I thought of something this morning. Every morning when I walk to the train along University Avenue listening to music I see a few homeless people in the streets. Usually they sit in the sun to warm up. One has always caught my attention as he usually sit and write on a notepad. Sometimes he is numbering the sheets, sometimes he is writing. I am not sure what he is writing and what his story is. It however makes me curious. I want to know more. I also want to know how he ended up where he did.
This is really what media should be all about. For all topics. The human element. The human story. The personal, tangible, relatable touch from another person just as you and I. For all stories. With the context the story lives in presented. It is about presenting that human element of the story… It is about turning the concept of media upside down. Show the individual story with the context around it. Showing the diversity, yet giving it a voice. Giving room for humans, yet using traditional media aspects to provide the context.
Think of concert with Bono. Think of a demonstration on the squares of Minsk, Belarus. Think of the stories from Kenya during elections. Think of the stories from the streets around the Marriot Hotel in Islamabad. Think of the stories from China during the olympics. What really makes a difference is to hear those individual voices. That regular voice. Hearing the whispers on the streets. Feeling it. Think of it as being in the ultimate reality show where you participate, observe and experience it through the eyes of the people there. Only better as this is really real. Now that is cool.
To tell these human stories we will have to turn to multimedia, in particular photography and video. Why? Visual story telling is possible even for illiterates. The main issue with audio is the language barrier. If you do not know the language, the message is lost. Text is not a suitable medium of obvious reasons – langugae, illiteracy and also notoriously hard as most of us are not great writers. Sorry, guys and girls. I know we all want to be, but we are not. There are a few masters out there, but most of us are not. However, I am not saying that photography and video story telling is easy, but it is better media for the common person to tell their stories. The visual language is universal, more relatable and tangible for most people.
The really cool thing is that we have all the pieces – for instance cheap cellphone and digital cameras, 3rd party sites for videos and pictures, cheap and simple editing software and a cascade of publishing platforms. The pieces are there. The opportunity is there. Now let us see who will be the first to capitalize on the opportunity.