Video, education, and open content: Notes toward a new research and action agenda
First Monday

Video, education, and open content: Notes toward a new research and action agenda by Peter B. Kaufman



Abstract
This paper puts forward some ideas about the new energies now visible at the intersection of moving images, education, and open content. It provides an outline for a strategic research and action agenda for the academy, librarians, curators, producers, distributors, and others stakeholders — including those focused on open content — in this curious age of YouTube.

Contents

Introduction
Relevant global trends
Defining stakeholders
A strategic agenda

 


 

Introduction

This paper puts forward some ideas about the new energies now visible at the intersection of moving images, education, and open content. In this paper, I provide an outline for a strategic research and action agenda for the academy, librarians, curators, producers, distributors, and others stakeholders — including stakeholders focused on open content — in this curious age of YouTube.

 

++++++++++

Relevant global trends

In 2005 and 2006, national governments and multilateral governmental institutions began to engage in massive digitization and preservation efforts meant to affirm the centrality of moving images and recorded sound for understanding modern society. This point is vital: it contextualizes what detractors might characterize as the ostensibly parochial preservation activities of libraries and cultural and educational institutions around moving images and recorded sound. The BBC Creative Archive, for example, launched in April 2005 to provide the U.K. public with access and rights to digitized BBC material, and then joined forces with other innovative U.K. institutions — Channel Four, the British Film Institute, the Open University, others — contributing moving image and recorded sound material. The BBC Archive, an older repository of some one million hours of television and radio programs, announced in December 2006 the launch of its larger–scale “consumer trial,” set to provide the British public in early 2007 with access to digitized collections of legacy recordings. In late 2006, the Dutch government launched a massive digitization and preservation initiative comprising almost 300,000 hours of film, television, and radio recordings and three million photographs in its so–called “Images for the Future” program — with a Creative Commons licensing aspect, like the BBC Creative Archive, and a similar collective approach involving the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision, the Film Museum, Nederland Kennisland, the National Archives, the Centrale Discotheek Rotterdam, and the Netherlands Association of Public Libraries. In late 2006, the European Commission launched the ambitious “VideoActive” project involving 11 archives across Europe that together represent collections of over 4.5 million hours of audio and video from 1890 to the present (see Figure 1).

 

A map of the archives involved in VideoActive

Figure 1: A map of the archives involved in VideoActive
Source: http://videoactive.wordpress.com.

 

The Japanese government is supporting far–reaching digitization and preservation initiatives around audiovisual assets at state broadcaster NHK. Brazil, too, has joined the cause. The Canadian government has done likewise with Canadian assets. Tens of millions of people are expected to interact with these assets in the coming years [1].

And what interaction. After what is already a breathtaking patch of time — Internet years, in which scholars have begun to envision creating “an integrated, networked cultural record”; librarians, curators, archivists, and the private sector have joined forces with the objective of “creating universal access to knowledge anywhere and everywhere”; librarians have begun speaking of building the “global digital library”; and, museum curators have spoken of “heading toward a kind of digital global museum” [2] — cultural and educational institutions are increasingly moving to embrace even more remarkable social media and the power of what the technology world calls Web 2.0 [3]. Path–breaking efforts such as JSTOR and ARTstor which have brought text and images to millions of users are now being enhanced by initiatives that permit educators and the public not only to access digital cultural heritage material but to clip it, tag it, store it, and post it — or in the BBC Creative Archive’s imperative slogan, “Find it. Rip it. Mix it. Share it. Come and get it.[4] The Smithsonian Institution, with 13 million photographs across 700 collections, has launched (also in 2006) an online initiative to enable the public to copy, clip, and manipulate classic images, and museums with equally (if undeservedly) fusty reputations — the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Guggenheim Museum — have joined in a new collective project (launched in 2006) meant to allow the public to catalog museum art online with folksonomies that the public itself develops; open source code underlies this avant–garde “Art Museum Social Tagging Project.” [5] The longstanding Victoria and Albert Museum, if the point were to require any reinforcement, has developed a database of more than 25,000 of its images to be downloaded in similar fashion starting in 2007 [6]. The National Archives and Records Administration, also in Washington, has launched the National Archives “Experience,” opening up newly named “public vaults” of about 1,000 documents (out of the Archives’ 10 billion paper records, 30 million photographs and three million total maps and charts) to physical and online visitors in much the same vein [7].

In this context, the demand and usage statistics for online video are astounding. Over 100 million videos are watched on YouTube alone, every day [8]. The top 10 video–streaming sites (Fox Interactive [including MySpace], Yahoo, Google/YouTube, Viacom, Time Warner, etc.) stream some four billion videos a month [9]. More than half of today’s teenage population in the United States is regularly producing and posting rich media online [10]. BitTorrent, the Internet protocol that facilitates online sharing and distribution of video and audio, is the number–one file format in use on the Internet worldwide today — accounting for an estimated 50 percent of internet use at any given moment in China, for example, and as much as 30 percent here at home [11].

