An identity video – some tips

Having set myself the task of Finding an ID by Monday, I have finally made a brief video describing who I am and what I do.

Bev Trayner – about from Bev Trayner on Vimeo.

What did I learn about making this video?

  • Time. One minute of video took 3 days of work and around 200 takes (including partial ones).
  • Headspace. It needed a window of sequential time – and focus – to make it all happen.
  • Knowing what you want to say. Thinking of what you want to say is not easy, but it’s the crucial bit! For a few days I walked round with a Flip camera, stopping myself at unlikely moments to ask myself what I am passionate about and what I do. I didn’t use any of these recordings for the video – I analyzed them to try and notice the essence of what I am trying to say.
  • Write and rewrite. Writing (and rewriting, and rewriting) the script – or crucial ideas – is really important. It’s crucial to do this before trying to record.
  • No reading. Don’t read the script. Despite all sorts of jiggery pokery to try and hide the fact I was reading, nothing worked. My first “final” video came out with me making some very weird eye movements, which I tried to pretend weren’t there.
  • Finish the video, then do it again. Only having finished “the final version”, which I was happy with, did I then decide to make a “final final version”. It took looking at it through the eyes of a viewer to see that it wasn’t good enough for the real final version.
  • Chunk it. I chunked the video into different locations so that I could memorize chunks of text. Memorizing chunks of text made it easier to put myself into the words and to improvise.
  • Find a camera person. Having tried every kind of tripod – including a candle on a book on a chair on a stool – I conceded that I needed someone else to do the camera work.
  • Think light. Natural light was SO much better than artificial light – even if you can adjust it in iMovie.
  • Tap into friends. I got great input from the three people I asked to help with making the video. It would have been very different without them (Thanks Jess, Lucy and Etienne!)
  • iMovie. iMovie is great for simple videos like this – although I couldn’t work out how to stretch the transitions without cutting some of the video. Does anyone know?
  • Size matters. I saved it as a Small movie as it’s unlikely people will watch it in big and it makes it easier for people with lower bandwidth.
  • Embed in I also learned a trick for embedding videos in without a plugin. Copy/paste the video embed code into the HTML editor of your post and save. DON’T switch back to the Visual editor because it strips out the code you want.

And here are some of the discarded clips I didn’t use!

Deleted scenes from Bev’s video from Bev Trayner on Vimeo.

Does anyone else want to make a one minute ID video and share tips?

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Where has all the reading gone?

There was a time when my desktop feed reader was one of the most lively places on my desktop, but it’s now a place I visit every now and then.

Until today I’ve stuck to NetNewsWire for reading feeds (no, I don’t like Google Reader – it’s browser based and useless if you travel). But NetNewsWire has become messy and a pain to read. NewsRack has taken over – I love the elegant, double pane, tabbed interface that makes it a joy to read.

Whether it’s Feeds, Facebook or Twitter my reading habits have gone from keeping an eye out on everything – to following people I care about, good writers on things that interest me, and sound bytes that keep me updated on social media tools and fun things like that.

For reading newspapers I have a browser folder on my toolbar which opens each papers in a new tab (same window). I browse through the papers clicking on articles in new tabs to read later. Firefox is great for this as you can put the newspaper on full screen mode, which looks great on my 17″.

Last year keeping up with wikis or workspaces went from my feed reader to email. But that’s now heading back to my feed reader ‘coz I’m fed up of waking up to a hundred mini wiki page updates in my inbox.

Discussion group messages go direct to a folder in my desktop email where I catch up around once a week.

Once a hard copy book addict I’m lucky if I read two books a year.  I’m reading one now – a slim book on Ethnography Lessons by Harry Woolcott. I’m on page 136 after two months. It’s fairly light reading and I love the author and the content. I’m also a speed reader. Ten years ago I would have wolfed the book down in an hour or so.  Now I suffer from concentration-competition.

And no, I don’t read on my iPhone – not unless I can find my strong glasses and am somewhere with free wifi. And I haven’t got a Kindle nor a iPad.

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Finding an ID by Monday

I’m preparing a 1 minute video for my revamped website about who I am and what I do.

Yikes. Who am I? And what do I do?

I have a history of worrying about my identity and Nancy White (in Facebook comments) suggests that my identity crisis is part of my identity.

