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National Archives Puts Genealogy Workshops on YouTube

National Archives on YouTube

The National Archives announced yesterday that video of some of its genealogy how-to workshops have now hit YouTube (though looking at the dates on some of these they appear to have been up for a while, BUT ANYWAY.) The URL for the archive’s YouTube channel is http://www.youtube.com/user/usnationalarchives. Videos available include:

“Genealogy Introduction — Military Research at the National Archives: Regular Service” (available here.)

“Genealogy Introduction — Immigration Records at the National Archives” (available here.)

“Genealogy Introduction: Census Records at the National Archives” (available here.) (This appers to be, by far, the most popular of these three!)

The channel has 878 videos in total, with playlists that include “Inside the Vault,” “Public Programs from the National Archives,” and “ARC Film Clips.” So you’ll be better prepared this spring, there’s also a series of four short films, produced around 1940, about the 1940 Census.

As you might imagine, 878 videos equals a LOT to see here.

What’s Hot in Videos and Images? Yahoo Wants to Tell You

Very interesting! Oh, I’m not talking completely about Yahoo’s announcement from last week concerning the new popularity information available from Yahoo’s video and image search, I’m talking mostly about the sentence, “Already, we’ve seen double-digit percentage increases in engagement for both image and video search since launching these new homepages, with a 60% increase in time spent on the image search homepage.” It’s like going car-shopping for a car and having the salesman say, “… and this model gets 40 miles per gallon and has driver and passenger side airbags. Since getting in this new model I have reached my quota 50% faster and believe I will actually be able to afford a beach vacation this year.” There’s nothing inappropriate or bad about it… it’s just… weird.

Anyway, let’s get back to the heart of the matter. The new changes are on Yahoo’s image and video home pages, which are available at http://images.search.yahoo.com/ and http://video.search.yahoo.com/
respectively. The front pages show you the top 18 trending things people were searching for. (If you turn autoscroll on, the front page will wander through the
top 90 trending things.) When I went and looked at those pages today (Sunday) I found both the expected (Gary Coleman, Stanley Cup, NBA) but also the unexpected (Alice Cooper, Old Spice Commercial).

In the case of the images search, click on an image and you’ll get both the results for an image search and the most recent images for that search (very nice.) I noticed on some of the searches (Michael Jordan) I also got a left nav of related people (like Scottie Pippen) and one related movie for whatever reason. I did notice that occasionally the search results were a little odd, as when I looked at the results for Robin Hood 2010 and found a picture of a 2010 Ford Mustang sitting smack in the middle of my search results.

In the case of the videos, you’ll get results from a video search and the latest relevant videos via Twitter (nice) AND a autoplay embed of the video that you clicked on to get started on your search in the first place. Most of the embeds I looked at were YouTube, though I did see one video from Yahoo.

Yahoo’s made a quick and handy way to see what’s trending in multimedia. I just wish that instead of trending to everything, we got the option of looking at certain categories — business, technology, etc.

Movie Scene Search Launches at SxSW

I noticed an article in Silicon Alley Insider about a new movie search engine that lets you look up clips. I’ve been seeing a lot of these lately, so I wasn’t surprised to see another one. I was wondering what would make this one stand out. Though it doesn’t have an overwhelming number of movies in its database (2,000, the SAI article says, with expectations to have another 3,000 up by the end of next quarter) I was impressed about the search options.

When you go to the front page you’ll have the options to search for topics within movies, or when actors said certain things, or for scenes that have something in particular in them. This is a heck of a lot more than just looking for a quote. I did a search for Barbara Stanwyck saying anything, since other clip engines I’ve looked at have not had a good selection of old movies. I got about 40 results. Results showed the name of the movie, a brief line of dialogue, and the actors involved. I was very impressed by the filters on the left side of the results page that let me narrow down the results by movie, by actor, and by director.

You will not get these filters when you do a search for something that gives you only a few results. I did a search for Rosalind Russell saying “Sold”, looking for the scene in His Girl Friday when she yammers back at Cary Grant and finishes with “Sold American!” Anyclip found it.

Search results vary depending on whether or not there’s a video available. In the case of this Russell clip, a window pops up with tabs to show both the video and the dialogue. If you’re registered with the site you can save the clip or rename it. Sometimes you’ll do a search and you’ll get a result that doesn’t have video yet. If you do a search for “raw beets and carrots” you’ll find that a) AnyClip doesn’t seem to like phrase searches — it ignores the quotes, and b) the result that has the quote, Ninotchka, will show a window with the correct line of dialogue, but a note that video isn’t available yet. Of course, Melvyn Douglas has some terrific lines in that movie, but he doesn’t appear in the filters for the search result. Doing just a search for his name does give a filter for that movie, so if you like you can look at that and see half-a-dozen exchanges or so and see the ones that AnyClip considered worth putting in for Melvyn Douglas.

If you don’t have anything to search for and you’d rather explore, try one of AnyClip’s themes, like “Spring Weather”, or speeches. I was impressed with the extent of the materials that were available on AnyClip, and I’m looking forward to the 5,000-movie version. One note: the SAI article noted bugginess and slow access speed for this site. I didn’t experience any of that.

C-SPAN Puts Its Video Archives Online

What a great thing to read in the New York Times this morning! C-SPAN as you may know stands for Cable-Satellite Public Affairs Network, and is a set of networks that broadcasts nothing but government proceedings and public affairs programming. Now this network has taken “virtually every minute” (according to the New York Times article) of its archives and made them available on the Internet.

