Why does CHOICE use video?

Why do we have a speaker facing the camera telling us one or two facts in a few sentences on video? Is it to see his white coat so we will know he is an expert? Is his voice so compelling and persuasive?

Unless there is a relevant and important image (instead of 1000 words) or a table of data or some significant movie footage, why oh why is he standing there mouthing this? A 28 second sound bite whose text content I could read in one. A simple text contribution would be fine. Because the technology allows you to make it a multimedia presentation doesn’t mean you should. Save some bandwidth (and sanity) today.

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Thanks for the feedback @syncretic, I’ll be sure to pass it on to my colleagues.

We use a variety of communication mediums, [including text format NBN articles] (https://www.choice.com.au/electronics-and-technology/internet/connecting-to-the-internet) as you have suggested. We find some people tend to prefer video communications (especially on social media), though, which is why we produce videos, podcasts and other types of communications.

We’re always looking for ways we can improve, so we welcome other readers to share their thoughts on our videos or any other content formats we use (or don’t use).


No doubt some sound and movement is attractive in many cases, in some cases it is very important or essential. Video has the potential to be a very powerful tool used properly. I find it hard to fathom why it is preferable in this case.

Is this a sign of laziness on the part of the viewer who wants to be spoon-fed information or a symptom of a growing number of slow readers who do not get the benefit of the written word being many times quicker than the same words spoken? Or is it laziness on the part of the producer who can’t be bothered discriminating and just goes with the flow?

Aside from the inherent difference in speed there is the question of allowing the user to be selective. A well produced article with text and relevant selected images (not just fillers from shutterstock because the editor says you have to break up the text) can be skimmed in a few seconds and then if found to be interesting and important read fully, if not skip it. Even with the use of fast-forward you cannot effectively skim a video. Which is why web pages that automatically play videos drive me barmy - or some would say more barmy.

We have had the nightly TV news for decades where 15 minutes of content takes an hour and articles are too often included because they have footage not because the content is important to anybody. The corollary is that worthy stories are not shown because there is no footage. Web video takes this trend a step further.

We are finding more and more on the WWW that we are indiscriminately bombarded with video. There being only so many hours available to absorb such the result is a reduction in the scope of content and in the number of facts presented. The power of video to inform and educate is being lost in favour of its ability to entertain. Instead of a better informed democracy we have the potential for the reverse, a better entertained population who don’t know a damned thing. Soma anyone?

To me this is a very worrying trend, personified by the Leader Of The Free World, who reportedly does not read but gets his information from the media. He revels in this situation and has managed to use the same media to turn the utterances of LOTFW into a fact-free zone subject to enormous ridicule. The medium is the message indeed.

Not that I am blaming Choice for all this! But please be discriminating and at least try to hold back the tide of dumb.


A top post @syncretic!

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Hi Syncretic

If I may equivocate, I sort of agree and sort of disagree with your post.

I agree with @BrendanMays that different people take in information in different ways. So for some, the video would be their preferred method of learning. Obviously for you, reading is your preferred modality,

On the other hand, I think that ‘talking heads’ would be more appropriately used when pictures/images convey extra information, or convey it faster than trying to explain things. For example, videos of disassembly/assembly of phones, computers etc is better explained with the aid of images showing the exact locations and parts.

An alternative could be to have the script below the video so ‘readers’ such as you can get the content without having to watch.


@syncretic, thanks for the detailed response. I can understand your broader frustrations with news and video on the internet. Speaking broadly, these are complex issues and in a historical context we’ve seen some big changes to communications in a short time. We appreciate the feedback.

@meltam - thanks for the suggestions, I’ll be sure to pass them on.


I appreciate that CHOICE produces videos to reach an otherwise inaccessible audience. History is wrought with complaints about how the latest technology is dumbing down the population. People complain about smart phones, people complained about TVs, people complained about newspapers, people complained about books, people even complained about the mere act of written word. People complain, and people don’t accept change; we’re wired that way so it’s not your fault to think this.

However, I see the value in using today’s methods of communication to share stories worth hearing: consumer advocacy, science literacy, and other important life skills (eg. financial literacy, evidence-based parenting techniques, and so on). It’s up to you to view all video as ill-contrived, but I believe CHOICE is using it wisely to support it’s mission in educating consumers of all backgrounds.

Keep up the good work @BrendanMays and the rest of the team. :slight_smile:

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OK, some perspective :slight_smile:

(the original is here and is better, but has subtitles in English.)

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All the feedback is useful, so we appreciate people taking the time to share their thoughts with us. We’ve produced a few of these shorter ‘video tips’ style pieces such as the ones on the NBN that started this discussion, but we’re paying attention to see how people feel about the subject mater and the format.

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With note to the points made by @meltam and @natural.thought, I and many of us learn by reading and are entertained by watching, and while some learn best by visual methods others confuse learning from being entertained. However I still subscribe to @syncretic’s post. But thinking on the topic, here goes.

There is a conundrum for whether and how to make videos. If they are there for eye candy they should not be unless that is the topic. If they provide value added be it additional information, explanatory commentary, or entertaining presentation, well done. However a room full of people will often disagree on any particular video because they are each individuals. Some people are not going to read more than a paragraph or few of anything before getting bored but will watch a valuable or vapid video for 30+ minutes. Some of us do not have the patience to have to watch a 3 minute video when we can read the information in 20 seconds.

Compounding that, I and most men are most comfortable in what is termed ‘report’ communication. We want it short, direct, and to the point. My partner is probably a fairly typical lady who communicates using ‘social information sharing’. I and those like me get impatient for the social communicators to get to the point, and we often think the points get lost in the social aspects because we increasingly tune out or come to conclusions (premature or right on) after a certain amount of what we perceive as irrelevance. Those in the social spectrum think we report types are terse or worse. Catering only to one type communicator is a losing proposition because it loses the rest of the audience, but trying to suit both requires hitting a sweet spot where neither gets perturbed, and that is not easy.

Moving on, one of the great shortcomings in browsers and web content is the auto-play. There should be an obvious switch to turn it on/off globally, and possibly by web site through exceptions. But there is not although it can be done in various ways on various browsers. A pop up video window that does not start does not bother me; those that auto-start do, especially those that care not whether they are in the current tab or a background tab, and all play at once; they are perhaps the single most irritating feature of the modern internet save for (anecdotally) the NBN itself, that I have yet to meet with (and am in no great hurry to do so).

FWIW my related discovery of the last months is that if you disable auto-play in firefox it also inhibits facebook chat, and only a second sense links turning off auto-start with chat suddenly not working. Conclusion? Fixing one irritation can cause another.

End of ramble.


I want to re-anchor this thread if I may.

My original post was how absurd it is to use video to show a talking head who does nothing but read a short script. In my elaboration I did digress into other problems with the use (and misuse) of video but the core of my concern is the same - appropriate use of media.

Some seem to think I am against videos or that I fail to notice that people have different preferences in how information is presented. Neither is the case. I did say that video is essential in some cases, there are some messages that cannot be sent otherwise. I acknowledge the growing power of the medium and that increased access to production and the growing ease of distribution is potentially good. The problem is that this new power is not always used wisely.

I want those responsible for production to be discriminating in media use and not to contribute to the deluge of mush that wastes our time.


I have never watched any of these videos.Not that i tried to find them either :confused: Get plenty of info via different options

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