Are your home videos ready for the prime time?

MEDIA | With Al Arabiya news channel asking its viewers to submit their own video clips, the age of user generated video has dawned in Arabia too, Ahmad Humeid reports.

When the London Underground was bombed a year ago, the first images and video coming out of the tunnels originated from the videophones of people who were trapped down there. This content made its way to the front pages of papers and global TV networks.
This example is often cited when talking about the rising trends of citizen journalism and user generated content. With many of us armed with digital cameras and video-capable phones, the age of “citizen media” is upon us. The rise of blogs, photo and video sharing sites, are all signs that media is in for a big shift.

In the past year, we’ve witnessed the arrival of services like YouTube and Vimeo, which allow users to easily publish video clips. Google is also present in the online video arena with its own service.

Usage of such services is surging. Traditional TV networks are taking note, even in the Arab region. The Arab news channel Al-Arabiya is calling on its viewers to submit amateur-made documentaries and clips to be shown on TV and the channel’s website. Aljazeera is known to be planning programming that depends on user-generated videos.

“Funniest home videos” have always been a popular TV format for decades. So is there anything new in the current trend of “user-generated” video content making its way to mainstream audiences?

Definitely. The main difference comes from the existence of the net. Everyone can publish. And while a lot of what out there is only of interest to the person who shot it, or their close family (how many clips of some strangers cat can we endure?), some material that catches the attention of more people is propelled to the top of the pile and gets disseminated in a ‘viral’ fashion (people sending it to loads of other people and so on).

The difference from the ‘Funniest Home Videos’ model is also in the amount and nature of the material being shown.
A recent article in Wired magazine focused on what is being termed ‘crowd sourcing’: depending on legions of amateurs to produce stuff. Channels like VH1 and Al Gore’s new channel Current, are starting to depend on video generated by ordinary folks in their programming, In Current’s case, 30% of its content is audience generated.

And its not just funny stuff. People are capable of producing more meaningful media than clips of people bumping into stuff. Amateur video is making its way into sporting coverage and music concert DVDs.

The technical quality of video cameras in the hand of consumers is rivaling that produced by the pros. Some consumer cameras can even shoot High Definition video today. And if the content is powerful enough, the technical quality might not even matter.

In the Arab world, the effects of user generated content can be profound. While western societies have been accustomed to media freedom for decades (if not centuries), Arabia’s bloggers and video shooters are working in a media environment that is still in its infancy. So take your video camera or phone camera out and shoot something that is affecting you, your family, your neighborhood or your country. Then put it online. Who knows, you might just make it to millions of screens around the region and beyond.

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8 Responses to “Are your home videos ready for the prime time?”

  1. The Observer Says:

    Sorry this is off topic. I tried searching this blog, but didnt succeed in finding the answer of what I am looking for, maybe it is there somewhere but I havent recognized it.

    My question is: what does 360 East stand for? What is the idea behind the name of this blog? :)

  2. Humeid Says:

    360(degrees)east.. hmmm..

    some possible meanings:

    Throughout the ages we’ve become accustomed to think in terms of dualities, like East and West. This was supposed to indicate some geographical division of the cultures. Today, every culture is essentially global. The West is global and the East is global. The directions of the compass no longer define the boundaries of a culture. The ‘East’ can be found all around the globe, in all the 360 degrees of the compass.


    If you sail a ship and turn it 360 degree to the east, you’ll just du a full circle and end up in the same direction.

    Maybe it’s about placelessness! :)

    “Officially” the name was coined by me for a company I wanted to launch whith a friend to offer translation and localization services. The company never happend. But the blog happened.

    I hope this helps..

  3. The Observer Says:

    Yes it does :) .

    Thank you for the answer.

    I guess this is a blog where you write about anything you want, mixing the east and the west, the past and the future, ..etc. It is about placelessness, or every place ;)

    I like the name more now that I have a better idea of what it represents.

  4. Humeid Says:

    cool! Thanks for reading..

  5. Khalidah Says:


    I love what you said about the origin of your blog’s name .. brilliant as usual ..

    As for this post … this is really interesting especially that we are in a race of has the most sophisticated mobile and what is the quality of your mobile cam and so on .. but do you think that our people would be open to appear on TV in situations that might be .. hmmm .. let’s see … embarrassing or compromising? Are we mature enough to at least laugh at ourselves?

    Maybe technically we are ready for this, but are we socially??

  6. layal Says:

    أتمني ان نتبنى جميعا كمدونين كلمه واحده بتاريخ واحد نحدد فيه رأينا للعالم اجمع
    اتمني ان ندون مدونه واحد بتاريخ 27/07/2006
    كلنا كمدونين نكرر عباره واحده
    كلنا مع لبنان وفلسطين ضد اسرائيل والمحتلين
    ولننشر كلماتنا القليله في جميع المنتديات والمواقع ليكون هذا اليوم يوم احتجاج
    بالعربي بالانجليزي المهم نسمع صوتنا للعالم
    وان لم نستطيع حمل السلاح فالنحمل الكلمه
    وبأي لغة نستطيع نشرها
    We are with Lebanon and Palestine against Israel and occupiers
    Nous sommes avec tous le Liban et la Palestine contre l’Israel et les occupants
    Wir sind zusammen mit dem Libanon und Palästina gegen Israel und Besatzer
    Somos todos con Líbano y Palestina contra Israel e inquilinos
    تحياتي للجميع

  7. Mind » Blog Archive » Blogs are the new source for email chain letters!! Says:

    [...] The web is a wide source that can give information and images about almost anything, and with the new emerging technologies; you can find clips and send it to your friends list and so on. [...]

  8. Mind»Blog Archive » Blogs are the new source for email chain letters! Says:

    [...] The web is a wide source that can give information and images about almost anything, and with the new emerging technologies; you can find clips and send it to your friends list and so on. [...]

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