Is Video Social?

Because the silent, frequent, and written language-based interaction between human beings via an electronic medium has been the main characteristic of social media, video has many times, in my experience as a producer, been said to be “not-that-social.”

Well…not so fast.

From the moment most of us are born, auditory and visual stimuli (and, yes, skin contact) form the foundation of our social life.  The moving image is at the root of the way we communicate, and is one of the most intuitive ways of contact.  It will be many years after we are born that the written form of language will be solidified in our brains, and with all limitations associated with one’s mother language.

Show an apple to natives of different regions of the globe and they most likely will know what it is.  Call it “apple” and many will no longer know what you are referring to.

Moving pictures are the elements of a universal language, and break many social barriers.  Video (from Latin, “I see”) is “totally-social.”  So where does the perception of “not-that-social” come from?  Without making this post a long-winded explanation, I will tell you that it comes primarily from lack of visual education, which leads to the misuse of the medium.

László Moholy-Nagy, artist and Bauhaus professor, said: “The illiterate of the future will be ignorant of pen and camera alike.”  Many times when we pick up a camera is to create something with much less thought than when we pick up a pen.  We spent years being educated in verbal and written forms of the language, and not as much in improving our visual skills.

The potential for video in social media is incipient.  YouTube some years ago had a feature called “video response,” which is now called “video reply.”  Synthpop ‘s Alive comes to mind as an example of a clever video reply.

Video is a language, and “language is a virus.”  William S. Burroughs wrote of a social revolution through technology.  There is much to be explored in video as a social medium to further this revolution.

I would suggest going back to basics: turn off the screen, spend some time paying close attention to what you see, think of your eyes are cameras to the world, then watch you favorite movies without sound, go back to black and white, and experience very good cinematography.  By doing so, you will start re-thinking video, and moving closer to its potential.

You will see it.

P.S. – Check this out: The five C’s of Cinematography: Motion Picture Filming Techniques by Joseph V. Mascelli (ISBN 187950541X)

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  2. 07/25 2012

    Update:
    Justin Nassiri — a US Navy nuclear submarine officer, Stanford MBA graduate, and Founder/CEO of VideoGenie — has successfully raised funding from Google Chairman Eric Schmidt’s Innovation Endeavors, and Blumberg Capital, for tapping the social power of customer-generated video to increase brand engagement. http://www.videogenie.com

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