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Chris Anderson, TED & Video Literacy

Posted on January 15th, 2011 Written on michael's blog

Do you like this?

Wired does great graphics

Yesterday, I was attending an all-day instructional class at Calumet in NY  on how to use my new digital Hasselblad.  The thing has more buttons on it than the space shuttle.

Unfortunately (for me at least), I keeled over about one hour into the class, and thanks to NY's great 911 EMS response times, I soon found myself at NYU Hospital in Manhattan - where I am now. (they have great WiFi, by the way).

In any event, Lisa soon showed up and bought me a mess of print magazines - one of which was this month's issue of Wired.

When you are trapped in a hospital bed, you will read anything cover to cover, and so it was that I came across an article entitled 'Film School' which naturally caught my attention.

It was written by Chris Anderson, the guy behind the TED conferences.

You can read the artice on your own time, but the essence of it is that Anderson believes that the web in general, and most specifically, video-driven content on the web is behind what he calls Crowd Acclerated Innovation:

So Crowd Accelerated Innovation isn’t new. In one sense, it’s the only kind of innovation there’s ever been. What is new is that the Internet—and specifically online video—has cranked it up to a spectacular degree.

I don't disagree with any of this, but Anderson opens the door to the, seemingly to me, obvious lynchpin of the digital/video revolution - and that is Video Literacy.

While it's fine to take out a video camera, point it at a bunch of break-dancers, post it on Youtube, and in doing so, create a virual teaching tool so that others may see and imitate.


What it does is it demonstrates the enormous - and largely untapped - power of the combination of video as a tool of communication and the web as a vehicle for mass distribution.

But it keeps video limited in a small box of 'capture' as opposed to 'communicate'.

For video can do far more than just 'capture' what you see in front of you and reproduce it.  Video can communicate very complex ideas, concepts and even emotions.

It is a powerful language in its own right

But if you wish to harness that language - if you wish to use video to its fullest extent (which almost no one does), then you must take the next step after point- and-shoot, and engage in the task of learning to be video literate.

Video literacy means the ability not just to turn on the camera and capture but to craft and shape video to tell the stories or communicate the information you want to share.

And Video Literacy requires some work and some training.

And that's what we're trying to do at

The idea here is not just to point the camera and turn it on, but rather to place our members on the cutting edge of a massive revolution.

There's a whole new world to be created - and that's just what we're going to do.


Category : Video Literacy  
6 comment(s)

3:46 am Thursday
Jan 20, 2011
I can't shoot or edit without thinking about what you've been drilling about "storytelling" since I fist discovered NYVS. Sometimes I get very discouraged doing this work (I wish it were easier) and then I read your blog and I get the inspiration to get back to work. Take care of yourself.

7:31 pm Tuesday
Jan 18, 2011
Many thanks! I am out and feeling much better. Now back to work!

7:28 pm Tuesday
Jan 18, 2011
Do take care and get yourself out of the hospital ASAP. Your work and postings are a constant sauce of inspiration on my spagetti like attempts to make my first video.

1:34 pm Sunday
Jan 16, 2011
Oh dear, please rest up and take care. Sending all good thoughts your way.

1:45 pm Saturday
Jan 15, 2011
Hey man. Best of luck on the shoot. The trick is in the storytelling. Tell the story in video the way you would tell it to your wife over dinner. And shoot it that way as well. Shoot the story you want to tell the way you want to tell it.

12:33 pm Saturday
Jan 15, 2011
Michael, hate to hear you're in the hospital, I hope it's nothing serious. Please get well soon! I believe everything you've been saying about and it's ability to take us from merely capturing video to crafting video into compelling storytelling. I have some shooting to do this weekend, but I'm rewatching your storytelling instruction before I do.