Aug 16 2009

Would SN webcasts be helpful or gimmicky?

Published by at 5:27 am under Navel-Gazing,Superhero Nation

I just bought a webcam, but I’m ambivalent about using it here.  Would it be helpful if I supplemented our usual lineup of written advice and reviews with some webcast material? Or would it feel like a gimmick?

Here are some of the factors I’m considering. What do you think?

1. The visual element can provide a solid opportunity for style and personality. For example, Angry Nintendo Nerd’s rants and Ask Prudie’s etiquette advice both use the author’s presence to create flair.  However, quite a few webcasters waste that opportunity by dully reading a script.  What’s the point?  I wouldn’t subject my readers to something that’s slower and more complicated unless I was confident that I had the style to make it work.

2. Webcasting generally strikes me as more entertaining but less informative than pure text. For one thing, it’s harder for readers to follow a video at their own pace and it’s easier to misconstrue something that is spoken rather than written.  However, university classes about fiction writing often involve a lot of oral instruction.  So I think something like a video-lecture is plausible.

3. It takes a viewer more time to watch a video than to read a comparable article. I’d compensate for that by posting the transcript for each webcast.

4.  Would it feel creepy or professional? Personally, I find it a bit unsettling when bloggers get more personal than they need to.  However, if the site is professional to begin with, I think that a visible author enjoys more credibility.  For example, I feel that Chris Garrett’s prominent picture on his new media site helps reinforce that he’s a real professional rather than someone invisible.  Professional journalists also tend to provide pictures.

5.  It’s a chance to practice my public speaking skills. Webcasting seems like a fairly effective way to show publishers that I can handle promotional events.  I think that it’ll help round out my authorial bio.

22 responses so far

22 Responses to “Would SN webcasts be helpful or gimmicky?”

  1. HUsheron 16 Aug 2009 at 10:12 am

    I think it could possibly be useful; for instance, people who don’t like reading for a long time might like webcasts. If you have flair and style in the way you talk and such, that would be a bonus, but if you’re shy and you find that awkward, perhaps not.

    (shrugs) I haven’t a clue, really. You could always try a trial and see what people think. Does anything stop you from removing things you don’t like later?

  2. Luna Jamniaon 16 Aug 2009 at 2:56 pm

    I’m not so sure. I’d only be like “Oooh! That’s what B. Mac looks like ^^ ”

    So, yeah, I don’t really watch anything but old Disney movies online. Kinda what HUsher said; give it a go and if it doesn’t help/isn’t interesting or whatever, scrap it.

  3. Beccaon 16 Aug 2009 at 8:30 pm

    I think it would be fun! Maybe you could do just a few, and not webcasts exclusively. Plus, if you went in the vein of Angry Nintendo Nerd, who is amazing, it would be really entertaining. Plus it’d be interesting to see what B. Mac looks like!

  4. B. Macon 16 Aug 2009 at 11:01 pm

    I look 90% like the white guy in the header. In fact, this is probably the first time anyone has used “B. Mac looks” and “interesting” in the same sentence. 😉

  5. Marissaon 16 Aug 2009 at 11:29 pm

    Perhaps, but it’s NOT the first time anyone has used ‘I bet you look’ and ‘interesting’ in the same sentence while referring to you.

  6. Marissaon 16 Aug 2009 at 11:29 pm

    …’I bet you look interesting’ sounds much more insulting than I wanted it to come out. xD Considering Agent Orange ‘looks interesting’.

  7. B. Macon 17 Aug 2009 at 1:15 am

    Haha. I’m not insulted.

    However, if you expect me to look noteworthy in any way, prepare to be disappointed.

  8. ShardReaperon 17 Aug 2009 at 6:41 am

    Would you have them in mp3 form or have a youtube channel for the webcasts?

  9. Wingson 17 Aug 2009 at 9:11 am

    This DSi can’t play video and all forms of video are blocked on my computer. Either way, I can’t participate. It sounds cool in theory, though.

  10. Luna Jamniaon 17 Aug 2009 at 9:37 am

    I meant that if a video is anything else besides a song or movie, it’s hard to hold my attention so it has to be interesting.

  11. Chris Osborneon 17 Aug 2009 at 3:10 pm

    Well, I could have the video or audio playing while I do other things. There’s always an appeal for that if you ask me.

