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“Eyewitness”, is a meduim that aims at displaying citizen generated visual content with the same motion characteristics of the eyewitness who cap… Read More
“Eyewitness”, is a meduim that aims at displaying citizen generated visual content with the same motion characteristics of the eyewitness who captured it. Read Less
Published:
Eyewitness: Visualizing and Synthesizing Citizen Media Video Content of Political Significance
 
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New strategies of societal control are emerging as a result of citizens’ growing access to information facilitated by the Internet. These strategies are used to subvert the positive eects of information democratization and Citizen Media disseminated by Social Media platforms. The increasing quantities and idiosyncratic qualities of citizen media are challenging characteristics that stand in the way of its exploration, perception, and interpretation. I propose the Eyewit- ness Visualization and Platform design that adapts meta-design frameworks to contextualize, synthesize, and leverage citizen media video content (CMVC).
 
 
One Eyewitness
Two Eyewitnesses
 
 
Multiple Eyewitnesses
 

1. Preface 
Citizen media (CM) is defined as “citizen-run, non-profit, independent media projects that may have greater democratic potential” (Mihal, 2003). It is an influential medium that provides communities with the opportunity to create counter narratives of events and empowers marginalized witnesses by giving them means to communicate what they have witnessed (Al-Ani, Mark, Chung, & Jones, 2012).
The role citizen media visual content (CMVC) plays can be examined in light of the Arab Spring. CMVC (videos and photos) generated in the Arab countries that have witnessed the awakening (that started at the end of 2010 and continues until the present) are aesthetically and functionally rich and unique (Elshahed, 2011). The important role the content played (and still plays) derives from an increasing respect for the model of participatory media versus a decreasing one for the traditional authoritarian model (Harkaway, 2012).
 

2. Problem
But the de-contextualization and massive amount (Comninos, 2011) of CMVC among other characteristics, stand in the way of its dissemination, aggregation, and consequently exploration (Harkin, Anderson, Morgan, & Smith, 2012). The obstacles this media faces directly and strongly affect the perception and understanding of its content or in other words the “sense making” of this material.
Executing scenario based methods in studio and reviewing several proceedings from the International conference of Computer Human Interaction CHI (Giaccardi, Churchill, & Liu, 2012; Churchill & Ubois, 2008; House & Churchill, 2008) show that the de-contextualization of citizen generated media content (texts, photos, and videos) is one of the important factors responsible for threatening the content; it stands in the way of its aggregation and exploration. Consequently the content is categorized as data rather than information.
The de-contextualization of citizen generated content ruptures the event from:
a. Time and space, where the occurrence unfolded
b. Other citizen media content, captured in similar time and space of the occurrence
c. Situational circumstances of the witness, meaning his/her emotive conditions
 


Video Model of
EYEWITNESS
 
Watch in HD
EYEWITNESS Informative Video
 
 
3. Design Objective
The design objective is to create a platform that embodies the contextual specificity of citizen media visual content (CMVC) that has political and historical significance. This embodiment will be achieved by reconstructing the relation between citizen media content and three notions: the temporal, spatial, and circumstantial dimension of an occurrence, as examined from one or multiple witnesses’ perspective.
 
 
4. Proof of Concept Video Model: "Eyewitness"
In my latest proof of concept video model, I aimed at reconstrucitng the temporal, spatial, and circumstantial dimension of a politically charged event that took place in Cairo, on December 17, 2011. 

4.0. A Note about the Day Represented in the Model:
December 17, 2011. Tahrir Square
The citizen media content was aggregated from Cairo’s Tahrir Square, on December 17, 2011. At the time, Egypt was under the rule of Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), that had been leading the country since Hosni Mubarak stepped down in February 2011.

Security forces clashed with protesters in Tahrir Square to clear the area. The official speaker of the SCAF later announced: “clashes had broken out when a security officer was attacked and protesters had attempted to break into the parliamentary compound. It said its forces had shown self-re- straint, denying the use of gunfire.” The security attacks resulted in the death of 10 martyrs and around 300 injured (Neild, 2011).
 
In an attempt to put the viewer in the shoes of the witness, I modeled “Eyewitness”. It displays citizen media visual content in respect to the spatial, temporal, and circumstantial specificities of the occurrence and the witness.
 
 
Reconstructing Space
Eyewitness preliminary analog model
One of the very first explorations of "Eyewitness", a medium that aims at displaying video material that carries the same modus operandi of the witness who captured it –October 2012