In August 2006, Stanford Law School professor and social activist Larry Lessig, in an almost Lutheran moment, declared that text — text, on which most of us were raised and through which most of us communicate — is ... dead, that the written word has become the “‘Latin’ of our modern times”; that the ordinary language, the “vulgar” or vernacular language, the new language of the street is video and sound; that the software suites that facilitate video and sound editing — Apple’s iMovie, Adobe’s Premiere, Avid’s Pinnacle Studio, Yahoo’s Jumpcut, Sony’s Grouper, Eyespot, VideoEgg, and a set of open source video editing tools, including Audacity; Assemble; Cinelerra; GStreamer; Jahshaka; KinoDV; Linux Video Editing; and, Pitivi — are essential “tools of speech” in the digital age [12]. What Lessig called a shift in production and use — from “read–only” to “read/write” engagements with source video — now includes millions of original new videos and mashups of classic material posted on MySpace, YouTube and Google Video, AOL Video, Facebook, and newer sites and platforms such as Revver [13]. It also includes so–called “remix” initiatives that take expansive liberty with filmic media whose producers and owners do not yet (maybe even ever) intend for that content to be ripped and mixed and posted for free [14]. Journalists, investors, the academy, media companies, and trend–trackers all have begun to chronicle, each in his own way, the public’s almost insatiable demand for accessing and — equally — producing moving image content [15]. Indeed, according to one estimate, almost half of all video online today is user–generated [16].

With this veritably Sumerian numerology of Internet video — billions of videos, tens of millions of users, thousands upon thousands of producers, not to mention billions of dollars being paid to acquire online video companies [17] — it is becoming clear that digitization and preservation initiatives for cultural materials are taking place in the context of a new, exhausting cultural expectation: people believe they have an access mandate, a new, almost inalienable right to work with video, as with text, online. They have come to expect it. Producers and distributors of television and films are now, necessarily, caught feeding this monster. Responses are visible everywhere. In 2006, Nickelodeon, for one example, launched “TurboNick” and other user–generated interactive/read–write video environments for the youngest of the youngest of the young. The newly rebranded CW channel has launched the “CW Lab” for users to create video mashups. In February 2007, for another, Conde Nast will formally launch Flip.com, an online forum for girls (millions of them) to create multimedia “flip books” full of video, photos, and other postings — mirroring the looks of their school lockers and MySpace pages. Disney.com is revamping for its early 2007 relaunch, readying mashup sites and other environments that take full advantage of broadband distribution and social networking [18]. The New York Times — the “old grey lady” of the media business — has begun to allow its leading journalists to post their text, photos, and video reporting online and invite the public to remix these articles [19]. Not to be outdone, non–media businesses such as General Motors and Wal–Mart are sending their own camera crews into the field. As a result of all this producing and hosting and sharing of video, the market for video–service providers such as Cisco, Comcast, Akamai, and others, according to the Wall Street Journal, is expected to grow tenfold over the next five years [20]. Now with the arrival in January 2007 of Joost — “infinite choice ... combining the best of TV with the best of the Internet,” from the founders of Skype and Kazaa — it may well be “fair to say,” as one analyst put it, “that the democratization of video delivery is officially under way.” [21]

In the field of culture and education, on which this essay focuses, it is clear that librarians, curators, and educators generally who control access to moving images are also throwing meat into the cage. In the United Kingdom, the British government is digitizing explicitly for teaching, learning, and research 3,000 hours of television news and cinema newsreels from the ITN Reuters Archive. “Newsfilm Online,” scheduled to be completed and released in 2007, features downloadable moving image content under licensing schemes allowing users to edit material to suit their own purposes. These resources are being encoded simultaneously as Windows Media, Apple QuickTime, and MPEG–2 files, supported by an extensive — and easily searchable — database and supplemented by 450,000 pages of newsfilm bulletin scripts. This is happening with the explicit goal of “mak[ing] the use of newsfilm as easy and intuitive as it is for the written word.” [22] With the support of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Open University launched “OpenLearn” in October 2006 — to make its video and other rich–media resources, many of which were produced in association with the BBC, freely available online alongside learning–support and social–media collaboration tools [23]. In the United States, universities from Yale to UC Berkeley, Stanford, MIT, Arizona State, Duke, Michigan, Penn State, and the University of Illinois (the list is lengthening) have launched a significant effort to post new video of classes, lectures, and legacy holdings online, free [24]. American television producer/broadcaster WGBH is now exploring an educational venture to bring into fuller public access many of its productions, including the classic 13–hour series “Vietnam: A Television History,” from 1983. WGBH owns the rights to the material in 85 storage cartons, containing the original series plus over 600,000 feet of 16–mm film and corresponding sound track outtakes produced over six years by the project in the United States and around the world, and also including stock footage from 65 sources worldwide. The Special Collection Division of the Libraries at Washington University in St. Louis, with 35,000 items in its Henry Hampton collection, is now exploring new experiments with its 1,000 hours of film and video from the public broadcasting documentaries — including 1987’s “Eyes on the Prize” — that the legendary producer made for PBS in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s [25]. The National Archives in 2006 launched a pilot project to digitize and post online historic public domain moving images from the Archives [26]. In late 2006, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting issued a call for new “experiments” in the realm of online video and education [27]. Public TV producer–stations Thirteen–WNET and KQED are now launching educational experiments to explore how its assets (programs on history, nature, and international affairs) can be deployed more fluidly and systematically in the classroom.

Why is this important? Because students, faculty, museum visitors, library users and others will be able to access all of this media, and work with it, and contribute to it on an accelerating basis — the race, in fact, has started. Google’s Director of Content Partnerships Jim Gerber puts it best. Since 1982, computer processing performance has increased by a factor of 3,500; computer memory prices have decreased by a factor of 45,000; and computer disk storage prices have decreased by a factor of 3.6 million. If this trend continues, as it surely will, then an iPod, or a device its size, will be able to hold a year’s worth of video (8,760 hours) by 2012, all the commercial music ever created by 2015, and all the content ever created (in all media) by 2020. In other words, today’s children will be able to wear all of the media referenced above — indeed, all the media ever created — around their necks when they reach college. And whatever that device is, it’ll probably have a camera and microphone to go with it. The portability of media archive and display and production devices by that time will represent a technology shift as radical as that from the scroll to the modern codex some 1,800 years ag0 [28].

