Online Distant Witnessing and Live-streaming Activism: Emerging Differences in the Activation of Networked Publics

Martini, Michele
New media & society

Since its formal approval, the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) project raised public concern about environmental sustainability and security. Thanks to the systematic use of Internet and communication technologies (ICTs), the nonviolent resistance organized by the Sioux tribes of Standing Rock Reservation to oppose the planned construction rapidly attracted public attention. In view of their strategic use of online video-sharing for documentation and counter-surveillance purposes, this study aims at describing how diverse modes of user activity are triggered by two different forms of distant witnessing: online video and live streaming. To this aim, this study analyzes the user activity which took place on the Digital Smoke Signals Facebook page, one of the most widely followed information outlets of the NO DAPL movement. Findings suggest that online video and live streaming trigger different forms of connective activity. The highlighted differences reflect the ways in which synchronous and asynchronous forms of online audio-visual communication impact users’ everyday life.