Video, especially mobile video, is today only in its infancy as an advocacy tool. The video4change (v4c) network is at the forefront of shaping how video can be a tool for social change. It draws together some of the best organizations and individuals using mobile video for advocacy today. The v4c site features resources, regular news and chat in several languages. Small World News is a member because we want to enhance the use of video for advocacy and for social change.
V4c is about community. The world of professional journalism and many top-tier advocacy orgs that use video to get their messages out are well-connected and rich in resources. Local activists need to create their own networks to exchange information, share resources and provide support. Small video producers working alone are unlikely to achieve the same results that membership in a network can provide. This is true when it comes to technique, security and especially distribution. Membership also encourages accountability through transparency -- v4c members should be outspoken advocates for the cause -- to help increase the profile of the organization, as well as members of the network.
V4c recognizes the importance of ongoing education for its members and communities. The tools and standards for producing and distributing video are changing almost daily. V4c offers dozens of important resources online to help video activists tell better stories and then get those stories out. In 2013, SWN produced a guide for the v4c network entitled “Effective Video on Low-Cost Devices,” to address some of the best practices individuals can use to improve their videos, without a lot of cash. In addition, the network produced a variety of other titles that address challenges we all face: ‘Videomaking on Android,’ ‘Secure My Video,’ and ‘A Guide to Video Distribution Sites.’
V4c is about results. In 2012 v4c began a collaborative research project with MIT's Center for Civic Media and Open Documentary that examined the network's impact. V4c is now in the second phase of the project and is preparing an Impact Toolkit to help member organizations better assess the impact of their work. A clear mission is key for effective advocacy. The toolkit will help video advocates develop clear strategies, set goals and define success. It features case studies and the results from several member surveys. The Impact Toolkit will help advocacy orgs better define what -- exactly -- they want to achieve and how to get there.
From our first project together, Alive in Baghdad, through our more recent projects to develop learning materials and tools such as StoryMaker, we continue to focus on increasing the accessibility to mobile cameras and teaching the skills to use them. When co-founder Steve Wyshywaniuk and I attended the first v4c network gathering 3 years ago, StoryMaker was just an idea. This year, as we met old colleagues and new in Mexico, we were excited to show off the second iteration of StoryMaker and begin many great discussions about using it to collaborate within the network.
If you’d like to know more about the video4change network, drop us a line or head over to v4c.org and check it out for yourself. After last week there are many new collaborations planned. Starting in August I expect we will begin implementing them in earnest. We’ll update you here and at v4c.org as new projects and objectives unfold.