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Glimmers of Hope In Video Search

By - December 12, 2003

One of my more inchoate but deeply felt rants has to do with the role of video in our culture. I’m convinced, for reasons I can’t properly articulate, that as a culture we’ve hobbled ourselves by refusing to make video – in particular the incessant stream of television so omnipresent in our lives, a more citation-friendly, searchable, and conversational medium. What I’ve always wanted was the ability to approach video much as we now approach text – it can be searched, annotated, cut and pasted, linked to, etc. I want to be able to say “Hey, remember that great rant by Jon Stewart on Halliburton?” and then link to it or email it to a friend. I hint at some of this in various 2.0 columns.
Of course there are many technical and legal issues with the implementation of such a dream. Fist, bandwidth is still too expensive for most mere mortals to be hosting massive libraries of video. Second, the numbnuts at the MPAA. And third, video must be logged and tagged to be searched – it’s not a self-tagging medium like text.
But there is hope. For issue one, there’s the optimism (if not the politics) of folks like Gilder. For issue two, there’s folks like Larry Lessig. And for three, there’s closed captioning (it’s a start!), and the work of lesser known but really exciting companies like ShadowTV (thanks for the link, Gary!).Worth grokking, and good to know smart folks are on the case here.

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4 thoughts on “Glimmers of Hope In Video Search

  1. Some number of years back, I saw a demo of a system that folks at MITRE had constructed, apparently with no intent to commercialize. It “watched” TV, including the closed captioning, and could do things like knit together program segments across commercials… dunno what sorts of bells & whistles it had then (this would have been the late 90s), or if it’s been continued… I suspect that the target market was use by intelligence analysts.

  2. Paul K says:

    John — Jon Udell has been waxing frustrated about this same subject for some time. Check a recent post here where he describes a partial solution.

  3. Arthur Law says:

    John, one of the research groups in the School of Information Management & Systems is working on that.

    Professor Marc Davis is heading up the Garage Cinema group. He is also consults with MPEG for developing metadata frameworks for the new video compression standards.