i’m just getting back from IN09, the re-branded interactive ontario new media conference formerly known as ICE, and to be known in the future simply as I (short “I” sound, like the one you make when you’re cleaning out your fridge for the first time in six months, and some of what used to be lettuce leaks out of the bag and onto your bare skin). The program finished off with a bang, as the relics of old media (teevee, radio, and cave paintings) went head-to-head against the young blood of new media (“it’s called ‘Twi!’ It uses Web 4.0 magicks to cut your tweets in half, for people who don’t have enough time to read or write Twitter posts!”)
i felt strangely compelled to commit this pet peeve to pixels once i got home: if you’re showing someone an online video – either at home with a loved one, or at a conference in front of a hundred people – once you click that PLAY button, for God’s sake move the mouse cursor.
Hamster on a piano has something important to say. Move the g-d mouse cursor.
i think i’ve figured out what possesses people to do it: when you’re using the computer, the cursor is oddly invisible to you. It’s almost an extension of your eyeballs, and when that video starts playing, you can somehow see right through it or psychologically block it out. That’s because you have control over it. For folks who don’t have control over it, like your 100-strong audience, it’s an extremely noticeable and ever-irritating reminder that they don’t have control. And when you leave it in the middle of the video blocking the screen, you risk whipping the increasingly angry mob into a frenzy to the point where they’re liable to rush the podium and run you out on a rail.
Or perhaps that’s just my personal impulse. Not sure. But if you see me in the audience with a large pole, a bucket of tar and a bag of feathers, try not to leave that mouse cursor just lying around.