The CAPTCHA project participated in Civilmedia14 UnConference for Community Media & Civil Society in Salzburg, Austria, on May 29-31
CEU researcher Joost van Beek talked with several participants and hosted a small discussion session for community media practitioners to talk about how their stations share their programs online, what issues they face, what tools they use, how they organize the work flow and what lessons they have learnt.
The practitioners from Denmark, Switzerland and Austria who took part in the session discussed challenges related to the differing scope of copyright that applies online, the advantages and disadvantages of having designated (staff) persons take on the responsibility for archiving versus encouraging all volunteers to upload their programs, and successful strategies for motivating and training volunteers to do so.
Most of all, the discussion brought home how divergent the capacities of different stations are, and how ‘best practice’ recommendations must be tailored to existing possibilities, however modest. Working on a non-profit basis with mostly volunteers, community media have to grapple with particularly pronounced choices in how, what and where to archive. In this context, attendees discussed the tension between the practical advantages and strategic disadvantages of using third-party online services like Soundcloud, Mixcloud and Vimeo.
Such services provide easy-to-use, low-cost ways to upload and share materials, which can function as convenient shortcuts when the time, cost and know-how required for archive and website design, volunteer training and hosting packages are in scarce supply. They also provide low-threshold statistical info and sharing options. Their limited categorization options are geared for sharing rather than archiving purposes, however. Perhaps most importantly, relying on such services means a station becomes dependent on an external, commercial party for the online preservation and availability of its programs as well as the living archives built around them, from tags to audience interactions. The long-term existence of these services is not guaranteed, as MySpace has demonstrated, and instead of being able to freely develop new archive functions or interfaces, a station becomes in part reliant on corporate development choices beyond its control.
Nevertheless, their attraction for especially small community stations is self-evident, and their use fits within a broader trend of even much larger organizations delegating functions like search and mapping on their websites to commercial third-party applications. Moreover, even if a station doesn’t use them officially, individual program makers will, potentially creating diasporas of content. The experience of one of the stations attending the small discussion therefore underlined the need to make consistent choices about what to upload where, use embedding options to optimize the accessibility of programs, and present clear information to website visitors.
You can find the photo documentation of the Civilmedia14 UnConference here.