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The #18DaysInEgypt Media Revolution

The #18DaysInEgypt Media Revolution

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Published by: Crowdsourcing.org on Apr 16, 2011
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The #18DaysInEgypt Media Revolution
By Jaeah Lee | Fri Apr. 15, 2011 12:01 AM PDT
Earlier this year, as the world watchedtens of thousands of protesters pour intothe streets of Egypt,Jigar Mehta noticed something: Many of the peoplein the crowds were also holdingcameras. "Holy crap, people haveprobably been recording somethingover the last few days," he told himself.Mehta, a former
 video journalist, saw an untapped wealth of raw footage from the protests. Hewanted to collect them and turn theminto something bigger.Mehta hashtagged his project#18DaysInEgypt,and sent out a call to action onTwitter, Facebook ,and various email listserves. He asked people in Egypt to tag their videos and photos from theprotests, and to catalog and reflect on their experiences. "All the footage isimportant to someone," he told me later. "What I want to know is why they choseto film at that moment."When I first interviewed him back in February, Mehta didn't know what the endproduct of his crowd-sourcing media experiment would look like, but he thought itwould help pioneer a new kind of storytelling. I caught up with Mehta again lastweek in San Francisco, where he's a Knight Journalism Fellow at StanfordUniversity. What he showed me looked like a marriage betweenYouTube,  Wikipedia,andGoogle Maps,culminating into an interactive, curated learning experience.Take, for example, footage like this:
 This is clearlyamazing imagery,but it's devoid of context. You might not immediately realize that this video was shot on January 28, 2011, the "Day of Rage." Nor would you necessarily have recognized that the structure in view is the1,932 meter-longQasr El Nile Bridge in Cairo.You may not have known that the bridge leads toTahrir Square,or that, at this moment, police forces were pushing back on a sea of protestors using tear gas, water canons, and rubber-coated steelbullets. View the same footage on #18DaysInEgypt, though, and all thisinformation would appear with the wave of your mouse. Like this:
 "It's a way to make history come alive," Mehta says. He and his team have alreadylogged about three hours of video and 800 photos from the protests in Egypt. Nowthey have to whittle it down. After all, he says, bringing an event like the protestsin Egypt back to life will require getting the people behind the content to tell theirstories, and explain the who, what, where, when, and how behind each shot. It willalso require hurdling over some logistical barriers, like translating a video of protestors chanting slogans in Arabic and reaching Twitter users who might notknow how to upload their videos onto YouTube
or even have access to theneccesary Internet bandwidth.It may take some time, but Mehta believes his documentary can eventually have abroad impact. "Right now a lot of Egyptians there are not ready to be reflective,"he says. "In the next few weeks there will be some quiet moments, and that willprovide opportunity to push in and try to engage. Building the documentary is theeasy part. The harder part is engaging the community who were a part of it."Jaeah Lee is an Editorial Intern at Mother Jones. Get Jaeah'sRSS feed or follow her on Twitter. 

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