Video recording on mobile phones has existed for quite some time, and small portable video cameras (like the Flip Camera) have been around for a while too, but the arrival of the new iPhone 3GS may be the turning point in mobile video.
The new iPhone allows you to record, edit, and then share your videos from wherever you are, as long as you've got a mobile data connection. This new move by Apple got me thinking about how video is currently used in international development, and specifically, reporting on development projects.
In my experience, a lot of the project reporting I've come across has consisted of long reports that are created at regular intervals throughout the life of a project. While these reports are absolutely integral to ensuring the success of a project, they generally don't tell a compelling story about the work that is being done or the people involved in the projects, whether they be development practitioners or beneficiaries.
Easy-to-record-and-share video capabilities can change all of that. By embedding video recording and simple editing software into a device that is already used by development practitioners — the mobile phone — it's possible to allow for more regular project updates and reports with a human angle: interviews from the locations, visual representations of work being done, and context around the work and the people it affects.
This is also increasingly relevant in areas of the world where broadband access may be limited, but mobile penetration is high.
Of course, these videos would not replace the longer status reports, but would supplement the reporting process — and, at the same time, make the work that is being done by international development organizations more accessible and understandable to people that are not directly involved by may have interest.
A good example of someone that is using video effectively to report on his development work is Tony Whitten, who submits video updates to the East Asia & Pacific on the Rise blog. Here's an example of some of the videos he creates:
The question I ask then is simple:
How can we make this kind of video (and photo/audio) narrative production easier for development practitioners? In essence, how do we help the Tony Whitten's of the world do more of what they are doing in an easier and more efficient way?