Updated: 1/6/2004; 11:09:21 PM.
Jeremy Allaire's Radio
An exploration of media, communications and applications over the Internet.

This is a personal weblog. The opinions expressed here represent my own and not those of my employer.


Thursday, October 31, 2002

Over the past several days a number of us Macromedians conducted an experiment by using a simple FlashCom video communications applications to blog about the Macromedia DevCon developer's conference. Several community managers were equipped with WiFi laptops, cheap webcams and microphones, and access to a simple Flash/FlashCom application where they could in real-time record and store video blog messages.

The experiment was a success. There were 27 video blog entries (of varying content and quality), and over 51,000 total views of all of these videos. It's just fantastic to see that thousands of people were able to tap into the crowd and people at DevCon through this simple means.

The project was a great example of distributed video journalism that extends tidbits from a conference for a couple of thousand to thousands more people. Additional experiments conducted included the CF Community Suite cam, where any CF'er in the world could tune-in to discussions in the community suite via a simple Flash application. And Mike Chamber's live broadcast, where he strapped a webcam and microphone to his back and marched around with his 802.11, broadcast conversations to the world.

There was also a lot of feedback on the experiment, noting both editorial and technical challanges, as well as suggested features for future experiments like this. These included:

Not enough meat. A number of people commented that the value of the video was lost when the video comment was short and without substance. They say they'd rather read text. This underscores that video communications requires more than just a sound-byte for an astute technical audience. Other environments might tolerate this more -- e.g. clips of a basketball coach yelling at his team, or a player bragging about their game. It also underscores that quality comes from content, and capturing meaningful thought on video requires good journalism.

Quality. There is a trade-off between time-sensitive, or near-real time video blogging and quality, because the video encoding is lower quality than what can be done with professional encoding tools. These entries lack editing and polish that comes from professional video. This is somewhat analogous to the world of weblogs in general, where most writers do not have a lot of polish, and often the entries are short, unedited, and not meant to be replacements for full on reporting or commentary. My own belief is that the sort of scrappiness of weblogs is consistent with ad hoc video blogging that we've seen here.

Form-Factor. Some people commented that they'd like to view and see this type of content, but that they don't necessarily want the full video if it isn't that high-quality. A good suggestion was just audio with a still imagine. This is pretty easy to do with FlashCom, and in fact the DevConBlog utility offered the publishers an audio-only option, which none of them choose to use. But I agree that more form-factor options for both publish-time and view-time are a good idea.

Overall, this was a good experiment and something that added value to a community event. We'll no doubt continue these experiments and incorporate a lot of the good feedback. Whatever the case, video communications is still in its infancy and it will be exciting to see what the Macromedia developer community brings forward with Flash communications applications.


4:07:35 PM    comment []

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