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.