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Posts Tagged ‘video’

EarthQ Core Business Model: Where Is the Sweet Spot?

by February 1, 2012

Recently, we have been working to launch a project dubbed EarthQ. The goal has been to shepherd good questions and cultivate good answers by bringing the right mix of experts to Quora, as is described in this post about bringing the carbon cycle to Quora. This work continues, but so far, my attempts to draw in a few experts to help with answers have come up dry. The Quora team thinks it is okay for those who pose a question to answer it, so that will likely be my next step. Perhaps with a solid answer to the first question, What are the compartments in which carbon is stored on Earth?, I can then start to draw in some colleagues to endorse the answer by up-voting it… (more…)

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MinutePhysics: Short Videos Demystify Physics

by October 25, 2011

If you haven’t seen the videos produced by Henry at MinutePhysics, they are definitely worth a look. Here’s his latest, tackling two very different questions: Why does light speed up after leaving glass or water? What does this have to do with the President of the US?

Incidentally, Henry placed second in our energy video contest, with his “Uncle Sam’s Dinner” video, where the guy playing Uncle Sam literally eats his way through the U.S. energy diet to demonstrate our various sources of energy.

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Putting Candidates and Others on the Spot About Global Warming

by September 29, 2011

This opinion piece, written in response to a recent Star Tribune op-ed, was published on Yale’s Forum for Climate Change and the Media on September 29, 2011.

The presence, or perhaps more so the absence, of serious climate change dialogue in the run-up to the presidential elections could make the issue a volatile unknown: Few politicians in the national spotlight want to be caught holding strong opinions in favor of aggressive policies to slow, curb, or reverse anticipated climate change.

James Lenfestey, a former Star Tribune editorial writer on climate and education, recently argued in Minneapolis Star Tribune (op-ed 9/17) that journalists should drill presidential candidates on six questions related to climate change, presumably to highlight those who are silent, or openly hostile, toward taking action in the face of this global threat.

Commentary

The media clearly can do a better job in raising serious issues like global warming with those leading, or aspiring to lead, our country. BUT putting candidates on the spot is unlikely to yield what our country desperately needs: a serious, ongoing dialogue about this global issue, which has connections to nearly every aspect of our society. Such a dialogue MUST be built on a foundation of trust and respect for political and ideological differences, as well as different scientific backgrounds.

Lenfestey’s six questions can be boiled down to these two: Do you believe global warming is occurring? And, do you believe we should have aggressive policies to counter this threat?

Lumping together opinions about how persuaded one is by the underlying science with questions about the appropriateness of a policy response is a recipe for an unproductive dialogue. Having spent a number of years working with experts drawn from across society to describe the condition and use of our ecosystems, I learned that it is essential to separate these aspects of the conversation—especially for the more contentious issues. In other words, we collectively need to find some common ground before arguing about appropriate policy responses.

We need to build an initiative that is viewed as trustworthy to all of us, no matter our ideological and political positions, or our understanding of science. WE can do that. We can run a transparent process—open to full scrutiny and input from anyone—that develops a series of questions and broadly accepted answers relevant to the issue of climate change. Not 100 questions, but rather more like 10. Each answer would be endorsed by experts drawn from across society and viewed as trustworthy by citizens and politicians from across the spectrum, both politically and ideologically.

As an example, these answers would undoubtedly include:

  • Carbon dioxide, a colorless gas present in tiny concentrations in the atmosphere, can trap radiation from the Earth that would otherwise dissipate into space.
  • There is strong evidence of a marked increase in carbon dioxide directly linked with the growth of industrialized societies across the globe.
  • Our “fingerprints” are detectable in the altered chemical nature of atmospheric carbon dioxide.
  • Long-term temperature trends indicate significant increases in recent decades.

These would be the first building blocks to a serious national dialogue.

Let’s take on this challenge. Let’s develop a robust, multimedia Web presence that brings to life the science behind the questions-and-answers for general audiences. Ideally, this effort would have its foundation on a public Q&A site, like Quora (http://quora.com).

