Friday, March 27, 2009


This is a video essay on the phenomenon of lurking -- the tendency of the majority of the members of a(n online) community not to participate in group discussions on topics of interest to that community.

I chose to explore the topic because it's something I'm dealing with in my own work as a community coordinator, and I decided to approach it from a personal angle because the course got me thinking about my own online behaviours -- rather than simply theorizing about others'.

I also wanted to explore the 'video essay' genre: part documentary/part presentation. I think it could be an effective way to communicate information on the Net. While I've had the opportunity to do promotional videos and instructional videos, I've never done anything personal or reflective like this.

I cringe a bit when I watch this now -- I see it as long-winded and narcissistic, although when I was doing it, it seemed intellectual and profound. Showed me what an intimate medium this can be.

Videoing the web to explore the web was an added bonus and challenge. While it's great to have all your footage at your fingertips, it was hard for me to make the Internet look interesting in a video. So I had to play with integrating my own images and text. I don't think I quite succeeded, but I did learn.

The voiceover had its own interesting moments. Transferring my ideas written in text to the live medium of voice made them sound stilted; a whole new set of performance skills is required. Also, because I did the voiceover on each clip as I was recording it, when I finally put them all together it came out disjointed at points.

The best part of the learning experience for me was going through the workflow of the project and working with new tools at steps along the way.

I started with my basic concept -- a personal history of online communities I've been part of, and why I did or did not participate in group discussions. I went through and found (the current versions of) each of the sites and storyboarded the pages I wanted to hop through on the tour.

I found and used SnapzPro X (for Mac) for screen and voice capture as I flipped through the sites and rendered the resulting videos as .mov files. I also used this tool to grab images and edited the .jpeg files in Gimp.

I used Quicktime Pro to export the .mov files as .dv files.

I opened the .dv files in Final Cut Pro and edited the video clips, images and audio. My first time using this tool and I learned a lot about its basic functionalities, plus had some fun. I think it's a fairly intuitive tool to use, if you've used other video editing software.

When I couldn't take watching it anymore (at roughly the 7-minute mark), I decided to close the project without finishing it as per the initial concept. I figured it had served its purpose as a learning experience and I would have the opportunity to flesh it out in the future, after feedback and reflection.

I exported the final project as an .mov file and uploaded it as a video to this blog.

When I had problems or questions with any of the tools above I simply went to YouTube for the tutorials (somebody has always done it first) or did Google searches and ended up with answers by following discussion threads.

This was a rich learning experience for me, particularly when I pieced the whole thing together and watched it. I know what I will apply and not apply from this in my upcoming presentation.

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