Posts from March 29, 2005

Closed captioning — and metadata! — for vlogs

Closed captioning — and metadata! — for vlogs and online video

: Go take a look at this version of the vlog I put up the other day to demonstrate the form for TV and newspaper folks. (The link works only in IE with Microsoft Media Player).

Chicago Captioning Corp. added closed captioning to the video.

They did that in an effort to serve the 10 percent of Americans who are hard of hearing. And that’s great.

But I see another important use that is of value to 100 percent of Internet users:

By attaching a script to the video, we get metadata associated with it. That makes the video searchable via Google et al. That means that the content of the video can be analyzed. That means we can link to specific content.

That’s big.

Now it so happens that because I was using Visual Communicator, I had a script in the teleprompter (aka my laptop) that is timed specifically to my reading of the script. To me, that means it’d be trivial to publish the script as a closed caption file timed to the video.

I even wonder whether URLs could be associated with the graphic files inserted into the video — or simply with text — so people could go to addresses. More metadata. More interactivity.

I got email with that link from Steven Knoerr at Chicago Captioning and emailed him back this bit of excited blathering. I have no idea what Chicago Captioning’s business proposition is; I’m not trying to sell them.

But I do think there’s something important here for citizens’ video (and TV news video brought online): If we can associate closed captions and scripts with video, we make that video far more accessible not only to the hard-of-hearing but also to Google searchers.

: UPDATE: Mark Randall of Serious Magic (the Visual Communicator and VlogIt folks) emails me to report that there is a free plug-in for the latest version of the software (which, regretably won’t work on my machine) that automates the creation of closed captions from the teleprompter script. I hope they include this in VlogIt (hint) and encourage all vloggers to use it.

Metadata, man, metadata.

Talk is cheap

Talk is cheap

: A few weeks ago, I was a chump. Well, I’m often a chump but in this particular case, it’s about a call I got from a futurist marketing think tank — read: bullshitshop — that asked me attend a session with other smart people — ah, but they flatter me — to talk about trends we see in media and society. Somebody’s actually asking me to blather? Well, sure, I said. But what I found when I got there was that I was merely part of a focus group and I was paid $200, plus cookies, for consulting. That is consulting for which I should have charged much more (doesn’t mean they’d pay it but at last I’d have found myself in a transparent marketplace instead of talking with a nameless company’s paid middlemen). It was my fault that I fell into their trap, so I played along. But I was the chump.

The irony is that I give opinions for free every day. Right here. Pity you. If somebody wanted to see what I said, they could have come here. They could have emailed me or even left a comment — better yet — to spark a conversation with all of you, where they’d find the real wisdom. They could have dealt with me and us directly. Instead, they paid a middleman and stayed behind the mirror.

Well, as President Bush says, once burned is… uh, what’d he say again?

So today I got email from another such organization wanting me to fly out of New York for a talk with three or four other smart people — ah, now I see through your flattery — for an unnamed client. When I said I wasn’t interested in being part of such a focus group, they protested that “an Expert Panel is NOT a focus group. The tone is more that of a living room setting.” So the chairs are stuffed. It’s still a focus group. If this were a true living-room setting for me, I’d be on the couch with feet up on the coffee table and laptop on lap conversing via blog.

The email also said their firm “is in the newness business. We help our clients gain fresh thinking and insights. We are experts in the process of stimulating new thinking and in designing and facilitating engagements that result in exciting new strategies/plans/products that people are committed to implementing.”

What a hock of hooey. “Newness business”? Sounds like they’re in produce.

It’s at moments like this that I find blogging has affected my worldview profoundly. Yes, it has made me grumpy and opinionated and disagreeable. But I don’t mean that. I mean that it has made me expect transparency and direct conversation.

If this unnamed client were smart, they’d do the same thing. Oh, I’m not suggesting we’d all give them consulting for free. But we all would give them opinions for free if they’d just enter into an open conversation. You want people to reinvent your product in new ways, unnamed client? Well, why don’t you try asking your customers to do it for you; they’re the ones who’d know best. Start a blog. Start a conversation. Read others blogs. Join in the conversation. Ask people what they think. Surprise: They’ll tell you. Then all you have to do is listen.

