Notes from SF Net Tuesday: Vlogging & Digital Storytelling for Nonprofits

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Last night was the San Francisco Net Tuesday at the Hat Factory, a very cool "community office space for geeks and media hackers." Eddie Codel of Geek Entertainment TV and Schlomo Rabinowitz spoke first about vlogging.

Here are some of the resources they suggested for folks who want to start vlogging:
Freevlog.org and Node101 for tools, tutorials and training.
Blip.tv for free hosting.
Wordpress for a free blog.
Feedburner to set up a feed.
FireAnt to list your vlog and attract viewers.

And some examples of interesting vlogging projects they told us about:

Alive in Baghdad: Founder Brian Conley gave Iraqis video equipment to record the occupation from their perspective. The videographers send their video via SpinXpress, a "free software application that lets you share your videos, photos, audio and more on a secure private network," to an editor in the States who cleans it up, adds titles and posts it for them.

Echo Chamber Project: A collaborative, open source documentary about the role of the media leading up to the war in Iraq. You can see an interview with Kent Bye of the Echo Chamber Project on GETV.

Have Money Will Vlog: Vloggers like Maria Gomez propose projects and ask users to help fund them. By October 16th, Maria wants to raise $2100 for a 4-month trip to Colombia to interview Colombians planning to leave their country as part of her Colombia Migration Project. As of this writing, she only needs to raise $383 more to meet her goal. The site uses Fundable to hold the donations, and lists contributors' names in the project's sidebar. Very cool fundraising model!

For the second part of the evening, Amy Hill, the Community Projects Director for the Center for Digital Storytelling, showed three beautiful autobiographical digital stories. For many of the communities that the Center works with, technology is not easily accessible. The stories written by women at the Latina Center in Richmond, CA not only allowed the women to tell stories about their own lives, but also gave the organization engaging tools to use for outreach to other women, and for fundraising.

Many of the pieces use photographs, rather than video, to illustrate their stories.  Some of the populations that they work with, such as foster youth or survivors of domestic violence, don't have, or don't want to use personal images, and have to come up with alternative ways to illustrate their stories.

Organizations can use digital stories to complement statistics and deepen the impact of their messaging. In the case of Engender Health, they took the digital stories created during their Men as Partners: South Africans Respond to HIV/AIDS and Violence Against Women project, and showed to them to the South African Parliament. The stories inspired a debate about gender and HIV that resulted in the allocation of funds for these issues.

Finally, as an example of the power of video to get out a nonprofit's message, I spoke with Japhet Els, Rainforest Action Network's Online Organizer, who attended Net Tuesday, and he told me that their movie, Petrolius: The Oil Habit, has received 13,400 views on YouTube since September 5th.

If you'd like to learn more about vlogging and digital storytelling, Tech Soup will be having an online event around these topics. Contact Susan Tenby, Tech Soup's Community Manager at susan AT techsoup DOT org for more information.

The next Net Tuesday San Francisco will be Tuesday, November 14 from 6-8 PM at Citizen Agency HQ at 425 Second St., #300 (between Bryant and Harrison). Folks from the social bookmarking site Ma.gnolia will be speaking, plus another speaker soon to be revealed. . . . RSVP on the NetSquared Meetup site.

Photo credit:  Des Vlogging by Michael Tyas.