Big Stories, Small Towns

by Martin Potter last modified Apr 04, 2012 09:44 AM

Name(s)
Martin Potter
Location
Melbourne, Australia
Age
37
Profession
Filmmaker

Video Proposal

Over a period of nearly four years, moving across small towns in Australia and South East Asia, I have seen the most extraordinary innovations at a local community level. My video will focus on these local stories which have a global impact. I am pursuing a PhD in participatory media and this will lend a uniquely academic perspective on the concept of collaboration, community life and innovation.

Video Genre
Online Documentary

Interview


Do you identify with the term Digital Native – how do you define it?

Digital Natives use technology as a natural part of their day to day life – socializing, work, communications, and community building. We don't need to be born into an era of technology - these are skills and patterns of use that can be acquired, given the right circumstances. Maybe I am a digital native, who knows.... I don't think you need to belong to a particular economic group, however you do need to belong to a social context that facilitates peer engagement and networking and support, otherwise you may not be able to find something of interest in the technology without support.

 

Do you agree with the perception that the digital native is typically a “White, American, Young, Geek” apathetic to social causes?

Mostly agree. But the vital, inspiring and connected others who don't fit that description are the ones who seem to define the term - the use of social media to organize in the context of the recent Arab uprisings and the innovation in broad social use of media in developing regions is far more interesting. It seems the exceptions are defining the rules.

Can digital activists from developing nations create an impact through social media and online campaigns?
I'm from Australia (a developed country) where people still live in dire poverty in several areas. I see people in developing contexts (nations) leading the way in re-framing technologies for their use. I strongly believe that all levels of society can potentially participate in a digital world and can begin to address the unlevel playing fields of their societies and our global society.

 

Do you think traditional forms of activism are now supplemented by digital campaigns? What is your reaction to the “Get Kony 2012” video campaign?

One does not replace the other, but it can serve to enhance and expand the reach of such campaigns (traditional). As for Kony 2012, it’s a very successful social media campaign with a problematic message; a great piece of polemic media, but to what end? Will it achieve its goal? In light of the meltdown of its maker and the questioning of the NGO Invisible Children will this encourage a cynical backlash from the people who invested in it - those that watched, shared and donated?

 

Are we seeing a trend where digital natives are more involved with local (neighborhood) causes than with global issues?

I think local causes may not have as much involvement. Robert Putnam's Bowling Alone points to a dilution of community at local levels. I think being connected to the world at a distance may lead to local social isolation. We have to focus on engaging with community and the people around us with the new tools, not opt out pretending we're a part of a bigger picture.

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