  12. Marissaon 17 Aug 2009 at 3:38 pm

    B. Mac, on a more serious note than my other replies, I’d check out Holly Lisle’s Writer Crash Tester series. It’s a happy medium, I think, between text and webcasting.

  13. B. Macon 17 Aug 2009 at 7:04 pm

    I like the idea of shrinking the author’s talking head so that it only takes up a tiny portion of the screen. You don’t need the full screen to convey the idea that the author is transparent and looks credible. That freed her to use ~90% of the screen for visual aids like a bullet-point summary of what she’s talking about.

    Incidentally, I think her substance is on-target. When a commenter provides criticism like “here’s what I would do,” that very, very rarely helps the writer. If the criticism feels like it’s aimed at turning John’s book into something that Sam would write, John probably won’t go along unless he has major confidence issues. I think it’s more effective to offer possibilities for the author to consider and apply as he sees fit. I’d rather be a resource than a nag.

    I think that reviews about verisimilitude and realism are generally not very helpful. A strict adherence to verisimilitude really helped Tom Clancy, Frederick Forsythe and many other authors. But reviewers should try to consider whether more verisimilitude actually helps the work they’re reviewing. It isn’t really helpful to review something like Austin Powers by saying “this Austin fellow isn’t really behaving like a British spy should– here are some ways to make him more realistic.” That’s sort of missing the point.

    Using science in a review is another red-flag for me. Most readers don’t care that much about scientific precision. Unless something will enhance the reading experience, I wouldn’t recommend worrying about it.

  14. ikaruson 17 Aug 2009 at 7:52 pm

    Maybe you could blend web-casting with narrated powerpoints?

  15. Marissaon 17 Aug 2009 at 8:31 pm

    ‘Shrinking the author’s talking head …’


  16. B. Macon 17 Aug 2009 at 8:50 pm

    I think that’s promising, Ikarus. For example, check out this video from Holly Lisle.

  17. Ragged Boyon 27 Aug 2009 at 2:38 pm

    I’m not really sure on the effect of the webcasts will be that our articles haven’t provided. Although, on the more superficial side, webcasts could lead to a great boost in SN visits. Not only would it extend to an audience that is not a fan of reading, but the general popularity of something new would probably yield more traffic. Especially if there’s something interesting as to the way you present yourself.

  18. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 28 Aug 2009 at 2:06 am

    “extend to an audience that is not a fan of reading”

    If they’re not a fan of reading, why would they be writing? Haha.

    I think webcasts could be good, but it would be dificult for me to watch because my broadband is bleeeeeeping bleep bleep bleep with a pogo stick. Haha. Basically, it’s not good internet at all. 😛

  19. B. Macon 28 Aug 2009 at 2:55 am

    Yeah… I sort of assume that most people that want writing advice probably won’t have many issues with reading 200-600 word articles. I think this is a niche that is generally fond of reading.

    That said, I know a few prospective novelists that don’t read very much. All guys, incidentally. It’s a major handicap for them–they don’t know how cliche their stuff is because they haven’t read any of the other 50 books that tried the same thing this year. If your only exposure to (say) fantasy is some combination of Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter and the Narnia books– or, even worse, the movie versions of those works– you are probably not even ready to attempt to write a fantasy novel.

    Similarly, I would strongly recommend that prospective comic book writers delve deeper into the field than watching the movies.

  20. Ragged Boyon 28 Aug 2009 at 5:25 pm

    “I would strongly recommend that prospective comic book writers delve deeper into the field than watching the movies.”

    That’s definitely what I’m trying to do. Unfortunately, I don’t really have transportation to my nearest comic book store. But I’m not giving up on it.

  21. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 28 Aug 2009 at 10:42 pm

    “I don’t really have transportation to my nearest comic book store”.

    There are quite a few I love, but it takes an hour to get there and I only get to go every couple months when I organise it with my friend.

    If she’s busy, I can’t go because my parents don’t really like me walking around on my own. It doesn’t matter that I’m sixteen and could floor anyone with a well-placed punch. (shrug) Oh well. I’m gonna see if I can go next Friday. Pupil free day! WOO!

  22. Tomon 29 Aug 2009 at 11:10 am

    I think this is an interesting idea and you should try it out. If it flops then it flops, so what? If it’s a success then good for you.

    Oh, I’m back from holiday. Howdy.

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