Thursday, September 22, 2016

The Value of Video

These days we can see for ourselves. Lets roll the tape.

Except, of course, there is no “tape,” which is one of the reasons video has become so common. When you can store data in temporary digital files in a re-writable medium, well, it's cheap to do. No tape to buy or consume. Let’s click the video.

An obvious impact of this new reality is the “body camera” solution some are pushing to try to reform policing in response to recent shootings. Maybe that would help.

And there is the Fall Faculty Series at Mount Mercy. If you missed a program, the staff at Busse Library has been recording the programs and is posting the videos on YouTube.

Here are links to the first two programs:

Sept. 7, “We are All Immigrants” by History Professor Allison McNeese.

Sept. 13, “The First Americans” by Criminal Justice Professor Deb Brydon.

At a later series event, I shot some video myself with my Nikon SLR. It was at Tuesday night’s music program in the Chapel of Mercy—not the full program, but I hope to use some audio for a Mercy Week slide show. We’ll see—editing time is at a premium for me right now.

The Fall Faculty Series at Mount Mercy, "Building Walls, Building Bridges: The U.S. as an Immigrant Nation" has been very successful so far. No TV coverage yet, but at least there is the library video. The next event is Sept. 29 when Mohammad Chaichian, a sociology professor, will speak about border walls, based on a book he wrote on that topic.

Please come--the events are free and public. You kind find them all here.

Anyway, while the spread of video and the capacity of almost any cell phone to record it gives us more eyes on the world, it’s important to recall that those eyes only see isolated snippets form one point of view, not necessarily a full picture.

For example, I have students that are required to attend cultural events, and one asked if she could instead just view the video. Well, no. It's not the same experience as being there. You see and hear better with your own senses, you can react and interact. So I am glad the library is recording these events, but YouTube is not yet "being there."

And video can be edited these days, so if you see it online, you still need to do a little investigating to ensure what you think you see is actually what’s there.

Still, video can be an interesting new tool. The other day I was watching a Monticello City Council meeting. I’m interested in monarch butterflies, and, promoted by a story in The Gazette about Monticello’s efforts to get a resident to remove milkweed, I’m hoping to spark some milkweed planting at Mount Mercy University, where I teach.

It was both odd and strange to be at my home office, sitting in front of a computer, on Vimeo, seeing a city council meeting in a nearby Iowa town. This will never be a high-rated show. One city council member in particular quickly got on my nerves. “So you’re not serious?” he asked the milkweed-planting resident when the council members plan to have the city plant milkweed instead of the resident wasn’t immediately accepted.

Blah. Sometimes video shows you irritating jerks you would rather not see nor hear. But maybe that is part of the value of video. I not only read about the meeting, I saw it myself.

And, for the record, a resident who has planted so much milkweed that his property is a recognized monarch migratory way stop is clearly “serious.” Sure, it would be good for the city of Monticello to plant milkweed, but why that has to be a quid pro quo to destroy a private  monarch way station is a bit beyond me.

Well. I reacted a bit emotionally to that meeting—because I saw it.

One more impact of video.

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