Expression in Text vs Expression in Video

I know I am not speaking for myself when I say that I’ve always been more attracted to video and visuals than reading text. It is in the way us digital natives are wired – to want to learn and engage in something visual. When I am confronted with text such as an article or reading a textbook for a class I catch myself skimming through and only reading things that seem important like titles or captions to pictures.

Therefore, I really enjoyed the assignment of Concept in 60 because the visual and audio components added so much more depth to a concept that would have been harder to describe via text.

On the other hand, when it comes to reading and writing the mind has a lot more room for imagination which is sometimes hard for an author who wants to portray a specific idea. Whereas in video there isn’t a lot left for the imagination. For example, if Ashley’s video had not incorporated herself drawing with her explanation of what art meant to her – the viewer would not have known what type of art or expression of art she was particularly immersed in.

Video can express an idea or story with just images and music because that creates tone. Text can also express a certain idea or certain idea with the use of tone but it takes a lot more work for the reader and the writer. An example of these affordances of video is Graham’s video which relies solely on the use of music and filters instead of explaining his concept with audio. The viewer still grasps what Graham is portraying because of the tone he creates with music and his own expressions.

Another example of a video that would not have relayed the same message if it had been solely confined to text is Sam’s video on “How to make an entrance.” The humor within this video would not have been interpreted the same way through description within text because everything from the music to his own facial expressions and body language altogether in the moment came together to create a humorous tone for the viewer.

Sometimes text is easier because it comes to you just as your thoughts are flowing but this may be a constraint when you have a particular message in mind. It can be easy for text to paint a picture with description but if that picture is already given to the viewer there is no room for misinterpretation.

Social Media – Friend not Foe

As digital natives, it is in our nature to defend the digital world we live in. In contrast to Carr’s The Shallows, dana boyd takes our side and gives us detailed arguments for justifying and supporting something as prevalent as social media within her book It’s Complicated. Social media is not the end of humanity but simply a form of communicating and socializing. It is true for most teens including myself that social media channels can be simple outlets for expression. However, as the days go on, it is becoming increasingly evident that these different social media mediums/channels are the tools we may use to our advantage in order to fulfill a specific objective.

In Chapter 3 on Addiction, boyd talks about all the opportunities social media provides for all and how teens can gain the most knowledge from it. I heavily enjoyed all her points specifically on page 95 where she states that “…teens need to learn how to engage in crucial aspects of maturation: self-presentation, managing social relationships, and developing an understanding of the world around them.” We can do and gain so much more from social media outlets such as Instagram and Twitter instead of effortlessly posting the meal we ate that day. It is up to us to take control of our lives and realize how lucky we are that we can legitimately put ourselves out into the field of work we choose to work in by promoting ourselves online. Our presence/presentation of ourselves on social media can make or break future job prospects and it is up to us to know how to strategically maneuver ourselves around the online social presence.

Within the Look and Listen audio post, on The Anthropology of Social Media it is discussed how social media provides greater control in communication. Everything we post onto social media is purposeful. The audio post also touches upon the fact that we feel a pressure to have a social media presence. Similar to the high school student boyd interviewed, Amy, whom felt that technology was her way of connecting to a world expanding greater than the constraints of the walls within her house. Aside from our personal pressures and desires to have a social media presence, we must acknowledge that there is so much you can do with social media and the minor things where and when to post could actually be major in the long run. An easy example of social media being used for more than just a frivolous purpose is how we use it in our class. We have a class hashtag and with that we can attain and gather all sorts of information with any regards to our class. We must take control of our social situations and the platforms that are so easily at our fingertips.

Everyday Curators

An obvious take-away from Carr’s The Shallows is that the internet has changed the way we are wired. The internet has rewired our brains and it seems there is no going back. Carr makes valid points when arguing that the internet could and might be our ruin. We are living and working in a technology driven culture but it is up to us to be mindful of all the power we truly have and use it effectively. It is crucial for us to not become slaves of technology and to use the Internet as one of the many tools in our toolbox instead. Of course, we are the beneficiaries of the Internet and the web.

Our phones are grenades – with them we have the power to blow something up. Not in the literal sense but in the sense that creates a ripple effect within a medium that reaches anyone worldwide. In chapter 8, The Church of Google, Carr poses the overarching question of whether Google is helping or hindering. On page 166 Carr states: “With writing on the screen, we’re still able to decode text quickly – we read, if anything, faster than ever – but we’re no longer guided toward a deep, personally constructed understanding of the text’s connotations.” I believe that, regardless of the influence of technology, we are always thinking about what we are reading, what we want to get from what we read, what we write and every little thing that comes along with our search and usage of the Internet. As a former Communications major I learned the obvious, that, as human beings – we are always communicating. From my personal experiences, every time I find myself on Google, what I am searching is strategic and purposeful.

In my Newswriting and Editing class, Victoria Reitano, came in to teach us about the latest and best Google search tools for newsgathering. All of the tools she showed us are a testament to Carr’s argument that Google is all about efficiency. However, I came to the conclusion that we are often curators instead of creators. In the traditional sense, a curator makes decisions about what objects to select, conducts research and shares that research with an audience. Whenever we find ourselves on Google we are finding content from existing sources and building a piece based on our knowledge and research. All of these aspects give us the power to effectively tailor a specific message to a specific audience whether it is ranging from a Tweet or an article. Below is a screenshot of the Google Trends homepage.

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This is not necessarily what people are talking about but simply what they are searching for. The feelings on the topic are unknown and with this tool we have the power to influence our audience as well as know what they are looking for. Carr’s views on the Internet may be justified but it is essential to have faith in our rewired brains.

Information Hungry

As a 20 year old student, I am stating the obvious when I say that I am a digital native. Although kids my age grew up reading books like Harry Potter and Twilight, we also grew up with Wikipedia and SparkNotes. Technology and the internet were present as I was growing up but now as a young adult our world is predominantly digital. As technology developed, my mind developed along with it. The plasticity of my mind is simply a product of my generation.

In chapter three of The Shallows, Carr talks about the newness of written and literary work. He describes how the transition from an oral world to a written world was especially intellectually demanding because of the amount of attention long-term reading required. Amongst this Carr makes the point: “Our predisposition is to shift our gaze, and hence our attention, from one object to another, to be aware of as much of what’s going on around us as possible.” (63). I believe that this point is not only the epitome of my life but the lives of all digital natives.

When I buckled down to read The Shallows, Carr’s account of his difficulty concentrating while reading could not have been any more relatable as I found myself itching to grab my phone. I came to the realization that while I was reading this book, I was merely receiving information from Carr and my mind is accustomed to acquiring a myriad of information at once from different channels all within my phone. I can receive all different kinds of information whether it is an email from the school president or a CNN video someone shared on Facebook. My mind is always wanting more information because that’s what it’s used to. I speak for my generation when I say that we want to know and form opinions about everything.

At a time where information is so accessible, all I want to do is access it. We are either pulling information or information is being pushed toward us or this is occurring simultaneously. A device as small as our phones gives us the power to know what’s going on around us not just where we live or go to school but all over the world. Even at the beginning of a literary world, way before social media was created, our minds were craving more.

In this video, part of a Social Media Revolution series by Erik Qualmann, we learn about the advancement and the power of the Internet that Carr raves about. Our need for knowledge has created many platforms that are useful and even essential to our everyday lives. For example, through an outlet like LinkedIn, I can connect with not only people I go to school with but anyone I’ve met. I completely agree with the way Carr’s point of describing humanity’s need for awareness because I am a living testimony of it.