Open Video Lab What does video have to do with teaching and learning?
Mark Surman blogged: “My mind is regularly blown by the way web video is changing how we learn, and increasingly how we teach...I watch my 11 year old become a bit of a geek. He doesn’t use help files or FAQs to learn new software. He watches YouTube tutorials. And, as his skills grow, he shows off and shares by making his own…
Clearly, video packs way more info punch than print. And the ubiquity of online video means we all tap into rich (and fast) new learning opportunities constantly. TED’s Chris Anderson released a great talk on this side of video and learning a few weeks ago. Chris points out that we live in a world of online video fueled by a desire to dance, sing, perform, play and think. Most people who post videos online are not driven by the desire to teach — they just want to show off or have fun. Yet, as we watch them, we learn. There is, however, a huge online phenomena very much about the desire to teach: web video tutorials. A great example is the Khan Academy: Driven by a. frustration with how schools teach math and science and b. easy access of YouTube, Sal Khan has produced a massive, high quality collection of 1800+ web tutorials for self learners. The idea has landed him a $2 million Google 10^100 grant. It’s also attracted millions of viewers eager to learn. What’s even more exciting to me is that this sort of teaching isn’t limited to over achievers like Khan. YouTube alone holds over 10 million tutorials (search: tutorial and how-to). Videos with people teaching everything from how to set up WordPress (400,000 views), how to curl your hair with paper bag (2 millions views) to how to moonwalk (8 million views). Here’s the moonwalk tutorial: If you look to the young people making these tutorials (like my son), web video isn’t just making learning easier. The web is creating a generation that takes it for granted that we can all be teachers. Teachers driven by the best aspects of the word ‘amateur’ — a love of a subject and a desire to share that knowledge. Clearly, this is HUGE — and is truly giving us all more control over how we learn. The question is: what does this mean for the future of education? What does it mean for who we turn to when we want learn something? And how we all start to teach each other?”
“Video is part of this ecosystem that students can learn with,” Brett Gaylor, director of RIP-a Remix Manifesto, and creator of WebMadeMovies, “Mozilla's open video lab and production studio”, told me before the fest. “I’m on this island in the middle of nowhere [Galiano Island, British Columbia] and my dryer broke and I wanted to know how to fix it. And I Googled it and the first thing that came up was somebody showing me how to do it. How can we integrate that into the classroom?”
So that’s one big crossover—call it the Youtubeification of the classroom. A second layer of possibility has to do with making video content more accessible, and more available to be mucked about with. Nicholas Reville is a co-founder of “Participatory Culture Foundation, a Massachusetts based 501(c)(3) non-profit, makes bottom-up economies and cultures possible by ensuring that our political, social and cultural systems are open and democratic everywhere. We work to eliminate gatekeepers and empower communities around the world.” And creator most recently of Universal Subtitles “the easiest way to subtitle videos.”
“We’re a nonprofit, building consumer technology and trying to promote open decentralized infrastructures. So we make open source software for media that helps empower people or decentralize--stuff like that. Given the importance of subtitles, it’s amazing how difficult it is to add subtitles and captions to a web video. That felt like a huge opportunity to change video for the better make it more open and accessible.” This of course has huge applications for education. “OTR we’re talking to the folks at Khan academy about heping them translate all their videos. That’s the most obvious application to translate material to reach ppl who don’t speak the language. Ther’es also making it ccessible to anyone who’s deaf or hard of hearing. And there’s interesting opportunities for Same Language subtitling. For literacy. There’s huge implications, in terms of open education resources and things online.”
So call this the Rosetta-stone ification of video.
The third one, Ben Moskowitz of the Open Video Alliance [A coalition of organizations and individuals devoted to creating and promoting free and open technologies, policies, and practices in online video. ] summed up with the Mozilla slogan “VIEW SOURCE HAS A POSSE. “ [View Source is a menu item you can hit on any web page, peek under the hood and see the HTML that creates the page.] View Source doesn’t work for Flash, the format in which most videos are available on the web, but it does work for HTML-5, the video format endorsed by Steve Jobs among others.
“What they’re delivering to you with Flash is binary--only machine readable. If I write an amazing innovative clever app, someone else can go look under the hood and see how it works and fix it, and they can reconfigure it. The self-taught, garage, innovative way of doing things, that’s a huge advantage of HTML 5.”
So one big part of what the Open Video Alliance is trying to do is to make sure more video is available in readable formats. A second step is making larger numbers of videos available under Creative Commons license, for example, on Wikipedia (see Get Videos on Wikipedia). What’s missing, too, for the full applications of video in the classroom, is a set of tools to allow video to be easily remixed and annotated.
“Metavid is an open video archive of gov’t video primarily from CSPAN that runs on an open-source software stack, says Moskowitz [Fedflix is another one, available on archive.org, a project of Carl Malamud].
