As I wrote yesterday, with a house full of Helaine’s friends visiting, I spent a lot of looking at online video. It quickly became obvious there’s a lot right and a lot wrong as far as video goes.
I’m not talking about content. There will always be good and bad content. This is about structure, access and indexing.
While mulling over what I would write in this entry, I had breakfast and browsed the Sunday Times.
BEHIND THE NEWS As advertising grows on the Internet, there is a market for content as well. But the content that seems to be working best is created by individual users and takes the form of short videos, shared photos, blogs and other small-scale efforts. The Hollywood approach, epitomized by Yahoo’s hiring of Lloyd Braun, the former chairman of ABC Entertainment, in 2004, is no longer in favor. There had been speculation that the shift in strategy would result in Mr. Braun’s leaving the company, but he vowed last week that he would stay.
Yahoo!’s¹ corporate wisdom seems to be right on. Internet video is not watched the same way as mainstream over-the-air video.
As far as I can tell, that point is lost on the news divisions of the major broadcast networks. NBC and ABC both present ‘conventional’ newscasts online. I’m glad they do, as opposed to posting nothing, but they have extremely limited utility.
Internet video done right is sharply focused – one subject. For news, that means offering stories one-by-one.
I will sit online and watch twenty minutes of a Photoshop tutorial or other narrowcast that interests me. I won’t sit for twenty minutes of a compilation of stories – some of which, by definition, appeal to me less than others.
Technology does exist to make a newscast random access, so I can pick and choose what I want to see. I don’t see that technology widely used.
In the pre-remote era there were ‘specials’ and ‘variety shows’ on TV. They’re gone, victims of cost and easy viewer choice. I think the same fate awaits conventional TV newcasts re-purposed for the Internet (or web only newscasts presented in virtually the same format as their on-the-air siblibgs) .
It’s a new age, and content must adapt.
What seems to be in its infancy is a way to find what you’re looking for and a standardization of format. Why must we fight between Windows Media, Real, Quicktime and Flash. Isn’t there already one or two that are actually superior to the others?
That was painfully obvious when I followed a link for a Simpsons video that went to youtube.com. After I watched, and was on the youtube.com site, I couldn’t do much but randomly traipse around.
Yes, there were categories to click, but it was non-intuitive and a hodge podge. I ended up going to pages that I hadn’t intended to visit.
The same goes for Itunes. It looks organized (and Itunes, after all, is an adjunct to the Ipod, with the world’s best designed user interface), but I had trouble finding what I wanted, or even knowing whether what I was clicking was audio or video! And why is it necessary for Itunes to run in its own application and not my browser?
There is not yet a ‘Google’ for video – and that includes Google’s video search though this ad implies they understand there’s a problem). We desperately need one. We’re early in the game. Someone will figure it out before long.
Addendum – As I finished writing this, I came across a link for the Natalie Portman video from last night’s Saturday Night Live. Though NBC will surely end up objecting to and stopping this improper use of their content by youtube.com, isn’t this the way SNL should be presented on the Internet – a piece at a time?
¹ – Am I writing that correctly? The corporate name ends with an exclamation point. It just doesn’t look right set in type.