Link TV announced the forthcoming launch of ViewChange.org, a digital-media hub on global development last month. The site, to be launched this summer, integrates good news about microeconomics around the world and innovative web technology that enables users to contribute to the causes they are learning about.
Like its parent organization, ViewChange.org aims to inspire change by telling stories that the mainstream media does not. Where ViewChange differs from Link TV is in its emphasis on the developing world, as well as in the technology and research behind it.
The site will use sophisticated Web tools that take advantage of the scope of information available on the Internet. For example, when watching a documentary on water supplies in India, links to related YouTube videos, research articles, news and blog updates will appear in adjacent windows. Semantic web tools make these links possible by analyzing context and meaning of key words. The links are therefore more specific than the more common keyword scan would allow.
ViewChange.org plans on providing opportunities for users to take action by donating, volunteering, joining campaigns, and sharing video content—bridging the gap between socially conscious spectator and activist. To encourage new, on-the-ground material, Link TV is also launching an online film contest with a $20,000 grand prize. Judges of the contest will include Danny Glover, Gael Garcia Bernal, Wim Wenders, and U.S. Senator Daniel K. Inouye.
Danny Glover, who is a Link TV board member and UN Goodwill Ambassador, announced the project via e-mail and a Web video on February 25.
“We want to create a hub where global development organizations and citizen activists can harness the power of storytelling to inspire action to eradicate poverty, hunger and disease in developing nations,” he wrote.
According to Link TV’s Director of New Media, Hannah Eaves, the project has been in development for almost two years. The initial spark was a desire for technology that would allow Link TV to cover new ground. “There were about six of us in the room, and the idea for a semantic video player came up,” Eaves wrote in an email. About a year ago, they had a working proof of concept. They then joined forces with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and decided to combine semantic Web technology with positive stories about the developing world. Both organizations agreed that such stories deserved more attention than most media outlets gave them.
In preparation for the new project, Link TV held several summits with global development leaders and academics. In this way, they gained insight on the complexities of representing groups in far-reaching regions like Africa.
ViewChange.org is among the latest in a wave of websites that use new media to provide multiple perspectives on world issues. Among them is Al Gore’s Current TV, which focuses on what it calls “democratizing media” and encourages not just awareness of big issues, but taking action. Like other recent media hubs, ViewChange.org relies on the power of multimedia stories to produce positive change.
“Ultimately we hope to influence decision makers who have a role in shaping global development policy, particularly in the U.S., Europe and ‘donor’ countries,” Eaves said of Link TV’s goals for the site. “But we also think that ViewChange.org will appeal to anyone interested in real stories of people creating and participating in change.”
Link TV’s Hannah Eaves is also SF360.org’s columnist on digital filmmaking and distribution. Read The 6th Screen in SF360.org’s Indie Toolkit.