“Rich media is not searchable but I can do a Google search on transcripts. Let’s say I’m doing a paper about the Corn bill I can say go to Google: show me videos of senators from Iowa between 2003-2009 debating corn subsidies Within these 45 videos search term ”Hardworking American farmer” Take those clips and make a montage --Daily Show style. And that’s my term paper.”
Call this the Jon Stewart-ification of the classroom.
But the denizens of the Open Video Lab at Drumbeat Festival were too busy making awesome stuff to spend much time on theory. Their collaborative projects were some of the coolest stuff to come out of the fest, by far.
As Brett said in his pitch to the crowd on the first day of the fest: “We’re in the Video Lab on the 2nd floor to seize the moment of open video--HTML 5-- to allow us to build and embrace video as a 1st class citizen of the web: hackable/ remixable / interoperable
All of this is being built as we speak. We want to Blow Up Your Video like AC/DC!
That’s what we’re going to try to do today The idea is that studens will be able to just as easily express themselves thru video and the web as thru writing. A survey of what is possible in open video The video lab is on the 2nd floor-- We need people who can help us BUILD those tools.” And people showed up. And stayed for two days.
Gabriel Shalom is a TK year old filmmaker—his short doc The Future of Money is partly made up of Skype interviews with folks all over the planet.
http://quantumcinema.blogspot.com/2010/11/drumbeat-future-of-education-demo.html 09 November 2010 One Step Closer to Universal EDL by Gabriel
What is great about the demo is how it utilizes time-coded metadata to retrieve live content from flickr and twitter in real time. It shows how as we move towards an object-oriented moving image we will continue to redefine what cinema is and also our notion of editing. The tweets are aggregated from the #futureofeducation hashtag. The flickr photos that appear in the demo are called based on timeline metadata that I approximated by putting dummy content (the blue events in the screenshot above) on the timeline to get a sense of a rough rhythm. I then gave a rough approximation of that timecode information to Berto Yáñez, the programmer who did much of the heavy lifting on the demo. Oscar Otero helped with the design of the page. Oscar, Berto and Xabier all work together at the Galician web company A navalla suíza. Photo by Homardpayette This process, which involved swapping lots of data across computers via USB sticks, underscored the need for a Universal Edit Decision List (EDL). This was something I identified about a year ago as part of my rubric for open source cinema. The Universal EDL got discussed quite a bit during the video lab, and together with the amazing work that's already been done creating a web-based timeline interface with Universal Subtitles, it seems like the seed of inspiration to take things a step further has been planted. I am very excited to have contributed to these developments towards an object-oriented open source cinema!
It would be great to see all the names of the participants in the workshop added to the demo. During the demo Laura Hilliger, David Humphrey and I put together a nice cloud-based credit concept for solving the dilemma of crediting multiple parties with multiple credits. Laura should have a rough list of names and roles, and those who are missing could use the #drumbeat #videolab hashtags on twitter to ID themselves, or comment on the video, so we can round everybody up. Bookmark and Share Posted by Gabriel Shalom at 1:47 PM Labels: #drumbeat, #videolab, editing, flickr, mozilla, objects, open source, popcorn.js, twitter, Universal Subtitles, web made movies
The room is full of people working on an open video HTML5 script, transcribing content, tagging photos and collaborating for Drumbeat’s closing night video. Video interviews, photos, tweets and other content are being transcribed, edited, designed and morphed into one master. The script on the projected screen is foreign to me. There are 6 people are writing in html 5 with fast-paced collaboration. Two people are editing and transcribing one set of videos. Three folks are working on graphic design. Everyone is an orchestra of activity with a deadline to tell the story of the Drumbeat Festival- people, events and more.
I’m here because I’ve spent the bulk of the festival brainstorming ideas and this is deep in the heart of Drumbeat tech. Brett Gaylor of Web.made.movies and Ben Moskowitz of the Open Video Alliance are both conducting and participating. It seems wrong to write a blog post instead of doing a meta video to show how the Drumbeat video is being created. Safe to say video would best capture the pulse of activity and the steady stream of conversations: Jquery, popcorn, I could go take a nap, adobe fireworks, do we need translation of this video?, use the firefox beta, the border, no move the font a few pixels, we need to get this done to universal subtitles, plus conversations in English and Spanish.
Can’t wait to see the final version tonight. Go Video Lab!
http://vocamus.net/dave/?p=1194 « 50 visualizations of Life’s Things Filed under “Cuisine : American” » Mozilla Drumbeat Festival: Open Video Lab By david.humphrey | Published: November 8, 2010
Last week I was in Barcelona, Spain for the Mozilla Foundation’s Drumbeat Festival. The festival’s theme was Learning, Freedom, and the Web, and attendees came to participate in sessions and workshops on a variety of education, open source, and open web topics. Together with Mozilla’s Brett Gaylor, I ran the Open Video Lab.
