Stage 2: Digital Vocabulary, YouTube and Blogging; Final Project, Disproving the Adage “You Can’t Teach an Old Dog New Tricks”

6 Dec

So today I spent two hours on the phone with my dad talking about digital jargon, YouTube and blogging.  While I had intended to go right into giving my dad instructions on how to navigate YouTube, I realized that I had to start from scratch by going over some basic vocabulary starting with “web address line.”  Because we were not screen-sharing and we were unable to physically be in the same room, I had to rely on my ability to describe the online visual images we were viewing simultaneously. (I had my laptop out and was relaying every key stroke to my dad so that we were somewhat in sync with each other)  He had a good sense of what some common online actions were, such as uploading and downloading, but was still new to some of the jargon I was using. I was able to help my dad understand more clearly what the following terms referred to: web address line, search engine, search box, link, cache, views/hits, website/web page, and application. I had anticipated, based on some interactions in the relatively recent past, that this process would take much more time than it did.  My dad acknowledged that because the interactive process required him to learn by doing, he was able to “get the hang of this” very quickly.  I found this to be an interesting coincidence considering that I am pretty much doing the same thing (learning about digital storytelling and using the digital storytelling method to do my final project on digital storytelling).  He also acknowledged that acquiring this new vocabulary helped him to understand what he was doing, “Even though I was doing this stuff before, now I know what to call it.”

Having established these linguistic necessities, we moved onto navigating YouTube.  I decided that the best way to expose my dad to YouTube would be to pick out some clips/videos that he would enjoy (and that I have enjoyed in the past).  First, I had him type “angry tennis player” into the search box.  Before he finished typing, he exclaimed, “Hey, I don’t even have to finish typing it! It popped right up there underneath.” The video I wanted to share with him was not the first video to pop up, so I had him scroll down the page and look for “the one that’s 48 seconds long.” There was a slight pause at this point, and just as I was about to ask if he saw the video length on the bottom right of the thumbnails, he read the account user’s name next to the video. Success!  So I had him click the video and watch it:

 

 

As you can see, the tennis player in the above video slams a tennis ball into the court.  I decided this video had something my dad would find intriguing, since it is an extreme moment in the world of sports and my dad is definitely a sports fan. Knowing that Dad has always been a fan of Irish music and culture (which entails occasionally poking fun at Scottish people), and wanting to show him that music was a large part of YouTube, I decided to have Dad listen to the Scottish Kilt Song, also known as Scotsman’s Kilt:

 

 

I had Dad move on to the next videos which were animal-themed (who doesn’t love a great animal clip?).  First we watched a cat’s epic fail in leaping, followed by a sleepwalking dog.

 

 

 

 

As we watched the videos and laughed and talked about them, I informed my dad that each video had a view-count.  He did not seem too interested in this, but once we moved on to the next video it seemed to matter to him quite a bit more.  I decided to expose my dad to the “Charlie Bit My Finger” cult:

 

 

When we got to the page, my dad exclaimed, “Holy s*%#! 394 million people!” With his only YouTube exposure having occured in the past hour, Dad was already getting a grasp on how not only to use and navigate YouTube, but how to understand it.  He recognized that there had been differences between the videos we had watched and the viewcounts for each of them. He understood that the options that popped up in the search bar as you begin to type refer to the most popular search trends on the site.  He became really interested and began to ask questions like, “What’s this YouTube account thing? I mean, if it’s free to just go on, why would I get an account?”  I explained that most people have accounts to either save their favorite videos or upload their own videos.  I explained that registering for an account was free, but Dad was content to just “check things out on my own for a bit.” I told him that was fine, and I suggested we move on to blogging.

I had my dad type the URL for my blog into the web-address line.  When the page loaded, he asked, “So where’s the blog?”  I told him, “That’s it.  The page you just loaded is my blog’s main page.”  He replied, “The thing with the red shoe?”  “Yeah Dad, that’s it. That’s my blog,” I said.  I explained what a blog was, why people had blogs, how it’s a way to publish your work for free, etc…  Dad was still kind of focused on YouTube at this point.  But once he settled in on the page he went rogue on me for a minute and asked me “What’s this blog roll thing here on the right?”  I told him those were my classmate’s blogs and that if he clicked on any of them they would take him to those blogs.  “So they’re links, then,” he stated.

I told him that I wanted him to interact with my blog by posting a comment.  I told him to post a comment to my latest post, at which point some confusion set in.  I explained that each individual post is distinguished by its own title and the dates represented the days I first published the posts.  I walked him through the basic steps and told him I wanted his comment to be his reaction(s) to what we had worked on all day.  I was prepared to reassure him that providing his e-mail was necessary to post a comment and would not result in more inbox spam or identity theft when Dad surprised me by saying, “Okay. I got my e-mail all in there and now what? I just type in the box what I want?”  “Yup. That’s it,” I said.  So he posted his comment on my first post in this process (Stage 1).

Before getting off the phone, I asked my Dad, “So what do you think?”  He said he thought that most of what we had looked at on YouTube was “pretty neat.”  He also commented on the issue of privacy, finding it strange that people, like the parents of the “Charlie Bit My Finger” kids, are just sharing their private family moments with the world.  He asked if everything uploaded to YouTube was like that.  I explained that some videos were more professional, some were home movies, some were educational how-to videos, etc… I also explained that people with YouTube accounts could opt to keep their videos private if they wanted.

Our next step will entail exploring facebook and hopefully a successful use of Skype’s video calling option.  My dad has been relatively adamant over the past several years that he will never have a facebook account, feeling that his privacy is sacred.  He has trouble understanding why anyone would want to share so much from their personal lives with such a vast network of strangers all over the world.  I explained that most of the people that are considered “facebook friends” are people that we have already met and would like/wouldn’t mind keeping in touch with.  I also informed Dad that my siblings and I all have facebook accounts and that it’s a nice way to have access to people who, for whatever reasons, we might have difficulty staying in touch with outside of this forum.  My dad surprised me yet again when he said, “Who knows.  Maybe you’ll change my mind tomorrow when you show me all the stuff.  We’ll see.”

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