Friday, October 10, 2008

Video Literacy

I often speak about "video literacy" - the idea that it is important to everyone to understand how to construct videos in order to tell a story or make a point or convey an emotion. We generally believe it is important for kids to know how to type - but it doesn't mean we want them to be authors. Typing is simply a good skill to have in this age. Similarly, I would argue, is the ability to shoot and edit video. You don't have to want to be a filmmaker to benefit from these skills. We are bombarded by media all day. Sometimes it is entertainment, sometimes commercial and sometimes news, but it always has a point of view.

I often try to deconstruct TV commercials with my young kids - i want them to know that someone is trying to MAKE them WANT something. And when they DO want the thing after the commercial, we talk about how effective this insidious process is. Then we grab a camcorder and see if we can make some dumb thing in our house look so cool that everyone would want it. Once kids get it, they are informed consumers of media.

This is a media rich age. And we are quite media literate. But until people really understand how film and video are shot and built into products, media remains somewhat mysterious. Our children and families need to be masters of media -- for ourselves (to use that media for our own individual purposes), and for a democracy (to share and communicate and inform). I think video literacy is important. It was a dream of people like George Lucas and Francis Coppola back in 1970 that anyone could get a camera and make a film. "Think what this could do for our society," Lucas once said.

Yes. That dream is realized today. We just need to pick up the tools.

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