Our goals for the Open Video Lab were simple to state, harder to guarantee: show people what you can do with HTML5 and <video>, <canvas>, <audio>, CSS3, etc.; link film people with developers with storytellers with designers with educators; and to, as Mark Surman is fond of saying, “help people build cool shit using the open web.” Thanks to the amazing people who came to the festival, we did all that and more.
One of the attendees, Liz Castro, did a great job blogging about what was happening during day 1 and day 2 (Gabriel Shalom also has a great post here), so I’ll point you to her posts, and focus what I want to say on the people who came, and the things we built.
http://www.pigsgourdsandwikis.com/2010/11/drumbeat-barcelona-open-video-lab-day-1.html Thursday, November 4, 2010 Drumbeat Barcelona - Open Video Lab - Day 1 Thanks to @pdavenne and @cataspanglish and their Barcelona Social Media camp, I happened to meet hear Enric Senabre (@esenabre) give a talk on Mozilla's Drumbeat Festival, held this week in Barcelona. Drumbeat is the Mozilla's foundation to go beyond an open source browser and try to find other parts of life that can be enhanced with open source software. The theme of this week's festival is open education and how to facilitate it with open source software. There are 400 attendees, about 75% of which are from out of the country.
Which means I spent the day in San Francisco, practically, complete with a talk by Aza Raskin, but I'll get to that. It was pretty surreal being surrounded by Americans and English speaking Europeans right in the center of Barcelona.
I opted to spend the day in the Open Video Lab. I wasn't quite sure what that was going to mean, and I think a lot of the people, including the organizers, Brett Gaylor, Dave Humphreys and Ben Moskowitz might not have either. That didn't stop them from skillfully guiding and coaching the group to figure out some hands-on projects to work on.
They/We came from the UK, Germany, Minnesota, Barcelona, France, Brazil, Galicia, and Madrid, to name just a few.
Brett and Dave began the workshop by asking us "what is possible with open video" and then showing us a few demos that took advantage of HTML5. There was a page with a video of a whale with an overlaid canvas element that mapped the audio to a visual representation. There was a kung fu video that used the browser to add a shading effect in real time. There were even video games, that mixed 3d, Flickr, Twitter, and rendered right in the browser.
Then Wendy from Bay Area Video Coalition showed us some of the videos that they're producing, with an eye towards promoting social justice.
Ben Moskowitz showed us a demo of MediaThread, a project at Columbia that allows professors and students to reference, annotate, and cite videos available through YouTube or other sources. It looked really valuable. The code is open-source, but the working project is unfortunately available only to folks associated with Columbia University.
Ben also showed us Pad.ma, an Indian site that catalogs videos with all sorts of different kinds of metadata, including name, title, keywords, and words in the transcript, and then lets visitors search through the metadata for particular videos.
Then it was time for the hands-on section. They showed us the example they had pulled together that morning, referenced above, using the popcorn.js library.
But before we got to the code itself, we talked a little about codecs and video editing tools. There was general consensus that despite the existence of some tools, none really offered the same capabilities as Final Cut.
As for codecs, Ben told us that Theora and webM were both open-source, as opposed to the most prevalent codec, H.264, which required paying licensing fees. He said that in about a year we would all be using webM, a standard developed by Google from vp8, and for which Google had paid the licensing fees for everyone (could that be right?), but that it was not yet well supported, and so recommended using Theora, at least for now.
Theora, though, doesn't work in Safari, so you really have to make more than one video source file available in order to be compatible with Apple-based browsers (including on the iPad).
Then he showed us the HTML5 video tag:
<video id="video" src="..." controls data-timeline-sources="locations.xml">
He said you could use HTML and CSS to format the controls, or use the controls attribute. And that attributes that begin with data- are recognized as extensions to HTML5 and thus will not keep the document from validating. It works because of the popscript.js script being called. He unfortunately did not get to showing us the locations.xml tag.
He then quickly showed us a little tool that he said he had written in a few hours to gather latitude and longitude coordinates from Google Maps that he could then feed into the mashup.
But then we broke up into small groups and we didn't delve further into the code. I hope we get there tomorrow.
In our breakout group, we talked about metadata, and also touched on individuals' particular issues.
We talked about how there are two different classes of metadata... what I like to call formal (dublin core structured) and informal (tags, keywords, made up by individuals), and how they have different purposes (the former for finding the video itself, the latter for pinpointing bits within the video).
Meanwhile, Dave kept helping us focus in on a particular problem... and we decided it was how to expose existing metadata that was already related to a video. There were a few people who had libraries of video as well as XML structured metadata and wanted to be able to overlay the metadata on the video so that the metadata was revealed in the browser.
