EngageMedia Blog

Poor Businessmen

by Alexandra Crosby August 19, 2012
8 people have died over the last 2 months in clashes between Papuans and Indonesian security forces. And the headline of the Jakarta Post this morning is 'Papua Violence Worries Business'.

The general sentiment is that investors (and the poor Papuans who are lagging behind the rest of Indonesia) are going to miss out on development opportunities because of the violent tendencies of a few protestors in isolated regions. In this age of citizen journalism, when we can hear the voices and see the faces of those in trouble, such a take on things seems pretty naive. You can see raw footage of Wednesday's attack on the Third Papuan People's Congress in Jayapura here.

Development that doesn't benefit the lives of Papuans is one of the roots of the conflict, evident in this video, which shows how the arrival of the Merauke Integrated Food and Energy Estate (MIFEE) program, the biggest development plan in Papua since Freeport, has forced locals, excluded from their own lands, to earn a livelihood by mining sand.

There are lots of places you can read about the complexity of the issues in Papua that go beyond a simplified 'development or bust' analysis, including right here on EngageMedia.org.

Those with business interests in Papua should be worried, but not because their projects are threatened by violence, because they may be causing violence.

Jakarta Post- 28,10,2011

We're Hiring – Video Lingua Coordinator

by Andrew October 17, 2011
EngageMedia and the Participatory Culture Foundation have teamed up to launch a Southeast Asia video subtitling and outreach project based on the Universal Subtitles system. We're looking for an outgoing person based in Malaysia or the Philippines to lead the project and bring it to life.

Universal Subtitles is an open source, online system that enables collaborative translation and subtitling of video. EngageMedia will soon be building Universal Subtitles into the EngageMedia.org site, enabling the easy subtitling of thousands of social justice and environmental videos.The result will be to expand access to critical stories from the Southeast Asia region to far wider audiences.

View the full job posting

EngageMedia @ Reel Change, San Fransisco

by Andrew October 13, 2011

From September 21-23 EngageMedia attended Reel Change: Managing Social Issue Film Campaigns in San Fransisco. The event was organised by Working Films, the Fledgling Fund and the Bay Area Video Coalition and sought to skill up documentary makers and distributors in the art of distribution, outreach and audience engagement.

The approach mirrors much of the work EngageMedia seeks to do; turning film into a tool to move people to action. Working Films and the Fledgling Fund however focus mostly on feature length documentaries and have some very interesting success with high-profile films such as No Impact Man, The Age of Stupid and Ghosts of Abu Ghraib. Much of the methodology can be brought across to inform approaches to short form film also.

Attendees listen in
Attendees listen in

The Working Films framework centres around their audience engagement plan. This covers articulating developing the following...

  • Purpose and Vision
  • Prioritizing the Issues and Assessing the State of the Movement
  • Identifying Strategic Target Audiences and Potential Partners
  • Inviting Potential Partners into the Process, Gaining Buy-in and Commitment
  • Developing a Timetable for the Community Engagement Campaign
  • Determining the Structure and Components of the Campaign (Including Take Actions, Tracking and Benchmarks for Evaluation)
  • Communications and Support Materials: Messaging, Promotion, and Engagement
  • Implementation
  • Evaluation
  • Wrap up and Reporting

I attended the workshop to see what could be drawn from these methodologies and applied into short form, user generated, low/no budget content from Southeast Asia. My conclusion was that there's quite a lot. EngageMedia's work to date has tended to focus more on the distribution - the technical tools to reach an audience. Where we need to do more is in improving the outreach of that content, and ultimately audience engagement and political impact.

It's certainly been an issue for EngageMedia that the site doesn't function as much as we'd like to catalyse action from the videos. This issue is two fold; firstly the site needs to function better to encourage users to add this information and for it to be easier to access on the site, secondly video activists needs think much more deeply about their outreach and engagement.

In my experience it's frighteningly common how often video activists will upload content online, or print DVDs, but then do extremely little outreach, let alone engagement. It's an old rule of thumb than the distribution is actually half the work. I think EngageMedia can play a useful role in raising awareness around these issues, and the knowledge gained from Reel Change was very useful in working towards this.

