Public Media Scan: Oral, not aural

Drive (2011) – The Quadrant System from Tony Zhou on Vimeo.

A lot of the time people want to know why certain things do/do not make the Scan. Christopher Walken needs more cowbell? Ryan Gosling is our cowbell (oh, hey, girl).

Actually, what I liked this week was the idea of stories with something missing. Two oral history projects (with cool multimedia production) completely skipped the sound — and in our ongoing meditation about which kinds of stories are perfect for audio, oral history ranks right at the top. What gives? 

The “something’s missing” question also plays out in “Our Mockingbird,” a CPB-funded documentary about how segregated schools put on a joint production of “To Kill a Mockingbird,” and in Tony Zhou’s breakdown of scenes from the movie “Drive.” (As Emily Boghossian noted, “It tells a story without making a sound.”)

Take a look:

Say it on Tape. What’s up with oral histories that aren’t aural? These intriguing stories (about the origins of Chipotle and the making of “Hoosiers”) feel flat without sound.

“There’s not that much evidence of prejudice, maybe because there’s no one to be prejudiced against.” “Our Mockingbird” is a one-hour documentary about what happens when a white school and a black school school stage “To Kill a Mockingbird” together. (Don’t miss the bonus webisodes.)

Hey, Girl, I Love How You Frame Your Shots. Tony Zhou’s addictive “Every Frame a Picture” video essay series turns the Ryan Gosling movie “Drive” into a 3-minute film class.

As always, if you spot (or make) a great project at the intersection of tech, media and storymaking art, email the details to me at so I can check it out for an upcoming edition of the Scan. You can peruse our archive here.

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