The other breakout groups came back, and my very shorthand summaries of what they found were:
Students using video to learn, then go back and watch themselves is different than producing video itself (meta-cognitive)
Need one place to put all files, design matters, generational issue
Tools: learner and teacher tools not necessarily the same
Destroy those boundaries, teacher proposes, students remix and turn on head; said another way: teacher create lesson plan, students mess with it
Then we were treated to this great presentation by Aza Raskin on Prototyping.
How to think about Prototyping and why Hardest part about software development is the people, convincing them to make something Must build first 100 miles (prototype), then build resort at end (inspiration) Value of idea is 0 Unless communicated You want project to be touchable and feelable Idea < writeup < mockups < prototype < video Firefox Panorama, organizing tasks spatiallly Goal of prototyping is to convince yourself of the idea
0 You will be wrong first time 1 Complete prototype in a single day 2 Make a touchable sketch (don't do everything) 3 Tight feedback loop (dogfood?!) 4 iterating solution helps illuminate problem 5 treat code as throwaway, be ready to refactor 6 steal design, make beautiful
Pitch your prototype How does it make THEIR life better? Be dramatic.
Example: Twitter streamer
And then I went back out into Barcelona! Posted by Liz Castro at 6:56 PM Labels test: drumbeat, open source http://www.pigsgourdsandwikis.com/2010/11/drumbeat-open-video-lab-day-2.html
Saturday, November 6, 2010 Drumbeat Open Video Lab - Day 2 So I have to preface my take on Day 2 at Drumbeat in Barcelona with a little background. About ten years ago, I dared to write a book on programming, on Perl and CGI in particular. And although I think one of my strengths as a technical writer is bringing a fresh perspective to complicated topics, and indeed the book was quite successful and helped a lot of people add interactivity to their web sites, it was not well received by Perl purists who painted me as an interloper, a gasp!, non-programmer.
Of course, it was and is true that I am not a programmer. Indeed, my angle, if you can call it that, has always been to make technology more accessible for regular people, people who may not code for a living, but who are willing to roll up their sleeves and dip into the underpinnings of a project and not just accept what commercial software allows them to do.
I'm inspired by the spirit of The Macintosh Bible, one of my first publishing projects ever (in particular the Spanish version of the 3rd edition) in which Arthur Naiman made it clear that “easy is hard” and that if you dug a little, you could find a million tricks that would make your computing life that much easier. The Maker phenomenon is a newer reincarnation of this same spirit: that we don't have to settle for what they give us, we can open it up, and build a better version. I love that.
At the same time, I have a hard time shaking off the feeling that I'm just an outsider looking in, not a real programmer, not a real hacker.
I found the whole process fascinating. I'm used to working completely alone, in my own office, doing every bit of my projects, from concept to outline to examples to illustrations to layout to copyediting alone. When I don't know something, I go quietly searching for information, without having to tell everyone I work with what it is that I don't know.
The second group, which I was a part of, wanted to figure out a way to expose existing metadata, like the title, creator, or date a video was produced, that was associated with a video either right in the page (with RDFa), or with an external XML file, so that people watching the video could actually see information about the video with a single click.
We then spent about half an hour, with Dave Humphrey's helpful facilitation and focus, discussing the different parts of the project: where we would get the metadata, how we would parse that data once we had it, how users would reveal the data, and then what the data would look like once revealed. The most curious part for me, was then dividing up into the groups that would work on each section of the project.
I think the part that most surprised me is how small the individual pieces of the project seemed at first, and how much they all realized that they weren't really that small, and would take the better part of the day to create, even divided up between the participants as they were. It was also interesting seeing how they wrote the code in a way that they could test it separately, but that it could later fit together with the other pieces. I loved how they really drew on the different strengths of this randomly assembled group of people and made it possible to all work together. There was really good energy in the room.
Back at Drumbeat, we all mostly finished up our individual modules, and then began joining them together. Curiously, that was mostly done via USB stick, as the wifi was intermittent at best. Each time the code was joined, we had to test to make sure that what worked separately now would play nicely with the other person's code. The use of jQuery as well as straight Javascrit was problematic, but not crippling.
Once all the code was together, they connected the last computer to a projector so that we could all see and debug the final project together. At this point, the designer folks jumped in and offered suggestions about positioning and font size. What a collaboration!
There were a few hours left before the Drumbeat-wide presentation of projects at 6pm, so I wandered off to find Nicholas Reville who was talking up Universal Subtitles, which is a great collaborative way to add subtitles to videos to make them more accessible to the hearing impaired and to those who don't speak a given language.
And I also found fellow locals Patrick Davenne and Chris Pinchen who offered me beer and conversation, and we lamented the complete disconnect between the festival and Barcelona itself, among other things.
