“I’ve Seen Enough,” Cold War Kids

Killer concept and execution on this Cold War Kids video. You can activate/deactivate any instrument at any point in the song and change any musician to any one of four tracks.

I have no objection to loading this thing up after the opener exercises and simply playing with it. If the moment offered itself, though, I wouldn’t mind asking:

  1. If we set all the tracks before the video starts, how many different videos could we watch?Further: the song is 3:10 long. If we started watching all of those videos right now, on what day and at what time would our marathon end?
  2. How many times did each musician have to record the song?

The difference between those two numbers is staggering, worth classroom discussion, a sign of the times, etc.

[BTW: Thanks to Karl Fisch for spotchecking my hyperlink.]

I'm Dan and this is my blog. I'm a former high school math teacher and current head of teaching at Desmos. He / him. More here.


  1. Are you assuming any kind of breaks between videos, like to eat, sleep, use the restroom, or to move around to avoid getting bed sores? If so, how long would each break be and how often?

    How much energy would be used to view all the videos? What would be each viewers carbon foot print in such a viewing?

    Simple question but some answers may amaze you: How many people would need to watch to videos so that all possible videos could be watched in 3 minutes 10 seconds?

  2. Ah, and yet another resource I can’t get passed the filter. Does your district block anything? Or have you found ways around it?

  3. Great stuff. My students were more observant than I was. Each band member, when turned off, stand their with the instrument they had when turned off. When they’re not playing, image loops after just a few seconds. So each band member had to record 8 tracks; 4 playing with their instruments all the way through, and 4 short tracks standing around with the instrument looking bored.

  4. You can do a similar activity with the NIKEiD site – I have a couple integrated math students working on a project on which they calculate the probability of another person making exactly the same shoe as them. There are tons of color/part options and to throw in a kicker, they can personalize the show with up to 8 characters (A-Z, 0-9) so this really gets the number of unique shoes up there quickly!

  5. Sprung this on the freshmen today. Big hit. Way better than review packets.

    Erick none of us noticed that there were 16 different mute tracks. Good catch.

    I tried to take a video so I had evidence of Kids Using the Smartboard (it’s the education panacea, donchaknow) but my Flip ate it.

  6. Question.

    Can I simply steal from your previous “Jazz Singer” thesis and say, “Hey, that’s goooood”…or do I need to figure out a way that I’d rubri-co-opt it for my English classes (and the rest of the edu-blogosphere)?

    On some fundamental level, cool is cool.

    And that’s good enough.

  7. Am I the only person reading this thread who finds the act of media deconstruction to be not some laborious bummer rather an exhilarating, awesome process which is often helpful in making my own media construction a little better.

    I mean, it isn’t like I’m suggesting y’all suck on a bottle of castor oil, is it?

  8. Christian Long

    May 29, 2009 - 9:27 am -

    Unless I’m being used as an a tactical strawman (or I’m assuming too much re: the timing of the “some laborious bummer” question) I’ll merely emphasize that the example of the teacher turning around to his NYC public kiddo choir and lettin’ ’em know how much their performance affected him is sometimes what matters (more so than the semantic splitting of hairs, language or technique wise)…

    …but I have zero hesitation with expecting (of student and colleague alike) that “deconstruction” of what surrounds us IS the point of our calling/profession. In other words, “awesome process” it is.

    P.S. I’m just diggin’ that anyone still makes a castor oil remark. Must be runnin’ a “Little House on the Prairie” marathon in your parts.

  9. Christian Long

    May 29, 2009 - 9:43 am -

    Oh, and don’t you dare stop dropping these mad film/design rhetorical decon-beats, brother. My brain is better for it.

  10. Yeah. An easy translation. Not my intention, but I get why it came across your radar that way. Gotta remember to include my annotated note set when I go with short replies. Still a new concept to me. Forgive. Ultimately, there seemed to an opportunity to synthesize 2 of your posts (and thesis arguments), so I took a gamble with my reply. More a cannonball than an Olympic dive, but it seems all sorted out now.

  11. I’m glad you’re out there, Dan, seriously, doing this stuff. And please don’t interpret my increasing silence this year as anything other than, “I have other ducks to get in a row before I start thinking about quality video use.” That being said, I might also make a tiny tiny argument for the decreased relevance of visual media in English class versus other subjects. A tiny one.

  12. I suppose it’s incumbent on every teacher to dismiss [x] innovation as irrelevant to her own content area. (Lord knows I’ve been there.) But we’re talking about multimedia here. Is there any class that multimedia lends itself to least than mathematics? Feels like I’m trying to shove an elephant down a sewer drain over here and you’re over there, like, “How … how do I get this hamster down there? It won’t fit.”