 

++++++++++

Defining stakeholders

Libraries will be leading the broader movement of, and setting many of the best practices and standards for, the collection, preservation, digitization, and dissemination of these and other audio–visual resources, around the world. Indeed, the Librarian of Congress has referred to the Library’s “awesome responsibility” as the “world’s largest storehouse of knowledge,” the “mint record of America’s creativity,” and the “strategic reserve of the world’s knowledge and information.” He has told the Congress that the Library will create, early this century, a “plan for a distributed national network for preserving and making accessible digital material.” The Library is the world’s largest repository of knowledge and creativity, and a grand symbol of American democracy. But as a twenty–first century Library publication has pointed out, it is, at the same time, also the research arm of Congress; a protector of creativity; a site on the Internet; an archive; a performing arts center; a reading and literacy center; an exhibition gallery; a publisher; a conservator of national traditions; and, a preservation lab [29].

In coming years, both the National Audio–Visual Conservation Center (NAVCC) of the Library of Congress and the National Television and Video Preservation Foundation (NTVPF) will represent the vanguard of the Library’s future achievements with rich media, alongside other Library institutions such as the Office of Strategic Initiatives and the National Digital Information Infrastructure Program (NDIIPP). The mission statement of the NAVCC allows that the Center “develops, preserves, and provides broad access to comprehensive and valued collection of the world’s audiovisual heritage for the benefit of Congress and the nation’s citizens.” [30] With, soon, over one million moving image collection items, including theatrical films and newsreels, television programs, and educational, industrial, and advertising material; nearly three million audio collection items, including commercial sound recordings, radio broadcasts, and voice recordings of historical figures; and, over 1.7 million supporting documents, screenplays, manuscripts, photographs, and press kits, it is essentially our national memory bank for the twentieth century — the first real century of sound and movies.

Like the Library itself, the NAVCC is multifaceted and will serve multiple communities simultaneously. It will be a service facility, where new conversion procedures will be demonstrated, where new technologies can be tested, where service offerings in digitization and preservation to other libraries and archives and commercial companies in film, television, radio, and advertising can be developed and marketed; a research and development lab, a kind of Xerox PARC for our audiovisual history, where curators and scholars at the Library will continue to collaborate with computer and information scientists in the academy and industry; a campus for learning and teaching, where media use and media preservation programs will be developed, tested, and taught with the physical and digital artifacts right at hand; an exhibition center, where the Library will build on its tradition screening films and other media; a publisher, bringing content out online and in physical media; a production center and co–production partner two hours from the Capitol; even a programmer/broadcaster, because in this world of new distribution networks such as the Research Channel and the Science Channel, it will not be long before the Library has its own digital channel (or channels) [31]. The dynamic language that describes the NAVCC in official library documentation at the end of 2006 suggests, and rightfully so, that this initiative is smarter than your average bear. The NAVCC will, it is true, “provide collections access via electronic transmissions from Culpeper to Capitol Hill,” but it also will broaden public accessibility and extend the Library’s outreach to the public, partners, and customers through “innovative access models.” It will provide a “test bed for the development of large–scale mass digital archiving systems for sound and video collections”; it will incubate “cooperative ventures with laboratories and archives”; indeed, it will be a “partnership factory for acquisitions, preservation, and access.” [32]

The National Television and Video Preservation Foundation is “an independent, non–profit organization” — a legal entity exists, but the thing is still being established — “created to fulfill a long–standing need by raising private funds and providing grants to support preservation and access projects at institutions with television and video collections throughout the United States.” Work to secure the future the NTVPF is being conducted through a collaborative effort involving public and private sector individuals and institutions. Its creation was a key recommendation in the Librarian’s landmark report, Television and Video Preservation 1997: A Study of the Current State of American Television and Video Preservation. Its mission, as defined on its Web site, is to “solicit and accept funds or in–kind preservation services on behalf of non–profit and public archives expressly for American television and video preservation and access; award funds or in–kind preservation services through a grant program for worthwhile preservation and access projects, and projects beneficial to the field and in the public interest; and conduct and coordinate outreach activities to increase awareness of the importance of television and video as a national resource and as an integral part of our cultural heritage.” [33]

For both institutions, representing as they do the future of moving images in the United States and the world, it may be fair to say that parties currently interested and possibly interested in their success will come from all walks of life. It would be fair to say that every educational institution, cultural institution, business enterprise, government agency, foundation, newspaper, blog, and magazine cited in this report so far could be — should be — considered a stakeholder in their success. Generally speaking, any company, any enterprise, and any venture fund with a screen to fill, an engine to search, a pipe to send bytes down, or a chip to sell is a current or potential stakeholder in the digitization and distribution, broadly defined, of the sorts of materials that both these institutions focus on. This is especially true the more both institutions promote experimentation and innovation [34].

To date, efforts to attract these stakeholders, especially those in education, media, and technology, have been incomplete, hampered by a lack of resources and the prevalence of tactical rather than strategic visions. While much excellent work has been done has focused on communicating the message and objective of library institutions to key constituencies [35] and audiences [36], a more expansive approach to involving institutions in the ongoing work of cultural and educational institutions may be one key to securing the commitment of all or most relevant stakeholders in this busy time of change.