We have two immediate plans for dealing with these short falls; one is a redesign of the site that will better integrate and encourage improved outreach and engagement methodologies, this we hope to have done in the first quarter of next year. The other is a video activist toolbox that we're about to kick start that will build upon Tactical Tech's Message-in-a-box.

Look out for more on those soon!

Working Films Group
Workshop participants

Working Films Reel Change blog report


The ASTEKI project so far: Trainings for Online Video Distribution with Kendari TV

by Yerry Nikholas Borang August 15, 2012
In order to strengthen the ASTEKI network in producing and disseminating videos, EngageMedia conducted trainings with Kendari TV, a community television station in South East Sulawesi, at the end of September 2011. This workshop aimed to strengthen the capacity of Kendari TV by using a local server for storage, located in Bogor, West Java.

Kendari TV

ASTEKI, or the People's Television Association, together with EngageMedia.org and the Air Putih Foundation have an agreement to strengthen the TV network through enhanced ASTEKI IT capacity. So far ASTEKI members around Indonesia are using Youtube to distribute and store their videos online. But since June 2011 ASTEKI has had their own storage server which, like engagemedia.org, is based on a Plumi system http://asteki.org.


We are now trying to use the local server to share more videos and also to share experience and knowledge between ASTEKI members.

Stay tuned!

Secure My Video Guide

by Andrew Garton August 24, 2012

Welcome to the Secure My Video Guide, the first stage in our effort to provide video activists with tools to make their work safe and secure. The Secure My Video Guide has an Indonesian focus, however the issues and strategies recommended are universal. This Guide is a work in progress and your input is encouraged. If you wish to contribute to its ongoing development, simply write your thoughts, ideas, corrections and recommendations as comments to this blog. The most recent draft of the Guide is available below in both editable .odt and .pdf formats.

Secure My Video Guide is contributing to best practice tactics ensuring the publication and access to social justice video is secure under volatile conditions.


Video surveillance sign
Video surveillance sign, Tallinn, Sweden.
(Photo by Hans Põldoja, CC BY)

    This work-in-progress guide is the result of a one day sprint held in Jakarta on 27 July 2011. Where possible, information gathered during the sprint has been reviewed, cross-referenced, re-drafted and added to the most appropriate issues and solutions. Where possible, the guide provides recommendations for how best to deal with them. In other instances the guide points to where additional research is required, or where outstanding questions may best be answered.

    We did not set out to provide answers to all the questions raised nor provide a comprehensive response to all the issues videographers face. What we did achieve, however, is a contribution towards the work being done by groups such as WITNESS and Tactical Tech, specifically noting the issues faces by video activists in Indonesia.

    What was clear from this process was the need for more training, and more consciousness raising. There is a paucity of security and media literacy knowledge in Indonesia, there is even less access to the skills to secure video from inception through to distribution and archiving.

    As an open work-in-progress we encourage the ongoing development through review and contributions from our networks, friends and colleagues of EngageMedia's Secure Video Guide. Download the preview and working files, or read on and comment below.


      An impossible to imagine number people and plenty of utilities, it seems, are doing video. Children, teachers, sports professionals, activists, workers and the unemployed, radio and print journalists, the police, military and security firms are all swinging cameras some where on planet earth. In many countries now we are videoed in trains, elevators, in our cars in traffic, from the skies and even from space!

      DC Rights Protest
      olice officers in Washington video protesters, April 11, 2011.
      (Photo by Andrew Bossi,CC BY-NC-SA).

      Video has become, as Witness's Sam Gregory describes, spreadable, mailable and accessible by more means than ever. It has become, in less than half a decade, ubiquitous. It's portable, potent and powerful. Hollywood and the largest media corporations in the world, Disney and News Limited, no longer command the public’s total attention at the screen. No country and no individual is immune from the lens.

