Digital Media DIY and Political Stances – Skycopters

November 30th, 2011 By NOTAndrew Quitmeyer

Quick production turnaround and fast access has shifted the source of journalistic video footage from centralized news organizations to distributed crowdsourced video or small groups of independent journalists. These new modes were made salient with the waves of distributed media content flowing from the middle-east uprisings starting in late 2010 (“Arab Spring”), and hammered in by the Occupy Wall St protests. Protesters using Mobile phones and cameras flooded social video sites like youtube with up-to-the-minute coverage of major events and attrocities, and they were supported by censorship evading software and proxies provided by groups of internet denizens as well as major governments like the US (though they would often also be working in parralel with the oppressive governments

A combination of technical availability and cultural need, has also spurred the use of live-streaming mobile newsfootage collected by individuals with smartphones and unlimited data plans. Though it had existed for a while, the popularity (and therefore conventionalized use) of Ustream grew with its use by a handful of citizen journalists broadcasting live happenings within the Occupy Wall St. movement at different locations around the US.

As the new wave of distributed journalists takes over the roles  of traditional news they are also absorbing and manipulating many of its conventions. One of the most popular Ustream reporters of OWS is now even poised to begin creating aerial drones which would emulate newscopters but be able to reach closer regions to the ground within a city (“Dronecam Revolution” ).

Aerial videography was typically only used by hobbyists (RC flying cameras or production studios The ongoing imperialistic wars in Iraq and Afghanistan also popularized the concept with the US’s use of aerial drones  The standardization of technologies, as well as popular demand helped lead to results like the filming of a Nov 2011 protest in warsaw.

At the same time, this technology was also being reappropriated by commercial organizations creating toys like the ARdrone ( The web of hackers and DIY enthusiast saw this packaged set of hardware however, and began a re-reappropriation with the release of an open-source ARdrone API (

Unfortunately true advances in the new mediums tend to be slow to realize and new technology is typically used in facsimile of older production codes but with larger cheaper distribution. Perhaps further meditations will lead to truly digital new devices, like fleets of semi-autonomous newscopters that are owned and controlled by the public via the internet.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.