John Hondros, UoA 36, MAD

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I have been interested in the relationship between interactivity and video since 1997. While spending a number of years working with organisations involved in the development and distribution of products and services related to this new medium, I became aware of, and increasingly interested in, its social implications. The purpose of my current research is to explore these implications, laying a foundation for a career as a researcher exploring human relations in an increasingly technologically mediated world.

Participatory film and video has a long history, dating back to just before the beginning of the twentieth century. Some of the groups and individuals historically involved in this have now appropriated the internet as a video distribution medium. My research is an ethnographic study of three such groups in order to understand the reasons, methods and consequences of this appropriation: public access television stations within the California Community Media Exchange; visionOntv, the online video project of the UK activist group Undercurrents; and a television fan video makers group based primarily on LiveJournal.

My ethnographies of these groups were informed by participating in and observing their activities over a twelve month period both online and offline. They present a complex and contested landscape where a variety of people and technologies are enlisted by the groups to achieve their various goals related to video distribution, and show that this enlistment is sometimes resisted or unsuccessful. The ethnographies also present the internet as having multiple identities. In particular, it functions for these groups both as a tool, or cultural artefact, and as a place or cultural space, as has been observed by Hine, Markham and others.

I will analyse these emerging issues through two different theoretical lenses to see how each contributes to our understanding of the issues, specifically recent debates concerning the notion of participation and neo-materialist approaches to human interaction with technology.

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