Video vs. Text

I thought using video last week rather than text was a unique experience. I had to take a different approach than I usually do to the video assignment. When I started, I was concerned about how I was going to fill up the minute. By the end of the project, I had to edit a lot out that I wanted to say. In general, I found it harder to communicate what I wanted to say using a video compared to just typing.

When you are typing in a document, you can pour your thoughts onto the page in a moment. If you were to add a video, sound clip, picture, or song to your video to make your point you would need to put in more effort. Taking your ideas and transferring them onto a media platform requires interpretation and editing. However, when you express your idea with a video rather than a block of text you can do so much more with it. Using a video media editor, you can add music, subtitles, transitions, voiceovers, video and so much more. You can create a project with more bells and whistles. This medium is not for everyone though, because if you are not competent using a video editor than the quality of your message suffers. If you were to use a more traditional medium such as a word document, there’s an opportunity to construct a more effective argument.

One aspect of video that makes it so great is the voiceover feature. Many people utilized it in their Concept 60 videos. I thought James’ “How to Properly Watch a Movie at Home” demonstrated this well. His video had action on the screen to follow plus props, so the guidance and the clarification that the James’ voiceover added was vital. I found this useful in my window as well. My Concept 60 video was a step-by-step origami project, so I found voiceover helpful when I was demonstrating folding on camera. That way the video could be concentrated on my hands so the steps would be easier to follow. If James and I did this assignment on a word document, the quality of the overall presentation would go way down. The ideas we were trying to get across would have no examples or directions that were not typed out. While the assignment would be doable, it would still be less effective. The block of text would have to be long just to explain the steps that we could have just shown in the video.

Mackenzie’s video also used tools to help her idea come across better. Her use of pictures steered her concept. They were not stock photos, rather personal pictures. I thought this made her video more effective. The personal touch made the video seem genuine, so if someone watches it who has a prejudice against RAs they might be more likely to listen. In the same way, I thought Ashley M’s use of close-up in her video gave hers an authenticity. The video was simple, but it gave the audience the opportunity to watch her art firsthand. Watching her draw was all the video needed to get her concept across.

Race to the Spotlight

I felt the same uplifting feeling most of the class had when reading Boyd’s work vs. Carr’s. It was nice to be presented with knowledge and then to be allowed to make up our own mind about it. I thought Carr was too heavy-handed with what he wanted his audience to take away from the book. Obviously as a writer that is important, but in terms of appealing to more people I think it hurt his argument. In this sense, I thought Boyd presented an argument more like a journalist. She lays out her piece based on her understanding of her topic, but she does so in an unbiased way. The book centers on informing rather than conforming, Boyd didn’t just try and sway people towards her way of thinking like Carr did. It was a welcome change to move away from the idea that technology is an inevitable foe.

The part of Boyd that struck me the most was what she had to say about attention. I thought it was interesting how she framed our changing relationship with social media with the idea of attention. In “The Celebration of Everyday Life” section of the book, she illustrates how our intimacy with social media is formed from our society’s focus on the value of social and cultural attention. This attention is sought after so much because it colors our society. Boyd points out, as children we see our parents gossiping, reality television, celebrity news and this teaches us our most powerful social currency: attention. I found this to be extremely true, especially recently with the story of “The Average Talentless Nobody Who Got the Attention of America Who is Now Rich Beyond Their Wildest Dreams” becoming so common.

Attention is a very powerful tool, and I believe it may be the outstanding culprit of our generation’s preoccupation with technology. Attention is the tried and true way to ensnare the nation. I believe it is perpetuated by the way of thinking that Carr spoke of that changes the way people who use technology frequently process and store information. To be famous for something trivial was not in the eye of the public until Kris Kardashian created one of the most daunting lucrative celebrity networks that anyone had ever seen. Nowadays it is a lot more common to see someone’s “fifteen minutes of fame” stretched and squeezed for all its worth. (I mean everyone knows the Cash Me Ousside girl) Attention is the what drives this fame. If you can get the attention of the nation, you are set. There’s no better song to illustrate our drive to win the preoccupation of other’s than one of my favorites.

Blurring Boundaries

Carr’s argument centered around the drawbacks of living so close with technology. So much so that I was thinking about the role of technology in our lives as a black and white problem. I was focused on whether the benefits of technology outweigh the impact it may have on us as people. I should have been thinking of an alternate way from which to view Carr’s argument. Technology is not so much a part of our society that we need to decide whether to accept or reject, it is the reality of the way we live our lives now. We should be treating technology as an inevitable human progression and embracing it as an extension of ourselves. Technology is embedded in our lives and we need to learn to wield it, despite generational differences in aptitude for tech. In the 21st century humans can be their own navigational system, personal shopper, entertainment, librarian, teacher, scribe, weatherperson, and pimp without having any of those skills or abilities. All we need to do is whip out our phones. In a way because we have these tools, goods, information, and services right at our fingertips the average person is already a Renaissance man (or woman) without even trying. With these assets at our fingertips basically from birth, it begs the question: Are we on the cusp of discovering more than we ever thought possible because of our connection with technology?

What spurred these thoughts were Carr’s words about the nature of human brain to adapt with advancements so much so these tools become an extension of our body. “When a carpenter picks up a hammer, the hammer becomes, so far as his brain is concerned, part of his hand. When a soldier raises a pair of binoculars to his face, his brain sees through a new set of eyes, adapting instantaneously to a very different field of view.”

Colourbox Stock Photo #7770015
 James Hook via fandom.wikia

He goes on to present Scott Frey’s words about our capacity as people to “blur the boundary” between the body and the instrument. This blur is certainly an uncomfortable change, (as most changes are) but I think the key to flourishing in this current state is to view technology as a springboard. By a springboard, I mean the beginning of a period of intellectual growth for our generation. We should stop trying to define the potential of technology as a positive or negative influence and utilize it for was it is: an inconceivable opportunity to grow.

Tackling Technology

I was taken aback when I read the first six chapters of “The Shallows”. It is the kind of book that makes you reflect on your own choices, especially how the Internet could be effecting my brain in such a profound way. Cognition is a part of my studies as a psychology major, and the book made me think about technology’s role in our brain processes. Perhaps it is affecting our brains more than we realize. I believe the role of inattention will become more clear when the millennials are as old as the baby boomers are now, and we’ve had a lifetime to observe what happens when you grow up with the Internet.

I am glad Carr started off with a firsthand account of his experience with inattention and then followed up with similar stories from his peers. I think setting the stage like that in the beginning of the book gave his idea a sort of legitimacy. I found it hard to fairly judge myself on whether I am more of a skimmer than a deep reader like Carr did.

“Whether I’m online or not, my mind now expects to take information the way the Net distributes it: in a swiftly moving stream of particles. Once I was a scuba diver in the sea of words. Now I zip along the surface like a guy on a Jet Ski.”(6-7)

I had not considered before the way the Internet trains our brain to receive information. As you scroll down a social media feed, you read and skim (or zip) as fast as your thumb can take you based on what you are interested in. I suppose in today’s world the overexposure to this task can reprogram us in a way, meaning it is harder to read when we try to be scuba divers again. The way Carr describes the Net as his “all-purpose medium” made me realize how true that is for me too. Internet research, GPS, my interpersonal connections on social media, and Apple Music are so ingrained into my life it would be hard to imagine getting through my week without them. I never considered how those things might affect my attention, because if I ever did I may have been forced to make changes. Inattention is a cause as well as a symptom of many psychological disorders if it is spread out over a long period, so it makes you think. The Internet is a double-edged sword, but it is one that we’re going to have to figure out how to manage in a healthy way as a generation.