Sometimes a Good Idea Isn’t Enough

As a final attempt to find an answer to the question of “What is normal?” I found a video on YouTube that took a deeper dive into the question and explored the issue from multiple directions. In “What is normal? Exploring folkways, mores, and taboos,” Jeffrey Walsh looks at four ways individuals and cultures try to define what is normal: folkways (norms for routine or casual interaction), mores(the essential or characteristic customs and conventions of a community), taboos (a social or religious custom prohibiting or forbidding discussion of a particular practice or forbidding association with a particular person, place, or thing), and laws. 



To be blunt, the author’s involvement was not very broad. Very little effort was made to engage the audience. At some points in the video, the graphic would remain the same for minutes at a time with just some slight cursor movement. There are very few individuals or groups that would be able to dive into the story without struggling to access the materials in a way beyond the author’s narrative. Overall, it felt like a video that the author created for themselves with little though given to how viewers would participate in the narrative.

Literacy Dimensions:

The author uses some very basic techniques in the story. As I mentioned above, there was very little in the way of visuals though there was some limited on-screen illustration. The illustrations that were created were very basic and a little hard to accurately identify. There were a few drawings where I had to tilt my head to the side and mutter “What the…?” This lack of sophistication was a big distraction from the overall message and I found my attention repeatedly wandering because of a lack of inflection in the narration that did not engage my attention.

Relevant Online Space:

This video was created for the Khan Academy, a free online school/content provider that provides learning options for children and adults. This video is part of their “Medicine” series. I’m not sure what level of learner this would be intended for nor am I sure how this content fits outside of that environment.


My primary suggestions relate to the visuals and the narration. The idea behind the content is solid but the lack of interesting visuals and narration get in the way. By incorporating a wider variety of visuals appropriate to the content and an audio narrative that directs the attention, this video could be accessible to a wider audience and add a deeper dimension to the philosophical and social questions it poses.


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