State of Intertextual Videos: On YouTube and Viddler video annotations

It was just two years ago, when I met Adrian Miles of RMIT from Melbourne, Australia, that I realized the missing link in video. The ability to manipulate video in a way we could manipulate text today, was something we talked about in length. He argued that…

Just as blogging has allowed text to be taken in sentences with hyperlinks throughout, video needs to become granular, fragmentary, and something that is ‘written with’ rather than just a delivery or publication format. Currently videoblogs only serve to distribute videos online, rather than to allow interactions (links) between videos.

Since then, there has been a lot of development in this area. As presented in my public series entitled “Youtube and beyond“, we’ve had Motionbox which lets you scan through video thumbnails, MetaVid which lets you perform full-text search through Closed Captions, EveryZing which does “Speech to Text” recognition for searching through audio and video, VideoGeo which lets you sync video frames with geo-location, and the list goes on.

Of all the recent development in making video a more intertextual / hyperlinkable medium, Viddler stood out to me as the most promising service demonstrating such interactive qualities. With the ability to annotate keyframes with tags, text, hyperlinks and video comments (yes, Video in Video), it is really a fantastic realization of what video could become.

Today, YouTube introduced a new feature for video creators, called annotations. As seen from their video annotations page, ‘video Annotations are a new way for you to add interactive commentary to your videos. Use them to add background information about the video, create stories with multiple possibilities (viewers click to choose the next scene) or link to related YouTube videos, channels, or search results from within a video.’

As noted by the Google System Blog, you can add annotations by going to the list of uploaded videos and clicking on ‘Edit annotations’ or by visiting one of your videos while you are logged in. There are three types of annotations that can be added while playing the video: speech bubbles, notes and spotlights.

video annotations

For now only video creators get to annotate their videos, not viewers, and I can’t seem to embed these videos with their interactive annotations intact (not another walled garden!). There are lots of possibilities I can see with this, such as collaborative storytelling (an exquisite corpse anyone?) where users could link to one another’s videos more prominently than with the traditional Youtube video responses. I’d also go with the idea of a choose your own adventure style video-based game. *rubs hands in glee*

We are certainly moving towards video as a media that is becoming so much more tangible / intertextual than before, which is quite an achievement given its richness in conveying situated experiences. Searching, slicing and piecing together videos may soon come close to what we’ve experienced when working with textual media.

Update 1: Wired’s WebMonkey writers find Youtube annotations more of an annoyance (i.e. Viddler has toggles for their popups). In addition to what I found, they discovered that you can’t have hyperlinks pointing out of Youtube. I know it’s possibly to reduce abuse such as spam, but that’s still a Booo!

Update 2: Kevin Kelly has an excellent post on what he deems as “Vizuality”, that is visual literacy. He’s been gathering tools of vizuality, which includes annotating, referencing, hyperlinking, and footnoting specific scenes in moving pictures. He showcases Moviestamper, Timetube, Seesmic, as well as interesting examples from Start Cooking and Nico Nico Douga. Read his article for a complete overview.

6 thoughts on “State of Intertextual Videos: On YouTube and Viddler video annotations

  1. AtlasRider, glad you found it as intriguing as I did. With gigabytes worth of video footage people like us shoot, it’s always a challenge to figure out how to present rich video narratives without overwhelming the viewer. Will keep exploring and experimenting. Be in touch!

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