Video vs. Text

I don’t know about anyone else, but when we were first assigned to the assignment for Concept in 60, I was freaking out. I use my phone and computer all the time, but I had no idea how to create a video from scratch. I started out by brainstorming possible concepts to explore and what exactly I would need to film. It was exhausting. My creative juices were definitely dry. After filming and editing the video for 2 hours, it amazed me how much work I had put into only 60 seconds. Which lead me to ask to myself whether just writing about the concept would have been easier…

So what are the accordances and limitations of text and video?

Well for one, time. I’m not just talking about the time it takes you to write something compared to videoing it, I’m talking about how much context you can introduce with each medium. If you are planning to make a video, you have to make it long enough to get the information you want said, but short enough that it doesn’t bore your audience. With our specific assignment of only 60 seconds, I found it incredibly difficult to say everything I wanted to say. With written text, there is really no limit to how long your piece could be. In today’s digital age, many of us can express how we feel in only 140 characters. In comparison, your audience would still be invested in the piece even if it was longer than 2-3 pages.

Reading can sometimes be straining to the brain. It requires an “inner voice” that can distract us from the actual information. With video, the experience is more passive. It takes a lot less energy and effort on behalf of the person watching. In Ashley’s video of Art, I didn’t have to do any thinking. All I had to do was listen to her voice and I received everything she was saying. And her beautiful drawing time-lapse made me feel relaxed and at ease, allowing me to fully immerse what she was saying in the background.

Words and written text greatly allow the writer to describe in detail the specifics of a place, person, or feeling. The reader has the ability to imagine these things without the use of picture or sound. Text gives the reader more freedom to interpret what an author writes. However, in retrospect, the tone of an author’s text can sometimes be misconstrued. With video, this issue does not happen. Jame’s video, How to Properly Watch a Movie at Home,  could easily be written out as a “how to” article. However, the steps he describes would be taken in a more serious tone if they were just written. The video allows the audience to observe the humorous actions and body language of James, which lead them to receive the comedic tone of the piece.

Lastly, video gives the author more creative opportunities to express themselves. Through music, pictures, and video the writer can use multiple effects to engage the audience. In Will’s video, without the use of music, filters, and video I’m not quite sure how his story would be translated. It would be very difficult to describe his emotions and actions through text. Through these multiple effects, video content allows you to show viewers more dimensions of the same content. An example of this is shown in Mackenzie’s video, What is an Ra?. Not only did she vocally describe her role as an RA, but she used pictures and an interview with a student to explain who she is and what she does. Because of her pictures, viewers were more likely to connect with her personally and the topic she discussed. With only written text, readers may have a harder time relating to her.

Today, video is the fastest form of communicating topics and issues with people. They can be very useful compared to written text. However, I think the more effective use of each of these mediums depends on the situation and the environment they are being used in.



The Evolution of Me

Goodbye Carr, hello Boyd. After Carr’s 257 pages of constant criticism on technology and the many negative effects it has not only on our social interaction, but on our actual brain connections, Boyd’s polar opposite mindset feels as if I can finally come up for air. I have never truly resonated so much with a book until now. Honestly, at times, I find her analysis of teens and their uses of technology to be creepingly accurate. It’s almost as if she has opened a window to my brain, and can see everything I think and feel. Boyd is finally the one adult that seems to understand the processes I go through everyday regarding what I post, who I post to, and even when to post.

In the first few chapters of her book, Boyd talks about identity expression and steganography. In her discussion of identity expression, Boyd explains how teens use social media as a way to find themselves and transition from childhood to adulthood. Because of the various networks the internet has to offer, many teens find themselves having to create different personas and identities on each site. Myself, included. When I first opened an account on Facebook, I used it as a way to connect with friends old and new.  Just as Boyd describes, I used to add my best friends as part of my “family” and constantly post on their walls just to say hello. Now, 9 years after creating a profile, my use of Facebook is limited to reposting Buzzfeed videos and checking the pages of the clubs I’m involved in. I don’t see Facebook as a means to follow the lives of my friends anymore, because a lot of people my age no longer use Facebook as vigorously as before. My current identity expression is most seen on my Instagram. There, I purposely plan what pictures I post and how they are presented, hoping to make an impression on people. To me, Instagram is sort of like my brand. It advertises my life, relationships, and hobbies. Anyone could get a clear sense of who I am and what I like to do, just by scrolling through my feed.

I specifically resonated with Boyd’s introduction to steganography in the digital age: subtweeting. We’ve all done it or have seen someone do it. And boy does it suck when you’re the person who is being subtweeted about. Or at least, you think the subtweet was about you…was it? I can’t tell you how many times I have read my friends’ subtweets and wondered whether they were talking about me. The crazy thing is, I will still wonder even when nothing has happened between me and that friend for a subtweet to be initiated. Any time that I have tried to subtweet, it always ends up back firing on me. If I am upset with someone and I subtweet them, I am always contacted by random people asking if I’m okay. Or worse, the person I subtweeted confronts me about it. This has happened so often, that I have stopped all subtweeting in general, afraid of someone reading my tweets and posts out of context. Boyd points out this very issue in Chapter 1. She talks about how all posts can be taken out of context, because the writer or “poster” doesn’t intend for their message to be read by everyone. They only have a distinct audience in mind.