And you can save on the cookies and the newness gurus.

Getting past the shouting

Getting past the shouting

: MSNBC’s Connected has a good show on right now trying to get past the shouting and have on experts who debate the issues, ethics, and facts about whether there is a chance of recovery in a case like Schiavo’s and whether a feeding tube is medical treatment.

Just finished watching the whole show. It was good because it used the form — talk — to get past opinion and shouting and tried to find the facts and inform (ain’t that journalism?). Of course, there was disagreement. But the show was grounded in an effort to inform.

: LATER: See also Cathy Young getting down to facts at Hit & Run.

Blog campaigning

Blog campaigning

: Corzine’s gubernatorial campaign is planning to do up blogs and Joe Territo has the exclu.

Hey, man

Hey, man

: Fred Wilson tells David Byrne to get with it.

How to piss off your customers, chapter 476

How to piss off your customers, chapter 476

: I just got an invitation to join a beta of Yahoo 360. I’d heard good things about it and wanted to. But when I went to sign into my Yahoo account, I was “deactivated,” which sounds painful, eh? Well, it’s more painful for them than for me. Yes, I hadn’t used the account much because it became a spamagnet. And I never was big on personalization. But here I had a reason to return to Yahoo and what does Yahoo do? It tells me to buzz off. So buzz off, I do. What would it cost Yahoo to keep that account there? Nothing. What does Yahoo gain from killing the account? Nothing. What does Yahoo lose? Me.

Another Republican response

Another Republican response

: The Moderate Republican also responds to my Jumping the shark for Jesus post:

Sometimes I wonder though, aren’t the theocrats the “mainstream” of the GOP these days? As an old-style Republican (I sometimes think I’m the lovechild of Barry Goldwater and Nelson Rockefeller), I feel kinda like the odd duck in the party these days. I guess it leads me to wonder if Jarvis is right. In the past I believed that if the party realized how nutty the theocrats were, they would drop them like a hot potato and move towards the center. But the GOP has come to dominance because it catered to these yahoos or at least the leadership would like to believe that. I want to believe that the GOP will see how dangerous these people are to our democracy, but I’m not certain they will.

It’s not like the Democrats are any better. Now that the Michael Moore/MoveOn group has taken over, the party really out in Left field.

: LATER: Glenn Reynolds says:

Hugh’s right that it’s hard to ascribe the Congressional legislation to “theocrats” when it was supported by Tom Harkin (and Ralph Nader!). There’s much more going on than that; this is a matter on which all sorts of people, of all sorts of persuasions, can be found on both sides.

On the other hand, here’s some advice, very similar to advice I gave to the antiwar movement: If you don’t want to be confused with a movement led by theocrats, don’t let actual theocrats be seen as your spokesmen. It may be impossible to shut Randall Terry up — though if I were Karl Rove, I would have tried really hard — but he needs to be loudly and regularly denounced as a nut. Otherwise you’re in the same boat as lefties who don’t want to be identified with Ward Churchill, but happily use him when they want to draw a crowd.

(In fact, the Terry / Churchill axis is surprisingly close — they both view 9/11 as a necessary chastisement for a sinful America. If that’s not a distinguishing mark of full-bore idiotarianism, I don’t know what is).

We can only hope that both parties start fighting like cats and dogs over the moderate middle of America rather than trying to suck up to the lunatic fringes. Emphasis on the plurals.

: LATER: Common Room, a home-schooling blog, uses my post and Hugh’s post as an exercise in writing and reading. I’m not going for the grade. I’m auditing this course.

: LATER STILL: Linking to Micah Sifry’s review of Hugh Hewitt’s Blog book will be seen as a political act, but it’s not: I like both both of them.

: FILM AT 11: Glenn Reynolds does the blog report on MSNBC Connected and mentions this very disagreement. Political Teen has the video.