      In a country where internet security issues are either unknown or are not taken seriously, where more and more people are using video to document abuses and record first-hand testimonials, and where Facebook has become the internet for millions of citizens, the means to both securely publish and access video in and from Indonesia is more critical than ever.

      Along with the opportunities afforded by new technologies, there too are the threats. Creators of social justice video, for instance, can be located if they use an internet cafe and are not aware of how easily their location can be traced. The video they carry on USB sticks can be read on any computer and the people they capture on video may not be aware that they could be seen by thousands of people, all over the world, including the perpetrators of the injustices they may describe or have been subjected to. Anonymity and consent are little understood in Indonesia.

      People have a right to free expression, but they too ought to have the right to anonymity should they wish it. Being seen and heard is one thing, being recognised and literally hunted down is another. It happens. Israeli authorities used Facebook to gather names of pro-Palestinian protesters and had them black-listed to prevent them travelling to Isreal. Iran's authorities scrutinised mobile phone footage on Youtube to identify demonstrators whom they later arrested along with passers-by who just happened to be in shot. Iranians are also using crowd sourcing, a common social networking technique, encouraging the general public to identify alleged protesters in photos and video found on the web. A more recent initiative has seen the general public swarm to Tumblr and Facebook offering their videos and photos of the hockey riots in Vancouver that raises serious questions about “name and shaming” and whether this constitutes “vigilantism or community policing.”

      In addition to these ethical issues, many of which are being tackled through international forums and public discussion at every conceivable opportunity, there are immediate concerns regarding the day to day practise of video activists. For example, video files can be large and they can take time to upload. Getting them to a server from an internet cafe in Aceh, for example, can pose problems, particularly if connections are not secure, or more commonly, slow and costly. People need to be prepared, they need time and they need to be anonymous. Additionally, once online how secure and / or reliable is the site one publishes to? Youtube looks like a public space, but it isn't. Facebook encourages openness and sharing, but why does Julian Assange describe it as “the most appalling spying machine that has ever been invented?”

      As more video is produced and as more people, from all sectors of society use what ever means available to them hold up their cameras and send their images across networks and devices the means to do so ethically and securely needs to be both understood and readily available. The Secure My Video Guide contributes to this pool of knowledge and resources.

      Indonesian context

        (Compiled from VIDEOCHRONIC and GISWatch 2011 Indonesia Country Report)

        Camera phone
        Camera phone in Kebayoranbalu, Jakarta.
        (Photo by nSeika, CC BY-NC-SA)

        Since 2000 Indonesia has seen a dramatic increase in the use of video as a social change tool by community, campaign and activist organisations. Access to the tools for producing video have become increasingly democratised over this period, and rapidly adopted. Since the fall of Suharto’s New Order regime, space has been opened up for a host of new media projects to emerge. Individuals and organisations dealing with issues such as the environment, human rights, queer and gender issues, cultural pluralism, militarism, poverty, labour rights, globalisation and more have embraced video as a tool to communicate with both their bases and new audiences.

        The experience of the 1998 political uprising that overthrew the Suharto regime demonstrated the power of digital video in generating extensive socio-political changes by mobilising people in support of a new government. In the build up to the end of the regime, footage of the shootings of Trisakti University students in Jakarta, much of which was ‘amateur’ footage shot by bystanders, was aired on television inside and outside Indonesia. These images sparked sentiments of national solidarity, leading to mass student protests in several cities across Indonesia, denouncing the New Order regime.

        However, today, without the same momentum of mass direct action on the streets that characterised the end of the 20th century in Indonesia, the ways that video can be used to affect change are more ambiguous. Realising that they cannot rely on the foreign press to expose humiliating human rights violation cases, campaigners push their videos through other avenues, such as EngageMedia, YouTube, and Facebook, where, instead of relying on news corporation producers activists can become the producers and distributors themselves. In becoming more independent, however, this also shifts their responsibilities, particularly concerns regarding security, both in relation to themselves and whomever they bring to screens across the planet.

        Not only is there little knowledge of internet and digital data security issues throughout Indonesia, there is poor understanding of the implications of uninformed consent, particularly in the case of footage that could undermine the security of those interviewed and by-standers who just happened to be in shot.

