“You Want Me to Watch What?”

16 May

The reason I rely on the Internet as my source of what’s happening in the world is that I much prefer reading my news. I never did like the way my fingers became black from newsprint, but there’s just something about reading an article and carefully studying the accompanying photographs, when available, at my leisure. To me, that is and always will be so much better than seeing images flit past and listening as someone else narrates a story, giving their own voice to peoples’ quotes.

I still don’t read an actual newspaper. I don’t watch television news much either, local or otherwise. I get my news from the Web. But I am becoming increasingly frustrated by the fact that so many news Web sites are posting videos instead of written articles. It would be one thing if I were given the opportunity to choose whether I get to read or watch the news, but that’s usually not the case. It’s either an article or a video, it’s typically not both.

Most news outlets, thankfully, will show a video camera icon with a hyperlink to let you know you’ll be seeing and hearing a video instead of reading an article. At least there’s still that choice.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying video doesn’t have its place. I just don’t think all news needs to presented in that fashion. Words on a page or on a screen afford me the opportunity to get information at my own pace. I can read and pause to think about something if I want to. I can stop and try to imagine the suffering being described. I can stop, if someone needs to talk to me, without having to worry that I’ll be missing something.

Shannon at her high school graduation 14 years ago! (Not at all related to this article/video, I just hate pictureless posts.)

Video does have its place, though. Like with the link I’m about to share. Once I started watching, I couldn’t stop. Not because of the action or images on the screen, oddly enough, but because of the audio. It’s a graduation speech, of all things, addressed to a group of Harvard graduates a couple years back. Here’s one example when new media is beneficial. I don’t think the speech would have near as much impact if presented as words on a page. The message is powerful both because of the presenter as well as what she has to say. She tells a group of soon-to-be Harvard graduates about the benefits of failure and the importance of imagination.

If you don’t have time to watch the whole thing now (it’s at least 5 minutes long), come back when you do. It’s a great speech. It was beautifully delivered. And I think it is a message not just every new graduate, but every person needs to hear.

Yes, I am recommending that you watch a college commencement address. This is JK Rowling’s graduation speech presented at Harvard a couple of years ago.

In case you just crawled out from under a rock and aren’t familiar with the JK Rowling name, she’s the BILLIONAIRE author of the Harry Potter series of books. She’s got a pretty compelling rags-to-riches story. After you’ve watched the video, check out this very brief article I stumbled upon when trying to determine her net worth (I have to make sure I get my facts straight when writing about stuff here).

I like this lady. She could be my girlfriend. I bet she’d be great fun and not the least bit ostentatious.

If you do take time out to watch the speech, let me know what you think. Even if you don’t view it, forward this link to all of the soon-to-be and/or recent graduates you know and ask them to watch the video. It’s a great message, really. And not at all boring like many commencement addresses tend to be.