Flipped Off

So the news of yesterday is that Flip cameras are no more. Well, they may survive the purge, but chances are they are destined to be a forgotten technology like Poloroid instamatics (and film cameras even as processing for film is becoming incredibly scarce). In education, professors really loved these things – small, easy to use, no real technological hurdle to using them, plug and play accessibility but unfortunately, that’s not what the general public wants. Or maybe it’s not what they need. Maybe we’re at a point in our technology where we expect some level of complexity from technology, where there’s an expectation of more than one button simplicity. I think a couple of issues are at play here:

1. Those that can use media in their teaching already used some technology and felt that the Flip would’ve been too simple. I know that the media professionals I worked with all scoffed at the Flip – then we tried it. The quality of the HD image was good, performed fairly well in low light, and frankly did a good job for what it was. I don’t know if we convinced anyone who was already using media as a method of instruction to change from their current methods, but we did introduce five or six instructors to start using video through Flip cameras.

2. The article I linked to says not to blame the iPhone, but I have to think that the multitude of video enabled devices out there as part of smartphones/cellphones may very well have had to do with why people didn’t buy a dedicated device like the Flip at a similar price point as an entry level cellphone. I’d have trouble justifying spending $100 to buy just a digital video camera, when for a few dollars more I can get an entire cellphone (and a monthly bill as well). In addition, departments that are offloading expenses onto students and faculties aren’t going to buy 100 of these things when they’ve been saying that students or faculty have to get their own resources. Never mind that they’re extremely portable and would be easy to disappear if loaned out through some sort of program, which would weigh heavily against them for some departments.

3. The article also touches on Cisco’s brand, which really didn’t scream out “portable media device”. Well, I had forgotten that Cisco made them. I, and I bet everyone else I know thinks of them as “Flip cameras”. I really don’t think Cisco’s brand or lack of brand was a problem.

With all that said, I’m sad to see them go – any time there’s a cheap media device that puts out quality files with little effort, that’s a good device to have at one’s disposal. RIP Flip cameras.


I’ve heard a couple of people talking about the power of Pull, and pull technologies. In one context it was Will Richardson talking about pull, another was through the Twitter feed for NMC 2010. I think all this talk about pull is forgetting that people also have to push for others to pull. So as we end up pulling more, people might push less. With less information being pushed out, popularity becomes a motivator to push – and as we know, popular does not always mean good (sure it’s good sometimes, and certainly entertaining, but not always both).

There will have to be more research into this push-pull dynamic because this flips some of the existing media theory on it’s head. To pull from McLuhan – is the web a “hot” or “cold” media? Using McLuhan’s criteria, it’s both hot and cold. Hot in the sense that it’s engaging the visual sense almost entirely. Hot in that it’s engaging and allows for communication. Cold in that it’s nonlinear. Cold in that it’s a detached medium. Or do we have to segment the web further? Do we have to look at video posting as different than blogging, tweeting or other web 2.0 activities?  I think that might be the case. Certainly, different tasks lead to different goals. Posting a video on YouTube engages people differently than posting a video on Vimeo – which is mostly driven by two things. The first is the aesthetics of the video’s surrounding environment (the context of the video). The second is the immediacy of related videos change the context as well. If we derive meaning from the videos from the “related links” we are relying on the algorithm of the related links – through Google in the case of YouTube (I’m not sure if Vimeo has a hand-rolled relational script, or if it uses Google’s algorithm as well) – to make sense of the video in addition to the video itself.