Sunday, February 18, 2007

Access Disrupts

I think about this a lot, in fact this is likely one of the most basic things that motivate me.

I am for access. When a technology becomes common as dirt, then it is significant. HD is cool and all, but when you can't buy a standard resolution video camera because HD is so cheap, then HD will have a big impact. That is just beginning to happen.

There is a lot of resistance to this. Part is built on assumptions previously held about how something should work. This can be technology, this can be a medium. I like to talk about how Michael Moore broke the documentary forever. There really was no illusion of objectivity before, but putting the cameraman into the story as an actor -- well that changed things forever. The illusion of the impartial observer is broken, but a new illusion is born, that we are seeing a well thought out, well considered story. That may be true. Or we may search for meaning, and make our own sense out of it. But the important tie-in here is that Michael Moore could not have accomplished what he did in Roger and Me without cheap, affordable video technology.

This forum discussion really got be thinking about access. I find this bit interesting:

That's the problem, I've been to Arts college as well, and you find yourself surrounded by some pretty "interesting" people in class, and giving the classes (well, especially in some parts of Australia) who have some "interesting" ideas that are totally unrepresentative of what the audience wants ;

Well, I am in Art + Design. Perhaps I am one of those interesting people with "interesting" ideas. I maintain that audience (perhaps another antiquated term -- can we talk about the individual?) often doesn't know what it wants.

I am in the market for a new video camera. I sold my tape based camera 4-5 years ago. I did this for several reasons, most important was the most practical; I had grown tired of shooting video. This had been an old thing with me, going back 15 years or more when I shot/edited video for money. I began to see it as a mechanistic process. It almost killed it for me.

The camera intrudes. People do not like it. Michael Moore used that to his advantage, a weapon of intimidation at times. I want to avoid that, instead drift into the background. I am not being coy here. I understand that I drive the camera, and I understand the audience gets that too.

However, in shooting Ideation a year and a half ago, I used a cheap Pentax Optio MX that shot sort of mediocre NTSC resolution camera. It looks like a remediated Super 8 Movie camera, and that is exactly what it is.

The inspiration for working this way comes directly from French New Wave filmmaking. The loose group of movie makers were simply taking advantage of the fact that film technology had become quite affordable, if not quite perfect. It didn't need to be, and the imperfections could in the end be part of the presentation.

I think things like the Pentax Optio MX and the Sanyo HD1a represent something that purists will hate. It is not state of the art. It is cheap. It has noticeable flaws. It will end up the hands of everyone.

I heard this same discussion 6-8 years ago when MiniDV tape first showed up. It was not "broadcast quality", the video professionals would tell me. Really, how could a cheap consumer camera compete with a $10k Sony Betacam camera.

Access. It Disrupts. People get that.

Okay, enough. History is littered with this stuff.

I think the future is indeed form and motion. It is something we want to utilize. Just like the cell phone lets us of sort of teleport (at least our voice), cameras let us manipulate time, light and space. That is access. It is disruptive. It is profound. As I mebtioned in my last posting, media changes people's perception forever. There is no going back.


Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Illinois secedes from Myspace

In a bold act, this bill proposes to block access to social computing sites in all public schools and libraries.

Most will focus on the difficulty of using technology to solve a problem. Some will decry the impingement of liberties. I won't deny that either is not important.

For myself, it is another signpost. Things are changing. I've talked about media changing, our expectations of technology changing. Etc.

This is a moment that illustrates how far we have come. Myspace is just another mashup, one of many to come and go at the end of the day. What it represents is not new at all.

The collision of internet space and education space is spectacular right now. I can't believe that no one has noticed this. It is well beyond the blah blah of netgen bs, which is a term coined by the plus 40 crowd in an attempt to understand the sub 30 somethings on their terms (pejoratives like multitasking, short attention). Where is visual learning? Where is the old school making stuff to understand concepts?

Things have changed. Things will continue to change. Netgen denies this in my opinion. The term is for those that analyze, without really understanding that it is not a trend, but continuation. Media and technology can have profound impact on how we see the world in ways that are irreversible. Books change people's lives. Movies do that too. Of course Myspace and other things will have the same effect.

This bill is of course stupid. But it will come up again. People will talk about it. Maybe someone will actually succeed in passing and implementing it. It really won't have much impact in the end, and maybe the person who drafted it understood that -- it's just a cheap attempt to get some cred.

But the fact that it has gotten this far is important. Something is being said here. And it will come back again.


Thursday, February 01, 2007


Convergency typically represents combining of functionality of several components, tasks or media into a single point. Typically we are talking about a device, because we by nature focus on the technology because it is tangible and finite.

But convergency really represents something else. The device is really an artifact, a result of convergency.

These are not dictionary definitions. You won't get those from me.

Convergency represents several things.

Combination of forms of media and delivery. Television and social networking converged in American Idol.

Programming and Visual Art combined to make Photoshop.

It is more than just a fusion of things; it's the isotopes that get created. IT IS THE REAL CONVERGENCE.

High Definition TV sets have both a VGA and DVI port on them. It is available but not commonplace for things like DVD players, cable boxes. It is there because the intent was to hook up a computer or device based on a computer.

But is not so that you can run windows, or even windows media center.

What it represents is that content can come from somewhere else than cable, satellite or over the air. It can come from the internet.

This is convergence. It is not about the TV, the Tivo or the couch. It is about melding of mixed media, and flat publishing. The context for what a TV represents is modified. It becomes a device that is tremendously expanded in content. And you (pointing finger) can publish content that others can watch.

This is the challenge for education. The output are not podcasts. It is making them. Having students make them. Making sense of the opportunities, helping people think and understand (in both logical and illogical sense) what it means to be not just a consumer, but a creator and publisher. The TV set is just a vessel. The ipod is just a vessel. We tell the story.

(Deep Breath)