I recently had the opportunity to view an audio slideshow in a series of features on Scottish citizens that was held by The Guardian shortly before the independence referendum was voted upon. The story I viewed was that of Phil Robertson, an elderly Scottish man who constructs viking longships.

The slideshow itself was immensely well produced.

Clean audio, great ambient noise of Robertson constructing the boat as well as nearby birds and other natural sounds, excellent/varied photos, and without spoilers, the story itself was brilliant.

Building ships for Valhalla in the 21st century? It would be awesome to grab some friends, sport viking garb and raid the shores of Europe once again. Well, at least until you’re shot.

 Problems

Despite my praises, the presentation itself actually contains many errors in my eyes.

The most noticeable flaw was the apparent lack of any captions, or if there was any, there clearly wasn’t an easy way of discovering how to find them.

In large part because of this, there are several pictures that I believed were not adequately explained enough solely from the audio of the feature. Additionally, there were several pictures that were in need of context. The lack of captions left me confused and thirsting for more information on multiple occasions, despite the proficiency of the pictures themselves.

Another major complaint was the vagueness of some aspects of Robertson’s life. For example, in the beginning, it mentions that the guy used to be a miner among other professions, but never details his current job. Is he unemployed, retired or does he actually make a living off of constructing viking longboats now?

Or does he earn a living by looting/pillaging like the good ol’ days?

My final complaint is the story begins with the biggest cliche in the book, with Robertson stating, “My name is Phil Robertson…” As we discussed in class, there is literally not a single more boring way to begin a story, regardless of what eye-catching content may follow.

Therefore, it is with this in mind, I can only award the audio slideshow itself two Viking horns up, out of four.

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