I thought using video last week rather than text was a unique experience. I had to take a different approach than I usually do to the video assignment. When I started, I was concerned about how I was going to fill up the minute. By the end of the project, I had to edit a lot out that I wanted to say. In general, I found it harder to communicate what I wanted to say using a video compared to just typing.
When you are typing in a document, you can pour your thoughts onto the page in a moment. If you were to add a video, sound clip, picture, or song to your video to make your point you would need to put in more effort. Taking your ideas and transferring them onto a media platform requires interpretation and editing. However, when you express your idea with a video rather than a block of text you can do so much more with it. Using a video media editor, you can add music, subtitles, transitions, voiceovers, video and so much more. You can create a project with more bells and whistles. This medium is not for everyone though, because if you are not competent using a video editor than the quality of your message suffers. If you were to use a more traditional medium such as a word document, there’s an opportunity to construct a more effective argument.
One aspect of video that makes it so great is the voiceover feature. Many people utilized it in their Concept 60 videos. I thought James’ “How to Properly Watch a Movie at Home” demonstrated this well. His video had action on the screen to follow plus props, so the guidance and the clarification that the James’ voiceover added was vital. I found this useful in my window as well. My Concept 60 video was a step-by-step origami project, so I found voiceover helpful when I was demonstrating folding on camera. That way the video could be concentrated on my hands so the steps would be easier to follow. If James and I did this assignment on a word document, the quality of the overall presentation would go way down. The ideas we were trying to get across would have no examples or directions that were not typed out. While the assignment would be doable, it would still be less effective. The block of text would have to be long just to explain the steps that we could have just shown in the video.
Mackenzie’s video also used tools to help her idea come across better. Her use of pictures steered her concept. They were not stock photos, rather personal pictures. I thought this made her video more effective. The personal touch made the video seem genuine, so if someone watches it who has a prejudice against RAs they might be more likely to listen. In the same way, I thought Ashley M’s use of close-up in her video gave hers an authenticity. The video was simple, but it gave the audience the opportunity to watch her art firsthand. Watching her draw was all the video needed to get her concept across.
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.
I was taken aback when I read the first six chapters of “The Shallows”. It is the kind of book that makes you reflect on your own choices, especially how the Internet could be effecting my brain in such a profound way. Cognition is a part of my studies as a psychology major, and the book made me think about technology’s role in our brain processes. Perhaps it is affecting our brains more than we realize. I believe the role of inattention will become more clear when the millennials are as old as the baby boomers are now, and we’ve had a lifetime to observe what happens when you grow up with the Internet.
I am glad Carr started off with a firsthand account of his experience with inattention and then followed up with similar stories from his peers. I think setting the stage like that in the beginning of the book gave his idea a sort of legitimacy. I found it hard to fairly judge myself on whether I am more of a skimmer than a deep reader like Carr did.
“Whether I’m online or not, my mind now expects to take information the way the Net distributes it: in a swiftly moving stream of particles. Once I was a scuba diver in the sea of words. Now I zip along the surface like a guy on a Jet Ski.”(6-7)
I had not considered before the way the Internet trains our brain to receive information. As you scroll down a social media feed, you read and skim (or zip) as fast as your thumb can take you based on what you are interested in. I suppose in today’s world the overexposure to this task can reprogram us in a way, meaning it is harder to read when we try to be scuba divers again. The way Carr describes the Net as his “all-purpose medium” made me realize how true that is for me too. Internet research, GPS, my interpersonal connections on social media, and Apple Music are so ingrained into my life it would be hard to imagine getting through my week without them. I never considered how those things might affect my attention, because if I ever did I may have been forced to make changes. Inattention is a cause as well as a symptom of many psychological disorders if it is spread out over a long period, so it makes you think. The Internet is a double-edged sword, but it is one that we’re going to have to figure out how to manage in a healthy way as a generation.