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Interactive Documentary Archive

Diamond Road Online

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By: Kensington Communication
Project type: collaborative Web



Diamond Road was a there hours documentary about the diamonds’ industry produced in Canada in 2007 . The producers, with the collaboration of Ryerson University (Canada) decided to do an online version of it in 2008.

Diamond Road Online was designed to create a  be personalised experience where the software suggests videos to the users keeping track of the videos selected by the viewers themselves . The authors call it a “community documentary”. Here is how they man by it (quote from their FQA’s website):

“Most documentary films can only be watched – you sit down at the theatre or in your living room; everything is geared to the filmmaker’s perspective. Unless you’re at a screening where the director stands up and takes questions, it’s usually one-way communication.

This is where you come in. The raw material is here: over 8 hours of documentary clips and growing. You can just watch if you want, but you can also jump in and become a contributor and editor of the documentary:

* Rate clips and discuss them in DRO’s community forums
* Sequence short stories that show your point of view on the issues
* Submit content: video responses to the material you’ve watched, a short video you’ve created about diamonds, photographs, short text articles, animation – anything you can think of.

Everything you do can become part of Diamond Road Online and anyone who comes to the site can watch it! Over time we hope that DRO develops into a site with many different contributors and many different perspectives: a community documentary.”

Find out more:

View Diamond Road Online

Read about it as presented at Siggraph 2008.

My comments:

This is a professional project: lots of videos, good graphic interface and lots of depth. It is  a perfect educational tool  that tries to cover and foresee the needs of its viewers: there is an autoplay function that links videos back to back (avoiding the constant clicking of the viewer, and allowing a certain “linear passivity”) but there is also the option of choosing the next video (giving the active user the possibility to browse as he/she wants). I also like the effort in creating a community with posts and discussion around such a sensitive topic. This gives a depth to the documentary by opening it beyond the footage and the producer’s point of view.

I got a bit annoyed by the need of registering… why should I give my name, gender and date of birth in order to comment and participate to the forums? I suspect though this is a way to make sure that only people that really care about the topic enter the site…

I also wonder who does participate. The names that I saw in the forum seemed to repeat themselves… are they members of the production team? Are they web users that got interested?

And finally I am suspicious about the option of creating one owns movie out of website’s video clips, and to send it to friends (or just to save it and share it with the online community). Is this a relevant option within the context of this project or is it just a fashionable option? I am a firm believer that interactivity needs to have a purpose and I wonder if this option is not just a fancy trendy gadget… Maybe I am a bit too hash here… but who would want to create a movie out of a movie just for the sake of it? Again… please do comment if you have used this project, there is maybe something that I am missing here…

Over all though, this is a substantial and professional project that shows where we are at (in 2008) with video sharing and educational / documentary online formats.

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This entry was posted on Monday, July 14th, 2008

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