palestine remix
Credit: Screenshot of the Palestine Remix website

Al Jazeera yesterday released the second phase of Palestine Remix, an interactive project produced last year to allow people to tell their own story about the region.

The aim is to build a community around Palestine Remix, as people will be able to see all the remixes, but also comment, vote and interact with each other on the platform.

The website – a collection of documentaries, maps, timelines and quizzes about the occupied Palestinian territories – has been expanded to showcase more than 4,100 remixes created by people since the project launched.

Al Jazeera also launched a competition yesterday, which will last until October 15 and aims to honour the best remixes created by people in both English and Arabic, according to originality and the number of documentaries used. 

The best material will be chosen by a committee of filmmakers and featured on the Palestine Remix homepage.

It looks like people want to create a new narrative of their own story about PalestineRawan Al-Damen, Al Jazeera
The authors will be awarded prizes and receive recognition at the upcoming World Media Summit held in Doha in November.

Rawan Al-Damen, Al Jazeera senior producer and the director behind the project, said the remix is still "a very new idea for people".

The feedback received from the audience showed that people didn't really know how to use the tool, which is why the website now includes a 'frequently asked questions' section and a short video tutorial explaining how to create and share remixes.

The project's remix tool was developed using an open source tool called Hyperaudio, which allowed users to search through interactive transcripts of 17 documentaries and mix and match footage to tell individual stories.

The documentaries were original content from TV that the Al Jazeera team spent four months translating in four languages – English, Arabic, Bosnian and Turkish – and then repurposed for an online medium.

Al-Damen told the team is hoping the competition will motivate people to work harder on their remixes and "really tailor them around a specific story".

"In the last months, people have done an average of 1,000 remixes a month, without any promotion from us.

"With some of them, people are just playing around with the content, but others are very well thought and it looks like people want to create a new narrative of their own story about Palestine," she said.

The competition will also allow the team to draw a conclusion about which of the documentaries people have preferred and used more.

Al-Damen said that the more succesful films so far have been those that "touch on emotion", such as footage about Palestinian prisoners.

People have also explored a four hour documentary telling the story of Palestine from 1799 until today, as it allowed them to "find out specific outstanding information that they didn't know and share it with their friends".

"The informative documentaries and the very human, personal stories are the most shared," Al-Damen said, explaining that the artistic or more philosophical films have been less remixed by the community.

On the Palestine Remix Facebook page, Al Jazeera will focus on building a digitised version of the Palestine Atlas, a comprehensive book about the region's 530 destroyed villages.

The data collected by the team contains information such as a village's location on the map, when it was destroyed and how many people were there, visualised individually.

"This will be a special version of the Palestine Remix project that we are building with the communities of Palestinian refugees who are originally from those villages, which are completely wiped out from the Palestine map today," Al-Damen explained.

"People will be able to choose their village, click on it and have all the information we have about it and we want to start a discussion around those places."

She noted that people who currently visit the website are either passionate about the topic of Palestine, or technologists interested more in filmmaking and the remixing aspect.

When we launched the website, we thought we were just providing visual, interactive content and we never expected it to be regarded as a resource for Palestine and Middle East historyRawan Al-Damen, Al Jazeera
The website now lets people submit requests if they want to publicly screen the remixes created or use them as an academic resource, as Al-Damen said they have been approached by university professors who want to use the content as teaching material.

"When we launched the website, we thought we were just providing visual, interactive content and we never expected it to be regarded as a resource for Palestine and Middle East history."

The team is also working on a mobile version of the project, which Al-Damen hopes will be completed by 2016, as well as adding more documentaries to the website.

"We think Palestine Remix is a project worth continuing, so we hope to add more content and, at the same time, advance more on the technology side and tackle the challenge of mobile," she said.

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