As I continue to read her work, I am sure more of my own experiences will match many of the examples that she provides as evidence to her points. I look forward to reading more on her refreshing view of teens and technology. Her optimistic viewpoint certainly decreases the fear I once had about technology ruining our lives. (Thanks a lot, Carr)

A Letter to Carr

Dear Mr. Carr,

Hello from the future! Throughout the past two weeks, I have had the pleasure of reading your work and I must say, you sir, are an excellent writer. Although at times, I felt as if your arguments were repetitive, I found myself learning something new about technology in every chapter I read. Your extensive research on the history of technologies and their impact on our brains, not only impressed me, but sparked an intrigue to read more. I found myself reflecting on my own technology usage and whether the losses in concentration and memory were present in myself. During my reflection, I came to the same conclusion that you argued about various times in your book: the internet and technology changes the way I think and do things.

There is, however, one point that I would like to discuss with you. In Chapter 10, A Thing Like Me, something you said stood out to me.

“the more distracted we become, the less able we are to experience the subtlest, most distinctively human forms of empathy, compassion, and other emotions.”

At first, when reading this quote, I immediately thought of a term I learned in my Communications class called the bystander effect. The bystander effect is the tendency for individuals to be less likely to help another person in need when other bystanders are present, or believed to be present, as compared to when they are alone. When walking between classes today I noticed how everyone seemed to be on their phones, unbothered by the obstacles or people in front of them. I wondered what would happen if I suddenly dropped to the ground while walking.

Credit: Latticework of Mental Models: The Bystander Effect

Would anyone look up from their phone to offer me help? Or would they be so distracted by the screen in their hands, that they simply walk by, expecting someone else to step in? While wondering these questions, it is then that I come to agree with your statement that our compassion and empathy may become void with the constant interaction of technology.

But what if our human qualities did not diminish with the use of the internet? What if they actually increased? Because you are stuck in the year 2010, you are not yet aware of the multiple current issues happening in our society today. Some examples actually show that through technology our compassion and empathy for others has expanded. Recently, the Black Lives Matter movement has taken over our media news. During one of the many African-American shootings, one woman actually live streamed the incident. Through her smart phone camera, we were able to witness the tragic event and how it unfolded. This is not the first time that a shooting has been filmed either. I have watched some of these heartbreaking videos, and because of them, my empathy for these victims only grew. My interaction to this technology did not weaken my emotions, it strengthened them.

Even while scrolling through my timeline on Facebook, I become more aware of the multitudes of social and global issues happening in our society. I recently watched a video of the Kiss Cam that took place at the Pro Bowl. While scanning the crowds, the camera stopped on a man and woman couple. To my surprise, the couple looked at each other and then the man turned to another man sitting next to him and kissed him instead. The video continues, highlighting the different forms of love, whether that be between people of the same gender, different religions, or different races. Videos and articles such as these, allow people to take away a message. After watching the video, I felt compassion for those whose love is not seen as the “normal” or “correct” one. Not only did I feel sympathy for these people, but I immediately wanted to alleviate the pain and discrimination that those couples go through.

So yes Mr. Carr, you were right. I am extremely distracted by my technologies, but I have come to realize that although my distraction may sometimes cut me off from the real world, that doesn’t mean that the real world is cut off from me.

An Extension of Ourselves

Throughout my life, people have always pondered the question of whether iPhones and the internet bring more benefits or losses to our society as a whole. I remember when I was 14 years old, I was standing on the stage at the Miss Hockessin pageant, and I was asked this exact question. It has always been difficult for me to distinguish whether iPhones and social media truly help us grow or hinder our abilities. And to this day, I still have trouble coming up with an answer.

On one hand, these new technologies have given us the opportunity to communicate much more easily. We can send a quick text or tweet to anyone around the world within only a few seconds. We can share our lives and accomplishments with family and friends we no longer get to see. We can find answers to any questions we may have, right in the palm of our hands. So many benefits. But, what are the losses? As Carr points out, we have lost our sense of concentration. Whereas before, we could sit down and immerse ourself in a book for hours, now we can barely sit through a lecture without looking for the next best thing to grab our attention. Although our personal connection has expanded digitally, we no longer can connect with people face-to-face. When I walk into my classes, no one is talking to each other. They all have their faces shielded down from the real world, as they live through their virtual reality. Some people even use these technologies as a weapon. Behind a screen, individuals are able to anonymously insult and hurt others through multiple social networking sites. Lastly, there have been negative effects on our physical health. In an article from The New York Times, it was said that the constant slouching from our iPhone use can actually be correlated to our loss of memory and a decline in our moods.

So whose to blame? Certainly, Steve Jobs and the other creators of the World Wide Web never intended for their creations to bring about such impacts. I think the best answer to this question comes from Carr. “The products of modern science are not in themselves good or bad; it is the way they are used that determines their value” (3). The iPhone and internet were never meant to be bad or result in a negative impact on people. It’s because of how we use them that makes them bad. We could use our phones and still be able to communicate with people in person, but we choose not too. We have changed what was once just a useful tool, to an actual extension of our body and mind.  We no longer separate ourselves from the technology. We can try to change these negative impacts though. Slowly, but surely, we are trying to understand the happy medium between technology use and personal interaction. I’m curious to read more from Carr and see if he has his own theories on how to stop digital technologies from completely taking over our lives.