Ever wonder why Linear B, the Greek script, goes from right to left?
So do Hebrew and Arabic… while English, French, Italian and all western languages go from left to right?
Here’s a good lesson.
Pretend you were carving the words into stone. Now, grasp the hammer in your right hand and the chisel in your left and start to carve. Which way to you instinctively go? Right to left (assuming you are right handed, which most people are). Otherwise your arm would block what you had just written.
But pick up a pen and start to write. Which way do you instinctively go? Left to right, so you don’t smear the ink of what you have just written.
The technology dictates the architecture of the language.
An interesting side-bar here is that our numbering system is called Arabic numbers, and for a reason. Add 325 +242. Notice that you start on the right side of the problem and work your way leftward. Just like Arabic text. Right to left.
What does this have to do with video?
Andy Grove, the founder and first CEO of Intel said, “Listen to the technology. The technology will tell you what to do.” He also said that in the not too distant future, computer processing would be so cheap that you would be able to paper your walls with computer chips.
Today, we take paper for granted.
It is so cheap, that we do indeed paper our walls with it… or wrap fish in it. Or just throw it away. It is nearly free.
The ancients in Greece or Rome or Egypt would be astonished to see how we handle paper.
For them it was an extremely expensive rarity. One might spent an entire lifetime without ever seeing a piece of paper. And when they did, they handled it with great care, as one might protect a laptop or an iPhone today. It was, after all, the cutting edge communications technology of its day.
When one set out to write on a piece of paper in antiquity (and indeed well into the Middle Ages), they took a great deal of care to do so. They generally hired a scribe to do the work for them. The scribes were members of a very elite guild, and paid small fortunes to craft the letters for a special document.
It was an art form, and their work was lovingly done.
The rise of literacy, the precipitous drop in the cost of paper, the very ubiquity of writing changed what writing was; what it meant to a culture.
It was not longer a fine craft.
Writing became anyone making notes on anything at any time.
Just scribble a shopping list on a spare piece of paper and you have written.
Does it have value? It does if you go shopping and leave it home.
Video will soon undergo the same transformation that writing underwent more than 500 years ago. It is going to pass from being a craft practiced by a handful of artisans to something that everyone does all the time.
We all learned how to read and write in school, not with the idea that we would become best selling authors, but with the idea that the ability to write was intrinsic to our ability to forge a literate culture – the ability to simply get along in print based world.
Well, we don’t live in a print based world anymore. We live in an increasingly video based world.
And more and more people are learning to communicate in video.
They are doing so because the tools to communicate in video are becoming cheaper and easier to use, just like paper once did.
And so it does not really matter if the level of ‘craftsmanship’ of the average video maker is not up to the standards of the current video craftsman. It does not make any difference. As people begin to post their video on MySpace and Youtube and eBay and Facebook, no one will care about the saturation point of the blacks. It is no longer a craft. It is simply a tool for communicating ideas.