Some questions about Explainers

For those of you who don’t know what an explainer is, here is a link to the Geneseo English department’s page on Explainers.

For the Digital Humanities class, I am part of the Explainers team, who have just put up a contest for the best Explainer. An Explainer is a short video or graphic that essentially summarizes a particular topic, be it Edgar Allen Poe or Magnetism. While we have been doing the contest, I wondered something about what we were doing. What I was curious about was whether the author of the explainer truly understood what they were talking about if they were writing such a small segment on the topic. So, to help potential contestants understand what an explainer was, the group, with myself included, decided to create our own explainer about different aspects of both the project and the class, and realized the actual value of an Explainer.

When you write an Explainer, you are required to understand the topic well enough to condense it into a small enough description that is not only easy to understand, but also remains informative to the reader. It needs to be able to teach while being brief, and for that to happen the author must be able to understand their topic to the point of efficiently being able to educate their viewers. It acts as a test for the author, forcing them to form their opinions and gather their knowledge in a very concise way, and in a world where a person’s interaction with any sort of knowledge is very temporary, that level of understanding is one that acts as a very positive example in an age of immediate information.

The only negative aspect of this is that the viewer is still receiving the same level of immediate information, and doesn’t have the same level of connectivity with the source material as the author does. Hopefully, simply the act of reading the explainer will be enough to motivate others to create ones of their own, and allow them the same experience.

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