Ideas for college video essay

For college, I have to make a video essay (documentary-style) and I can choose the theme, but I’m a bit indecise. It can be a historical documentary, or educational, or it can be a video that expresses an argument and defends it, etc.

I’m thinking of these themes:

  • software optimization and efficiency + portability
  • software portability, building and distribution
  • security and vulnerabilities in software and systems
  • operating systems
  • open source software development
  • Wirth’s Law and the slowness of modern software

I’m mostly inclined towards the security theme and the portability/distribution theme, I think I would be able to be the most efficient at those for the documentary.

What do you think? Which one sounds more appealing to you? What would you do instead?

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I’d say that is highly subjective and the best person to make the choice is probably yourself.
That said, here’s my 2 cents.

If you care about doing a good job and getting a good grade, do the topic that interests you most and gives you the best chance at your end-goal (probably security theme from what you listed above).

Or maybe one that is closely related to the “specific” class (you haven’t mentioned what exactly the class is). For example if the class is about hardware, then maybe speaking about ARM/RiscV, their history and their ongoing hype/interest might be a nice idea.

If you need to present to the class and want engagement more than you want a grade, maybe you can do something tangentially relevant to your preferred topic but of more “general” interest.

Eg speak in regards to privacy (and touch on security), threat modelling, and offer relevant, extremely easily applicable options that anyone and everyone can make part of their everyday life (eg Librewolf/arkenfox, UblockOrigin, Tor Browser, VPNs, showcase easy steps to configure privacy in popular online services if available) to improve their QoL.

Or find some CVEs that are simple enough and easy to fall for, and present to everyone (set up an environment and replicate them live (if you look hard enough, I believe some CVEs are distributed with docker images or VMs for OFSEC practice reasons)) how easy it is for someone to exploit them. Eg this recent GNOME CVE would need just a download (not even opening the downloaded file).

If you care about engagement, I’d avoid things that most/many/some people might not even be able to grasp (eg, if 80% of your class is using Windows, they probably won’t even be able to understand (and won’t care to understand) how “portability” is relevant - if it is a .exe it works, right? :stuck_out_tongue: ).

Whatever you decide to do, make sure you enjoy it.

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Thank you, I’m planning it out

For context, well… I’m not in a software or computers-related college course unfortunately. This subject is the documentary subject. One of the goals is to be clear with the explanation and presentation.

It will be tough, but I think i can explain technical niche things to an audience that its 60% Windows and 40% MacOS and doesn’t care much about software or computers.

I settled on the security theme
I was mostly inclined towards it and I have a lot of material I can work with

this depends on professor. some will give you a good grade just for trying, and some will do their job and demand you go deep, critically think, and reach.
at this time of the semester you should know which one of these your professor is.
why does this matter?
if it’s the latter type, then absolutely pick the area you know best or feel most comfortable in. first, that confidence carries over into the project–things become easier. second, you will be exploring deeper things you already know so easy to expand.
It’s strategy–you have to have it.
if your teacher is the former just phone it in, I suppose.

short version: comfort zone and expand
edit: 2 cents

The themes don’t matter much as long as I can make a good job, so my decision only had to be based on personal preference, but I already settled on the security-related theme I had in mind.

I think this one would be easiest to do documentary style.

You could talk about all the high profile security breaches/expoits that have happened over the last few years and discuss the impact that they had. There is easy access to lots of references and specifics.

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I think that’s the most interesting one!

Also, if you’re up for serious challenge:

  • Privacy, Anonymity of software and in the internet
  • Technologies for circumvention of internet censorship

Good luck!


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Perhaps this is of interest:

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Thank you everyone