What else is on?
For the past 500 years, we have been a print-driven culture.
Reading and writing were essential tools to participating in daily life. And just because one learned how to write in school, it did not mean one was planning on being a writer as a profession. It was just a necessary skill for survival and participation.
Now, it seems, we are on the cusp of becoming a video-driven culture.
That is, the vast majority of our access to information, indeed, our very way of talking to one another, is about to become primarily in video.
In a piece in todays’ Advertising Age, brought to my attention by the ever vigilant Chuck Fadely of the Miami Herald, consumers are predicted to increase their video viewing habits to an almost mind boggling 5 hours a day.
This means, in rough numbers, that each of us will spend approximately 1/5th of our lives doing nothing but watching videos.
We will effectively watch videos more than we eat, work, read, play sports… in fact, everything but sleep.
This is an astonishing benchmark for a civilization which from its inception to a mere 70 years ago did not even have television. Now, virtually overnight, this piece of technology has come to dominate our lives. I think it is fair to say that if we spent 5 hours a day reading – every day, every one of us, George Bush would not be the President of the United States.
But we don’t,
We spend it watching videos.
If that is the case, (and it seems to be) then it is critical that all of us – yes, all of us, become literate not only in watching the content that someone else made, but in the creation of content ourselves.
That does not mean that if you learn the craft of video shooting and editing you are aspiring to be a cameraman at the local TV station. But it does mean that literacy – video literacy, is a critical skill to participating in the public discourse and public dialogue that is the lifeblood of any society.
If we, all of us, do not embrace video literacy, then we abandon the content of those 5 hours a day, every day, to ‘someone else’.
And that is not right.
Surely, in the world of print we would never advocate teaching our children to read, but denying them the skill of writing, because writing was only for the ‘writing professionals’. We all know how to write so that we can all express our opinions, no matter what their stripe.
Well, we don’t write so much anymore – or read, for that matter. But boy we sure watch.
And as a result, we are at a critical moment where we are going to collectively decide who gets to put ‘stuff’ into the 5 hours a day that we are all watching (and you will be interested to learn that more and more of this watching is going on on mobile devices).
So learning to ‘make video’ is no longer for the few who might want a career as a TV Producer or cameramen (if that job even exists in 5 years); but rather it is an essential tool for survival in the 21st Century.