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SEEING IS NOT BELIEVING ! BIRDMAN IS A You tube CONMAN … The importance of authenticating videos

Late last term I presented a You Tube video of the Dutch Bird Man ‘airborne flapping his wings over a park’ as intriguing content that could potentially  go viral – it had 11,000 + hits when i first saw it –  it now has nearly 7 million hits

What concerns me, for you as media students, about this is that we must be alert to what is real & what is fake on the internet. When videos go viral on the internet they gain massive power and influence over million of people who will make smart or dumb decisions based on what they see in a video. 

Basically you can’t believe everything you see in a video. But the way this CON AIR  was presented disguising the project in scientific engineering terms – here is his website humanbirdwings – sets up a content belief structure that goes beyond simply getting ‘Punked´

When i showed the clip in class some of you thought it a fake and some thought it was real. Your reaction to it is important. We will be looking into authenticating videos later in the term. As a film maker myself my reservation was that there was no ground landing camera point of view – we saw him land from a rear long shot. I admit i optimistically wanted it to be real as it would have been a triumph of invention and hope. This reaction reminded my that the willing ‘Suspension of Disbelief ‘ is a powerful force in information consumption.

You don’t want to be negative with a completely closed mind neither do you want to be too optimistic with a completely open mind, as a Jedi Media Knight we strive to be Radically Realistic with a critical optimistic bias.

This is i admit is relatively harmless hoax (unless after watching the video some 9 year old puts on a set of home made wings and jumps out of a high rise bedroom window)  but unless we are alert to What has happened here via the power of  information on the Web we will be caught out believing in something that is of critical importance in the future. The video has 24,747 likes & 4,762 dislikes.

Therefore develop a healthy appetite for skepticism ! Question what you see & hear …

The CONAIR bird man brings up another issue with regard to media celebrity – this dude has now become a famous – do you think he deserves this new status ?


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