Looking over Science D.I.Y. – student critique

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In the past few weeks I have been monitoring Sarah’s Science D.I.Y Digital Artefact for DIGC302 which deals with presenting theories and problems of science in a simple and understandable way for a mass audience. Sarah is studying a Bachelor of Science and a Bachelor of Communication and Media Studies at the University of Wollongong and finds that there are misconceptions in science and it is misrepresented in the media today. The goal of this project is to fight those misconceptions around science by making videos to explain what the science is around everyday topics. You can find Sarah contributing to the media platform Chattr and posting on her WordPress blog.

While those sites are not the direct place for which this assignment has been published they still contain examples of content and the passion Sarah has for science. The couple videos created at the moment have been posted to Sarah’s personal Facebook Page. Fortunately, with the personal change of security settings I am unable to link to the videos as they are set to a private setting other than public. I do have to question a couple of things about posting science videos to Facebook. When it comes to creating videos to fight the misconceptions of science I would not find it adequate to keep them on a private setting – as exposure for those videos to hit a wide audience is limited to either no one, friends or, friends of friends. This makes the audience smaller and restricts the virality of the video and the message wanting to get across. A simple change of the viewing setting to public would be an easy fix.

When I think science I do not automatically go to Facebook for answers – well if I want right answers that is. If I am stuck on a science question or want to know something about science. Like the following: If I got a water bottle out of the refrigerator and put the bottle in cold room, a hot room and a room-temperature room. Would the rate at which condensation appears be the same on each bottle? I do not know how I would even start looking on Facebook for videos relating to this issue. As I can see on Facebook there isn’t an option to search for videos let alone specific science videos. Choosing Facebook as a place to publish videos for the intention of academia I find is the wrong platform. If YouTube was chosen you would have a channel and a destination for which people can come and watch your videos. YouTube is also the second most popular search engine as to find video evidence for curious minds about curious questions. This would be important in gaining traffic to your videos (with adequate tags for finding it of course) and allow an engagement with the other videos being made. YouTube also gives the freedom to link the videos to other websites which in this case I could of linked to this critique. YouTube also creates a sense of community with both creators and consumers being able to engage with either other. Facebook has a community but it is more your personal community made of friends and well wishers.

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Presentation wise there is a lot of information condensed into only a couple of minutes in the videos. While there is a need to convey understanding of the topics in an appropriate amount of time – time that the audience can keep focus on the video, the visual appeal of the video is also a key aspect for that engagement. One of the videos presents an understanding as to why the human body feels hot when it is 37 Celsius outside while the human body has a resting body temperature around the same degree. There is a lot of information being presented – so much that I would need to watch the video multiple times to get through everything being said and to understand what is being said. This isn’t helped by Sarah talking so fast (nerves?). Visually the engagement with the audience is limited – while just watching Sarah stare at the camera lens, as if starring at the viewer, there is no need to watch the video, just listen to it. This may be good for people who want to do something else while listening to it – but the speed in which Sarah talks makes me question this style of viewing for the video. Calming the nerves and talking a bit slower would aide in the presentation of the video. Having a script, going over it, recording and listening back to it will show how engaged someone can be with the information being said. While Sarah may be a fast talker in the videos it is the information being presented that is the key aspect for the video. If the information is understandable for a wide audience – the elderly with potential hearing loss, students, academics and kids or a specific target audience if that is what Sarah is aiming for then the speed of talking is of minimal concern.

While I personally enjoy watching informative videos about science – Vsauce and Numberphile on YouTube for example. There is a structure and pattern to those videos that engages the audience and maintains that engagement. While I do not know what Sarah watches on YouTube or her personal science heroes. Looking at how those channels present their information and the structure for which they show their videos would be a good start in developing her own identity and space by looking at what aspects she likes and does not like. It is an interesting choice incorporating science in a humanities/digital media based project. While science is not everyone’s cup-of-tea it is always good to see the cross incorporation of academic disciplines.

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