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Video Sharing: World Advocates Go Youtube

By Nebojsa Radic

Youtube, website that originally started as a place where visitors can easily upload videos and share them with friends, has become a powerful tool used by advocates around the world. Although it is limited to those who have broadband internet access, in reality it is very simple to use, even for those of us who do not have much of technological literacy.

How does it work?

To start, you need a digital camera to record a short video. It can be a statement, an interview, reportage, recorded round table discussion, conference, or footage of police beating participants in a public rally… Even videos taken by mobile phones can be posted online though their quality is poorer.

You then need to create a profile on www.youtube.com  and upload the video. Youtube accepts videos shorter then 10 minutes, smaller than 100MB, in most file formats, including .wmv, .mov, .mpg, or .avi. You will be asked to identify the key words (“tags”) under which your movie can be found by other users (i.e. “prostitution”, “sex work”, “sex workers rights”, etc). And that is all; your video is online and ready to be shared with others!

But, there are millions of videos uploaded daily, and the question is how to get people’s attention. You will need to promote your movie: send an email to your friends, colleagues and fellow activists with the movie’s URL; establish a link from your website; join an online group (called “channels” on Youtube), publish a short note about the film in SWAN News, etc. Youtube also has a service which enables visitors to subscribe to all new releases by a certain author, so those interested can be noted on all your future postings.

Once your video is on, viewers can post comments on it – so in a way, you are starting public discussion on an issue.

Technology provided by video-sharing services also made it very easy to include video footage in your own website. Your web master will need to embed a Youtube window into the site. The visitor effectively stays on your site, the movie is stored on Youtube, and plays in the window imbedded on your site.

Other video-sharing sites

Although maybe most popular, Youtube is not the only video-sharing site. Many video services have started offering new features like editing and remixability in an attempt to snatch a piece of the ever-expanding online video pie. But for the average user--who just wants to post a video on the 'net and share it with some friends--there are already too many options out there. Here are two which are for us more interesting then others.

Ourmedia  is a place where grass roots activists post their videos on variety of socially-conscious topics. Blip TV  , which is getting ever more popular, hosts Sex Workers Present, a video serial of the Network of Sex Work Projects (NSWP). Presented are videos made by sex workers, in which they tell their stories and share their experiences. Each episode of Sex Workers Present is produced by different group of sex workers from all around the world, with its own cast and crew. Among other movies available in Sex Workers Present is Taking the Pledge, about the US Government anti-prostitution pledge policy and its consequences on public health and human rights of sex workers.

What is the impact of it?

With an increasing access to broadband internet and decreasing prices of mobile phones with built-in video and of digital cameras, video-sharing online services bring enormous possibilities to advocates. Basically, with camera, computer and the Internet access everyone can become a journalist. Power is shifted from the mainstream media and those who control it, towards “citizens’ media”, community and end-users.

And we all know very well that those who control media, images, control the society.

Some examples

Sex Workers Present: here
Robin Few on sex work: here
Taking the Pledge: here

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