Layers of Opportunity

Land of Opportunity Interactive, landofopportunityinteractive.com

Have you ever watched a film and thought “Ooh, I wish I could hear more from that person!” or “Huh?I need the background on that”?

Video is a powerful storytelling vehicle, and one that is becoming ever more popular online, but now filmmaker Luisa Dantas and her team have debuted an ambitious project that marries the power of video with the exploratory power of the browsable Web in an interactive multimedia player where you can click through to extra material (articles, maps, timelines) or other video clips as you watch a featured film, and then follow a trail of “breadcrumbs” back to the spot you left off.

I don’t think it’s all that often, if ever, that we can say that a truly new kind of technological experience has been debuted first on themes of housing justice and community development, but it looks like that’s what’s happening here. Land of Opportunity Interactive, named after Dantas’s film about post-Katrina rebuilding in New Orleans, is sorted into categories like “Displacement/Home,” “Devastation/Rebuilding,” “Exclusion/Engagement,” and “Community/Commodity.” Subthemes include “Right to return” or “Culture shock: mixed income housing.”

While watching a clip of a block party at a new mixed-income development, you might click through to a different video to hear public housing residents talking about what they actually miss and valued about their pre-redevelopment public housing homes. When some kids wander into the party weilding golf clubs, which some concerned citizens take away, you have the opportunity to jump to a video discussing the unexpected codevelopment of new public housing and golf courses.

The whole project is intended to strengthen the power of interactive storytelling as an advocacy and activism tool. Along with the featured content, partner organizations are using the platform to create their own “layered videos.” (Full disclosure: NHI/_Shelterforce_ is one of the community partners on this project — we advised on development and you will find our content in many of the layered videos.)

Be warned that as a technologically sophisticated platform, Land of Opportunity requires a strong, fast Internet connection and a very new browser. It’s a new way of interacting with video that will take some getting used to, and I think no one quite knows yet exactly how it’s going to be best or most commonly used. But it also makes a whole lot of sense as a way to use this kind of content, and I’m excited to see who runs with it and how.

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