This panel will follow on from our opening keynote from Jigar Mehta on Thursday 22nd and will lead into our lab on Questioning Participation in the afternoon. It has been designed to stimulate debate around a core issue that kept coming up at i-Docs 2011, which relates to questions around participation and authorship. Here are some of the questions that we hope to address through this panel:
• What do we mean by participation? Is the participation happening within or around the i-doc?
• Are we gradually moving away from authorial communication in i-docs towards more open ended and collaborative approaches?
• Where is the place for a strong editorial line in i-docs? Is a director needed to craft a pleasurable experience for the user?
• Should user-generated content be curated? Can i-docs help us to bypass the gatekeepers or do they just create new ones?
• Can strategies of participation help to give voice to the voiceless? Is participation an innately good thing?
In his keynote at i-docs 2011, Alexandre Brachet was keen to make the point that there are as many approaches to participation and authorship as there are to i-docs. This panel has been convened in that spirit, in recognition of the fact that the i-docs field is fluid, dynamic and in constant flux. The speakers reflect this range of possibilities – encompassing user-generated, curatorial and highly authored approaches – along with consideration of participation from the documentary subject as well as the audience.
These debates are important ones, which we hope will set a considered tone for the rest of the symposium. As convenor and chair of this session, I look forward to seeing you there! Also, feel free to add your comments to this post, as it would be good to extend the debate beyond the life of the symposium.
By Judith Aston