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i-Docs: a great success!!!

Ok, I know I should try to be a little objective about i-Docs… but actually I really think it was a fantastic day!!!

The room was full, people seemed to be very happy to be there (numerous people came to us to say how happy they were that such an event could finally happen), we had both speakers and audience coming from all over the world… and we managed to mix a variety of worlds (academic, producers, broadcaster and artists) around a same topic. Not bad really!

I suspect I could give a summary of the day… but you know what? I was so involved organizing, chairing panels and making sure that things went smoothly that I find it difficult to step in the shoes of the reporter/blogger. If you want to know more about the presentations do check out  tweets with the #idocs2011 code – or check  the following blog entries:

i-See: five i-Docs to explore by John Wyver at Illuminations

Linear thoughts from i-Docs by Alex Butterworth for Illuminations

idocs2011_3: Stats, damned stats, and interactivity ethics and idocs2011_2: artistry versus UeX? by Ann Danylkiw

What I can tell you are the thoughts that are in my mind  now that I am back in London – and the excitement of the day is less in the forefront of my emotions:

1. YES we were right to think with Judith Aston that this is the right momentum to gather together people interested in idocs. The enthusiasm and number of delegates on Friday stands as a proof.

2. YES in the last 2 years there has been an explosion of idocs: it might be the result of the famous convergence (finally happening), of TVs loosing their young audiences, of interactive producers wanting to experience with new genres and of some cultural institutions, like Canadian NFB, pushing the genre with ambitious and fully funded projects… whatever is the reason: idocs are now here to stay and expand.

3. YES idocs do spread in so many directions and territories (art, anthropology, journalism, factual video, participative media, games… you name it…) that it is difficult to define where the borders are between an idocs and an interactive project that has some factual elements. But does is matter? Why should we pin down a fluid expression of reality that is just at its infancy? People like me, Arnau Gifreu, Siobhan o’Flynn and Andre Valentim Almeida (+ so many others that I do not know of yet!) are trying hard to give definitions for the genre, but this is because it is our job – we either teach or are doing our PhDs- or both! So: welcome taxonomies and possible definitions of the field for the observers of the field… but really: what matters is to keep experimenting with new ways of using interactive media while speaking about reality! The discussion should not be “is interactive documentary better of linear doc”, nor ” is this project interactive gaming or interactive documentary”… but rather “how is our vision and understanding of our world changing through the use of new media?”, “how do we shape our reality when we use new media to portray it?”.

4. Once we move away from the need of defining idocs and finding a sub-genres (as I actually do in my PhD!) we can start concentrating on issues that are vital to id0cs producers:

> should we user test idocs and how?

> financial matters: who are the players, where is the money, crowd funding, self-distribution versus broadcaster etc…

> legal matters: copyright in participative docs,  creative commons etc…

> ethics: who is responsible in collab docs, logics of moderation etc…

Those could well be nice workshop topics for next year’s i-Docs….

5. The amount of examples of idocs that we have seen at i-Docs is impressive, and to those we have to add all the ones we have not talked about… it is virtually impossible to keep track! What would be nice is to do a Global Portal about idocs, a place where we could collaboratively blog and archive what is going on. This was discussed on Saturday’s morning session and we will probably come back to you all soon with a few propositions. Watch this space…

I think this is it for now… I’ll add more when my ideas are clearer…

I welcome anybody that was at the conference to leave a message… it would be great to hear your voice!

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, March 29th, 2011


  1. On March 29th, 2011 at 18:58 Norman Taylor wrote:

    Hi Sandra,

    Yes, a really enjoyable day of presentations and discussion. And at Saturday’s meeting we talked tentatively but enthusiastically (?) about a possible i-doc festival. I am kind of curious about how this might work.

    The problems we touched on relate to a taxonomy to inform categories and how entries could be managed; the range of delivery modes inherent in i-docs; and I guess that impacts on criteria for delegates to vote on in the final analysis.

