Saturday, January 15, 2011

Video is a Latin word

Few weeks ago I was with Giuseppe "Jimmy" Tarascio, a kind and nice guy who deserves to be a celebrity. To my eyes, he is a celebrity. We were alone and we didn't know where to start a discussion from, so I said: "This morning I have received your newsletter". "Glad to know it", he replied, "I never know if it arrives or not". "I am receiving all the issues", I confirmed. Then he narrated how difficult it is to manage his newsletter, mainly because he wants to send PDF attachments with it. In practice, Jimmy painfully compiles by hand the list of recipients each time he broadcasts an issue. As soon as I heard this, I felt guilty and promised I was going to unsubscribe. I did it when I got back home.
For the same reason I am not giving here the link to the beautiful web site that Jimmy is slowly building up, enriched by exercises, articles and videos. His site is not dedicated to NMR and it is not written in English, so 99% of my readers can't find any pleasure in visiting it.
Why can't you find videos on my blog? Apart from the fact that I haven't learned to make them yet, I don't like videos (unless they are Tarascio's, of course). Why?
1. Slowness. Only in the morning my ADSL connection is fast enough to watch a video without interruptions (or with few of them). Podcasts represented the solution to this problem (first you download, then you watch). Unfortunately, podcasts are already out of fashion.
2. Language. It's not easy to translate an unknown word without spelling. Language is still a barrier, like in Babel's time.
3. Voice. The synthetic voice can be clear and funny, but not very funny. Very few can afford to hire a professional speaker.
4. Speed. Just like with live demonstrations, it is difficult to follow and learn the operations shown by the screencast. Live demonstrations are possibly worse, because you don't have the pause and backwards controls.
5. Resolution. I don't like slow resolution pictures and movies. Do you?
6. Screencasts are not interactive. I remember that years ago (probably in the age of system 8 or even before), Apple introduced a rich help system. The manual for an application contained pictures, movies and scripts. Not only the manual told you which menu commands to select, it selected the command for you, after drawing a red circle to show its position inside the menu. Really impressive, but probably too expensive because bulky and annoying PDF books are the norm today.
What's Tarascio's secret? His videos are neither about software, nor about NMR, but about "winning moves". What's my advise? I think that HTML is really a wonderful solution for presentations. A little of Java Scripts can help, but not Flash!


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