Weird recursion

Brian Kelly has posted a fascinating analysis of the success of my slideshow 'Web 3.0 - the way forward?'. In What's the value of using Slideshare? he addresses several pertinent issues, and I highly recommend it as a thought provoking read. The story so far: You may recall if you have read previous posts on this blog that in July this year I presented a talk for an audience of 15 teachers. My 'audience' rapidly increased 1000 per cent when I posted my slides on Slideshare. In his post Brian asks several pertinent questions related to the potential amplification affordance of services such as Slideshare. But that's not the end of the story....

Brian used the hit count statistics of my slideshow as an example of event amplification in a keynote presentation he gave in Girona, Spain, just one week later. Because I featured in his presentation, I thought I had better watch the video recording of his presentation. In doing so, I opened up another set of questions, totally unrelated to the amplification issue. What happened was that while Brian was setting up his slideshow and preparing for his keynote, the microphone and video camera were live for about 60 seconds before he started. Although this is not a long time, it's long enough and it made me think. For me, this opened up questions about whether the amplification of events through live streaming was ethical, if either a) speakers were unaware they were being streamed (I'm sure Brian had already consented and was fully aware) or b) speakers were unaware that the pictures and sounds were live when they were not expecting them to be.

Recall earlier this year how the UK's former Prime Minister Gordon Brown was caught off camera but with his TV lapel microphone still live, making disparaging comments about a member of the public he had just met. Although arguably, this incident alone may not have lost him the general election, it severely damaged his reputation and standing amongst the electorate. The microphone gaffe - as its now known, even has its own Wikipedia page.

I'm not sure Brian knew the microphone and camera were live, and he certainly didn't make any gaffes or 'off the record' remarks which might have damaged his excellent reputation. But other speakers might not be so measured, and if 'off the cuff' remarks are made during open but unnoticed live streaming, what are the ethical implications? I have subsequently used image captures of Brian's keynote to illustrate this point at conferences in Nottingham and Berlin. To the observer these references within references must seem like some weird kind of recursive sequence, but I assure you, we didn't plan it.

Image source

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Weird recursion by Steve Wheeler is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.


Leon Cych said…
It is only an ethical question as long as the "norm" is an ignorance of how to use such media effectively. I would say the whole process is fairly neutral and it is up to presenters to be aware of the pitfalls of using technology like this. It is the awareness that is the key issue here. So filming, garnering media around someone needs consent and explicit approval and the interviewee or subject needs to be aware of the nature of the medium. I well remember a deputy head teacher making diparaging comments about staff in a school he was working in whilst I was filming. After the session I asked him several times if he was happy with that to go out - pointing out all the problems. He waived it aside. Sure enough - a few weeks later - I got a pleading email asking me to take down the video recording which I duly did. It will soon become something people will have to be aware of because the ad hoc synchronous becomes an asynchonous nemesis coming back to haunt you. In my case I always re-edit sessions if they have particular references to school pupils or other sensitive material but it is very hard to do on a live stream. I always remind people that sometimes, in breaks, a live stream is still current. If you understand the medium it helps and as the process becomes more the norm then it should not be a problem. Making people aware is a priority obviously but I don't see it as an ethical issue. The blurring of private/ public arenas is an issue that still needs to come to the fore but an interesting blog to highlight this.
Anonymous said…
Thanks for the comment about my recent post and the amplified talk I gave in September.

Now you mention it, I recall asking the AV crew if the streaming video was working - and was told that it had been set up and, unbeknown to me, had been streaming for a few minutes. Once I knew that this was the case I alerted people as they arrived that there was a live video stream - and also reminded people who arrived after the talk had started.

There will be a need to be more systematic about this, not only for one's own benefit but also to ensure that the audience is aware of the possible risks which you mentioned in your post. Perhaps there's a need for a sign to be placed on the lectern stated that "Live video in progress".

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