Download the complete text version of the Resource Pages Here.
The CanCon AV Index is a collection of over 33,000 YouTube videos from 300+ cultural organizations receiving government funding and operating across the Indigenous territories we now call Canada. This collection of pages includes our critical insight, pragmatic knowledge and community reflections on the project.
Using a collection of open data tools and available plugins for Chrome and WordPress, we hacked together a resource for cultural professionals, researchers and students. The CAVI fences off sections of YouTube and presents it to you without their visual clutter and algorithmic interference.
If you landed here and haven’t interacted with the Index, search something here below:
The search above is the user-friendly interface to this assembled collection of data, which includes video links, titles, descriptions, organizational channels and, most interestingly, automated transcripts.
The CanCon AV Index also exists as a single CSV file which we are happy to share with anyone interested in studying or building on this collection of data.
The term CanCon (Canadian Content) is a reference to Canadian cultural policy developed in the 20th century context of broadcast television and radio. We nod to that history with the knowledge that we will need policy and infrastructure of a completely different kind to make our way through the 21st century.
We didn’t need to make this prototype to learn of YouTube’s powerful position in the world. We knew this but we needed to engage the video infrastructure of the web to better understand its nature and think about what we can do now and what we could do next.
Keeping in mind that YouTube (or Facebook or TikTok) is a superpower, reminds us of the scale of the platform and that if we act only as individuals (or small individual organizations) we, very likely, have very little agency. We have no say over the interface, over the algorithmic selection process, over content moderation… over any aspect of the infrastructure really.
However, like any superpower, we cannot just wish it away. We must strategize. We must find ways to do things together. Aggregation is one way to do this, and while we believe we made something interesting and useful that works under the shadow of the superpower, we also feel, more so than ever, that we must build out new infrastructure for culture for the 21st century.
Read more of our thoughts about how working with the big social media platforms is like life in a casino, and dig deeper into new ways of thinking about cultural infrastructure.
Arts organizations are often at their best when they are hacking institutions. As small organizations trying to have an impact in a world of giants (of tech, of industry, of governments) we must try to find innovative ways to realize our ideas. How do we take things off the shelf and get them to work for artists and the cultural community? How do we find opportunities in the afterthoughts of giants?
The CAVI is, in many ways, a deceptively simple project. We took the open data available from government funded cultural bodies and we pointed it at YouTube. We took a list of some 330 arts organizations and turned it into a CSV file with some 33,000 entries and then we found a way for others to see and interact with that data.
Each phase of developing the Index seems simple and clear, of course, as you may know, simple is not always easy…
In this section, we want to share technical and critical aspects of both how and why we have built what we built in the hopes that others can build upon what we have done.
For a perspective from the midway point of the project, go here for a presentation and some insight. Note: the working title at that time was the HyperMedia Library
At Artengine, we love to talk as much as we love to make. Ideally, we can do both simultaneously. In this project, the prototype was a thing we could talk about with others, not only about its functionality and use, but also about online content, social media platforms, arts organizations, audience development, privacy and publicity, and how aggregation can work (or not) as a strategy.
We wanted to speak with our peers with a structure that combined elements of user testing, community consultation and open conversation about big ideas. We selected a diverse group of people working in culture and led conversations digging deep into a range of issues and challenges that the Index intersected with.
Dig deeper into the structure of our consultation including who was involved, our lines of inquiry and collective insight in this section of the resource page.
If you are looking for something about the CanCon AV Index that is not here, want to chat more about the project or if you are interested in using the data in some way, reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
This project has been generously funded by the Canada Council for the Arts, Digital Strategy Fund.