The Lab in partnership with the World channel

April 26, 2011

We have mentioned the WORLD channel before when listing the variety of outlets the Lab has for the videos you send to us. Formerly called PBS WORLD, it’s a multicast digital broadcast, sent over the airwaves for free, and bringing you your favorite PBS shows and independent documentaries on 53 television stations across the US. WORLD also has an incredibly interactive website, full of film content, special guest blogs and lots of ways to meet the the filmmakers and participate on special topics.

What we didn’t tell you is that we’re also in the same Boston, MA building! For the next few months, the Lab is going to work more closely with World and apply our Open Call method to help grow the World’s community of smart viewers, video contributors, comment makers, guest bloggers and discerning critics. Please visit and tell us what you want to see there, we welcome you to the conversations on the website, on Facebook and Twitter.

World organizes the content they bring you according to theme. Below, see what you have to look forward to in the next couple of months. Have a programming idea for us? Be sure to let the Lab and World know!

MAY: The Journey A trip is about crossing a border, whereas a journey expands the borders of our minds. Whether it be the extraordinary story of a group of people with disabilities rafting down the Colorado River or a traveling band of civil rights activists fighting against segregation, this theme brings together stories of journeys and the changes they evoke, in individuals as well as in societies.

JUNE: 9 to 5 For most people, work is necessary for survival, but it’s not the only reason why we spend so many of our waking hours on the job. In a Great Recession world, one in which the minority are increasingly tethered to work by devices and the majority continue to make less than $2 a day, how does the work we do shape who we are?

Starting in May, World will also play host to a special set of international documentaries, the Global Voices series, produced by the Independent Television Service. Here’s a preview of the topics we’ll tackle on air and online:


Boston Local Open Call: Your Asian-American Story

April 13, 2011

May is Asian Pacific American Month and the Lab has paired up with the Boston Asian American Film Festival to ask YOU for stories about growing up Asian in New England. Send us your video stories about what it’s like having a foot in two very different worlds…or are they?!

Click here to send in your video!

The Value of Viral

April 2, 2011

Chris Brogan shared this link on Twitter today:

Top 10 viral videos of March –

And it got us thinking about not just why on earth would this Skittles ad gets 1.5 million views:

..but it got us wondering about what kind of content people think is worth sharing. Sure, the “interactive” feature of a cat licking your finger is novel and so you share it. Plus, it’s short and silly, but it is 39 seconds you won’t get back!

Advertisers have nailed the viral video category for a long time by using cute kids, cute animal and silly antics. But what should public media content providers be thinking about so that you want to watch and share our stories?

Take a look at one of our new favorites: FutureStates. by ITVS. It opens the door for young filmmakers to share their work, and their visions of what the world could be like in 60, 70 or 80 years are thought provoking. The Lab has already shared some favorite episodes with friends on Facebook. (There is and embed option, but it doesn’t work with our WordPress site! You’ll have to visit them.) What do you think about visiting a destination website? Is it easy to share videos with friends? Would you rather embed it on your blog and give it your own context? Do you like the other features that make you think and ask you to contribute?

At the Lab, we think a lot about what videos people are making and watching, what videos they are sharing and how to help the public create their own. Of course we like to see good stories go “viral”, but maybe it’s not the only way to become a trusted source of good content. Tell us what you think, what you like or what public media content you have shared with friends in the comments below!

And the open call prize winners are…

March 17, 2011

It’s been over 40 years since protests at New York City’s Stonewall Inn sparked a civil rights movement among the gay and transgender communities. In anticipation of the television debut of the film about that event, Stonewall Uprising, AMERICAN EXPERIENCE and WGBH Lab issued an open call, asking you to show us what’s happening in the gay rights movement since then. Your responses show us a variety of efforts by Americans to define love, family and identity for themselves.

Among the video submissions you’ll see folks battling for civil unions and the right to adopt, demonstrations in Reno, New York City and St. Louis; marvel at Varna Hardy’s depiction of Social Security discrimination and learn a new empathy for transgender individuals like Johanna, Tré Andre, Miss Major, Mycroft and Sabrina, who show us their determination in the face of rejection from family and co-workers.

These videos introduce us to LGTBQ artists, activists, students and retired people, teachers, southerners, military personnel, urban dwellers and even a puppet teased for being “grey”. Enjoy the creative and diverse perspectives.  Each short reminds us that every eye looking through a viewfinder sees things differently. That’s why we invite everyone to participate in the Lab’s open calls. We say THANK YOU to each contributor for sharing a powerful story with us.

We offered five cash prizes of $1000 each to inspire your best work. We enjoyed every video we received, but some entries display a level of excellence in production or storytelling that deserve extra recognition. Without further ado:


You can view the five winners HERE and learn more about each of the winning producers.


It’s Almost Time!

March 4, 2011

CC: casey.marshall

The video contest Stonewall Uprising and Gay Rights in 2011 is about to come to an end. Judges are still deliberating between many great video contributions!

Video makers have shared stories with us about people battling for civil unions and the right to adopt; about activists in Reno, New York City and St. Louis; Varna Hardy sent a chilling depiction of Social Security discrimination and we learned about the trials of transgender individuals like Johanna, Tré Andre, Miss Major, Mycroft and Sabrina, who share their stories of rejection and exploring identity.

In your videos we have met artists, activists, students and retired people, teachers, southerners, military personnel, urban dwellers and even a puppet who is teased for being “grey”. Every contribution reminds us that each eye looking through a viewfinder sees things a little differently. We say THANK YOU for sharing your view with us.

We’ll announce our five winners and introduce you to them next week! Be sure to check back with us then.

In the meantime, there is no doubt that the video makers who put their sweat into these stories would love to see your comments. Please watch, rate and add your review!

What are we looking for? Stories of courage.

January 25, 2011

A slide from The History Project exhibit, Windows on our Community. "ACT UP Die-In at Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston March 24,1988"

Laying down on the street en masse is certainly one way to bring attention to the cause you care about. During the AIDS crisis, the activist group Act UP! staged well-organized protests to a national epidemic that needed a political solution. For example, this visual representation of the death toll might drive the point home.

Talk about visual impact! What effect does the image above have on you? Perhaps you are perplexed, wondering what gives someone the courage to protest this way.

Here is an example of what might make a good story in video to answer the Lab’s open call, Stonewall Uprising, inspired by the film of that name, airing on AMERICAN EXPERIENCE this April.

We want stories about men and women like those in the picture. We want to know what it is that makes them protest. We want to hear what issues are important to them today, and why they are able to express the same kind of courage that the men and women showed on the streets in Greenwhich Village in 1969, when they turned on the NYPD vice squads and decided enough was enough.

There is still time for you to send us a story. Follow this link for details on how to get started.

January 21, 2011

Thanks for your interest in today’s chat with the Lab! We’ve moved the chat window. You can find us by following this link.

We’ll talk to you at 1 p.m.!