MP4 vs .docx

I work with video a lot. Like, a lot a lot. And video is especially good for two things: it’s raw, and it’s guided. When you watch film (sorry animation) you’re watching something that actually happened and listening to words that we actually said. You don’t need to use your own internal monologue and reading voice because someone else is doing it for you. This raw-ness helps convey something to the audience the written words cannot. (Note: I’m not talking about unrehearsed video. I’m comparing written text to acted out film). There’s an extra step that goes from hearing someone speak, to looking at the ” mark on a page and thinking “oh, ok, that means the following words are being said out-loud by the indicated character”. Another example in an essay rather than fiction would be quoting another work. On the page a quote from another text is just words in a quote. But on video, you can actually use another video, like Peter did by showing Filthy Frank. The only text equivalent would be cutting a page out of a book and taping it on your essay, I guess.

The guided-ness of video works both in the realm of humor, and subtlety. Take for example Sam’s video about making an entrance. It used timing as part of its humor. Timing is a key aspect to building up a punchline with anticipation and breaking the audience’s expectations. Humor like this cannot be done in written form because it relies on an actor or comedian’s performance. Reading is a personal experience where you read at your own pace, where as film is guided, and things happen exactly when the director wants them to.

I’m going to use James’ video to make a more abstract point about subtlety. I could go in depth on this but I’ll try to keep it simple: let’s say that in order for a story to make sense, let’s say for a twist ending, the audience has to know that there’s a gun in the house. But they can’t stop and think about the gun because then they might figure out the twist before it happens. In a film, the scene can be constructed so that two characters are talking and you happen to see a gun on the table. The viewer thinks nothing of it and are genuinely impressed by the twist in the end. A written piece can’t do this as well as film. It would have to stop the action or the dialogue in order to point out to the reader that there is a gun, which would stick out like a sore thumb and make the reader suspicious that it will be important later. James’ video utilizes Star Wars in this way. The video is about watching movies, and nothing in the narration mentions Star Wars, but the video shows James wearing a Jedi robe, holding a lightsaber, putting in a Star Wars Bluray, and so on. This conveys to us, without flat out telling us, that James has really good tastes in movies and that I’m jealous of his box set of the complete Star Wars saga on blueray. It also forms a running gag that could not be done in text without being interrupting.

So what can video do that text can’t? It can guide the audience along a set path, unlike text, which is dependent on the reader. It can show things actually happening instead of the audience having to translate words on a page to sounds or visuals in their head. It can do multiple things at once using visuals and sound, where as text can literally do things only one word at a time. But text has its advantages too. It’s a lot easier to write something than to film something. There is no bad acting when you’re reading dialogue in your head, and if you blink you wont’ miss something important. Things in videos can seem out of place, like the sound clashing with the visuals in a messy way that takes you out of the experiance. In text this can only really be done with typos, like when I misplaced the ‘ in “won’t” 3 lines up or spelt “experience” wrong in the last sentence, or said spelt instead of spelled in this one. Beyond that, there are no bad special effects or too-quiet dialogue in text. In short: video can do more but text is easier and harder to mess up.

Text Interpretations

“In speaking to an unknown or invisible audience, it is impossible and unproductive to account for the full range of plausible interpretations.” Pg 32

I would add to this that using text instead of voice adds to another layer of possible misinterpretations. On social media I often see people quoting songs, tv shows, or speeches or interviews that they feel the need to share. By putting spoken word into text and taking out context they are able to change the meaning of whatever they want.

For example, Donald Trump, while a master of Twitter, is apparently unaware of scare quotes. Scare quotes are “quotation marks used around a word or phrase when they are not required, thereby eliciting attention or doubts”, or, in other words, they make the quoted word sound ironic. So when Donald Trump says:

 

“I win an election easily, a great “movement” is verified, and crooked opponents try to belittle our victory with FAKE NEWS”

 

He probably doesn’t intend to mean that the word “movement” was used to belittle his own movement, but it humorously can be interpreted this way.

(WordPress won’t let me upload an audio file without a premium account so here’s a youtube video of me explaining.)

Donald Trump is fairly certain that people will interpret his tweet the way he intends, mostly because he is such a famous figure that most people understand his stance and thus know how to read his tweets. But when, the examples given in the book, parents read their childrens’ posts online, there is a generational disconnect that could lead the parents to completely misunderstand what is said.