This is because the demand for learning and community is greater than ever, and likely to be everlasting. Search YouTube, for “House of the Rising Sun” (the hit song performed by the British group The Animals in the 1960s), for example. Of the 315 results accessed on 21 January 2007, some have been accessed more than 70,000 times, some more than 90,000 times, such as a classic video ripped from U.S. cable station VH1 (at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xPznuQb2VjI&mode=related&search=). Some video clips have about 100 comments; some have none; some have been rated as a favorite by hundreds of viewers. Some people will, for free, teach you, in their videos, how to play the song on the piano and the organ (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mPsQ30JjO8M&mode=related&search=) and on the acoustic and the electric guitar (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2smyS60VSm8; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O0goQO6vvE8); some will just want to show you their artistry on these instruments, or on the pedal steel guitar, the banjo, violin, ukulele, or just with the vocals. Others will remix the tracks with pictures of hurricane–devastated New Orleans (the song is set there) and add global warming–related images of Al Gore (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XgFPIeQRX-o) or just basic animation. Others will post covers of the song by bands like Frigid Pink or singers like guitar legend Chet Atkins, balladeer Tori Amos, reggae artist Gregory Isaacs (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KQnyunGnvwY), and the Low Strung Cello Choir at Harvard’s Dunster House (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3vAE8mFfr5w: grim), or from a “jam session as the Pederson’s after Thanksgiving dinner” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Un3-FXORuA). Some people will tell you Bob Dylan rendered it better than The Animals, others will back Joan Baez; YouTube will allow you to see the three and compare (at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nvPv85LnnKA and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gDwK-Zir8ls). Some people will tell you lead singer Eric Burdon was too short; others will (rightfully) swoon at his voice; some will debate over whether the song is an allegory about various social issues or about New Orleans specifically; some will provide the lyrics and the sheet music; and some will ask and argue over what kind of organ keyboardist Alan Price was playing. You will learn about the likely provenance of the song — theories range from a slave spiritual to an old English ballad to a folksong from Kentucky. “JimWayne61” from Texas (apparently) tells us, in text accompanying video of his playing it (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O84lmsFMA14) that:

Many people familiar with the song falsely believe that House of the Rising Sun was written by The Animals. Small text inside their album “The Best of the Animals,” released in 1966, reveals that it was only arranged by them. The truth is Alan Lomax, in his 1941 book Our Singing Country, identifies the authors as Georgia Turner and Bert Martin of Kentucky, though the true history of the song dates back much further.

The debate will continue over whether the song was meant to be sung by a woman, rather than a man (watching Baez is instructive on this point: “it’s been the ruin of many a poor girl,” she sings; Lomax, indeed, field–recorded it as such); and people will take issue with instructors over how many chords, in fact, there are. As the comments — English, Greek, German, Italian — and clips (from German television network NDR, home movies, clubs in Spain and Texas and New York and living rooms and bedrooms) wash over you about one piece of a piece of a piece of culture, you can’t help but think that this force is teaching you something about the power of self–expression, the power of the crowd that Wikipedia [37] has begun to show us — and that the demand for consuming and sharing moving–image information is now fundamentally unstoppable.

 

++++++++++

A strategic agenda

With all this momentum behind the moving image, it is worth beginning to set out a range of recommendations for video, education, and open content that could involve the constellation of existing and potential partners from public institutions and private enterprise — including all or most of those discussed here so far. The opportunity to seize upon these connections, for the benefit of universities, etc., at this historic moment should not be squandered. Technologists, educators, and media all have a stake in the success of video use in education in particular, and especially as regards experimentation and innovation in this domain. But in many cases they will need to be shown their own self–interest. This is especially true when it comes to the sometimes counterintuitive universe of open content.

1. Establish a research center for the future of the moving image in education.
A research institute on the future of the moving image for education, culture, politics, and the human condition generally could serve many of the interests below. Models for innovative laboratories dealing in questions of the moving image range from CBS Laboratories under General Sarnoff to Xerox PARC to Yahoo! Research Labs, which Yahoo! established in association with UC Berkeley [38]. Such a facility would require only modest investment, but could serve as a catalytic engine for progress and networking with stakeholders at the cutting edge of technology, education, and media. They would tie into research and activities around preservation and access issues in the academy and other centers of learning. And the model of the think tank may be a useful, flexible, and harmless way of involving select groups and individuals to engage in (and invest in) this work while allowing them to benefit from the prestige of engaging in an institute.

2. Launch new, self-consciously high–quality educational productions in television, film, video, and radio.
This will be useful to the field for three reasons. First, productions in which cultural and educational institutions are involved from the start will help the institutions develop strategies for the long–term preservation of digital video, specifically as concerns so–called the “submission information package” (or SIP) central to the NDIIPP projects (and future, more generic, projects) on “Preserving Digital Public Television” and “Preserving Creative America.” (As WNET/Channel 13’s Ken Devine has put it, one of the goals of these projects is to create a “model archive” for public television. [39]) University of Virginia Libraries’ Robertson Media Center director Judith Thomas has written in a 2006 background paper for one such new production involving a producer and a library: “Th[is] project demands that the library no longer play a static custodial role, accepting ready–made, complete collections, but rather an active participatory role, fully engaging in the process of content creation. Issues affecting the actual collection of the content must be resolved at the point of production and must inform technical and workflow decisions from the outset.” [40] Second, as the Smithsonian’s Dan Sheehy noted at a December 2006 Library of Congress hearing, when institutions become involved in producing material with assets that are in their collections or ultimately reside there (the Library’s Veterans History Project and NPR’s StoryCorps are two cases in point), they increase the general public sense of value about these collections and the importance of preserving them [41]. Third, it is a natural next step in the active production initiatives of the Library exemplified today in the work of the Veteran’s History Project, StoryCorps, and the folklorists at the American Folklife Center, but also with older Library traditions in field recordings and oral and film history projects — “audiovisual activism,” it has been called — when, for example, Library folklorist and division chief Alan Lomax set out to record and produce histories of black culture in the South in the 1930s, or when Librarian Archibald MacLeish dispatched teams of producers to interview survivors of the attack on Pearl Harbor and later sent his staff out into war with recorders to capture the sounds of battle. It is the natural next step in the collaborative efforts that cultural and educational institutions — and especially libraries — have engaged in with publishers of text, images, sound, and video. These experiments could explore models of creative underwriting and financing more generally — on the model of investment packages that are built every day in the film industry [42]. To the extent these productions can be coordinated and rationalized through a single studio, so much the better.

