peer feedback 2: electric boogaloo

Ok so I’ll say this at the top: I picked my peer commentaries at random (maybe not the best plan?). So found myself with a variety of topics that I could engage with at different levels, and in different ways. Much like in the last round of peer commentary, however, I focused on providing feedback to tighten up the overall concept, provide new angles and approaches, but not to contradict their research and point-of-view, which are generally well defined at this point. Let’s dive in.

beta 1 – The Future of Sporting – Luke DiSalvio

So, on that whole “I didn’t know much about some of these topics point”… yeah, I knowing jack about sport. But that’s fine, because I know plenty about video essays (and Tik Tok, a knowledge base I was hoping to not need to dip into and yet here we are :/ ).

Ben has clearly being having a rough time this semester, which is a really quite understandable given… ya’know… However, it appeared Ben directed great amount of negativity at himself as a result, which I felt was frankly unfair given the quality of what he had managed to produce thus far.

While Ben’s first video had failed to garner the level of engagement I imagined he desired, the bones of what he was setting out to create was all there, the muscle just needed to be built around it a little. Specifically, his engagement with future cultures in his first video essay on stadiums was very strong. In the space of a few minutes he successfully outlined, explained (with good primary and secondary sources), and projected a probable direction in which stadiums could develop, while also factoring in the current c*vid-19 crisis, something that others project did not do, so that was very impressive.

Where Ben struggled with his project up until this point was in the quality of his video. This is something he acknowledged in his beta video, alluding to various technical difficulties, which is entirely understandable. His solution–both to minimise production time, and reduce equipment required–was to pivot to Tik Tok, and idea that has some real merit.

As I mentioned above, video essays and Tik Tok’s are both something I’m very familiar with, so I was able to offer some pretty specific feedback. I endeavoured to offer solutions for any element of the video that I was critiquing.

In regards to the pivot to Tik Tok, I cited a video that I had seen recently that was very much of the style and format that I suspect Ben would be trying to emulate, although in truth Ben was very vague about what video-essays but-on-Tik-Tok would constitute. This vagueness made tailoring feedback here a little difficult, so I focused primarily on generic elements that make for a grabbing Tik Tok regardless of content: bold lettering, attention grabbing quote, strong delivery, etc

With the “video essay” half of my feedback I was able to be more specific. I observed several very fixable issues with his first video essay. Issues I noted had little to do with substance, and everything to do with delivery. I was able to identify several examples, suggesting that cadence and sentence structuring were the key problem areas. As this is a field I work in, I was able to suggest places where Ben might look to begin working on this issue, citing video essayists with varying levels of dynamism in their delivery, and that he could look to the Young Australian Writers page for assistance with editing of his script if needed.

beta 2Adopt Sustainability – Paris Kat

Paris’ DA, I’ll admit, is not one that filled me with a great amount of… energy? It is not that I feel the concept–the future of sustainability–is a lacking. Nor is it that I think her project–a mix of Instagram/blogging–is poorly executed, it’s not. Rather, I found personally, that there was a certain lack of depth in her projections on “the future of sustainability”. This is just because I literally spent all of last year studying various facets of sustainability-energy politics in third year IR, and I’m aware I’m not the target demographic for this project to begin with.

This left me in a difficult situation. I was unable to suggest that Paris “study third year IR”, and even if I could suggest this, it would be horribly unfair and really just rude. The project is good! However, I still felt that there was some amount of dissonance when comparing the concept to the content, or rather the presentation of the content.

Paris has a high level of control over the Instagram aspect of her project, her growth is strong, especially for the timeframe, and the aesthetic is well composed. Paris notes that she feels the blog aspect is lacking by comparison, and that she is struggling to get engagement to spill-over from Instagram. I had to agree.

Upon reflection I think identified what the issue might be. A blog is the wrong platform for the content Paris is wishing to pedal. Two factors led me to this conclusion:

  1. Instagram is, I would say, the worst platform from which to generate engagement for a blog.
  2. Her blog posts are incredibly short form, when it comes aggregate content of a written nature, the rule is to be fairly substantive.

My suggestion, therefore, was for Paris to pull a Ben, and pivot from one platform from another. When looking at the length of her content it became clear to me that Paris’ blog posts could easily be turned into tweets. Based on the nature of posts, they are more conversation starters than conversations in full, twitter would likely gobble them up–gobble, gobble, gobble.

