Earlier tonight I was watching some hilarious sketches from ‘Smack the Pony‘, an overlooked British comedy show from the late 90s with classic sketches such as this:
Once I’d stopped laughing I realised there was something interesting going on here – the subtitles. This sketch had been recorded off a French channel so the video stream had subtitles in it, but what if I wanted Spanish subtitles? Then it struck me, that if you could put an overlay onto any video from a service like youTube that embedded subtitles you could extend the reach of any video. Maybe you could even help world peace… Maybe.
I filed this idea away for later, then about an hour later I was looking at metafilter and came across someone trying to do just this – dotSub. D’oh, beaten to the punch again. But then having reviewed the dotSub offering I still feel like there’s potential here for someone else to do a lot better. For example it doesn’t look like dotSub overlays videos from other sources, they stream them directly and embed their own pre-structured English subtitles to work from. They also don’t seem to offer a rating system for thei subtitles, which given they’re done by free from their audience seems a bit risky.
Graffiti. The ‘scourge’ of modern society, and of my spell-checker. Well society need fear no more, with this amazing laser guided graffiti projector. Beautiful in its simplicity – you just point the project at a building, callibrate it and then ‘draw’ directly onto the building with your laser pointer. Genius. [Thanks to Boing Boing]
This month’s Radar magazine has an article about the ‘Prisoners of youTube‘ – all those poor folk who suddenly became famous because someone posted an embarassing video of them online. Since most of these clips are of the ‘Funniest Home Videos’ variety the people involved are generally pretty upset, since they had no idea they were being filmed and that other people would see. This does raise the question of release forms and how they are handled (or not) in a Web 2.0 world. Most online video sites say to ‘check this box if you have rights to upload this video’ but the truth is that none of them check this, it would totally destroy their models if they did. YouTube seems to be surviving a pile of lawsuits, either through taking down the content or creating partnership deals with the content owners, but that’s mainly for the big players, TV studios and the like.
So what of the individuals whose lives have been destroyed by this unwanted fame? Either they have to spend a fortune getting a lawyer together to get a cease and desist order, and to try and get financial reparation, or they can try themselves directly – but the damage has been done. The video is out. People laugh at them on the street. And even if one video service has pulled the video, someone will be uploading their copy of it somewhere else right now. Should they ignore it and hope it goes away? Or is this the time for a new Web 2.0 rights movement that protects the rights of people to mess up without being embarassed to death without their consent?
Truth is, as long as we find this stuff funny someone will find a way to get it out there. Especially if you can start to make money on it as youTube is now promising. It will be interesting to see where this goes next.
A few years back Douglas Adams made a program for BBC2 examining what he saw as the necessary future evolution of TV into two way communication – parts of it are very dated, but it’s great to see where things came from that we now take for granted. Watch it now if just for some great ‘interactive’ narration from Tom Baker. (From Metafilter)