Collaboration and Exploitation in Documentary Ecosystems

Jon Dovey

This paper  explores the new documentary ecology in terms of the twin dynamics of collaboration and exploitation. Describing the current media environment in terms of the attention economy, it will  present a framework for engaging critically with the implications for documentary. Thinking ecologically documentary can be conceptualised as a relational, ‘living’, network, with meaning created as a result of the interactions of audiences, machines and environments.

However ecosystems are not ethical. I argue that the participatory potential requires new ethical protocols which make clear what kind of value is being created for whom. The paper will offer a discussion about how the debates about free labour that circulate in critical writing about social media might be relevant to participatory documentary.

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