3. Develop a strategy for privileging library–, museum–, and university–sourced moving images in the online chaos of the YouTube world.
Associate Librarian of Congress Deanna Marcum has noted that the “sheer volume” of digital material on the Web is actually a barrier to progress. The Librarian of Congress has been supporting the establishment of so–called “Knowledge Navigators” to help users through the You zoo [43]. In the era of Yahoo Answers and Ask.com, what could a video Knowledge Navigator look like? Imagine Knowledge Navigators locating and annotating a piece of sound or video for institutional constituents online.

4. Support a research fellows programs, bringing specialists to cultural and educational institutions to work with video in particular.
The range of disciplines is broad (it can even include lawyers).

5. Publish research papers systematically on these topics
— those geared to specialist communities such as ones served by the Council on Library and Information Resources as well as newer groups such as the Journal of Digital Information [44] and then also public interest magazines, blogs, and video.

6. Design college–level and K–12 courses around these initiatives.

7. Launch standards and best practices workshops for moving image questions,
on the model of what the Colorado Digital Preservation initiative does with its workshops in text, images, and now audio (see http://www.cdpheritage.org/workshops/workshopDetails.cfm?all and http://www.cdpheritage.org/index.cfm).

8. Explore experimentation around with large data sets or digital material,
possibly partnering with governmental agencies like the National Science Foundation and schools such as the University of Illinois’ Graduate School of Library and Information Science (the research agenda is online at http://www.lis.uiuc.edu/research/areas.html). The Librarian of Congress indicated to Congress, for example, that the NAVCC will present to the world a “new paradigm of producing and managing computer–based digital data.” [45]

9. Support the establishment of the American Archive
— a new initiative now being born in a partnership between the Library of Congress and public broadcasting. The “American Archive” — not unlike the British “Creative Archive” equivalent — will be built out of a legislative proposal now in development to preserve by digitizing, cataloguing and clearing programming content so the American public will have much greater access to it. The project avowedly has “enormous implications for education.” [46]

10. Last, but immediately, release moving image and recorded sound material for the public to engage with.
By engaging the public in producing material, from a short mashup — such as those that the BBC Creative Archive, WGBH’s Sandbox initiative, and Creative Commons sponsor — to fuller pieces, the institutions cited in this essay will help to generate an awareness by all key communities that they are now among the hippest institutions online [47].

These recommendations are set forth to sound appealing, to interlock and be cross–pollinating. In conclusion, the opportunity is ripe at the start of 2007 to embark on a bold strategy of envisioneering in this area. The unifying concept behind all of the initiatives remarked upon above — whether they are test beds, R&D efforts, innovations, laboratories, factories, task forces, commissions, working groups, study groups, projects, institutes, initiatives — is that the future is unknown, and we have to try to understand it. We have to encourage experimentation in the library, in the academy, in business, in publishing, in the museum — in short, everywhere — involving video and recorded sound. Media scholar Lev Manovich has written that there is a profound need today for more “rational experimentation” on the order of what Bauhaus and the Russian constructivist media avant–garde conducted with the new media of their time — photography, film, new print technologies, telephony — back in the 1920s. Manovich’s calls for “systematic, laboratory–like research” into new media elements and their “basic compositional, expressive, and generative [one might add production] strategies” warrant an answer [48].

To reemphasize one part of a point from the discussion above, “scholarly communication may well stand to lose more by failing to experiment than from experiments that fail.” [49] End of article

 

About the author

Peter B. Kaufman is president and CEO of Intelligent Television (http://www.intelligenttelevision.com) and associate director of Columbia University’s Center for New Media Teaching and Learning (http://ccnmtl.columbia.edu). This essay draws upon his work as an expert consultant to the Library of Congress’s Moving Image, Broadcast, and Recorded Sound Division and as a member of the American Council of Learned Societies Commission on Cyberinfrastructure in the Humanities and Social Sciences.

 

Notes

1. For the BBC, see http://www.bbc.co.uk/thefuture/pdfs/bbc_bpv.pdf; http://creativearchive.bbc.co.uk/; and, http://www.bbc.co.uk/pressoffice/pressreleases/stories/2006/12_december/15/archive.shtml; for the Netherlands, see http://www.beeldenvoordetoekomst.nl/home.html; for VideoActive, see http://videoactive.wordpress.com/2006/09/10/6/#more-6; for Japan and Brazil, see http://www.ptvdigitalarchive.org/; and, for Canada, see http://archives.cbc.ca/info/apropos_en2.shtml.

2. All quoted in Our Cultural Commonwealth: The Report of the American Council of Learned Societies Commission on Cyberinfrastructure for the Humanities and Social Sciences (New York: American Council of Learned Societies, 2006), pp. 11–12.

3. See Tim O’Reilly, “What is Web 2.0? Design Patterns and Business Models for the Next Generation of Software,” at http://www.oreillynet.com/pub/a/oreilly/tim/news/2005/09/30/what-is-web-20.html.

