Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Letter from an Unknown Woman

I've written so much about the rhetoric of online video in the Obama campaign during the past week, that I am hesitant to write about it again. But now copyright reform and anti-corruption advocate and Stanford Law School professor Lawrence Lessig has created one of his "free culture"-style talks that combines electronic slideshow technology with online video in support of Barack Obama's bid for the presidency.

Lessig's 4Barack video mixes in other conventions and genres. He seems to use some shortened "texting speak" in which English mechanics are sacrificed for brevity and a youth-oriented appeal. At the same time he intersperses letters and documents that give the sequences some of the formality of print culture. In the beginning, he situates the rhetorical occasion for the activity of his social-media creation in a message in his "inbox" from someone named "Julie Cohen," who apparently wrote Lessig a letter asking him to make a video "enumerating why" he supports Barack Obama.

As Julie Cohen wrote, "Many of my smartest friends have been recently leaning towards Clinton" and that, she said, was because "I believe that his speeches are not detailed enough regarding his policy strengths" and she concluded "now is the right time for you to make a video, I know you can change a lot of minds."

Although he describes it as a "strange request" from "someone I didn't know," I was assuming that the Julie Cohen mentioned at the beginning of Lessig's video as the author of the instigating epistolary appeal was the one I knew from prep school and from college, who is now a law professor specializing in intellectual property at Georgetown and who is listed as an Obama donor on the web. Yet Lessig lists the woman as "Julie N. Cohen" not "Julie E. Cohen" in his text.

A transcript of the video is here.

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Anonymous academicdave said...

The style of this video is fairly consistent with other Lessig presentations, that pre-date the YouTube and text short speak it seems to mimic. I often use his presentations as examples to students of how to use PowerPoint effectively. The style he uses in this video and others is how he presents live, with slides that supplement his presentation rather than speak for him. You can see others on YouTube, just search for Lessig, or he also has one available on the TED site.

8:18 PM  

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