Hippies, Facebook and making social TV


Very nicely timed with the announcement by CNN’s President that he’s more worried about social networks than FOX, the first video installment of a unique Facebook documentary called Goa Hippy Tribe has been released.

Goa Hippy Tribe

Goa Hippy Tribe is using Facebook in a number of ways: as subject matter (in particular the re-connection of the eponymous Goan Hippies via the social network); in part for research, production and content, and also as a platform for marketing and distribution.

Whilst the story behind the film itself highlights the role that networks such as Facebook play in creating new stories for documentary to cover, what’s really interesting is the way Facebook is being used to shape the content and format of the work.

The filmmaker, Darius Devas, has been interacting with the community of people who were part of the scene in Goa as he makes the film, not only shaping the way the film evolves, but building a community that is a part of the filmmaking process.

Goa Hippy Tribe
Interviews and other items of ‘micro-content’ have been posted over time, sparking conversations, building shared connections between the audience and involving everyone in the journey of the filmmaker and the film. There’s even a lively discussion on a separate Goa Hippy Tribe Group page considering the role of Facebook as an enabler, versus the inevitable privacy concerns when old photos and stories are made public.

This kind of collaboration would not previously have been possible, and it’s a particularly effective way of increasing the emotional involvement of the audience, who will be more likely to share links and recommend the film to their friends, especially as Facebook provides the means to easily do so.

All of this starts to change the way we think about broadcast. This project has an obvious community interested in the subject, but there are just as many niche audiences outside of hippies in Goa. As CNN’s President, Jonathan Klein puts it: “The people you’re friends with on Facebook or the people you follow on Twitter are trusted sources of information.” As these “trusted sources” – our friends – become our audience(s), and we involve them the narrative of our own status updates, the relevance and role of the one-way broadcast media comes into question.