Circling back to Lenfestey’s questions, let’s ask each candidate if he or she would support such an open, transparent process to create robust common ground across society. Global warming, which has the potential to irreversibly alter our world, demands a serious dialogue, and now is the time for to initiate it. Time is short, and there is a lot to do. Let’s make it happen.

Kent Cavender-Bares is an environmental scientist and the founder of Dialogue Earth, a nonprofit media project that has received major seed funding from the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment and the Foundation for Environmental Research. The views represented are his alone and do not represent those of the University of Minnesota.

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Message From the Bubble: A Concept for Periodic Videos About the Environment From A Roving Earth Bubble

by September 23, 2011

Brace yourselves, this is not high-production value material. Rather, this is a video that I produced in about 15 minutes, start-of-script-to-exporting-video-from-iMovie. It is the product of a brainstorming session during a great workshop put on by Liz Neeley of the COMPASS team at the U of MN’s Institute on the Environment.

Here’s the concept. I build an “Earth Bubble” that would be a moveable “studio.” Each week, or so, I plan and shoot a new video of the flavor of the one below. Aside from hopefully being a fun and engaging style, the final bit would be to zoom out and show where the Bubble is this week. Hanging from a tree, by a river… You get it.

Thoughts?

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Sleuthing Out Questions about Hybrid Cars from Twitter

by May 20, 2011

It is hardly news that we are all paying a lot at to fill up our vehicles. As we prepare to launch a multi-week analysis of mood about gas prices (here’s the background on how we extract sentiment from tweets), I’m curious what questions people have that may have been sparked by high gas prices.

Questions around the topic of hybrid cars/vehicles seem like a good starting point, given that one of the key benefits of hybrids is the potential to cut down on fuel expenses. One goal could be to create something like this Wired flow chart that is designed to help people choose a social search site. Not sure yet what the starting question would be to draw in as many people as possible on the topic of hybrids, but I think it would need to be responsive to feeling pain at the pump. One can imagine an interactive flow chart that offered up explanatory videos at various decision points.

st_flowchart_social_f

So, what are people asking about hybrids on Twitter? Below is a sampling of what I observed from a quick search on the string “hybrids ?” (by the way, I’m impressed with Storify’s handy interface for creating this kind of graphic). (more…)

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Incentives for Video Producers in Crowdsourced Contests: Setting the Stage for a Survey of Creators

by May 10, 2011

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Photo by Steve Garfield

In doing research for a forthcoming survey of creators who participate in video contests, I ran across this excellent piece posted by Josh Tabb on the Case Foundation blog.

The take-home for me is that a variety of incentives are key, ideally with some of them being offered on a regular basis—such as a daily viewers’ choice award. Also key is promotion in order to get sufficient participation. Tabb summarized insight he heard from Ramya Raghavan, who was at the time YouTube’s Nonprofits and Activism Manager: “it was incentives and promotion which proved to be the most imperative elements for making a contest succeed – or fail miserably.”

As discussed in this earlier post on incentives in crowd-based video production, we are extremely interested in understanding how to optimize incentives for storytellers from the crowd. Our goal is to create a win-win situation for creators and Dialogue Earth so that we can produce videos on a large number of topics in a sustainable manner.

Building from our experiences, we feel that a smart next step will be to elicit feedback from those who have participated in video contests through a survey. We expect the survey results to be of use to all those in the crowdsourcing realm who sponsor and conduct video contests. We are definitely open to input upfront so that we tune the survey to meet the needs of as many groups out there as possible.

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Have We at Dialogue Earth Broken Free of Randy Olson’s “Nerd Loop”?

by May 9, 2011

nerd-loop-piecePrior to reading Andy Revkin’s post Climate, Communication and the ‘Nerd Loop’ just now, I was unaware of Randy Olson’s newly coined term the “Nerd Loop.” It is a term that he recently gave to in-the-box strategies for communicating science to general audiences (read about it on his blog, The Benshi).