4. See http://creativearchive.bbc.co.uk/index.html (emphasis added). For more on this theme, see Peter B. Kaufman, “Creative Fuel for the Nation: Unlocking Television, Film, and Radio for the Public,” remarks at the launch of the BBC Creative Archive (13 April 2005), at http://creativearchive.bbc.co.uk/news/archives/2005/04/transcript_pete_1.html.

5. For the Smithsonian’s Photography Initiative, see http://photography.si.edu/; for the Steve Museum project, see http://www.steve.museum/. The Smithsonian as a whole is redefining the museum–goer experience as a “conversation.” The director of the National Portrait Gallery, Marc Pachter, speaks of the portraits being collected today as “delivery systems of personality.” “I think of coming to the gallery as an encounter between lives,” Pachter says. “You’re not coming just to look at brushstrokes.” See Arthur Lubow, “Speaking of Art,” Smithsonian, volume 37, number 4 (July 2006), p. 52.

6. See “Image Is Everything,” Chronicle of Higher Education (15 December 2006), p. A17. The Museum of Modern Art in New York has put images of 5,600 works — out of a total of 150,000 — online. To give some sense of impact and receptivity, the Museum’s online gallery had some two million unique visits in 2006 — only 500,000 fewer than the number of actual visitors to the physical museum on West 53rd Street in Manhattan. See “Downloads,” Wall Street Journal (30–31 December 2006), p. P2.

7. See http://www.archives.gov/national-archives-experience/ and http://www.archives.gov/historical-docs/.

8. Sara Kehaulani Goo, “Google Gambles on Web Video,” Washington Post (10 October 2006), at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/10/09/AR2006100900546.html. For examples, see Paul Boutin, “Videos that Put YouTube.com on the Map,” NPR (19 October 2006), at http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6289141.

9. Out of seven billion total. See Comscore’s newly launched “VideoMetrix” service results at http://www.comscore.com/press/release.asp?press=1035 and “Comscore: MySpace Leads in Video” (19 October 2006), on the “Lost Remote” blog online at http://www.lostremote.com/2006/10/19/comscore-myspace-leads-in-video/. Internet Archive Board of Directors Chairman Rick Prelinger asked on the AMIA listserv: “How is this being collected? How can it? ... Will some civic–minded Fox Interactive employee call a messenger and truck a bulging video server farm over to UCLA for safekeeping on a bright morning in 2018?” Fox is concerned with monetizing this material. See Georg Szalai, “Chernin: Online Already Off Charts,” Hollywood Reporter (10 January 2007).

10. See Lee Rainie (founding director of the Pew Internet & American Life Project), “Life Online: Teens and Technology and the World to Come,” speech to the Public Library Association, Boston (23 March 2006), at http://www.pewinternet.org/ppt/Teens%20and%20technology.pdf; and Henry Jenkins, “Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century” (Chicago: The MacArthur Foundation, 2006), at http://www.digitallearning.macfound.org/atf/cf/%7B7E45C7E0-A3E0-4B89-AC9C-E807E1B0AE4E%7D/JENKINS_WHITE_PAPER.PDF.

11. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BitTorrent.

12. Lessig is founder of Creative Commons. For video of Lessig’s speech, see http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-1926631993376203020. For more on this trope, see Peter B. Kaufman, “Teaching in the New (Video) Vernacular” and Mark Phillipson, “Teaching in the New Vernacular: Video as a Participatory Medium,” remarks presented at the Coalition for Networked Information Fall Forum 2006, Washington, D.C. (5 December 2006), at http://www.cni.org/tfms/2006b.fall/abstracts/PB-teaching-kaufman.html. I am indebted to Jonah Bossewitch for the initial reference and to Bossewitch, Frank Moretti, Anders Pearson, Mark Phillipson, and Michael Preston at Columbia University’s Center for New Media Teaching and Learning for intensive discussions of this issue. See also Scott Kirsner, “Camera. Action. Edit. Now, Await Reviews,” New York Times (15 June 2006). Kirsner’s “CinemaTech” blog is at http://cinematech.blogspot.com/.

13. See Wired’s May 2006 “Guide to the Online Video Explosion,” at http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/14.05/guide.html and especially what Wired calls its “Mee–Vee Guide” in “The New Networks,” at http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/14.05/networks.html.

14. The Free Culture initiative at New York University, for example, has posted links to the shops selling film DVDs of The Matrix, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, and Harry Potter — four trilogies — and encouraged users to purchase these properties and then rip and mash up the contents in ways that they see fit. The point is to use parody to illustrate tensions and ambiguities in the 1976 Copyright Act, 1996 Digital Millennium Copyright Act, and 1994 Supreme Court case Campbell v. Acuff–Rose Music concerning “fair use.” “Brokeback to the Future” is worth watching. See http://www.freeculturenyu.org/filmremix/.

15. See, for example, Bear Stearns’s analyst Spencer Wang, “The Long Tail: Why Aggregation and Context and Not (Necessarily) Content are King in Entertainment,” at http://www.bearstearns.com/bscportal/research/analysts/wang/112706/Slide1.htm.

16. See Reuters, “User–Generated Web Sites in Clicks–to–Cash Dilemma” (15 January 2007), at http://today.reuters.com/news/articlenews.aspx?type=businessNews&storyid=2007-01-15T162549Z_01_L1564948_RTRUKOC_0_US-VIDEO-EARNINGS-OUTLOOK.xml&src=rss.

