Nusrat Jahan Mim
The Front Stage of Tiktok, Reels, and Lives!!
The burgeoning growth of ubiquitous computing and cheap internet services have escalated Digital Content Creation in the Majority World. Tiktok, Instagram and Facebook reels, Lives, YouTube, YouTube Shorts are generating platforms to communicate for the people with limited or no access to conventional media. Leveraging such digital platforms, marginal entrepreneurs and small business owners are boosting up their sales too. In both cases, millions of content creators around the world are recording videos at their homes. Showcasing products or talents on social media is demanding additional spatial arrangements to attract local and global audiences. Marginal content creators are sacrificing their dwelling spaces and privacy to “stage” their “performances”. Family members often participate in holding green screens, lights, mobile phone cameras in position or creating special effects with quotidian items like talcum powder, perforated water bottles, energy-saving bulbs, etc. All these emerging activities have started to leave a profound influence on the perception and materialization of household spaces around them. Despite all their efforts, their contents often fail to attract audiences (unlike the privileged content makers with cutting-edge tools, techniques, and infrastructural supports). They are often harassed or ridiculed publicly on social media for not achieving the “global standard” of digital content. This project aims to support these marginal content makers by designing a “Front Stage”.As a framework, Front Stage assists them in creating low-cost, adjustable, and adaptable home studio space without sacrificing their household space or privacy. Manufactured locally (wood, metal, fabrics), it can transform into a storage space.
The upcoming global challenges will incorporate both physical and digital worlds. We are embarking upon a hybrid realm, where digital information, activities, and events are influencing physical space, time, and materiality. Social media and other similar platforms are generating digital cultures, standards, and value systems, which are mostly shaped by the technologically privileged ones. Since cutting-edge technologies are not evenly distributed, marginalized communities need design support to make their presence visible and voices heard in the emerging hybrid future. Front Stage addresses this gap and provide low-tech, sustainable solution to overcome spatial barriers around producing digital contents from marginal communities.
While there are thousands of products available globally to assist digital content creators(DCC), marginal-communities often find those expensive, complex-to-operate, and inadequate-to-capture-and-communicate their unique cultural attributes. Our eight-month-long empirical-study with marginal DCCs from rural and peri-urban Bangladesh revealed the necessity of a low-cost, low-tech “product” that can support their online-business or content-creation processes without interrupting their spatial arrangements. Front Stage works as an extremely low-tech framework that provides unlimited positions of setting mobile phone, lights, and backdrops, and converts into a storage space after recording. It’s easy-to-follow mechanisms give confidence to DCCs to communicate with their audiences without the fear-of-technological-failure.