Of course the Videoletters website also provides the default information of upcoming episodes, background information on the project and press coverage. It also lists locations with free internet access in former Yugoslavia and the tour schedules of the Videoletters busses. But the Videoletters project needed more, it needed a meeting place for viewers that reached beyond a simple forum. By building Videoletters.net, Mediamatic tried to create a space in which people can meet, talk, discuss and connect.
Videoletters.net consists of four major components, or things. The first thing you can create is the people. On Videoletters, you are invited to create a profile, with at least your name, and besides that all the contact information or description you wish to provide. You can connect to friends you have or make online, and you can also create a profile for someone you lost contact with in the war, and reconnect with them if they sign up at Videoletters.net as well.
Second of all, there are the locations and meeting points. People can connect to locations such as their hometowns, and find more people in their neighborhoods. Or they can connect to places they lived before they emigrated to foreign countries, and reconnect with other people that lived there at that time. The website has a database with the GPS coordinates of locations throughout former Yugoslavia, allowing the user not only to find others in his own personal town, but also friends in neighboring villages.
On a more virtual level, the meeting points provide a space for users with similar interests to connect. One meeting point is for instance the Bad Balkan Jokes meeting point, where users write and comment on the latest Bad Balkan Joke. But a user can also create his own meeting points and invite people to participate in discussion.
Third of all, all the users can write stories and publish them on the website. The stories can also be manually connected to locations (stages) or people (actors), and be commented on by other users. They can be shared through Meeting Points, but can also be put in the users personal Blog. Other users can comment on the story and supplement it.
But the story will automatically match with other stories with similar actors, stages and meeting points because of the keywords the author assigns. For instance, the author could write a story on busses in Sarajevo, and in the links found on the right side bar other photos and stories in Sarajevo would automatically show up. Users can also specifically search for things with certain keywords.
Finally the user can also upload photographs, and place them in his blog, or use them to illustrate his stories or post them in discussions. He can assign keywords or connect the photographs to locations and people, or he can just show them to his own online friends. There is no upload limit for the users of Videoletters.net...
We hope Videoletters.net will grow slowly but steadily into a thriving and friendly internet environment. This publication is based on the presentation Katharina Birkenbach gave during the Videoletters Salon.