Toward a storytelling systems analysis model : a situational analysis of three global crowdsourced documentary media projects
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This study investigates three participatory documentary projects that emerged in the 2011 to 2012 time period. Each project utilized crowdsourcing to generate primary source material for their respective endeavors. The projects — Life in a Day (2011), One Day on Earth (2011), and 18 Days in Egypt (2012) — are analyzed through situational analysis, a qualitative analytical framework that builds from grounded theory method, social worlds/arenas theory, and actor-network theory (ANT) to analyze the relationships between human actors, non-human actants, spatial and temporal components, and political economic factors within a situation. Using this method, I created a situational map for each documentary system, finding that each emerges from a distinct economic system where value is determined through different treatments of the “crowd” and its contributed media, data, and stories. Subsequently, using political economy of communication theory (Mosco, 2009) and the concepts of structuration, spatialization, and commodification, I identified several control mechanisms apparent in each of the projects. These control factors – commodity control, spatial control, and structural control – and their subcategories – content and labor control (commodity), technological, temporal, and circulatory control (spatial), and contractual and organizational control (structural) – draw from the analysis of three very different economic systems and storytelling intents. The study offers a preliminary framework for a participatory systems analysis approach to grapple with technological and economic concerns in shared media production spaces.