Then back up to the video lab. Our metadata project was finished but the folks doing the popcorn.js demo were still working furiously. They had taken a video of folks at the conference in five languages, edited and compressed it, translated and added English subtitles with the previously mentioned Universal Subtitles, and then used popcorn.js (I think) to pull in and display tweets from the conference on the page as the video plays. The problematic wifi connection had made it hard for them to stream the video in order to synchronize the subtitles, and I was happy to be useful for a few minutes interpreting so that we could finish up the timing.
Perhaps my favorite moment was when about ten of us were hovering over the person doing the final screencast, trying to figure out why the timecodes were appearing on screen. It was crowd-debugging, and we found the extra space and got it out just in time to finish the capture, and run down to the presentation with USB stick in hand. [link coming soon]
[back to Dave]
For Brett and myself, the single hardest part of preparing for this event was the fact that we didn’t know who would come. It’s hard to program two days of content when you don’t know the make-up of your group, their interests, and backgrounds. Further, we didn’t know if people would only want to come for an hour and then leave to attend other sessions, or stick it out with us and stay to build things.
In the first session we had a packed room, and were met with professors, filmmakers, web developers, designers, producers, students, translators, writers, artists, etc. It was a fantastic group, and had all the energy and diversity we needed to actually build some things. Also, there was a core of people who were determined to stay and see things get finished.
On the first day Brett shot a really quick video getting various people in the square to say where they were from. Nicholas Reville then took the video and had people translate and subtitle it into 17 languages using the Universal Subtitles project. Next we built a simple Google Maps tool to allow us to extract longitude and latitude info so we could get geo-data for all the speakers. Finally we put it altogether using Popcorn.js to create a mash-up of the video, Google Maps, and Wikipedia pages (video of demo here).
After we’d built an example open web video demo together, it was time to think about what we might build on the Friday. We started brainstorming, and the group broke into three main sub-groups, each discussing:
* how to embed and automatically display metadata about videos * what sorts of tools are lacking for content creators * how to create more beautiful, artistic web video demos and films
Mozilla Firefox’s Creative Lead, Aza Raskin, then came and gave a talk to the group on how to effectively create prototypes (video, slides, and demo from the talk are here). The room was so packed that Brett and I literally got pushed out the door so they could handle the overflow. It was a timely topic for our group, who were starting to talk about how we should build a “platform.” The point we picked-up on in the next hour was one that Aza underscored in his talk: if you can’t build your prototype in a day, you need to keep cutting until you can. Our group only had one more day, and we want to take advantage of all the talent available to us. After much debate and discussion, we agreed to take on two projects: 1) make a film about the future of education using the open web; and 2) make it possible for librarians, archivists, and other metadata people to have their bibliographic metadata reveal itself to users in <video>.
It was an amazing feeling to work in the lab that day. Everyone was engaged and valuable–not one of us able to do everything that had to get done. Our main goal had been to give the attendees an authentic experience of working on and with the open web, and doing so in a highly collaborative way. This was exactly what happened, and it was a thrill to be part of it. As we ran to the final keynote to present our projects, one of the filmmakers said to me, “So this can’t end today, we have to do more of this.” A lot of us had that feeling.
Here are the two things we made. The first is the metadata demo, showing a prototype of a web-based metadata parser and video overlay UI for video bibliographic information (video demo here). If you hover your mouse over the video, a small ‘i’ will appear in the lower-right. Clicking it brings up the metadata (title, creator, date, license), which is copy-pastable text. For reasons we didn’t have time to fix, it doesn’t work in Firefox 3.6, but does in Firefox 4 Beta/Nightly, Chrome, etc. It would be good to grow this out to a proper JS lib, and extend it to work for Images too.
The second is our so-called Web Made Movie on the Future of Education (video of demo here). It has web-based subtitles, uses the #futureofeducation twitter hashtag, and #drumbeat flickr hashtag. It still amazes me that it was all done in one day (before 6:00 pm!), and I think it captures so much of what was going on at the festival: educators, artists, hackers from all walks of life coming together to share, learn, and build.
Photo Credits: Samuel Huron on flickr.com This entry was posted in CDOT, Mozilla, Mozilla Education, Seneca, Teaching Open Source, Web Made Movies. Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.
Nicholas filled me in on this a little bit before the fest:
We’re working on using Universal Subtitles as an input method to do time aligned geotagging and Twitter. Time aligned text has some really interesting applications.
It’s very complicated technology--it’s at the edge of what can be done with HTML.
