Friday, April 08, 2011

I can't watch lecture videos.

I can't watch certain types of videos.

Specifically lecture or debate videos in which the scene is just people talking (and using slides as visual aids).

For instance, I have been trying to watch videos of last night's debate between Sam Harris and William Lane Craig. I am really, really interested in this debate. But I just can't follow it. I would be different if I was actually there, but not a lot. I hated lectures in college, too. I usually skipped them. (I'd go to the class website for reading/homework assignments, and to recitations or office hours to ask questions).

But sticking to my problem with videos.

If the speaker has an accent or a monotonic voice, mumbles, speaks too quickly or too slowly then I will tune out, no matter how hard I try to follow. The same goes for a poor quality audio recording. If there is an audience, the mic often picks up that noise, too, and drowns out the speaker. If the speaker sounds like someone else, I will be too distracted to follow along. (I can't listen to either Isaac Asimov or Richard Feynman. They both have an accent that reminds me too much of Billy Crystal.)

There's no possible interaction either. If I don't understand something, I can't say "Please repeat that." I have to back up the video and listen again. And it will be exactly the same each time. So I may have to listen several times to work out what is being said.

Then there are too many distractions on my end to list.

I don't have the same problem with studio produced and edited videos or shows. I have no problem with Mythbusters or videos like this one, because they are designed to be engaging. Just watching someone talk is boring, no matter how interested I am in the subject matter.

So I try to find transcripts if I can. Failing that I have to rely on reviews and summaries. Which sucks, because if the reviewer gets it wrong, so do I.