Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Ray Rice, Donald Sterling & The Power of Video

I was at a conference last week where one of the topics was auto-understanding of video - and how we can use info captured from video to help complete transactions. For example, let's say you have something wrong with your car and instead of taking it to the mechanic, you are able to open up your hood, take a video of everything running, and have some sort of auto-analysis done that can determine what you need to do. You are then directed to Web sites where you can order the parts....This may be somewhat far fetched - but actual real world use cases include automatically analyzing face taken on video at airports for matches against dangerous persons databases.

The reason that transaction part of the equation is important is because I was at a document management conference, which mainly discusses better handling the documents used in transactions. It's my view that as smartphones and their cameras continue to improve, we will begin to rely more on their abilities, instead of documents, to complete transactions. Typing text into an app is one thing, but being able to take a picture or video and submit that is even easier and more powerful.

Why is that? Video is more powerful than words in today's society. Let's take the cases of Ray Rice and Donald Sterling. From this ESPN story on the Rice incident: "The source said that Rice admitted to the Ravens from the start that he was guilty of striking Janay and, for the most part, accurately described what they eventually saw on the video. But the brutality of the assault when seen on the security video made a different impression."

So, here's the deal:
  • Story comes out about Rice beating up girlfriend/fiancee. 
  • Rice gets suspended for two games.
  • People get up in arms and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell stiffens NFL's domestic abuse policy
  • But nothing more happens to Rice
  • Video comes out showing what Rice admitted to
  • Rice's team (Baltimore Ravens) terminate his contract and league suspends him indefinitely
In my opinion this is very similar to what happened with Clippers owner Donald Sterling, when the tape came out with him making all those racist comments to his ex-girlfriend. As far back as 2006, Bomani Jones wrote this article for ESPN's now defunct Page 2, entitled "Sterling's Racism Should be News." Yet, in spite of this, big name athletes and Coach Doc Rivers signed with the Clippers. Then, they acted all surprised when the audio recording (sorry, no one uses tape anymore, do they?) came out this spring. Apparently, nobody in the mass market pays attention to print anymore!

Which brings me back to my point about multi-media being so much more powerful than text. Armed with today's and tomorrow smartphone and other computing equipment, I fully expect the upcoming generation to marginalize textual communication in favor of multi-media stuff. Although, quick quips and meta data will keep text alive as a complementary form of communication!

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