        With broadband concentrated in major capitals, inconsistent internet access elsewhere, humidity that can play havoc with all forms of data storage from tape to the organic dye layer of writable CD-ROM and DVDs and increasingly sophisticated forms of digital surveillance pervading social media spaces the challenges are many, but not insurmountable.



          The following materials have been provided as a means to assist in either improving on, contributing to or identifying gaps in video security.



          This work in progress guide would not have been possible without the support and participation of the following:

          Sam Gregory and Chap Day (WITNESS), Yerry Niko Borang, Enrico Aditjondro, Alexandra Crosby, Cheekay Cinco and Andrew Lowenthal (EngageMedia), Ahmad Yunus (WatchDoc), Wempie (JPIC), Lexy (Off Stream), Ahmad Aminudin, Ian Keikai, Donny Budhi Utoyo (ICT Watch).

          Secure My Video Guide was researched and edited by Andrew Garton (EngageMedia).



          Last, J. Associated Press (July 2011), Israel blocks airborne protest, questions dozens

          GERDAB.IR lists photos and stills grabbed from videos found on the web and calls for citizens to identify those individuals circled in red.

          Reisinger, D. C-Net News (May 2011), Assange: Facebook is an 'appalling spy machine'

          Rayda, N. Horrific Video Shows Brutality of Attack on Ahmadiah, Jakarta Globe, http://www.thejakartaglobe.com/home/horrific-video-shows-brutality-of-attack-on-ahmadiyah/421214

          Freedom Film Festival

          by Alexandra Crosby August 17, 2012

          I recently spent two days at the Freedom Film Festival in Petaling Jaya (or 'PJ' as it is called by locals), a satellite city of Kuala Lumpur. 'FFF' (yes, acronyms are very popular in Malaysia) is an annual event run by KOMAS, one of EngageMedia's partner organisations. I set up a kind of video distribution table so folks could bring in flash drives and grab videos from the engagemedia.org archive. The videos were arranged into folders around issues (indigenous, sexuality etc.) and file size. Most of my 'customers' could easily store enormous amounts of data and wanted everything, so my little old laptop didn't work quite as quickly as expected. That meant there was plenty of time to chat to some very interesting people while files copied over, but kept me too busy to see all the great films in the program.

          I still managed to sneak into quite a few sessions. The standout for me was on transgender. There were several films screened, including one by Arvind Raj about Sharan, a Malaysian woman who transitioned first from a man to a woman and then to a nun, dedicated to Bauchara Martha, a deity known to be the protector of the transgender community. In the discussion after the films, speakers from Malaysia and Thailand, including Sharan herself, reminded us all that discussions of these issues need to be localised and that there is no 'quick fix' for prejudice and discrimination. Given the sensitivity of this this topic, I was surprised to hear that Indrani Kopal's film 'I Only Dance For You' (available on engagemedia.org, about a gay couple in New York, was not shown as it was considered by festival directors to address a theme Malaysian audiences were not yet ready for. Indrani's film 'Oily Hair', on an innovative response to the gulf oil spill was screened instead, and was equally fabulous. I clearly have much to learn about Malaysian society.

          Inside Indonesia: A culture of sharing

          by Alexandra Crosby August 21, 2012
          A short piece on Creative Commons in Indonesia

          Yes, we are still rattling on about creative commons. Ferdi from KUNCI Cultural Studies Center and I wrote another article about it. There are obstacles, and perhaps it will be localised and named something else… but we are sure there is a future for CC licensing in Indonesia.

          We also think EngageMedia is a good example of how it can work:

          The Creative Commons system employed by EngageMedia is seen by the organisation as a step towards addressing the barriers to clear licensing faced by social-justice video activists in a period of transition from offline to online distribution of video. The fact that the organisation is a regional network with local bases was a key factor in the decision to use Creative Commons. With a focus on the distribution of activist content worldwide, clear and open licensing has been a priority since the inception of the network.

          read the full article here