Rose’s (2015) article is an informative read on the documentary form and its connection to Do It Yourself (DIY) history especially in the context of citizenship and self representation through film as media. Rose traces the evolution of the documentary form from the time that it was a controlled by professionals who shaped and controlled the narrative that was presented, to more contemporary versions where the subjects of the documentary have more control of the narrative. Rose’s focus in the article however is on significant collaborative, interactive documentary practices that are emerging in the context of digital culture (Rose, 2015, p. 202). Rose (2015) also makes the assertion that the concept of DIY is problematic for documentary and that a co-creative, Do-It-With-Others (DIWO) approach to documentary provides a progressive reworking of documentary’s historic role in the public sphere as a n open space for the performance of citizenship (Rose, 2015, p. 203).
Rose’s ideas are perhaps best illustrated when considering YouTube as the platform that exemplifies how digital technologies and affordances can be harnessed in a collaborative DIWO manner that impacts citizenship. While the connection between YouTube and various facets of citizenship such as interaction between individuals and organizations or individuals and governments can be easily demonstrated, as an educator and active citizen it is my opinion that the greatest strength of YouTube in a DIWO context of active citizenship is in considering the impact that it has had on the expression of political ideas that have resulted in social change. This impact is borne out by the fact that in 2008 YouTube was awarded the George Foster Peabody Award for broadcasting and media where the site was described as a “speakers’ corner” that embodies and promotes democracy (Poniewozik, 2009). However, in 2016 when YouTube demonitized user videos that had “controversial or sensitive” subjects it led to a backlash from creators, accusations of censorship and a hashtag campaign on social media called #YouTubeIsOverParty which ironically also demonstrated the DIWO reach of the platform.
Dewey, C. (2016, September). Why YouTubers are accusing the site of rampant ‘censorship’. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-intersect/wp/2016/09/01/why-youtubers-are-accusing-the-site-of-rampant-censorship/
Poniewozik, J. (2009). Nonprofit Press Release Theater: Peabody Awards Announced | TIME.com. Retrieved from http://entertainment.time.com/2009/04/01/nonprofit-press-release-theater-peabody-awards-announced/
Rose, M. (2015). Making Publics: Documentary as Do-It-with-Others Citizenship. In Matt Ratto & Megan Boler (Eds.), DIY Citizenship (pp. 201-212). Cambridge: MIT.
Daraius M. Bharucha is a history educator and Department Head of History at Bill Crothers Secondary School. Daraius is also a student at UOIT in the M.Ed. in Digital Technology Program.