate. Social Media significantly contributed to the information flow during the Arab Spring, the Occupy and Wall Street movement continue to maintain a global online presence using social media technology. But is the social media information explosion really a unique event in media history? How did story telling evolve into social media? In order to place social media in its historical context and anticipate digital native expectations, we explore the origins of narrative and storytelling from the perspective of a documentary producer. How did past media technologies prepare the way for social media? How do digital natives perceive the world via social media and what do they expect from today's documentary producer? What are the viewing habits of digital natives? What do previous ‘information explosions' have in common with social and digital media? These are essential questions for media and documentary producers navigating their way through the vast maze of social media technology and the semantic web, in addition to traditional media.
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3. Introduction

The Internet and social media are frequently referred to as the 'information explosion'. Social Media is ubiquitous and significantly contributed to information dissemination during the Arab spring. It continues to be a major platform used by grass root movements such as Occupy and Wall Street. It is swiftly becoming a tool documentary filmmakers rely on during all production phases, i.e. ‘Mon Petit’, (Mon Petit, 2012) which tells the story of wheelchair-bound Albert Casal, hitchhiking from his native Barcelona to New Zealand. The producers of ‘Mon-Petit’ have learned how to apply social and digital media to develop, produce and distribute content. Without social media the production of ‘Mon-Petit’ would not have been possible in this form. Governments too are learning to use social media, but for different reason: propaganda and surveillance. Authorities find it increasingly difficult to censor the amount of user-generated content online when compared to traditional forms of documentary production. Facebook now exceeds 1 billion members (Shaughnessy, 2012).

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