The Pros and Cons of Using Video

After completing the “Concept in 60” project, as well as watching the other videos posted by classmates, I feel confident in discussing both the affordances, as well as the limitations to using videos. Moreover, there are things that you can do with video that you cannot do with print. Overall, one major advantage of using video to explain a concept is that you receive both an audio, as well as an augmented visual aspect that you cannot receive while reading printed material. Speaking generally, this enables those who are better auditory or visual learners to better understand the concept being described. More specifically, an affordance of video is that one can create a photo montage where audio is overlaid on top of the pictures. In Mackenzie’s video about what it means to be an RA, for example, she utilizes a photo montage to enhance the explanation of her concept and to get her point across to the viewer. In addition, another benefit of using video instead of print is that it is easier to make a point, while also using comedy to do it. In James’s video, for example, he uses comedy to state that one’s environment and they way in which one watches a movie can change one’s viewing experience. In his video, James uses both audio, as well as props and subtle mannerisms to give his concept a comedic undertone. While reading print, it is a lot more difficult to provide the subtle sort of comedy that you can with video. As someone who loves comedy, I can tell you that sometimes what is funny is not necessarily in the joke itself, but rather it is in the delivery, or the way on which the joke is told, and also in the body language of the person telling the joke. Therefore, video allows one to more easily convey something in a comedic manner. Finally, another advantage of vide over print is that with video, you don’t necessarily have to say anything at all to get a statement across to the viewer. In Graham’s video, for example, he does not say a single word, and yet I am able to understand the point that he is trying to make. With print, something has to be said, using words on a page.

Just as there are affordances to video, there also exist limitations. One possible disadvantage of using video is that it perhaps discourages visual imagination on the part of the viewer. Again, video provides the visual for us. With print, we as readers are tasked with having to imagine what is happening, and we create our own mental image. Another limitation of using video is that it can take a lot of time and resources to create a really professional-looking video. My video would be the perfect example of what happens when one does not have the time or resources of say, someone like James Cameron or Martin Scorsese. Finally, another drawback to video is the fact that one can run into trouble with copyright when it comes to using others’ video/photographs/music. For as much content that is actually labeled for reuse, there has to be at least fifty times as much content that is not.

In conclusion, I thought of a few categories that the videos from class can be put into. One would be “How To” videos vs. simple explanation of what something is. Another would be when someone uses a voiceover vs. when someone acts in a video. Then there are videos that use stock footage or photos and those that use original footage or photos. And finally, there are videos that are montages, there are those that are live-action, and those that consist of cartoons or drawings.

The Kids Are Alright

After reading the first half of danah boyd’s “It’s Complicated”, I decided that I have been introduced to a somewhat more objective view of how and why people, particularly teens, use the internet and social media. Whereas Carr takes the position that our use of the internet is inherently negative, boyd provides a much more balanced argument and puts our use of the web and social media into a social and cultural context. Moreover, I am enjoying boyd’s work better thus far because she neither celebrates nor bashes the internet. Instead, she simply analyzes why people hold the views that they do regarding this technology.

Although boyd discusses several different topics in each chapter in the first half of the book, her analysis of teens’ perceived addiction to the internet in chapter 3 really got me to think about my own use of social media. Specifically, she says that the media becomes carried away with the idea that our use of sites like Facebook and Twitter is unhealthy, and even leads to addiction. Furthermore, boyd claims that parents and the media worrying about teens’ use of different technologies is not new. “Parents in previous generations fretted about the hours teens whiled away hanging out or chatting on the phone” (boyd 79). I found this to argument to hold merit, just from conversations with my own parents. My mom reminisces about how she used to come home from school and talk with her friends for hours on the phone, gossiping and joking and such, much to my grandmother’s dismay. In fact, the song “Hanging on the Telephone” by Blondie is a good example of how teens used to constantly call their friends using the telephone. In the song, the protagonist keeps attempting to call the guy she likes, but he won’t answer because his mother is there. While we don’t know what the intention of the call is or why the guy’s mother is discouraging the call, the song represents teens’ longing to use the telephone (long before the invention of social media–the song came out in 1978) and parents’ worries about the use of the telephone, even back in the late 1970’s. In conclusion, while my parents have never discouraged me from using social media or the internet, the number of times I’ve been told to take a break from being on the computer or on my phone is more than I can count.

As I continued to navigate through boyd’s argument in this chapter, I was also struck by one of the reasons she provides for why teens use social media so often. Using her interviews with several teenagers, she claims that the use of social media helps them unwind after a long day. “Social media introduces new opportunities for housebound teens to socialize and people-watch, but it also provides an opportunity to relax” (boyd 91). I can personally relate to this quote, as many times, when I find that I have been cooped up all day doing work for school, I enjoy scrolling through various social media feeds before bed. Although staring at my phone or computer prior to sleeping is not necessarily good for my eyes, it certainly helps take my mind off the countless hours of work or studying I had been doing for class. I would say this use of social media is far from addiction. Perhaps I use social media as a remedy to the mundane activities of homework, but this is nowhere near what could be considered a problematic degree of usage. As the band The Who sang in 1965, “The Kids Are Alright” (Though I’m certain the song has a deeper meaning).

