Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The brilliance of Pixelcorps

I have been a fan of the Pixelcorps approach for years. Alex Lindsay led the development of a media guild which now does excellent media training at a college in Rwanda. Basically, they are empowering local people to tell their own stories, building a media economy in the process. They focus on video production training for both live collaboration as well as video documentary making and advertising. This also teaches the young teams in Rwanda to not only produce engaging stories. It also empowers people with media literacy - they are much better able to judge a story and "read between the lines". In a world where all kinds of hate media are still around, this kind of knowledge sharing and collaboration is definitely the best path forward. Rather than being an aid agency, Pixelcorp is more of a "trade agency", helping local media businesses to grow and make their own stories. Pixelcorps has also built extensive experience around collaboration tools used for live events, shaking up the world of both live news coverage as well as special international events. They're pioneers of Google Hangouts taking what was a very inferior product and turning it into a real alternative to traditional satellite feeds. In doing so, they're developing new forms of storytelling and collaboration.

My company, Critical Distance, is following in Pixelcorps footsteps but then from a base in Europe. This path is disruptive to many of the media for development agencies here because they have been very focused on information campaigns, pushing information to local populations. In many respects, Pixelcorps is working the other way round - ensuring local teams get access to relevant information - and that their stories also get heard in other parts of the world. They also understand that broadcast has long since lost the monopoly of influential storytelling. 
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