#1166: Sarah Wolozin’s Journey to Directing the MIT Open Documentary Lab

Sarah Wolozin is the director of the MIT Open Documentary Lab, and I had a chance to catch up with her at the IDFA DocLab 2022 in order to record her journey from being a storytelling to working at MIT’s Open DocLab. Here’s the mission statement of the Open DocLab: “Drawing on MIT’s legacy of media innovation and its deep commitment to open and accessible information, the MIT Open Documentary Lab brings storytellers, technologists, and scholars together to explore new documentary forms with a particular focus on collaborative and interactive storytelling.”

I was able to capture some of the history of MIT’s Open DocLab in my three previous conversations with it’s founder William Uricchio (#855, #1042, & #1160), and Wolozin mentioned the inaugural New Arts of Documentary, one-day summit on March 20, 2012 as being a key turning point for her after seeing the energy and excitement from the community of creators exploring new documentary forms.

In the spirit of bringing scholars, technologists and artists together, she talked about some of the initiatives of MIT Open DocLab including Immerse News for creative discussion of emerging non-fiction storytelling, Docubase, which is “an interactive curated database of the people, projects, and technologies transforming documentary in the digital age.” They also have a number of research programs, and collaborate with the Co-Creation Studio (see episode #1160 for an overview of their latest book on Collective Wisdom).

Some of the other areas of interest for MIT Open DocLab is open questions around public space and community, facilitating conversations, reclaiming aspects of erase history, working with 3D game engines, the decentralization of storytelling + the shift to more collaborative modalities explored with the Co-Creation Studio, and countering disinformation. As our lives continue to blend the virtual and the physical, then Wolozin expects to see the genre of documentary to continue to integrate more digital production techniques to mirror our increasingly hybrid lives.

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Music: Fatality