    There were compelling arguments briefly rehearsed for no entry fee (that I agree with). From the other end of things though, it seems to me that those i-doc makers who have access to funds have an advantage over those without. Perhaps I’m wrong there. Could such issues be addressed in an entry process?

    Anyway, you said something about providing a taxonomy? I’m quite interested to have a look at that.


  2. On March 31st, 2011 at 09:21 Pip wrote:

    Hi there,
    I was so frustrated that I could not attend the symposium! Was just wondering if any of the papers or presentations will be made available online, and if so where I could read them? I am really interested in this topic.
    Thank you so much for any help you could give me.

  3. On April 4th, 2011 at 10:27 Sandra wrote:

    Thanks Norman!
    We are having an i-Docs meeting this week on “next steps” so… watch this space and we will inform you all on new ideas and decisions about the “global portal”…

  4. On April 4th, 2011 at 10:29 Sandra wrote:

    Hi Pip,

    we will probably edit a video with quotes of the presentations… If it is not too time consuming we will maybe upload the key speaker’s talks. But no power points online…. sorry!

  5. On April 4th, 2011 at 10:48 Sandra wrote:

    Hooopsss…. sorry Norman, I forgot to answer about the taxonomy bit.

    In my PhD I do a division that is based on “types of interactivity” which are at the base of one project. This has the advantage of not being a platform specific division. The idea is to understand the “logic” of the project. The disadvantage is that a lot of projects are now mixing more than one logic… and therefore it is not easy to pin them down (this is specifically the case of trans-media projects). If you are super keen, feel free to have a look to chapter 1 of my PhD –

    My actual taxonomy is:
    – Hypertext idoc (closed database, following a hyperlink logic)
    – participative idoc (based on user participation at any stage of the production process, can have an open database of content)
    – conversational idoc (based on the idea that the computer converses with the user in real time – hence a game logic)
    – experiential idoc (based on the idea that there must be a physical embodied interaction with the project – for example locative projects)
    – to those I suppose I would have to add mixed projects that accumulate more than one logic of interactivity…

    There you go: this is opened for discussion (as any taxonomy has its limits!)

    As for the festival: YES I would love to do it!!! We have to consider budget and time constraints but… if it is not for next year it will be for the following one!!!!
    – converstaional

  6. On April 4th, 2011 at 12:13 Arnau Gifreu wrote:

    I-Docs 2011, more than a symposium …

    I would like to discuss some impressions on the various activities proposed during the event:

    Thursday 24th March – The first contact -so necessary when people come from all over the world-, brought together a group of about 20 people in the Watershed Cafe, where we introduced ourselves and shared dinner. Thereafter, only the bravest of us went to a very nice Bristol club where we enjoyed a rock concert. It was a good opportunity to meet Sandra Gaudenzi, Judith Aston, John Dovey, Alexandre Brachet or Amir Husak, among others.

    Friday 25th March – The symposium was held on Friday. The event allowed, among other things, know people with close interests, present some of the latest developments in the field and have the great pleasure of learning from experts such as Brachet, Adams and Cohen, among others. Everything was well organized and the place and the speakers carefully chosen.

    – At night, we could enjoy a recreation of an audiovisual classic urban symphony: A Propos de Nice (Jean Vigo, 1930). This piece was displayed in the original form at first and then the directors Keith Marley and Geoff Cox presented their own proposal: “Toxteth to Nice city symphony performance”.

    Saturday 26th March – Finally, on Saturday morning held a meeting (brainstorming) on Pervasive Media Studio, which discussed various issues, including proposed ideas to improve or expand next year’s I-Docs edition, debate on the work from Keith Marley and Geoff Cox and propose the initial idea of creating a portal and community for people interested in interactive documentaries. Great idea!

    Finally, I must add that after the recent production of Highrise/NFB (Out My Window) and this symposium, along with initiative and companies dedicated to it -as Upian or NFB-, this genre has consolidated more and more as audiovisual genre and begins to experience a proper style and personality.

    Thanks to those who did possible! (Sandra, Judith, Nick, John and others!)
    Arnau Gifreu
    Researcher and Producer

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