Posts Tagged ‘New Media’

Interactive Video on Youtube – deja vu?

February 4, 2009

Is anyone else having a flash of deja vu from watching the hot-right-now “interactive” videos springing up all over Youtube?  Even the WSJ has noticed:

Web-video sites, including Google Inc.’s YouTube, Veoh Networks Inc. and Overlay.TV Inc., have recently added or plan to add features that let users embed interactive commentary and links into videos.

The article goes on the highlight “The Time Machine”, an interactive adventure video series, where you get to choose the protagonists’ next step at the end of each video.   Very similar to the old non-linear Choose Your Own Adventure gamebooks that I used to read as a kid, where you read a passage in the story, after which you’re given two options with different outcomes, thus allowing you to choose your path in the adventure.

That said, these videos aren’t REALLY interactive – the choices at the end of each video just link to other videos that continue that different threads of the same story.  After a couple of clicks, you’ll see that the interactivity really just makes up for lack of compelling action/content.  I agree with a commentator in the article:

Using some of these features effectively can be a challenge, however. James McQuivey, an analyst with Forrester Research, predicts that the majority of people will continue watching linear videos on YouTube.

“I think viewers will get a little tired” of interactive features, he says. “Now that the videos are starting to get cluttered with ‘click here’ and ‘do more,’ that is going to feel a little more like spam email.”

I don’t think it’s that it’s spam email, it’s just that the “interactive” term overpromises and underdelivers when it comes to film/video.  In those interactive adventure storybooks, the very act of moving your eyes across the page, interpreting the text and translating it into images in your head already requires some user interaction with the medium.  Watching a series of moving images is different, as the aforementioned interaction with the medium is removed, and the user becomes a more passive recipient of information.  The beauty of moving images is that because the images are instantly fed to the viewer, it becomes easier to hold his attention and to draw him into the world defined by the film/video, albeit in a hypnotic state.  Having to snap out of that hypnotic state to click on something on the screen takes away from the immersive experience.

I remember back in the early 90’s, Full Motion Video (FMV) point-and-click adventure games were the rage.  I spent much of my youth pulling all-nighters with games like Under A Killing Moon and Phantasmagoria.  They had a short successful run, but fizzled out like bad soda once gamers got sick of the B-movie storylines, limited interactivity and linear gameplay.  That’s where I see these videos going as well.


Government Response to AIMS Recommendations

January 9, 2009

You can read the full report (18 pages) here.  Basically, the government has accepted 17 of 26 proposals from AIMS, the most significant of them being the phased liberalisation of the ban on party political films.  However, it’s not a full liberalisation either (bolded emphasis my own):

As a first step under the phased approach, the Government will amend the Films Act to allow for certain types of party political films. Films that are factual and objective, and do not dramatise and/or present a distorted picture will be allowed under the amended Films Act. These will include factual documentaries and footages, recordings of actual events, and biographies or autobiographies.

The question that comes to mind is regarding the policing of the content in any “factual” footage.  For example, what if someone uses his cellphone camera and records footage of a politician’s speech at the Speakers’ Corner and the politician expresses opinions that are deemed to be “distorted” – does that run afoul of the law?  One way to address this would be to set more specific guidelines for what is deemed to be a party political film.  Hence, the government has accepted the proposal for the setting up of an independent advisory panel to advise on whether a film is a party political film:

The Government also accepts the AIMS’ recommendation to set up an independent advisory panel which will make up of citizens of high standing and who are non-partisan. The role of this panel is to advise the Board of Film Censors whether films are party political films and if they can be allowed under the amended Films Act.

The advisory panel will be chaired by Mr Richard Magnus, retired Senior District Judge and Chairman of the Casino Regulatory Authority.

A quick Google search shows that Mr Richard Magnus was the senior district judge who presided over the sentencing of the two racist bloggers under the Sedition Act.

Overall progress, yes, but let’s wait and see for the specifics of the amended Films Act as well as the list of the “citizens of high standing” who will form the rest of the independent advisory panel.

[For a more detailed explanation of why the Films Act’s ambiguity can be dangerous for the everyman, read Yawning Bread]


May 12, 2008

This is the most ridiculous thing ever. Watch this video of Jesus catching a man watching porn, then read how the company behind GodTube is valued by investors at $150 million.

From Dealbook:

GodTube, Where Networking Is More Spiritual Than Social, a YouTube knockoff for the evangelical set, seems to be one step closer to building a kingdom on earth.

Last week, news broke that the owner of the site, which shows Christian videos and features a flip-through Bible and prayer blogs, had won a $30 million investment from GLG Partners, a big London hedge fund. The investment valued GodTube, which is owned by Big Jump Media, at nearly $150 million, according to

GodTube offers sermons, theological debates, Christian rap videos and low-budget skits like “See man watching porn get caught by Jesus!” (which plays out exactly as the title suggests). The investment will help sustain the on-screen Bible and a prayer wall on which Web surfers can petition God to bless the afflicted or revive a drifting relationship.

When it was formally introduced last August, GodTube was the fastest-growing Web site, as rated by comScore, attracting 1.7 million unique visitors for the month. The traffic remains about the same today. “People thirst for more than just a once-a-week relationship with the Lord and Savior,” Jason Illian, Big Jump Media’s chief strategy officer, told The New York Times. “They desire something that they can live out 24/7.”

Unlike its secular cousin, YouTube, GodTube is proudly filtered: all content must gain approval from the site’s headquarters in Plano, Tex. Vulgar and overtly sexual material isn’t allowed. Neither are videos promoting other religions — for that, there are and (Appropriately enough, the domain name is for sale.)

Mocking Christianity is definitely not allowed. James O’Malley, a 20-year-old from Leicestershire, in Britain, posted a series of videos last year that jeered at evangelical theology. During a videotaped walking tour of the Natural History Museum in London, he referred to a plesiosaur fossil as a “liar-saur” and noted that volcanoes tended to erupt in non-Christian countries.

“The first couple of videos, where I spoke about Biblical infallibility and homosexuality, remained on GodTube and were treated like any other video,” Mr. O’Malley told The Times. “It was only when I posted a third video suggesting that the earth was flat and that astronauts were part of the ‘round earth’ conspiracy that they finally cottoned on to the fact it was a hoax, and I was banned.”

More in line with GodTube’s spirit is “Baby Got Book,” a satire of the rapper Sir Mix-A-Lot’s ode to the full-size derrière, “Baby Got Back.” In it, Dan Smith, a 34-year-old minister at a church near Cleveland, simultaneously praises godly women and pokes fun at aspects of Christian culture. He dances around with a gold neck medallion reading KJV (for King James Version) and tweaks Sir Mix-A-Lot’s lyrics so that “butt” becomes “Bible” and “she looks like a total prostitute” turns into “looks like Mother Teresa.”

The video has logged more views on GodTube than it has on YouTube. Mr. Smith says he appreciates the exposure, though he prefers promoting his music in places where he can reach nonbelievers, like call-in radio shows. “I just know there aren’t a lot of unchurched or de-churched people going to GodTube,” he told The times.

That self-selecting audience is part of the site’s marketing appeal. GodTube’s advertisers sell Bible software and degrees from online seminaries. The site plans to provide Facebook-like pages soon for ministries and churches.

“What that does is sort of replicate the Mel Gibson ‘Passion of the Christ’ marketing plan,” Mara Einstein, an associate professor at Queens College and the author of a recent book about the marketing of religion, told The Times. “If the pastors become the salespeople of it, I think this is going to explode, absolutely.”