Imagine that you’re on a web site, watching a video of a talking head. The speaker is talking about something that interests you, but it’s hard to get past the frustration of wishing you could ask her to explain a point further before she goes on to the next. Whereas the rest of the web experience is more of a dialog, with us asking questions by clicking on hypertext links, this video is one way only. She talks, we listen.
Now imagine you can click on a section of the video to drill down to another video clip or web page, offering more information. @View Magazine calls it hyper video drilling, and touts it as a way to add deeper meaning and clarity to brief news videos. In another timely application, politicians can support their sound bites on their sites with supporting content. And advertisers and online marketers are, of course, the other big winners in this new web protocol.
If I can boast for a moment: I should say that with the news of this innovation, I experienced for the second time this week a “We’ve been scooped!” moment.
It’s the sensation that my team’s recent brainstorms have already been taken and run with by others. Far from being disappointed, I’m thrilled. It means we’re thinking the right way and finding creative ways to bridge the needs of both our clients and their audiences. The marketplace is validating our work.
Moreover, these widespread introductions of new technologies* are paving the way for acceptance by a mass audience.
Take the example of this hyper video drilling: When we were brainstorming about how wonderful it would be to click off of the talking head videos we were building into a site, and thereby see supporting documentation (in this case demonstrations of the technology described by the speakers), we knew we could build it pretty easily in Flash, but run the risk of it going underused. Or worse, it could confuse unfamiliar users!
Awareness of new user interfaces is notoriously slow to grow.
Think of the hypertext link: It’s a fundamental benefit of the web, but it took a while for the average web user to fully recognize that some text on a page can be clicked on to go somewhere else (those readers under the age of 30 need to talk to your grandparents to fully grasp this sad fact).
Same goes for clicking off of videos. I’m thrilled that this is being tested and talked about widely. It’s clearly the next step in the evolution of online video. And it leaves to groups like mine the thrilling opportunity of how best to leverage this new web convention.
*The other incidence of us being “scooped” was discovering that our ideas exactly — and I mean to the letter — had been accomplished. The idea was how to express visually and with movement and “drillability” the connections in an online community such as Facebook. It’s demonstrated in this video (it loads slowly — be patient), of a visual browser created by UC Berkley Ph.D. students Jeffrey Heer and Danah Boyd. Amazing stuff, and encouraging.
Legend has it that the telephone was invented simultaneously by at least two labs in two countries, and similar innovations have had similar simultaneous origins. If I can be indulged a little more bragging, I’m encouraged that the marketing technology “lab” I’m affiliated with is working at solving the right problems at the right time.