April 19, 2012

So, what’s wrong with video?

The idea for POSEFY started evolving several years ago, after a visit to my chiropractor. I have been suffering from cervical spine problems for half a decade, probably owing to a really defective posture while sitting at my desk. Although this is not a life-threatening illness, it is accompanied by rather unpleasant symptoms including dizziness and recurring headaches.

Apart from showing me correct posture techniques, this chiropractor suggested that I perform several exercises consisting in stretching my neck and upper back muscles on a daily basis. After a couple of days, I felt a significant improvement in my symptoms and I was eager to share these exercises with others who I knew were suffering of similar complaints.

Over and over again, when I called these people and tried to explain everything that I had learnt from my physician, I heard crickets. They found it very difficult to visualize the exercises and postures I was trying to explain in words. The response I got after several unsuccessful attempts was “why don’t you record a video and show me?”

I thought about it for a while, but there were just too many obstacles. To name a few:

  • As we’ve mentioned in a previous post, we at POSEFY believe that the future of the Internet is 3D. Online video is great, but although resolution and load times have improved substantially over the past 10 years, it is still flat. This makes video an OK, but crippled, way of learning stuff.
  • While most people nowadays have access to video recording equipment (heck, most of us carry a smartphone in our pocket that can get the job done) professional quality videos continue to require expensive hardware that not everyone can afford. I might consider this kind of equipment if I’m planning a really ambitious vidcast, but not if I just want to show my brother on the other side of the Atlantic how to stretch his neck properly.
  • Production quality greatly affects the credibility of a video, in particular if that video is trying to teach someone something. You can have the best Yoga professor in the world showing you how to perform an Asana but if the man/woman is scruffy, the audio is unlevelled, the background music is corny and the room looks scruffy and poorly lit, it will be very difficult for your audience to see past this and focus on the actual teachings of the master.
  • Very few people get the perfect take in one shot when recording video; chances are you’ll mess up a few times, the phone will ring in the background, a passing cloud will ruin your lightning… All in all, it will take more than one take to successfully record something remotely like what you are hoping to transmit.
I was not going to go through all of this, but I still thought that I could help many people with what had been taught to me so instead of recording the video we decided to put a great team together and start working on POSEFY.

April 17, 2012

Learning and Communicating

I confess that I am a huge Walt Disney World geek. The Disney parks have exerted a huge influence on me, and ever since my first visit in the eighties I have been fascinated by their commitment to storytelling, customer experience, human emotion and happiness.

Among the “classical” Walt Disney World attractions, Spaceship Earth (the iconic 18-story geodesic sphere at Epcot) has played a particularly strong role in shaping what we are doing at POSEFY. The spectacular show building houses a ride that shows guests how advancements in human communication have helped to create the future one step at a time, and I believe that POSEFY will be one of those steps.

Although the script of this ride and its narrators have evolved since its debut in 1982, I would like to share with you some of the pivotal moments in this history of human communication as narrated by Jeremy Irons.

“Like a grand and miraculous spaceship, our planet has sailed through the universe of time. And for a brief moment, we have been among its many passengers. From the very beginning, we have always sought to reach out to one another… to bridge the gaps between us… to communicate.

Across a lonely, hostile planet, our early ancestors spread out in search of food and shelter.

With the development of language came a vital key to our survival. For the first time, we could share and learn from one another. We bonded together in small tribes and prospered. No longer isolated, no longer alone.

Ages later, the Egyptians invented the first written communication - a complex language of hieroglyphic pictures and symbols. With the creation of papyrus scrolls, came the world's first piece of paper. Now, without ever leaving their palaces, pharaohs could deliver proclamations and decrees to subjects across the land.

Phoenician merchants established the earliest commercial highways trading goods and information at distant ports of call. To aid in record keeping, they created the first common alphabet and shared this new tool across the Mediterranean.
In ancient Greece, the spoken word was elevated to a fine art. Philosophers debated with one another in plazas and storytellers found a new forum for personal expression. The theater was born.

The mighty Roman empire bridged three continents with a vast system of roads; the fastest information highways the world had ever known. East, west, north, and south - all roads led to Rome. But these same roads were turned against Rome by invaders whose destruction left ages of knowledge and wisdom in the ashes that would become the Dark Ages.

But all was not lost. For far across the land, from Cairo to Córdoba, Jewish teachers and Islamic scholars continued the quest for knowledge. In libraries of wisdom, they debated ideas and shared new discoveries with all who would listen.

In western abbeys, Monks toil endlessly in lonely isolation copying ancient books of wisdom and revelations for future generations.

Finally, from the depths of the Dark Ages came the Age of Enlightenment: the Renaissance. And with this era, came a powerful new invention: the moveable type printing press. Scientists, explorers, and scholars spread their discoveries in books and essays. Poets, musicians, and artists fuelled by the passion of the age created timeless works of beauty and majesty.

On this wave of inspiration, we sailed into a bold, new era of communication bringing an explosion of tools and technologies which would bridge people around the world as never before. And as our appetite for information and knowledge grew, the world began to shrink.”

Communication has always been fundamental in moving civilization forward, and learning has been an essential part of communication since the dawn of time. Cave paintings, hieroglyphics, papyrus scrolls, the first common alphabet, the monks toiling away to record knowledge in the ancient European monasteries and the printing press have given way to the Internet; Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest and hundreds of other services that continue to evolve have allowed us to share and communicate with others.

The visual experience has been decisive in the evolution of how we learn and how we communicate, and we at POSEFY are very much looking forward to assume our role in this journey with a new and more efficient way to teach, learn and communicate.