Ankur Garg

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For the project, I decided that I wanted to create a video addressing the use of laptops in the classroom. I personally find that the visual and auditory nature of a video can help to draw the viewer in. I see a video as something that may contain most of the argument, but also as something that can then spark the viewer’s interest to either take action, or think further about the issue. I think one of the most popular examples of using video to spread one’s ideas is YouTube. What I find most powerful about it is that people basically “vote” on their favorite videos by spreading the word and leaving comments so that others will view it. I therefore wanted to create my video in a Wiki where others could leave comments and add almost anything they wanted. I believe the interactivity of a Wiki, along with the hook of a video can provide a powerful medium for spreading a message. Working in the court of public opinion, I had to change my mindset about how to present my argument. Since no one has to listen to what I am saying, and people have so many things they can choose to do besides watch my video, I felt I had to make the video interesting enough to catch someone’s interest quickly. The most important aspect of it for me was making a good video. I felt that the best way to do this was by making the execution of the video something different and fun.

I decided that for the video, I wanted to do something fun and different that the viewer might enjoy not only for its message but as a different kind of video. In order to accomplish that, I learned how to use flash and had to do some graphics work using Photoshop. I created a virtual character to tell the story from the perspective of the laptop. I felt that trying to approach it from that perspective might make the viewer relax and listen a little more because it isn’t directly confrontational. I first created a script for my virtual character that set out the argument empathically. I then tried to come up with a character that a professor might listen to. I decided to choose a painting of an older man because it seemed distinguished, yet also something different and fun. I had trouble at first, because I had never used flash before, but I had fun learning and enjoyed exploring the process of developing a video. In the end I was happy with the character’s virtual yet calm mannerism. I then added a background and various computer activities that tied in with the script. I had trouble timing and editing these additions, but I found flash to be a powerful tool in aiding me with my endeavor. I believe that overall the video keeps the person interested through animation, yet is not so distracting so that the message is lost, which is what I was trying to accomplish from the beginning. I think that the various elements work together to draw the viewers attention allowing me to get my message across.

I began the project wanting to fight for unrestricted use of laptops in the classroom, because I felt that as adults, law school students should be able to choose what then do and police themselves. I personally tried taking notes with pen and paper when I first came to law school, but soon switched to using a laptop because I found it so much easier and a great timesaver when it came time to organize my notes. Therefore, when I heard arguments for why students should not have laptops in the classroom, I never felt convinced and never thought I could be convinced. What I found interesting, however, was that as I completed my assignments in the class where I had to tell the other side and understand why professors would not want laptops in the classroom, I began to feel that having laptops in the classroom might not be the best thing. By having to open my mind to the other side, I began to convince myself of the other side of the argument. I realized that there was more than one answer to the conflict and the best argument might not be to only give two options, laptops or no laptops, but to also propose a compromise. I think that providing an “even if you’re not fully convinced” option can provide a powerful message, that it is ok to negotiate a compromise. It was at that point that I began to realize that I needed to open my opponents mind emotionally more than just provide the logical arguments. Therefore, when Professor Nesson began to discuss the use of empathy, I understood the power of it had when used to make an argument. If I could open someone else’s mind and make my argument seem open and honest, as opposed to confrontational, then that person might better listen to my argument.

I believe that the greatest lesson I will take away from all of this, is not just how to make my voice heard in a digital world, but rather the power of empathy. Throughout the class I felt challenged to learn the method of making powerful empathic arguments. What I find hard is drawing the line between empathically stating the other person’s view so that she feels addressed and actually making the other person’s argument. Though I am not sure, to what degree I used empathy before in my everyday life, I have become more aware of how I interact and talk with people when trying to convince them of something. I have found that by starting with the other person’s story it really does open them up to what I have to say. I find this particularly effective for people I have a close relationship with. By remembering that the other person has a different view, and stating it, I am able to keep myself from alienating him or her. I believe that continuing to develop the skill will help me in the future and am very glad to have had the opportunity to learn and develop the skill in the class.