Tuesday, September 4, 2007

My Pipe Dream: WTSDA Internet Exhibition

If you've read my previous blog entries, you know that I'm a big fan of YouTube and other video sharing sites. It is truly amazing to see how people, especially martial artists, are beginning to embrace the medium and are uploading their old videos and even converting old VHS over to the digital format.

What's even more interesting to me are that more and more martial artists are developing content specifically for sharing on YouTube. Many people are using Youtube as a training tool to post challenges to their online community. Many of these are good natured, such as the Freestyle Nunchaku forum. FN posters will often create a new stunt, or string together a combination, and encourage fellow forum members to try the same thing. This can be seen as a way to help push a person beyond their limits and take them to new heights.

Challenges can be answered using the "respond" feature in YouTube. In this case, someone directly uploads their video as a response the original. In a friendly context, this could be interpreted as sharing with the community and good natured competition. Unfortunately, posting a response to a video could also been seen as a more hostile challenge.

To avoid that, a group could simply use a set of tags to identify their group challenge. Say I wanted to get people to share their version of a form. I could tag my video as "TomsFormChallenge" and encourage others to use the same tag. A search would then bring back all of the results.

Walking to work this morning, I began to think about how such a concept could be brought to my own group. Think of it, if you will, as a friendly online exhibition. Take a hyung that is familiar to everyone such as Bassai, and encourage people to share their version online! A common tag, such as wtsdabassai could be used by all entries to allow for easy comparison and browsing.

What would be the benefit of such a project? Imagine being able to compare dozens of versions of Bassai from around the world, seeing the common foundation that makes us a strong organization, as well as the variations that make us all unique as well! I'd be interested to see what kind of trends or speculations one could gather from enough data. Would we be able to trace back practitioners through their lineages based on the idiosyncrasies of their technique? What could an E Dan, with a few years of experience in Bassai, learn by watching the Bassai shared by a 5th or 6th Dan? As you can see from above, there is enough going on in the first movement to give anyone thought.

I'm quick to realize that this idea could be very unpopular with some people. "Why would I want to post my video?" Some people may think that posting their video online is an ego trip, an opportunity to show off. Others may feel very insecure about leaving themselves open to criticism (which can often be quite nasty online.) To those people, I would say that none of us are perfect, and an error can be found in almost anyone's performance. Think instead of the potential learning opportunity!

Anyone with me?
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