EW insists I have a very solid sense of self. My problem is having a simple narrative for who I am. I’m complex and it gets in the way of an easy-to-tell story.

(To which I flick my hair to one side, cross my legs and puff on an imaginary long cigarette – pondering pretentiously on my complexity.)

Anyway, complexity aside – he’s right. I don’t have an easy story about who I am.

Deadline Monday: who am I and what do I do?

My strategy for finding out is to cruise round with a Flip videocam, surprising myself in unlikely places with the question: who are you Beverly and what do you do? With acute anxiety I force myself to watch each video looking for clues.

I’ve learned some things in this exercise:

I realize that “Who am I?” is a threefold question. One is a an existential question to myself. A second is having a convincing account of who I am that I can give to other people. And the third is feeling like an authentic interface between the existential and the convincing account.

So who am I under all those layers of socialization, social and cultural expectations? And who am I with them.  Here I have to delve into my viscera to try and listen to myself. And I pay attention to the kinds of things I’ve done. I’m noticing that I’m more likely to hear the answer when I’m physically fit or tuned into some music and African rhythms.

The other part of that question is – what is the story I tell about myself? I don’t have any decent short stories to tell about myself, like “I’m British and live in Portugal” or “I have two grown-up children” or “I’m a <Job Title>”. While those stories could be convincing to the outside they are not sufficiently convincing to me.

So there you go. Who am I? Who am I? And what do I do? I’ve given myself until Monday to come up with one that both I can buy into and that is convincing for the world.

13 Feb ’11 – Changes update: I worried about this post after I published it. I missed something important. Now a few days later I’ve changed it.

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When is a crossing a boundary crossing?

train stamp

Crossing the border between Croatia and Slovenia is a throw-back to the past. Old-fashioned trains with loud slamming doors and individual compartments. Heavy duty border police (on both sides of the border) look sternly at you from under their eyebrows as they check your ID, relaying your name to central control. Do they really need those big guns shouting at you from their pockets? And are those colourfully-uniformed lego characters at station entrances real people? Am I missing something from this old man from the country sharing my compartment and talking to me in incomprehensible sound chunks as I check emails and to-do lists on my iphone?

I never thought I’d be influencing Eastern Europe’s financial system. Or rather, I’m working with communities from the region (and Central Asia and Russia) and have been training people who co-ordinate and train people from public sector finance in Eastern European countries. I’m pondering on the way our landscapes look ever more complex as we have these cross-boundary encounters between nationalities, disciplines, professions and practices. The knock-on effects of our butterfly wing movements are both hugely significant and absolutely nothing at the same time.

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Changing relationships (with my blog)

I go through blog platforms like I do men. Change them every two years.

No! Not really… I’ve really found my true soul mate now.

Parting with Blogspot (Em Duas Linguas, 2004 – 2006) saw me excited at the prospect of a transformation:

“After talking about it for a few months, I’ve finally built my new house. I’m changing to a new blog, a new life.”

In retrospect, saying good-bye to Typepad  (Phronesis, 2006 – 2008) was an over-optimistic technology solution to a personal identity issue:

“I’m getting hugely excited about the new site and logo that Lucy Pepper is making for me. It’s going to bring all the different parts of me together in Joomla…”

Farewell to Joomla (, 2008 – 2011) – was rather brusque:

“I will be updating my site and my blog soon as it’s getting quite out of date.”

  • Joomla is a great content management system, but I felt like it wants too much from me. I’ve got too much to do and it never really felt like my companion.
  • I felt a great affinity to Typepad and liked its straightforwardness, but why did I have to pay?
  • Blogger was familiar, comfortable and brought me lots of happiness. But I got frustrated at not being able to embed things (then).

Let’s see how things go with WordPress is an old friend who I’ve never fully committed to. I tend to pimp it rather than use it. That’s not entirely true as we use it for BEtreat and will do for another shared site soon. I find its admin interface instinctive, and it seems to have one less click to get places than Joomla.

The real no-no for me with Joomla is not getting a blog comment by email – I have to go log on to the site to see it. I daresay there was some Joomla plug-in I could get to fix that, but WordPress does it by default.

So that’s it, Joomla. It’s the door for now – but let’s stay friends. And hey, WordPress, let’s see what’s on tonight….

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