digital rhetoric

granularity and the screencast

I was reading Adrian Miles’ vlog this morning, and he makes an important point about the future direction of blogging and related tech. While we are witnessing the explosion of audio, video, and such, one of the continuing advantages of text is its granularity. This is clear from the simple act of skimming over RSS feeds on bloglines to searching the blogosphere on technorati. Text media is far more manipulable than audio or video. This is also key in terms of networking. Obviously a text post can have multiple links outward, but you can’t do this with video or audio… yet.

In some sense, one could think of Flash as a way of bringing more interactivity into multimedia, but there are important concerns with this approach, not the least of which being the proprietary nature of Flash. It seems to me that the short term answer is the intersection of the granular text with audio and video. After all that’s what we already see from tagging videos in YouTube to mixing audio and text on a blog.  Still I can imagine a not to distant future when it would be possible to search the "text" of an audio much like we search written text now.

However, leaving the technical issues to some one (far) more proficient than I, there are some rhetorical/compositional issues to consider in relation to granularity, new media, and networks. Far more so than with my written blogs, I have found that I tend to think of the few audio and video clips I’ve produced as stand-alone objects. Maybe that’s why I struggle more with their composition. I have this desire to create a seamless presentation that I don’t worry about when I’m writing. I mean, I’m sure I could go back and edit many, many of my blog posts, but I never do that (I know, it’s surprising isn’t it?). But when I produce audio or video I worry a great deal more about editing and the final product.

Perhaps this isn’t a bad idea. I have a lot less experience producing such media. However, at the same time, I think I could benefit from thinking about these compositions in a more granular way. That is, while it may not be technically possible to make the grains of these media accessible through the network, I can be more conscious of these products as granular elements themselves in a larger network.

I’ll have to see if this change in perspective makes any difference.


2 replies on “granularity and the screencast”

Hi Alex,
You said that we can’t link out from video and audio but that’s not quite right. We can add hyperlinks to other sites or PDFs or images – anything – to a video or piece of audio. A simple way to do this is use Garageband and add the links at the right spot.
With video and audio becoming increasingly searchable, too, with things like PodZinger there to help, the distinction between blogged, vlogged and podcast data is becoming less important. It’s the content and conversation around it that is vital and so the point you make about quality of posting becomes more true than ever. While we might be under the impression we can go back and edit a blog post, when we’ve published it, it’s gone. It’s far better to leave up the old version and redraft in a new post, to show where we’ve come from.
I wonder why the same is not so true of video and audio, where we seek the ‘final version’ before it goes live. Hmmm.


Thanks Ewan. Good point about the enhanced podcasts possible in Garage Band. That is another possibility.
I agree with your point about blogging as well. Last night when our students were meeting with Will Richardson, one of them mentioned how important it was to her to be able to revise her blog posts before publishing them. However I agree with you, in blogging, I see revision as more of an iterative process where I’m not continually fixing a document on the way to a final product but rather moving through a process of mutation.
Perhaps when I become more technically comfortable with video production, I’ll be able to just wing it like I do with writing.


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