If Paris didn’t feel especially like jettisoning all of her work on her frankly very stylish blog, then at least adding a twitter would be sensible iteration for her DA. Millennial’s make up by far the largest amount of Twitter’s user-base, meaning that between it and Instagram she would be able to net a huge amount of her target market. Twitter is also a better platform for getting spill-over engagement, I referenced the ratio of Film Daze’s Twitter and Instagram followings as an example. Finally, her blog posts about the “future of sustainability” tend to be quite light. They don’t function especially well as content in and of themselves, but as conversation starters they could be quite effective and generate higher engagement.

Paris’ project is in full-swing, and of the three I responded to, her’s felt the most fully realised. What Paris needs–in the humble opinion of me, a fool–is not tailoring of what exists currently, but rather expansive iterations, widening the scope and reach of her DA.

beta 3 – The Future Potentials of Social Media – Ty Jeffery

Where both Ben and Paris’ projects were likely to benefit from an amount of expansion, Ty’s was the inverse.

A three part video-essay series documenting the potential futures of social media, his project is very well-defined and he is already exploring ways to expand it further, making it’s coverage of the future more in depth. The quality of his video was also solid, so that was not a point requiring any major critiques. So, while Ben and Paris still had foundational elements of their DA that could be improved, Ty was in a position where is overall structure was sound, and now tapering-in was required.

He mentioned that in his tutor felt that the scope of his project was becoming somewhat unwieldy, with his idea of “sub-categories” not being received too well. I agreed with this piece of feedback, and suggested that strengthening the existing material would be a better use of time. Particularly, I suggested that he might want to consider incorporating a particular future’s thinker as a framework against which he could structure his analysis, using their theories as a starting point and elaborating from there.

Ty also said that he was looking at incorporating depiction of social media in popular culture. He said he was particularly interested in “an episode of Black Mirror” which I interpreted as the episode ‘Nosedive’. I can understand why, based on the subject of this project, he would be interested in this particular episode. However, I still urged him to reconsider this, as ‘Nosedive’ has already been the subject of extensive analysis and creating original content on the topic would be quite difficult.

My suggestion to either 1) do a comparative study with ‘Nosedive’ and one other fictional depiction of social media or 2) pick a different depiction and not use ‘Nosedive’ at all. I offered up several suggestions of social media depictions, suggesting some ways he might wish to look at them.

reflection time

Chris (hi, Chris) and I had talked, literally the day before I began writing this response+reflection (yes this took three days, r.i.p), about where I could take my own DA. I spied ways that the feedback I gave to Ben, Paris, and Ty could be applied to my project. Chris spoke about the possibility of my branching into video essays, which on the call I met with a “haha, yeah” and was ready to leave it at that, mostly because I don’t really have the skills for video editing, and am currently too lazy to reach out and collaborate with new people.

However, in the space between that call and writing this feedback two things happened. One, an essay I wrote for a publication had to be cut down because it ran WAY too long (me, writing something that runs long, no way). Two, I gave Ben his feedback. In suggesting to Ben that, “hey, he could look into collaboration as a way to overcome his difficulties”, I was forced to go, “oh, I could collaborate to overcome my difficulties, hm”. I disproved my own reasoning for not wanting to do video essays. Moreover, having my essay cut down made me realise that there were benefits to the format that I had underestimated. I can run long in a video essay! I can go deep in a video essay. I can revel in beautiful, beloved context in a video essay! This has caused me to rethink the format, and while I certainly won’t be doing it for this project, it is something I’m heavily considering down the line.

Another thing Chris suggested was that I create a LinkedIn profile so that I seem professional and can connect with other people in the field. To this I went “ooo but LinkedIn is scary uwu”. However, looking at Paris’ project has made me go “fine fine, I’ll suck it up and make a LinkedIn”. The value of being on the correct platform was startlingly clear with Paris’ project, and it is something that I cannot underestimate with my own. I’m halfway there with my Twitter and Letterboxd presence, but LinkedIn would give me even more of an edge.

A final note (one that Chris did not suggest, I’m suggesting this myself) was that it might be worth incorporating Future’s Thinker’s into my own project more overtly. I love a good scholar, they’re great for providing structure to nebulous idea, adding to cohesion, comprehension, and overall impressiveness to any project. After all, I have a starting point with this whole field of knowledge, it’s too good to pass up. I am still thinking of the best way to do this in my project (perhaps I shall read The Cyborg Manifesto, that feels like a good point to start with, it intersects with my own interests and fields quite naturally, it’s a book!). At any rate, Future’s Thinking definitely has a place in my own writing to come, and I will endeavour to incorporate it, both in this project (I’m still not doing that very well) but also beyond.

That’s all. Bye.

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