Around noon on Friday I asked Brett if they’d be able to give us a clip of what they’d been working on for the Best of the Fest closing keynote/variety show. It was a tense moment—Brett told me later, “I really didn’t know if we were going to be able to finish it.” In the end there was a very exciting dramatic reveal as Brett, Dave Humphrey and Gabriel Shalom raced across the room with the video on a Flash Drive in the middle of the keynote. The video was worth the hype: a short doc on The Future of Education with interviews with Drumbeat luminaries in German, Italian, French, Spanish, and English, all subtitled by volunteers using the Universal Subtitling Tool, and time-synced with tweets under the #futureofeducation hashtag and photos pulled down from Flickr. As Gabriel observed to me, “the number of contributors to this video is mind-blowing.” And the finished product wasn’t bad either as the crowd exploded in applause, whoops and hollers.
ADD HERE: TRANSCRIPT OF VIDEO/STILLS/IMAGES
Many very important features are missing. Here's some of what we'll be working on in the coming months: • Ability to link multiple URLs to a video • Discussion spaces on every video and translation ('talk' pages) • Support on all modern web browsers • Caption -> subtitle conversion / options • Support for non-latin character sets • Machine translation option once subtitles have been transcribed • Keyboard accessbility for site and widget • Support for translating the interface of the subtitling tool and website • Subtitle ratings and flagging • Messaging among Universal Subtitles users • HTML5 embedding code that includes flash fallback options • Compliance with emerging timed text standards • Additional import / export subtitle formats
Q&A Ben Moskowitz founder of Open Video Alliance
I caught up with Ben over a couple of beers and cigarettes (his) at a café on the plaza the day before Drumbeat officially got started. He’s got a round face, square glasses, a great sense of humor, and reminds me of one of my Hebrew school friends from middle school, only super super smart, even on zero sleep hours after flying over from the US.
Q. What is the Open Video Alliance, and what does it stand for? A. The Open Video Alliance is a coalition, a constellation of organizations and individuals with a vision for how online video should work. We got started with a meeting at Yale Law School in 2008. Dean Jensen, one of the founders,
Brought together stakeholders—content, technology companies, and we sat and thought in big blue sky terms where is the medium of video heading, and what can we do to make it better? We’ve had 2 big conferences both in New York, the first was 1st 500 people and the 2nd 1000 people. We’ve got Documentary filmmakers, open web technologists, policymakers and educators--it’s a broad base of support.
Q. Ok, so what’s it all about? The vision is not the way things work today. It’s an idealized environment where anybody can use the tools of video to get a message out and take part in the creative and political dialogues of the day. There’s a lot of barriers to that right now: Legal--on a basic level being able to remix others’ content is a meaningful and necessary part of commentary. I should be able to take them any visual content and recontextualize it. Quotation is easy with text, but there’s not the same kind of legal protection from video. We’re about this kind of content freedom. That’s the most important part.
A second idea we support is that there should be technologies that are available, accessible, easy to use and they should be free or cheap. Platforms for distributing content, and all the tech pieces that enable you to be able to create distribute watch and remix.
One example that Mozilla is big on: the idea that software patents can be harmful to innovation. When you have a video file—raw, uncompressed, hundreds of gigabytes--a video codec compresses that. There are not any good free codecs. You need to pay a license fee for that. We think that things like that are really problematic—they make it harder for video to proliferate.
Paper & pen are the technologies of writing and they’re pretty much available to everyone. The technologies of video are more sophisticated, so it’s harder for people to take advantage of that medium.
Q. So are you really the Free Video Alliance?
We could call ourselves the free video alliance but there’s different kinds of free. There’s free as in, I am free to take and redistribute, but it’s not like I should be able to download your movie for free. We want to protect and strengthen fair use for movies.
This idea appeals to a huge swath of people, and the coordination helps on projects like Video on Wikipedia.
Wikipedia works because text has such low barriers to entry. But imagine if the same collaborative model were leveraged towards a huge moving image archive millions of hours of huge media? We want people to be more empowered to take part in that sphere.
Q. Why isn’t fair use protected now?
There’s a strong entertainment lobby that protects this model artificially. The only way their business model works is restrictions on copying. What we’re saying in delicate terms is it’s more important we have the freedom to do this stuff than to preserve that business model.
Another issue is network effects. YouTube is the largest node on the video web by far. If you had a graph like the solar system, YouTube is the sun. The next biggest platform is Facebook Earth. Then something like Vimeo is Pluto. So if you’re building a tool like Universal Subtitles you have to play nice with YouTube. This is one of the rules of the internet that gives a company like Google so much control over how the Internet works.
Q. How did you get interested in all this stuff, Ben? I’ve been into open web and free culture stuff since I was in school at Berkeley. I studied political science and rhetoric.
All of us at Drumbeat think computers have the ability to enhance indviduals’ lives and how creative they can be and what they can accomplish. We want to make sure information technology remains in that zone.
What got me into this is my political background, and the observation that people creating the popular platforms have a commercial motive that can manifest itself in things that are bad for democracy and user empowerment. With the IPad there’s only one place that you can get software. If it’s in competition with Apple’s business interest it can’t go on there. These companies have wedges in the user experience.