The World Wide Web of Overthinking

After finishing Nicholas Carr’s “The Shallows”, I must confess that it opened my eyes to some of the disadvantages and downsides of our frequent use of the internet. I also think Carr makes some compelling arguments for how our brains quite literally change in response to this usage. Overall, I enjoyed the book and thought it revealed a lot about how the modern brain works. However, I felt that the arguments, though fascinating, could be redundant and I almost felt as though the book could have been half its actual length.

Nevertheless, as I pored through the second half of the book, I couldn’t help think about a point that Carr quickly touches on. He claims that the minds of those who use the web are far more prone to a chaotic series of thoughts, as opposed to the calm, rational sense of thought that one acquires from reading books. “It is the very fact that book reading ‘understimulates the senses’ that makes the activity so intellectually rewarding… The mind of the experienced book reader is a calm mind, not a buzzing one” (Carr 123). From Carr’s perspective, then, the process of reading books forges a reasonable, non-catastrophic form of thought that one cannot get from using the internet. This is because unlike the internet, there isn’t so much happening at any one time when one reads a book, as to scatter our thoughts. What I then interpret this quote to mean is that the web is generating a population of “over-thinkers”.

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A free stock image I’ve scaled down of a cursor and help icon over a keyboard from Pixabay.com (By user Geralt). This image sums up what the internet may be doing to us: coercing us to overthink and question our decisions.

I consider myself to be someone who has a chronic problem of overthinking virtually every action that I perform (including writing this post). Even the most mundane, trite, everyday decisions that I am forced to make come at the cost of me scrolling through every conceivable consequence in my head. What’s more, the vast amount of catastrophic and disproportionate thinking that I do can be exhausting and physically taxing. This all being said, Carr’s quote regarding the use of the internet and a chaotic thought process made me think (or, perhaps overthink) about my own thought process. Perhaps my propensity toward falling into a pit of destructive thinking can be attributed, at least in part, to my repeated, almost impulsive use of the internet for everything from schoolwork to entertainment.  After all, general anxiety, attention deficit disorder, and obsessive compulsive disorder have all been on the rise in the United States in recent decades. Understandably, these factors cannot be entirely accredited to the internet, as there are so many environmental and genetic factors that play into the the chemical makeup of the brain. And yet, given that Carr has said that the internet can change the way we think, perhaps it may be a contributing factor to an increased number of worried minds. Thus, my question to you, and the question that he got me to think about, is: do you think the internet had led to an increase in overthinking and anxiety?

 

The Internet Impacting Our Concentration: Fact or Fiction?

After reading up to chapter seven in Nicholas Carr’s “The Shallows”, I am intrigued by and have begun to ponder several of his arguments regarding how the internet is changing the way that we think. In general, Carr claims that throughout oral and written history, the human brain has changed in accordance with the dominant means of communication in a given time period. Most importantly, our brains are doing the same thing now as we begin to make the internet our primary medium for reading and communicating. However, when it comes to the internet, Carr doesn’t think that the brain’s inclination towards plasticity has had a positive impact on us. Instead, he feels that the brain’s acclimation to the digital age has had a detrimental effect on our attention spans. From the outset of the book, he makes this point clear, stating “And what the net is doing is chipping away my capacity for concentration and contemplation” (Carr 6). Moreover, Carr feels that this same phenomenon has affected others in his generation as well as those who have grown up with the internet. Referring to the latter age cohort, Joe O’Shea, cited in the book, states “They don’t necessarily read a page from left to right and top to bottom. They might instead skip around, scanning for pertinent information of interest” (Carr 9).

I was specifically struck by the claim that many people my age read differently, and in a sense, incompletely. This is not something I had ever thought about or dwelled on until reading “The Shallows”. As someone who is forced to utilize both printed and online resources for school, it is important that I am able to absorb and retain information regardless of where it’s located. On the one hand, I understand where Carr is coming from because when I am reading news articles online, I occasionally tend to skip around the article to get to the main point that the headline was referring to. However, I usually do this skimming or skipping intentionally. Furthermore, when it comes to articles or important reading material for school, whether it is printed on paper or online, I take great care to read closely and make sure I am receptive to the information presented to me. I will say, though, there are times where I have trouble concentrating on what I read in a textbook for class, regardless of attempting to do a close read. I usually attribute this lack of concentration to the material, however, and not to any cognitive inability.

This topic has sparked much debate in the psychology and education fields. In this article from The Guardian, author Duncan Jeffries also uses Carr’s argument to investigate how others feel regarding the web and its impacts on concentration. I was surprised to read that a Pew Research survey found that while 77% of teachers feel that the internet has positive effects on students’ overall research, 87% of those same teachers feel that the internet is leading to shortened attention spans. In this sense, there is mixed opinion as to whether the internet has a positive or negative influence on our brains.