Right after I graduated in June, my friend Jhonatan -the Telmex visiting scientist in the MIT Media Lab-, invited me to work on an idea that I found interesting for a number of reasons. He wanted to know if it made sense to combine a MIT mobile technology class based on real world projects with a group of student reporters from a film college to help the MIT students report and communicate their progress, as they develop solutions to the problems they face. “I think it makes sense”, I said, and we began talking about how to set up such a thing, later to be called “Reality Courseware” by Jhonatan himself. I spent the Summer putting together an internship program scheduled for deployment at MIT during the Fall.
On the one hand, I saw an opportunity to experiment with documentary video, education, vernacular perception of technology, MIT as a narrative, social feedback systems and distribution of cultural content from a very flexible perspective. On the other hand -and most importantly- I saw the potential to bring together a team of documentary filmmakers and a group of MIT students in a situation that could reveal unexpected truth to everyone involved. Three months after my initial meeting with Jhonatan, the class taught by him and his collaborators has an additional group of fourteen film and television students from Emerson College that are helping the MIT students communicate their ideas, share their dreams, broadcast their work ahd expand their horizons.
After I finished setting up the internship over the Summer, I am now playing the roles of Producer and Creative Advisor to help put together and distribute this content. What will be the result? Only time will tell. For now, I am finding the process of leading the film students and learning from them incredibly rewarding.
We decided to structure the class website as a journal. The instructors and advisors will update it all the time news and related material: 6.976 / MAS.965 / SP.716 – nextlab I: Designing Mobile Technologies for the Next Billion Users. In addition to this website, we will launch sites for each project, and the content generated by the film students will be regularly posted there, along with other relevant materials.
You can access each Project journal by following the links in this page.
Here are a few frames I grabbed from videos I’ve been shooting of the film students at work (you can see pictures of all of them in action in the nextlab flickr group).