So the Open Video Alliance seeks to create open alternatives or apps that are so cool they create pressure.
The unofficial Drumbeat model is “make cool shit.”
Q. So you compete through quality. I like that. But what does all this have to do with education?
A. Generally speaking the more grounded education is in contemporary technology the more relevant it is.
There are certain types of literacy that live in this new visual medium.
This idea of visual literacy or “Media literacy” has been around for 20-30 years: If you’re living in this visual world it’s important that you can participate.
Q. Do you have some examples of media-literate teaching?
Well, Dr. Michael Wesch [an anthropologist at the University of Kansas, who with his students created the smash hit videos “The Machine is Us/Ing Us” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6gmP4nk0EOE” and “An Anthropological Introduction to YouTube” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TPAO-lZ4_hU ] is the Messiah of this stuff.
Dr. Erik Faden at Bucknell: he only assigns video essays. (http://digitalmedia.blogs.bucknell.edu/)
It’s more, fun it’s more exciting. How do you go to somebody in 2010 and tell them the mode of learning is to create a 10 page essay with an intro 5 body grafs and a conclusion?
And Jonny Macintosh, a remixer, who did So you think you can be president: Mashing up So You Think You Can Dance with the 2008 presidential debates.
He’s a trailblazer and an example of the kinds of activities we encourage.
He went into primary schools: and looked at how gender roles get inculcated thru commercials: And he mashed up audio and video from diff commercials so GI Joe could be brushing his hair and Barbie was strapping on an M16.
At the Columbia University Center for New Media, Teaching and Learning, They’re creating tools for the educators to incorporate, like MEDIATHREAD to allow for easy video Citations. SO if students are writing a paper they can create segments of video and cite them in a standardized way. Links generated by mediathread will show you the relevant part is between 1.15-1.30 on this video.
Q. Where do you think all this is going? Where will education be in 2020?
A: I would like to see a world where 15 years from now, if you’re a social work student you don’t just write a mock case study but set up a web portal with resources—actually serve that community.
Or something like Wikimob: making the process of improving Wikipedia a mode of learning.
Take a Marine biology class where each group is doing a report--as part of that process whatever they make ends up in the commons. Specfically in this case if they’re doing a video essay, they should Find OR CREATE openly licensed clips and add them to Wikipedia and update the Wikipedia page on Manta Rays.
Combining the form and function of this stuff to create teaching modules that are improving educational content at the same time. The real question is: Should we be forcing people to conform to the 18th century Enlightenment model of education? Or looking to what’s going to make them more engaged critical thinkers?
Q&A: BRETT GAYLOR I spoke to Brett by phone before the festival. He’s the kind of interlocutor who emails you links to stuff even while you’re still talking. We ended up sharing an apartment off the square for one night and both of us made time to run in the streets of Barcelona during the festival. http://webmademovies.etherworks.ca/popcorndemo http://brettgaylor.tumblr.com/post/1318462731/how-im-receiving-internet His latest production is entitled RiP!: A Remix Manifesto, a documentary about "the changing concept of copyright". RiP!: A Remix Manifesto is a call to overhaul copyright laws. As the title suggests, this documentary is particularly interested in the "legally
Q. How did you get involved with Mozilla Drumbeat, Brett? A. I got to working with Mark right around the time my previous film RiP was released. It was all about mashup and remix culture and the tension between old and new ways of thinking about collaboration and proprietary ownership and knowledge and the opportunities of a connected digital world.
I was a bit disappointed at what my options were for putting my film on the web I considered myself really lucky my film was broadcast on TV in dozens of countries, theatrical and DVD, streaming for free online , shared on all these different torrent networks.
But the experience of watching this film on the web was pretty much the same you would have watching on TV. You were a passive consumer of this content. Whereas I knew that it was a very info rich film there was a lot of info that went into what you saw on the screen.
Q. So you wanted people to have the power to Rip and Remix your own movie? Pretty much! Well, I met Mark Surman at the Open Video Conference and I expressed that while I had a lot of excitement about where the technology was heading, I felt there wasn’t enough being done about how this could actually affect the language of cinema or how filmmakers think about their work in this new medium.
I have been on the web from the beginning. And the experience with video now and then is pretty much the same. The rest of the web has seen this massive innovation With mashups and what we used to call Web 2.0, integration of different sources and begin to do all this amazing stuff. But video has not been party to that up until very, very, very recently. So there was this opportunity with Mozilla being interested in this space. And because of the interest and motivations that I had as a filmmaker, Mark invited me to join the team and see if I could eat my own dog food a little bit. So I started a project as part of drumbeat called web made movies.
