In recent years there has been an increased awareness of the need for focused teaching activities based on video or moving images. The term video , of course, no longer refers to reels of videotape, but has been co-opted to mean any moving image that is filmed and broadcast using digital means. Owing to the impact of this digital media in our work and daily lives, we are now more accustomed to accessing information and producing our own input via the moving image.
At the time of writing, statistics from Cisco Systems indicate that video will soon account for 62% of all consumer internet traffic. Computers, tablets and smartphones now incorporate video cameras, making it possible to film an event anytime and anywhere. This is blurring the distinction between the amateur and professional, the formal and informal, and the verbal and visual. Sites such as YouTube and Vimeo facilitate the online sharing and creation of such video material. Because of these advances, people are accessing these videos and producing their own at an increasingly early age, making video material that can compete with the professionals or critique mainstream sources. Such videos are accessed by hyperlinks and can be embedded into a blog, a tweet, etc. allowing people to customize and personalize the material to an even greater extent. It is revealing, after all, that the strapline for YouTube is ‘Broadcast Yourself’.
For example, it is commonplace for ‘YouTubers’ to upload their own version of the highlights of a football match, editing the action, creating their own captions and then placing their own soundtrack over the top. It is interesting to see how elements of popular culture – football, avatars and rap music – merge in these multi-modal creations (that is to say, media that incorporate a variety of modes, such as a text, images and hyperlinks). In the same way, the YouTube generation often create their own spoof versions of well-known videos such as adverts. On occasions, these versions can ‘go viral’ and become so popular that they can, ironically, enter the mainstream (for example, a rap version of a McDonald’s commercial was ‘adopted’ and became an official advert for the company). Thus, we could say that digital media has freed up and democratized ‘the visual’, giving more people the chance to communicate visually than ever before.