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.

Class, Fri, 3/24

Page and Screen

In groups, draw on your most recent post to create some notes on:

  • A taxonomy: What are some popular forms for the 60 Second Video?
  • Affordances and constraints: What can you “leverage and resist” in video that seems different from writing?
  • The experience of composing in video: What was fun? frustrating? challenging? satisfying?

To Do

  1. Mon, 4/03, class: Read Ronson to p.157. A response will be due on Thurs, 4/06.
  2. Have a great break!

Choose Your Medium Wisely

We use language and communication to express ideas. When interacting with others, context of the interaction determines the medium and method of communication. When I meet someone for the first time in the flesh, I don’t write out a greeting on a piece of paper and then hand it to the confused and concerned looking recipient. So when I consider whether video or written text is more appropriate, I consider how the affordances and constraints of each impact my ability to communicate effectively.

In some situations, written text is clearly appropriate such as in a formal communication with a business colleague. Video is strictly necessary for television shows: reading the script would not be as effective as watching. So which aspects of these two mediums determine their value?


Written correspondence allows the reader to absorb information by choice: the reader can choose which words to read and the pace to read them. Video forces reader attention more strictly than writing. If I don’t have the option to pause the video, I am forced to take in information at a set pace which I might find too fast or too slow. But even having control of the video cannot be enough. Amanda makes sure that each paper she shows in her video has enough screen time to be read. But video can sometimes convey information to rapidly causing confusion or too slowly, causing boredom. Writing can have this issue as well, but it is easier to slow or hasten our consumption of writing than it is for video.


Video impacts a greater number of senses as it is both visual and auditory. The nature of the visuals is also different as instead of imagining what a character in a story looks like, I can see them clearly on my screen. If I write the lyrics to a song I will have no idea what the cadence, pronunciation, background music, or feel of the song is. If I watch a music video, I can perfectly understand all of these aspects. Video can clearly establish tone to the audience whereas writing can be more subjective. James’ video simply wouldn’t work in a written format as he uses visual comedy that only video can convey his message effectively to the audience. Sure he could write out a step by step guide, but that wouldn’t have the same emotional impact on the audience as say a shot of him eating Pringles while holding a heap of snacks. Video can create deeper expression through greater sensory communication.

Specificity and Imagination

If I look at a video of the Grand Canyon with someone, I have shared that sight with them. If I read the same novel as someone else, it is more likely that we will have differing conceptions of characters’ appearances or the way events in the book unfolded. Imagination in the reader leads to differing understanding: what the writer meant may not always get to the reader. A ‘how to’ explanation in written form is less specific than a video in that it can be more widely interpreted. I can imagine the physical process of how to get dressed in the morning based on a written explanation. But when I watch Isabella’s video on how she chooses what to wear, I can see the exact process she is describing and my impact as the audience in changing or altering her message through my imagination lessens. Video often offers greater specificity of information while writing leads to deeper imaginative process.

Choosing the medium varies by context. Writing is more useful in some circumstances, while in other cases video is the superior modality. Understanding the technical limitations and affordances of each medium helps us to decide the best way to communicate effectively.




Writing: The Affordances and Constraints of Video

What can you, as a student in this course, do in working with video that you can’t do in a written text? Conversely, what kinds of things is it hard to do with video that you can do more readily in writing? Affordances and constraints. Video and print. I’d like you to think about the relationship between these two modalities using the Concepts in 60 videos posted to this site.

Let me make an arbitrary rule: You should refer in your post to at least three Concept in 60 videos. Your goal should not be to evaluate these pieces, to say what you especially liked or didn’t, but to note what the medium of video seems to encourage authors to do and what it seems to constrain them from doing.

Deadline: Thurs, 3/23, 10:00 am. I’m eager to read your thoughts on this issue!

Class, Mon 3/20

Concepts in 60

Let’s watch them!

Screen Shot 2017-03-19 at 2.05.58 PM

Still footage from James Kretkowski, “How to Properly Watch a Movie at Home” (2017)

Defining a Genre

In groups of three or four: Using these videos as your archive, create a taxonomy of the 60-Second Video. Here’s a list. The rules of analysis are:

  1. You must divide the videos into at least three but no more than five groups. Each group must have at least two members.
  2. Try to come up with at least three defining features for each of your groups. Try to focus as much as you can on the form of the videos, not their content. (Many sonnets may be about love, but what makes them sonnets is that they have 14 lines.)
  3. Take notes and email your taxonomy to me.

Writing: The Affordances and Constraints of Video

To Do

  1. Wed, 3/22: No class.
  2. Thurs, 3/23, 10:00 am: Post your thoughts on the Affordances and Constraints of Video to this site. Be sure to use your group number as a category.
  3. Fri, 3/24, class: Read and comment on the posts by your group members. We will discuss the ideas and concerns raised in them in class.