Working on the Edge of Our Incompetence

18 09 2012

The view is more thrilling; reality sharper, and you’ve never felt so acutely alive than when you’re living and working at “the edge of your incompetence” as Elliot Eisner likes to say.

In the latest Critical Reflections Posts, there was a healthy mix of anxiety and excitement as everyone prepares to design and produce their first bookcasts.  Wisely, many of you have explored multimedia blogging to learn some new tools, practice your troubleshooting skills, and gain some confidence.

Here are some tips for succeeding with bookcasting:

Concept is Everything

You can produce the most technically brilliant bookcast, but if you don’t capture the essence of the book — the theme that spoke to you — then you’re just producing a book trailer or book report.  The middle school kids who connected with Frost’s a Road Less Traveled learned the value of poetry for acknowledging one of humanity’s underlying themes: we are the choices we make.

Story Is Anecdote + Reflection

Also helpful may be “This American Life” creator and star, Ira Glass’s introduction to the building blocks of storytelling — much different from what you learned about writing in high school he says.

Technology Is the Vehicle

If try as you can the images fly by too fast or there’s no fade out for the music as the video ends or any host of technical difficulties that may befall you, do not panic.  And, most importantly, do not lose sleep over it.  You are not being assessed for your technical prowess.  Do your best to tell your story as you’d like, but if things don’t work out then just promise yourself that like General MacArthur you will return and make things better later.

Do remember, as Sonya pointed out in an early blog post, you can find the answer to practically any question by Googling.  Just enclose your question with quotation marks and send it off into the metaverse, and 9 times out of ten  you will find that someone else has not only asked that question but created a tutorial on how to accomplish it.

Intellectual Property Is to Be Respected

Do be forewarned that it is not okay to google and “borrow” an image or music that is not licensed under Creative Commons for repurposing or the author has clearly given her blessing for its use.  A common error is to believe that your video transforms a piece of music and adds value for the public good.  That would, honestly, be rare.  Most likely, your video uses the music to create a mood or tone, and that does not transform the music but merely takes advantage of the composer’s work.  See The Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Media Literacy Education, Principle 4, Student Use of Copyrighted Materials in Their Own Academic and Creative Work.  You could easily create that same mood or tone with a royalty free selection.  There are several sites for royalty-free music and images on the Bookcasting page.

Screening Your Video in the Bookhenge

To prepare your bookcast for its debut, upload it to YouTube and embed the url in a blog post accomplished by simply pasting in the link.  Be sure to set the privacy to “public.”  Then you can simply send me the link so I can post  on the Video Playlist for our Film Festival.

Do plan on providing the briefest of intros for your work.

Good luck and enjoy your creative process!

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