Bundle a Screencasting Program

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Bundle a Screencasting Program With Every New Mac Sold

Apple Inc.'s greatest asset can be found nowhere on its Cupertino campus. The greatest asset of Apple is the creativity, knowledge and enthusiasm of the users of Apple's products. This diffuse asset, already the fire stoking Apple's engine, can be harnessed even further. How? By bundling a screencasting program with every new Mac sold.

Go to any Apple user group meeting and you'll see the fervor with which Mac enthusiasts explain things. While it's fine for the cognoscenti to sharpen each others' minds in this way, the real excitement happens when one Mac enthusiast creates a free screencast that the entire world of Mac users can learn from.

Mac users should not have to pay for the privilege of teaching each other. The percent of Mac users who have ever created a screencast is well below one percent. That won't do. We need to boost that to two percent, and then five percent and then ten percent.

Witness the last time Apple bundled software to unleash creativity. HyperCard took the world by storm in the mid-1980's. Earlier, Applesoft BASIC provided the foundation for the entire Apple II ecosystem.

When you give people great tools, they make things. They get in the habit of making things. They show their friends how to make things.

If a screencasting program were bundled with every new Mac, college classes on videoblogging and multimedia can require all students in the class to produce screencasts. Likewise, screencast creation can become a staple part of many other community service opportunities.

The word screencast itself would become better known by the public if a screencasting program were bundled with the Mac. A logical outcome of bundling would be annual awards that recognize the best in screencasting. Such recognitions would advance the art of screencasting.

The old aphorism that a picture is worth a thousand words applies with multiple force to a screencast. A well-made screencast transfers understanding from one human mind to another.

Consider, too, that screencasts can be uploaded to the web at no charge. With screencasting software bundled with all new Macs, and free web hosting available from multiple sources, all major obstacles are removed from giving screencasting a try.

Let it be known far and wide that the best screencasters in the world are on the Mac platform. Why? Because someone at Apple was smart enough to bundle a screencasting program with every Mac sold.

Have you ever experienced an "aha" moment when everything seemed to make sense? In watching several screencasts this past week, the "aha" experienced happened to me several times.

And from these aha moments I knew I needed to become a more vocal proponent of screencasting. Just as books should not be copied by hand by monks, screencasts should not be created by the few. Let the screencasting printing press begin by putting the tool in as many hands as possible.

Phil Shapiro

The author works as a public geek at the Takoma Park Maryland Library, answering people's Internet questions and teaching classes on videobloggging and digital storytelling. He is the creator of the Infinite Museum Google Sketchup screencasts and has served as president of the Virginia Macintosh Users Group. In the summer of 2006 he invented "rosetimes," a video form for conducting Charlie Rose-style interviews over the Internet.

Screencast tag on del.icio.us.

He can be reached at pshapiro@his.com


(This article may be reprinted in any Apple user group newsletter or any other not-for-profit publication.)