01 February 2010

Video no longer reliable?


Video has been among the most reliable media for communications, but are recent spoofs changing that?

TV has long been a powerful medium. Because videos often show somebody talking, they are very believable and have usually been taken at face value. There downside has traditionally been limited access, with politicians and other 'newsworthy individuals being hand-picked by TV journalists, and aggressive editing and selective quoting leading to a soundbite culture and a limited focus on simple messages.

YouTube and other video sites promised to change that by enabling individuals and, increasingly, organizations to make statements to the world directly.

The documentary film 'The Yes Men Fix the World" celebrates the exploits of a pair of spoofers who use fake media releases, websites, speeches and, increasingly, video, to fool the news media and to shame companies and politicians about sensitive issues.

The Yes Men continue to make a splash, most recently creating a fake website for the Davos World Economic Forum. http://www.we-forum.org

Of interest here is the use of fake video, splicing real footage with alternative soundtracks of famous figures such as Queen Elizabeth II and the French and German prime ministers. Gaining particular fame - or infamy - is the fake interview with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, as a follow-up to the fake statements at COP15.

It will be interesting to see if this approach becomes popular among other activists, and thus how it might impact on communications, including the use of video. As desktop editing tools increase in sophistication, such 'disinformation' devices might expand. This may lead to new devices to authenticate videos and other materials, but also create an even more skeptical public.

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