17. While much attention was paid to Google’s purchase of YouTube for approximately US$1.65 billion in 2006, the real 2006 deal involving online video was Cisco Systems’ closing the acquisition of Scientific Atlanta for US$6.9 billion. See Marguerite Reardon, “Cisco Closes Scientific Atlanta Buy,” at CNET’s News.com http://news.com.com/Cisco+closes+Scientific-Atlanta+buy/2110-1036_3-6043542.html. James McDonald, Scientific Atlanta’s CEO, has described the “typical” American home as one with “three or more televisions, one or more PCs, and a variety of stereo, DVD, and videogame products.” No wonder U.S. households “requested more than one billion video sessions” in 2005. See his essay, “The Intelligent Video Network,” at http://newsroom.cisco.com/dlls/tln/newsletter/2006/june/index.html. See also Tech Trader, “Why It’s Too Early to Walk Away from Cisco,” Barron’s (15–19 January 2007).

18. See http://www.nick.com/turbonick/ and the new CW Mash Maker at http://lab.cwtv.com. News of Flip.com came the same year that Time Inc. closed the print edition of Teen People and Hachette Fillipacchi Media shut down ELLE–Girl. See Sarah Ellison and Emily Steel, “To Lure Teens to Its Latest Web Site, Conde Nast Turns to the ‘Flip Squad’,” Wall Street Journal (19 December 2006). Also in 2006: Hearst Corp., publisher of Seventeen, Cosmogirl, and Teen, launched Mypromshopper.com — a similar thing. See also Merissa Marr, “Updated Disney.com Offers Networking for Kids,” Wall Street Journal (2 January 2007). In the fall of 2006, 30 million viewers clicked on online television shows at Walt Disney’s Web site. See Emily Steel, “A Guide to Watching Network TV Online,” Wall Street Journal (11 January 2007).

19. Two–time Pulitzer Prize winner Nicholas Kristof writes: “Here’s a link to a collection of columns, videos, and photographs from my recent trip to Chad to covering the spread of the genocide in Darfur. Take a look at the material and, if you’re interested, I’d like to see how you would’ve told the story. Use some of the quotes, the stories, the facts and weave together your own column, essay, article — or some other kind of quilt. I can imagine someone writing a poem, a song, a map, video or audio slide show. Don’t let convention get in the way of your storytelling. And don’t feel as if it needs to be long; hey, a haiku is sometimes more effective than an epic. I’m eager to see how you’d approach things — what you’d do differently. I hope you do better — these stories are too important to be told only once ... .” See “Your Turn to Tell the Story: Chad,” quoted in Jeff Jarvis’s blog “BuzzMachine,” at http://www.buzzmachine.com/index.php/2006/12/22/the-remixed-times-thanks-to-kristof/. Thanks to Peter Brantley for the reference.

20. From US$237 million in 2006 to US$1.87 billion in 2011. See Bobby White, “Firms Take a Cue from YouTube,” Wall Street Journal (2 January 2007).

21. See Joost at http://www.joost.com/. Analyst Colin Dixon is quoted in Chris Nuttall, “TV Viewers Poised to Learn about Internet Protocol,” Financial Times (10 January 2007).

22. See http://newsfilm.bufvc.ac.uk/.

23. See http://openlearn.open.ac.uk/. Open University’s “LabSpace” is the “experimental zone” where riveting new tools are being tested and demonstrated. See http://labspace.open.ac.uk/.

24. Berkeley’s leadership position on this front is evident at http://itunes.berkeley.edu/ and http://video.google.com/ucberkeley.html. Obadiah Greenberg, a force behind this effort, kept a blog of his activity at http://obie.wordpress.com/ (before Google hired him away in December 2006). Many of these university initiatives are funded by the Hewlett Foundation. See a listing of many of them (including the Open Education Video Project, based at Columbia University’s Center for New Media Teaching and Learning) at http://www.hewlett.org/Programs/Education/OER/OpenContent/oerProposalsForReview.htm.

25. See http://www.lib.umb.edu/archives/wgbh.html and http://library.wustl.edu/units/spec/filmandmedia/hampton/index.html. Fourteen hours of “Eyes on the Prize” were recently re–cleared for broadcast with support from several foundations. See http://www.pbs.org/aboutpbs/news/20060114_eyesontheprize.html.

26. In partnership with Google Video. See http://video.google.com/nara.html and http://www.google.com/press/pressrel/video_nara.html. “Heart of the Confederacy” from 1937 (http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-1361815282366651231&q=owner%3Anara+type%3Aparks) is priceless.

27. See “Public Television’s Approach to New Media,” at http://www.current.org/pbpb/documents/digital-rights-Sept06.pdf. PBS initiatives in 2007 are being watched closely at http://www.itvt.com/.

28. Gerber’s remarks were delivered the New York Public Library (18 January 2007); see http://www.google.com/intl/en/events/unbound/index.html.

29. See “Testimony to Congress: Statement of James H. Billington, the Librarian of Congress, before the Subcommittee on Legislative Appropriations, Committee on Appropriations, U.S. House of Representatives, FY 2005 Budget Request, February 25, 2004,” at http://www.loc.gov/about/welcome/speeches/ budget/request2004.htm. See also The Library of Congress: Strategic Plan, Fiscal Years 2004–2008 (Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress, 2004) and The Library of Congress: It’s More Than a Library (Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress, 2000). Emphasis added.

30. Gregory Lukow, “National Audiovisual Conservation Center,” presentation at AMIA annual meeting, October 2006.

31. For more, see Peter B. Kaufman, “On Marketing the National Audio–Visual Conservation Center, 2007,” a paper prepared for the Library of Congress (5 June 2005).

32. Gregory Lukow, “National Audiovisual Conservation Center,” presentation at AMIA annual meeting, October 2006 (emphasis added).