Olson argues passionately that there needs to be more risk taking in the science communication realm. I equate this to needing more out-of-the-box approaches, some of which will fail and some of which will help members of the public to understand a bit more about important issues like global warming, energy, food, water, land use, and so on. There won’t be a single approach that will work in all cases. Nor do I expect that there will be massive uptake of new information. It’ll be a slow, gradual process.

For me, I think the key for out-of-the-box approaches to work is that there needs to be an underlying genuine quality. Is there an effort to change people’s minds, or just to inform? If the goal is ultimately to change people’s minds, I deeply believe that even the most out-of-the-box efforts to raise literacy on a number of key issues connected to the environment will face barriers.

That’s why I’m committed to a non-advocacy approach with Dialogue Earth. We’re advocates for good information being present in societal dialogue and decision making. Period.

I believe that our strategy based in understanding the public dialogue, building credibility by drawing in a wide spectrum of experts, and ultimately delivering highly-engaging, crowd-based multimedia products holds lots of promise.

Ultimately, we can convince ourselves that we’ve stepped outside of the box, but our opinion amounts to very little. What do you think?

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Looking at the Hot (and Cold) Spots in Our Ocean Acidification Videos

by May 6, 2011

youtube_logoWe recently became aware of YouTube’s powerful, Insights analytical tool. It appears that YouTube gathers data on each view of a video, keeping track if people rewind to a particular spot or click away mid-way through. The result is a graph that shows attention or interest during the video, shown to the video’s owner through a simple interactive display that pairs the running video with a line moving on the interest graph. It looks like a video needs at least 500 or so views before YouTube will provide hot spot data. Having explored the idea of doing some in-depth market research, we assume that this is no replacement for detailed studies by market research firms.

Yet, what can we learn from this about our videos on the topic of ocean acidification? You can view all but one of them on our YouTube channel.

Our “No Shell Blues” video appears to be a solid performer based on the hot spot analysis. Perhaps we could conclude that it gets off to a slow start, yet viewers appear to be hooked once Timmy snail first makes a sound.

no-shell-blues (more…)

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Why We Are Compelled to Partner with Crowd-Based Storytellers

by May 4, 2011

Having just received several thoughtful comments on two recent blog posts—one about the rights of crowd-sourced workers; the other about crowdsourcing incentives—it seems worthwhile to step back and discuss why it is we at Dialogue Earth are so interested in relying on storytellers from the crowd to bring potentially dull science-based points to life. Also, and perhaps more importantly, I’d like to lay out what success would look like for us.

We were motivated to explore crowd-sourced video production because of our modest budget and the sense that this would be cost-effective route. Another key reason, however, is that we have been seeking a content production approach that would feature lots of different approaches to telling stories. For us, relying on storytellers from the “crowd” would ensure a steady stream of new ideas and fresh approaches, setting the stage for content that would become widely distributed across the Web because it appealed to a range of audience segments.

By way of example, we have been delighted to see the variety of ideas sparked by the crowd. From telling the story of ocean acidification with a snail who forms a band, a displaced mermaid, and grandma’s fruitcake. Similarly, to giving a brief introduction to our energy system with a pair of hamsters planning their escape and a flamboyant Uncle Sam eating his way through the U.S. energy portfolio.

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httpvp://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=DBC8B2B1C41691E9

(more…)

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Understanding the Incentives in Crowd-Based Video Production

by April 28, 2011

There are some valuable take-aways from Jared Cicon’s latest reflections on online video contests. The post chronicles his return to contests on Poptent after time away due to a heavy workload. Having been in the sponsor’s shoes for several recent contests (ocean acidification, Why Dialogue Earth?, and intro to energy), we are keenly interested in understanding this approach to video production. Here’s a sample of Cicon’s work from one of the two contests on Poptent he won.

 

Why are we interested in crowd-based video production? We are striving to communicate science-based stories to large, diverse audiences. We believe that using a wide selection of storytellers and approaches, Dialogue Earth will create videos that explain each issue in voices that will resonate with a range of audience segments. Here’s more on how we plan to create a trustworthy brand that will serve as the foundation for all of our video content. (more…)

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Hans Rosling Uses Simple Math to Explain World Population Trends

by April 26, 2011

img_1022Just returned from a pre-event discussion by tonight’s Momentum Series speaker, Hans Rosling. Momentum 2010 is a string of three great talks this Spring put on by the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment. Professor Rosling used simple math to explain masterfully human population issues globally in a few minutes (see the image taken from the whiteboard, reproduced in a table below).