Q. So tell me about Web Made Movies! A. We call it an innovation lab. There’s filmmakers like myself working with software designers and developers and there are much more collaborative relationships than has been typical. I’ve made many websites in my life and I’ve been on both sides of this client/service relationships. Typically filmmakers think about the web as a place to PUT their content. They don’t make videos that are OF the web: mashable, remixable, hacakable, bringing in different sources or personalizing to the viewer.
Directors will say to software developers: realize this idea for me. They’re fascists by design. So Web Made Movies is a lab where the story ideas of the filmmaker and the traditions of cinema could mashup with the thought processes and traditions of the web to make something that’s emergent and radically different and could actually change formally what video on the web can be.
Q. And you made this thing with students called Popcorn. What is it?
So if you come up on a video it will trigger, hey this has Anya and her Twitter is @anya1anya and she cares about this freeing it thru code !
Q. So what does this have to do with education? So in the context of education, I think that students who are being educated today need to learn how to synthesize different sources and answer questions of veracity and authorship. They also have shorter attention spans.
Showing a film in a classroom no longer works. The class times are too short and the students do not engage with media in that way any longer you cannot roll the TV to the front of the room and say ok, learn.
Q. I mean, that’s always been seen as the refuge of the lazy teacher, going back to the filmstrips in the 70s. A. Right, but even more so today, the kids don’t sit back that way. These are kids who are used to having access to the entire history of recorded music. They want to lean forward and learn different perspectives on that piece of media.
So I’m embarking on a partnership with several different film archives, The National Film Board of Canada and others. We need to give teachers the tools to be able to present video as part of a package, an ecosystem students can learn with.
How do we want students to report back this learning? Can they record their experience of browsing, learning, synthesizing and giving their own editorial opinion on a topic for learning that they’re designing? And how do we rethink the idea of a book report in a connected web environment? How do you make a video report or a web report and present your research that you’ve done that incorporates the open web? Or do a Youtube video that describes how something made them feel that triggers web pages to a sophisticated edited video that they’ve made that incorporates a lot of sources
And then, we're involving teachers. Teachers can as they’re browsing with the web select segments of videos that they find and create their own customized mashup. And so if they’re doing a class on how advertising affects body image for young girls, they can take a minute from a film from CPB or a couple of minutes from a camera address that a girl has done on Youtube or 30 sec of an ad that someone else has posted on their blog Have that assembled but also with that video have the associated semantic content that goes with it: Links to Wikipedia, links to opinions from both sides of the issue, and have these actually timed to a video. when students go and watch this presentation they are also preesnted with other links they cd dig into
So that’s our crazy audacious goal for Barcelona. We’re going to try and hack together a prototype of this in Barcelona over 2 days One idea that we have and we’re designing our experience in Barcelona so that people can have input and shape the direction of the tools that we build.
Q. And how does this goal of transforming education fit in with your broader mission? Why are there so many people who care about free software and open education?
A. I could speak from why we're interested in this at the Mozilla Foundation because our entire goal at Mozilla is to safeguard the OPEN nature of the Internet we see the internet as this forum in which anyone can participate. One of the ways we do that is through Firefox this awesome browser that 400 million people use.
If we’re going to succeed at this goal of keeping the web open, we need people from other disciplines and all walks of life to participate in that process. So that’s why I’m involved. As a filmmaker I bring some perspective that traditionally wasn’t held within Mozilla.
And if we want educators to help us safeguard the open nature of the Internet we need to work collaboratively with them and create structures that allow their perspective on that to be heard.
Q. So reaching out to educators is about finding allies and fellow-travelers.
A. On a deeper level, of course, we want to disrupt education. We want education and schools to operate more like the web, in that they’re transparent and hackable and open for students to be able to learn in the new ways that the web allows.
Teachers—they want their students to learn. And so I mean the web, and specifically the open web, obviously is the most powerful engine we’ve ever created for learning. We are interested in and hope that the education community sees the value of a truly open web as well I think they do already. They have an altruistic desire to be able to educate tomorrows citizens and I think there are natural allies there.
Q. How does this relate to your own educational experience?
I was really lucky that the school that I went to here in the Gulf islands in BC got a computer lab in the final year that I graduated. Even before that my school district gave a discount for kids who wanted to buy Macs I saved up and bought a Mac and taught myself hypercards when I was 11 years old. It sparked something in me to see my computer as something that was malleable and that I could use creatively.
When I was in high school we had an animation lab. So I could use the tool not as something to use spreadsheets but something to create. I was given a job at a film school that started out in 1995 called the gulf islands film and tv school
At that time desktop video editing was just becoming affordable, and it was great because in that context we had these really experienced filmmakers and now we could make a cheap film in a week I was the expert in that context at 18 years old because it was this new technology. That was a really empowering experience. I did end up going to Concordia U in Montreal. But throughout that formalized educational experience What was most valuable for me was having a computer I could hack when I was 11.