33. See http://www.ntvpf.tv/. For the Librarian’s 1997 report, see http://www.loc.gov/film/tvstudy.html.

34. See Peter B. Kaufman, “Marketing Culture in the Digital Age: A Report on New Business Collaborations Between Libraries, Museums, Archives and Commercial Companies” (August 2005), at http://www.intelligenttelevision.com/marketingculture.htm. As the American Council of Learned Societies recently put it, “Received wisdom on the limits of the market for ideas has been radically reoriented by the rise of networked communities, and, at this point, scholarly communication may well stand to lose more by failing to experiment than from experiments that fail.” See Our Cultural Commonwealth, p. 26. On the impact of networked communities generally, see: Yochai Benkler, The Wealth of Networks (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2006), at http://www.benkler.org/wealth_of_networks/index.php/Main_Page. Video of Benkler presenting these ideas at a 2006 Intelligent Television symposium is available at http://forum.wgbh.org/wgbh/forum.php?lecture_id=3005.

35. See in particular the research and publications from the Council on Library and Information Resources, at http://www.clir.org/.

36. 36. Jean–Noël Jeanneney, Google and the Myth of Universal Knowledge. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006), writes: “After the collapse of Marxism, we have learned that cultural forces weigh more heavily than material interests on the course of history ... .”

37. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_House_of_the_Rising_Sun.

38. A relevant November 2006 posting by Peter Brantley about the work of Yahoo! Research Labs is here — http://ono.cdlib.org/archives/shimenawa/2006/11.html. In February 2007, Brantley assumed the directorship of the Digital Library Federation.

39. Quoted in the reports from NDIIPP “wrapper roundtables,” at http://www.ptvdigitalarchive.org/our-work/.

40. See Judith Thomas and Kimberly Tryka, “‘The South’: Bringing Production Footage into the Digital Library” (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Library, November 2006), at http://www.thesouth.tv. This is an Intelligent Television co–production. Another model involves Columbia University, at http://ccnmtl.columbia.edu/harlemarchive/. See also other library productions sponsored by Intelligent Television, at http://www.intelligenttelevision.com/productions.htm.

41. Dan Sheehy, testimony before the National Recording Preservation Board, New York (19 December 2006), at http://www.loc.gov/rr/record/nrpb/. Annette Melville, director of the National Film Preservation Foundation, also has discovered this to be so. See Peter B. Kaufman, “Marketing Culture in the Digital Age: A Report on New Business Collaborations Between Libraries, Museums, Archives and Commercial Companies” (August 2005), at http://www.intelligenttelevision.com/marketingculture.htm.

42. “Song–hunting,” Lomax called it. See Alan Lomax, The Land Where the Blues Began (New York: The New Press, 2002 [reprint]), p. 3, and the Library’s own account of Lomax, MacLeish and others in Motion Pictures, Broadcasting, Recorded Sound: An Illustrated Guide (Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress, 2002). For more on this vision, see Peter B. Kaufman, “The Educational Television Studio,” remarks presented at the Hewlett Foundation’s “Advancing the Effectiveness and Sustainability of Open Education” conference, Utah State University, Logan, Utah, (28 September 2005), and “Building a New Educational Television Enterprise,” presentation to the Coalition for Networked Information Fall 2005 Task Force, Phoenix (6 December 2005), at http://www.cni.org/tfms/2005b.fall/abstracts/PB-building-kaufman.html.

43. Marcum quotes Jane Greenberg of the School of Library and Information Science at UNC Chapel Hill: “Never has there been such a wealth of valuable information accessible to the global public as there is with the World Wide Web. It can also be argued, however, that never has there been such an abundance of easily accessible information that is factually incorrect, misleading, and lacking authentication.” See Deanna Marcum, “‘Whither Thou Turbid Wave?’ Digital Library Collections and Consortia,” address to the annual meeting of the Triangle Research Libraries Network, Chapel Hill (28 July 2006).

44. A perfect example is Jeff Ubois, “Finding Murphy Brown: How Accessible Are Television Broadcasts?” Journal of Digital Information, volume 7, number 2 (2006), at http://journals.tdl.org/jodi/article/viewArticle/jodi-177/0.

45. See “Testimony to Congress: Statement of James H. Billington, the Librarian of Congress, before the Subcommittee on Legislative Appropriations, Committee on Appropriations, U.S. House of Representatives, FY 2005 Budget Request, February 25, 2004,” at http://www.loc.gov/about/welcome/speeches/ budget/request2004.htm.

46. See “APTS Preps Proposals for American Archive,” at http://www.current.org/federal/fed0702apts.shtml.

47. Hip is cool. See John Leland, Hip: The History (New York: Ecco Press, 2004) and Henry Jenkins, Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide (New York: New York University Press, 2006). WGBH’s Sandbox is at http://streams.wgbh.org/sandbox/.

48. Lev Manovich, The Language of New Media (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2001), pp. 15, 30. Russian constructivists particularly appreciated what Manovich calls “factory logic” when working with their new media. See also Christina Kiaer, Imagine No Possessions: The Socialist Objects of Russian Constructivism (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2005).

49. Our Cultural Commonwealth, p. 26.

 


 

Editorial history

Paper received 26 February 2007; revised 4 March 2007; accepted 16 March 2007.


Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Video, education, and open content: Notes toward a new research and action agenda by Peter B. Kaufman
First Monday, volume 12, number 4 (April 2007),
URL: http://firstmonday.org/issues/issue12_4/kaufman/index.html





A Great Cities Initiative of the University of Illinois at Chicago University Library.

© First Monday, 1995-2014.