  13. Laughter. I don’t see it that way at all. Visual/spatial/mathematical: it’s all connected, both neurologically as well as aesthetically. (Dude, where’s your multiple intelligence professional development?)

    The elegance of math, its application, its functionality, its symmetry, its patterns: I mean, really, where else *do* you go in making those things live in the classroom, other than video?

    Whereas in the world of words, video serves perhaps to augment concepts of literacy…or provide an experience of the voice of language; or perhaps a new medium in which to manipulate language towards an intended result (scriptwriting). But ultimately, anything that takes you away fundamentally from words isn’t language arts. Pretty simple.

  14. P.S. Said “video” when I meant “visual media.” Don’t pick on me. And it also bears repeating that I don’t mean to say that *all* visual media isn’t connected to language. Just most of it.

  15. Curious. Are we nearing at a point where debating the merits of “media” being useful to subject A but not to subject B isn’t really the issue? Isn’t it really about ‘quality’ and ‘relevance’ based on the objectives/vision of the educator/lesson?

    Deconstructing technique and content seems valuable for any/all subjects, but the very idea of debating media as a format being more prone to one side of the academic hallway vs. another seems to miss the entire point.

    If you can swing the club, then it works. If you can’t, it doesn’t. Period.

  16. Agreed and disagreed, my friend. While certainly the usefulness of a tool depends significantly the skill of its user, I also I believe it’s– hm– besotted thinking?– to reason from the premise that multimedia is inherently and equally useful to all disciplines. As a gardener, you’ll know that it’s as much a question of the right tool as it is who wields it.

    More specifically, we cannot escape that the media *is* the message, as someone much smarter than me said once. Language arts teachers in particular, I would argue, need to consider this point very carefully when choosing to teach language with anything other than language.

  17. Can you do me one favor, Dina?

    Can you define what you mean by “language”? Are you basing all of this on the “written” word/phrase, something that is — dare I say — relatively a new thing as far as the masses communicating to one another goes?

    Communication as an “oral” premise, around the proverbial fire pit (amidst other language locales), kinda ran things for most of the arc of human experience until only a few centuries ago (when suddenly both teller and receiver were able to ‘read’ what was written down). Oral words have always spoken to something more primal/visual than a dictionary definition or grammatical super-rule.

    One could argue without much effort that auditory and movie-like visual “language” has a much stronger connection to the human need to communicate/understand than the written word, which actually puts distance between deeper truths and the audience/speaker.

    And since I am one of many “Language arts teachers in particular”, I’m curious what you mean by “consider this point very carefully”. That seems to be a bit of a strawman rather than a carefully constructed explanation/response. I’m also curious if you’re using Marshall intentionally or if the “media *is* the message” line speaks to something else that I’m missing at first pass.

    I remain curious, but I must admit to being a tad confused by the way your wielding the tool/multimedia/language/message sword in this recent response. I don’t doubt your conviction. I’m just not sure how the subject-specific line is the sand re: media has been drawn.

    Thanks in advance.

    P.S. As a gardener, I often use my hands. Yup. Just my hands. It ends up being much more about vision and dumb luck then the right hoe/rake from my experience as a gardener.

  18. Love talking to you, Christian. :)

    Your points:

    a) I do mean to include oral language in the arc of this discussion. (Have you read ‘Spell of the Sensuous’ by David Abram, about the pitfalls of written communication moving us away from our oral and sensory experience of the natural world? Amazing book, I suspect you’d love it.)

    b) As such, as you’ve pointed out, it becomes important to examine which types of multimedia facilitate (or do not facilitate)– what types of language. This is what I mean by E/LA teachers “considering [their tools] carefully”; no specific criticism intended.

    c) My conviction, as a language teacher and tech skeptic, is that the uncritical and overweening use of multimedia does not lend itself inherently to the better learning of language arts. And since you could really say that about any classroom tool, I would go one step further and say that I feel most multimedia *in essence* has a dangerous capacity to pull us away from mastery of the full range of language– and indeed, better learning in general. Yep, I’ll say that. Bring on the tomatoes.

    d) Why? I could spend six other comment boxes on this, so I’d just refer you to my blog and search on the term “technology.” Meantime, maybe you, or Dan, could specify why you think Dan’s quest for “the perfect image” in learning (to bring it back to Dan, since this is his blog :) ) is equally relevant to all disciplines.

    — Dina