Road Node 101: The Echochamber Project

It's a grey Maine morning following a period of rain; more rain than Maine's seen in a long time.

Still, in Winterport, most autumn leaves remain attached by slim brittle stalks.

Last night's temperature dropped into the low 30's and as a result, the morning flowers droop a certain weariness. I tell them, "Adieu."

Within the hour Randy and I are off to Chipman, New Brunswick and Philip Clark to search out elusive moose and less elusive trees.

Clark says there's nothing to do up there. We'll see.

Learning about Kent Bye's Echochamber Project has affected me deeply. In an exciting turn for participatory culture, he's discovering a system for collaborative filmmaking that will not only change the way movies are made, but how they are digested. Bye's vision for the future of filmmaking is enormous and not without complicated ideas. Yesterday I had the opportunity to hear his pitch 3 more times to about a hundred interested parties. That means I've heard it probably a total of half a dozen times and only now do the long-term ramifications begin to sink in.

Bottom line? Holy shit.

Before I continue in earnest, a shoutout to Bre Pettis and Josh Leo who each bought the Road Node a tank of gas or donated to the Gutenberg Project (either way, it makes us giggle). If you could see the wee smile on my face you'd understand what it means to us to be so supported by our peers. Nearly forgot that a picture speaks.

Kent began the Echochamber Project with a leap of faith: that were he to record, he would find use for the hundreds of hours of media footage he was inspired to set digitally down. In taking that leap's next step, the angle of his work (that of media analysis) was established indirectly: by virtue of Fair Use. So long as in quoting the media you comment upon the nature of the coverage as opposed to what is said in it, it falls under the terms of Fair Use. At least that's the theory.

Equally interesting is that the system he creates will leave in its wake an archive of easily editable media for parody and analysis. Every clip will be transcribed, annotated and weighted for impact / importance by the best experts he can convince to donate their time. If history is any indication of the future, Kent will have some notable minds on the case; he's talking to everybody who's anybody. If I understand Echochamber correctly, users will be able to construct series of media sound bytes to reflect whatever you choose to examine, for example the administration's stance on WMD or the United Nations.

Open Source methodology is a huge part of his mediamaking system. If each volunteer does just a little bit to construct the enormous whole it works, and it's designed so one can jump in at any point, accomplish what one is able, and move on.

Like I said: holy shit.

Better than chess.

The ultimate collaborative media tool.

Check out The Echochamber Project and do yourself a favor: make a commitment to participate.

An interview with Kent is forthcoming.



  1. Wow, this looks like an ambitious project.

  2. Yes, Jonny, it's huge and will benefit from YOUR help :) Get in touch with him, dude.


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