“Google’s Idea of Primetime”

Over at Shelly Palmer’s blog I wrote a comment in response to his thoughts on a recent Google presentation where it was noted that kids and teenagers weren’t consuming YouTube as much as previously assumed. He discussed some possible alternatives (video games, comic books, Long Tail) but missed one very important point. (I left the following as a comment on his blog but the formatting was terrible so it is below.)

Regarding the consumption of media by teenagers, I think you are missing one very important aspect of online life, particularly as it relates to teenagers: Talking.. Every teenager that I have talked to and asked what they do online has said one of the three following things: MySpace, Facebook and AIM.

I break this down as follows: Constructing identity, meeting people and talking with them. Sharing media and consuming media, I believe are aspects of that but take a back seat to the primary socializing behavior. I think it is possible that we are entering an era much more radical than the rise of the “Long Tail”, we just might be going back to individual and small group storytelling as the primary media.

Come to think about it, it isn’t that radical, only seems different from the norm if you were born between 1940 and 1990.

ComVu – Mobile Broadcasting

Wow.. Steve Garfield just pointed me to: ComVu – Mobile Broadcasting . Live streaming from my mobile phone.

This is something I have been looking for and/or contemplating developing for quite some time.

What is especially nice is that they don’t seem to be doing anything funky with QuickTime so I can embed myself live anywhere and it should work any time that I am live: MobVCasting: Double Wow..

Java Media – It is sad but I don’t care anymore…

Rebooting Java Media, Part III: Conclusion – O’Reilly ONJava Blog

Chris Adamson has put together a nice 3 part series of posts that explore the state of media support in Java. Long has this been a point of frustration for me and many of my colleagues (we tend to use QuickTime for Java but that is changing). I have been constantly on the look-out for a solution but one hasn’t been forthcoming. After reading Chris’ wrap-up, I have reached many of the same conclusions but I have a slightly different idea that I would like to propose.

Here are a couple of points that bring me to my conclusion:
1: I am not interested in Flash beyond what it can do with video. Flash does not have a desktop playback interface and it is not easy (as far as I know) to make a desktop app out of it. It is also seriously hindered without a plugin interface or the ability to playback other formats/codecs.
2: AJAX is open, well supported and not proprietary for rich browser based interfaces. It is very successful and is pushing hard against Flash (if it weren’t for Flash Video, I think we would be witnessing Flash’s demise (at least in terms of interfaces)).

What is missing is a truly open video format and player with the features that we all expect (codecs, wide distribution, browser integration, a plugin interface) that we can use with AJAX. QuickTime isn’t this, Real isn’t this, Windows Media isn’t this, Flash isn’t this..

This is what I think is needed.. Forget about Java Media. The people we have relied on have failed us (Apple, Sun and IBM), we should give them an F and move on.

Am I dreaming..? Can the mozilla-vlc-plugin become this?

Networked Video in 10 Years : Networked Video == Parseable Video

Recently, I had a chance to discuss what online video might look like in the next 10 years with a group of very smart people at the Video on the Net: Beyond YouTube? breakout session at the Beyond Broadcast conference.

There are those who beleive that the video internet is currently going through it’s growth spurt much like text internet did in the 1990s. In some respects, I very much agree. The phenominal growth of activities such as video blogging, aggregation, playlisting and podcasting have gone far to make video a normal part of the web.

In other respects, I see a long road still ahead. Mike Lanza of Click.TV outlined a thought that is very pertinant. He stated that in the current iteration of online video, interaction, particularly social interaction occurs around the video with tools that are firmly based in the world of the textual web: tagging, commenting, sharing and the like. This is evident all through the popular video aggregators and video blogs, a quick trip to YouTube should illustrate enough.

Of course, there is more that is happening. People are remixing, starting to make comments in-time with video, people are creating videos in response to other videos but these are certainly not the dominant forms.

It is obvious that online video must and is taking a different form from the video that we have all experienced over the past 50 years (namely TV). It is on-demand, lean forward and nessecarily of limited quality and duration.

What is slightly less obvious is that current iterations of the popular online video formats are black boxes. They depend on the the text around them to provide the context and searchability. Metadata, which could provide some of this information is non-standard if existant at all. In other words, we are moving from a pure text internet to a multimedia internet but that multimedia in order to be useful needs to be described or put back into text in some manner.

Now, I am not saying this is a bad thing or useless thing. We can scan text, pull out key points in a non-linear fashion, navigate through text. None these things are easy with video in it’s current form. Video is rich and has tremendious emotional impact but it also has a lot of baggage.

One of the the things we discussed in our group discussion was “What would a video wiki look like?” A wiki being a very successful example of many of the things that the web was originally designed for. Wikis are open platforms for anyone to write, edit, erase, converse and otherwise publish content online.

Unfortunately, no one really had an answer. There are thoughts that collaborative editing platforms are getting there but editing is only one aspect of the language of video. There is also all of the production in the first place. Perhaps wikis just don’t translate into something where there is an infinite number of variables. In text, language adds some semblance of the finite, in video there isn’t a defined language with parseable portions.

My thesis here (and this is not new nor original) is that for video on the net to reach the relevance of text on the net, to be truly searchable, scannable and sharable it must be parseable at the very least. We must be able to hyperlink to portions, drill deeper within it, copy and paste it and search it.

What would a video wiki look like?

Last a note: Researchers, Academics, Cinematographers and practicioners who use video have been talking about these issues for as long as video has been around. This is not a new conversation but certainly one that is becoming increasingly relevant. One place that you might find people discussing these very issues is netvidtheory Yahoo Group.

Rant and Roll – T-Mobile/WMV/3GP/MMS/Developers and more..

It has been one of those days, things just haven’t worked out..

I have a mobile video blog over at mobvcasting.com and a public one over at mobvcasting openvlog. Generally I use T-Mobile for service and Nokia phones for posting. At some point in the past month I was handed a very nice Nokia N93 that shoots great video. Unfortunately, within that same period of time, T-Mobile decided to implement an automatic conversion from the original format that these phones use to Windows Media. While this is not totally unreasonable (even though QuickTime plays 3gp and 3gpp files back just fine) I would have preferred that they didn’t do this (partially since I am a QuickTime fan, partially since I want the original files and partially because it broke all of my applications). What really gets me though is that T-Mobile just made this change without any kind of notification nor any means to contact people who know anything about it. On top of that, it seems that their developer.tmobile.com site has disappeared which further dashes any hopes that I had of contacting responsible engineers.

All right.. Enought of that..


I put up a quick quality comparison between the original from the camera and the re-encoded version I get from T-Mobile via email. You can see it on my mobvcasting vlog.

Beyond Broadcast 2007

Beyond Broadcast, a conference that I was involved in organizing last year is happening again this year. It is coming on the heels of the Integrated Media Association’s Public Media Conference in Boston which is definitely a good time to have it.

Last year was great (despite the rain) with a series of fantastic talks and panels (check the archives). This year promises more of the same.