The gist is this: humans clearly have a large “footprint” on the planet compared to a few thousand years ago, yet “population control” will not have immediate impacts on the size of our collective footprint. The reason is that there is, pardon the pun, a good deal of “momentum” built into global population. As the rough numbers in the table below indicate, globally two people are more-or-less producing two children—a stark departure from even 1920 when, on average, two of every six children born died per couple.  Yet, there are large numbers of children globally who will grow up and have children of their own. Even with births and deaths more-or-less balancing, this means the momentum in the system will lead us toward a global population of 9 billion by 2050. (more…)

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What A Mouthful: Eating Through the U.S. Energy Mix In 60 Seconds

by April 26, 2011

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Energy sources in order from 12 o'clock as shown in Uncle Sam's Dinner video: natural gas, biomass, coal, nuclear, hydro, solar, wind, and oil.

A recent post by David Roberts on Grist.org demonstrated the value of explaining a rather simple concept about our energy system: the mix of our energy sources. In Robert’s post, he pulled out data from Black & Veatch’s Energy Market Perspective analysis on the energy sources for U.S. electricity generation, comparing the mix in 2011 to that projected for 2035.

This post made me want to take another look at the video, Uncle Sam’s Dinner, from our just-completed video contest. Specifically, I wanted to check how closely the creator, Henry Reich, had come to representing the various energy sources that make up the overall U.S. sector—not just for electricity generation. Comparing the pie chart below with the stop watch captured above, it is clear that the video is extremely accurate. See this post for the full background material on the U.S. energy sector provided to creators for this contest. (more…)

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Tapping the Crowd to Tell Our Story

by February 15, 2011

A version of this post also appeared as a guest column for the Idea Peepshow blog.

On occasion, I have to remind myself that marketing is a means to an end, and that the messaging and creative that resonate deeply with me may have little impact on the audience I’m endeavoring to reach.

My latest reminder has come in launching a brand from scratch. Never before have I had so much potential marketing control than today, as I help raise awareness for Dialogue Earth.

(more…)

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“No Shell Blues” Wins First Video Contest

by February 13, 2011

We’re thrilled to award Cuyler Bryant’s “No Shell Blues” with first place in our pilot video contest.

To understand why a cartoon snail singing the blues about ocean acidification won our contest, let me first provide some background.
(more…)

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Our First Tongal Contest: Story Concepts For Ocean Acidification

by February 12, 2011

Although all of the story concepts were not used in the list of final winning videos for our Ocean Acidification video contest, there were seven stories that were interesting enough to be good building blocks for creative video producers.  And, even though the first place video used the first place story, we’d like to believe that the selection was mutually exclusive, depending more on story execution and production quality over which story was used.

When we started the contest, we set out to find five creative stories that had broad appeal in reaching both sides of the aisle that didn’t just preach to the choir.  In the end, we actually felt that seven of the sixty-four­ entries were good enough to be presented to the next stage of the contest; so we exercised our option to pay additional monies for the two extra stories.  In comparison to the amount of money a company can expect to pay a production/ advertising firm for just one storyboard, we felt that we got a great deal on our final seven. (more…)

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Scientific Basis for Ocean Acidification Video Contest

by February 11, 2011

When we set out to launch our first video contest, our goal was to test how well creative storytellers could run with a few key science points and create an engaging video about a science topic. As a small start-up effort, we couldn’t imagine having such great storytellers on staff, so we chose to present our challenge to the crowd via Tongal, a company that runs creative contests.

While the details of the contest will be covered elsewhere, this post focuses on the key science points for our pilot topic, ocean acidification

Your first reaction might be, “ocean what?” If so, you’re with about 75% of Americans who also haven’t heard of ocean acidification, (more…)

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