While Donald Trump’s intentions are easy to understand due to his public presence, not every hashtag and quote is as easily put into context. Take for example the recent Digiorno Pizza debacle, where the official Twitter account for the product completely missed the point of a hashtag, and had to apologize.

youhadpizza

It’s easy to make a mistake like that, because the words that make up the hashtag don’t, by themselves, indicate what the hashtag is about. Further context is needed.
I wholeheartedly agree with the text that plausible interpretations are hard things to control for when posting on social media. The contexts of conversations or hashtags, slang and symbols of different groups and generations, and translations from spoken tone to written word are all things that could lead a reader to interpret something that the author didn’t intend.

Is Memorizing a Waste of Time?

“Now that we can look up anything ‘with a click on Google…memorizing long passages or historical facts’ is obsolete. Memorizing is ‘a waste of time’” (181).

When I was younger one of my teachers told the class that, psychologically, children have better memories than adults because they can’t write. If they need to remember something, they memorize it, where as adults just write it down and only have to remember that they wrote down something important. I can’t verify this because nothing comes up on Google when I search for it, but it sounds like something that’s true. Then again, one of my professors believed the debunked myth that you swallow spiders in your sleep, so maybe teachers aren’t always the best source for true fun facts and trivia.

brain
A brain leaving a human and entering the cloud. made by me.

 

Either way, Carr seems to be drawing from the same concept, as he states that internet usage is removing our need to memorize anything. In high school and even college I’ve had teachers and professors who’ve said that they don’t see the purpose in having students memorize dates because they’re always available online. It’s an interesting question to ask yourself if memorization of trivial things is useful or not. Are our brains now more free to calculate other things now that we don’t need to memorize that Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin? (Thanks Ms. Raab, really important stuff). Or is memorization important? Is dependence on the internet to look things up that in the past people had memorized a large detriment to our society? Parts of our brains are now stored online, Carr says, and we have to prepare for the worst. If we were to suddenly lose the internet, how would our day to day lives fall apart? In my opinion, the only thing to be worried about when it comes to internet dependence is what happens if we were to lose connection.

The Internet Changes You

I was moving furniture with my older brother a few days before the start of the spring semester and while we were waiting at a traffic light he punched me on the shoulder from the driver’s seat and said, “There’s this picture of this little dog with its hands raised up in the air like it’s celebrating and it says: ‘When your bank account is more than zero!’ Haha! It’s the funniest little thing.”

I didn’t laugh and he got upset to a degree that I thought was unwarranted. After a minute he got serious and said, “Someone showed me that picture while we were chopping wood and me and the guys cracked up and kept talking about it for the rest of the day. That got us through the day. You people (by which he meant, ‘people who don’t cut themselves off from the internet because they fear the government is trying to control them’) are so inundated with jokes and funny pictures that nothing makes you laugh anymore.”

The question of whether the internet had changed my sense of humor was on my mind before I picked up Carr’s book. My initial reaction to my brother was “No, that’s just a bad joke,” but after reading Carr’s explanations of neuroplasticity, particularly, his quote about the internet taking away his ability to concentrate on longer works, I realized that I might have been affected more by my internet usage than I once thought. “And what the net seems to be doing is chipping away my capacity for concentration” (pg. 6). Yeah, that’s me. Being connected to the internet means news can break instantaneously, and any time I open Twitter I could be greeted with a world changing update. How can I pay attention to a long boring article when the world is literally at my fingertips?

Access to so much information and so many connections has impacted the way I see and interact with the real world. The most interesting thing I’ll ever read, the funniest joke I’ll ever be told, and the coolest people I’ll ever interact with will almost certainly be done online. The world becomes boring when you realize that you’ll never meet your favorite celebrity, but you can have a back and forth conversation on twitter. What Carr meant when he wrote about his concentration being chipped away was that he was used to getting news in bite (or byte) sized chunks and thus long form articles were unengaging. But I think it goes further. Social media stimulates our brain because every moment we’re being engaged. When you’re away from that you’ll find that you’ve become addicted, and it’s that addiction that makes it hard to do anything else. When my brother and the 40 year old lumberjacks he work with see a picture of a cute animal or read a funny caption, for them it’s the funniest thing they’ve seen in awhile. For me it’s not even in the top ten things I’ve seen that morning. This has to be affecting who I am as a person in ways that are potentially frightening.