The archive Web site is available at http://www.c-spanvideo.org/videoLibrary/. The site currently has more than 160,000 hours of footage dating back to 1987. C-SPAN actually started in 1979, but according to the NYT article much of the early broadcasts are not available. There are about 10,000 hours of footage available pre-1987 which, the article notes, will have to be formatted for the Web before it can go online.

The front page of the C-SPAN archives actually has many ways you can browse the video; you can look at the most recent video as well as the most shared and most e-mailed video in a variety of categories. There are a few articles, too, pointing to video content. But I always like to start with a nice simple keyword search. And I knew exactly what to search for.

Let me nerd out on you for a minute. I taped the Enron hearings. You remember Enron? The energy company that also generated massive amounts of bogus accounting? Yeah, them. They were the subject of Congressional Hearings in early 2002, so I did a search for that (maybe I can toss these tapes.)

The search results were divided up in several ways — as you can see from the screenshot I got results from people (Skilling, Lay, Watkins, etc.) and by program. You can sort programs by relevance, newest, or oldest. So while I did eventually find the Enron hearings, I also found Jeffrey Skilling testifying about electricity deregulation in 1997, and Ken Lay participating in a forum about energy regulatory issues in 1990. The individual pages for videos are nice — there’s an in-page player with links to embed the video on your own site if you like, and links for sharing on Facebook or Twitter. There’s also a list of related videos and of the people who are in the video.

Oh yes, people have their own pages as well, though sometimes the archiving is a little off (if you do a search for Yahoo you’ll get Jerry Yang in the list of people in Yahoo-related videos, but there’s also one appearance from that lesser known Yahoo co-founder, Jerry Young.)

Take Meg Whitman, former eBay CEO and current candidate for Governor of California.

Her page is at http://www.c-spanvideo.org/person/58256. Here’s you’ll find links to her latest appearances (and an RSS feed!), a list of people with whom she appears, a photo gallery, and a list of appearances by year. I wish they had a similar person gallery for companies — I would love an RSS feed of a specified company’s representatives appearing before Congress.

There were a couple of other disappointments with the video archives as well. Many of these videos are fairly long — an hour plus. Many of the videos I looked at did have transcripts with time stamps, so if you wanted to find something in the video you could go through the transcript, find it, and then pull the player slider to the appropriate timestamp. But I wish that appearances of people had been marked in some way so you could jump to different places in the video.

Overall, though, the video pages are nicely organized with a ton of information, the people pages have RSS feeds (RSS for search results — how cool would THAT be?), and the promise of more, older archives to come. I can’t decide who’s going to have more fun with this archive — Jon Stewart or The Gregory Brothers.

O’Reilly Creates Ignite Video Portal

I have been a fan of the Ignite events ever since I saw the Ignite talk about fighting dirty at Scrabble. A focused topic, an enthusiastic speaker, a couple handfuls of slides, and five minutes, and you’ve got some fascinating presentations.

Recently O’Reilly Media launched a new portal for getting all the Ignite videos together in one place. Ignite Show Video, at http://igniteshow.com, currently has around 440 videos from past Ignite events but plenty more are to come.

I did a quick search for scrabble and to my surprise the video was not only there it was there twice; it looks like two people listed it (what from its description appears to be the same video was put up on January 29 and March 3.) I did another search, this time for Apple, and got five results — four videos (none duplicates) and one speaker bio. Search results include brief snippets about the video, the venue (though some are marked “anonymous”) and date and time. Each video has its own page with statistics on views and thumbs-up and thumbs-down counts, and with tools to share on Facebook or embed the video on your own Web site.

When I tried doing searches I was a little disappointed at how few results I got for some searches, so if you don’t find what you’re looking for you might want to try browsing the collection’s tags at http://igniteshow.com/browse/tags. (Be sure to do both, though; searching for Apple found four videos, but I found only one video with the Apple tag.) If you want to just get an idea of what kind of talks are available, you can browse the most popular videos or check out the latest.

If you’ve got five minutes and you’d like a little inspiration, check out this collection. Hey O’Reilly Media, how about a “random” function?

NCAA Tourneys Archived, One Dunk at a Time

It’s March, which around here means March Madness, which means people discussing basketball everywhere you go and much surreptitious watching of television and listening to the radio (though nowadays it’s more checking a certain tab on your browser and checking your iPhone.) If you like the NCAA Baskeball Tourney, don’t mind limiting your interest to Sweet 16 games, and don’t want to delve into too much history, you’ll like the video in the NCAA Vault, available at http://vault.ncaa.com/.

That’s a lot of qualifiers, isn’t it? The Vault’s cool, but it is limited to the men’s NCAA Basketball Tournament, Sweet 16 and up, years 2000-2010 only. I’m a bit disappointed in this because personally I like the first-round drama, but on the other hand the video that’s available on this site is sliced and diced in any number of ways.

From the front page you can look at a variety of highlights (dunks, blocks, shots, great plays, etc.) or you can browse for different schools, alphabetically or by year. You can also search by player, which narrows down the list of available schools and years.

What’s available is pretty impressive: you can watch entire games, or get the game highlights available in a series of clips. I didn’t even see a commercial on the video player (wow!) The NCAA vault has gone to a lot of effort to be social; you can link to individual highlights and post them to Facebook or Twitter. Games are “transcribed” into brief overviews or ridiculously-detailed play-by-play listings.

The only problem I had with this site was that occasionally the videos would load a little choppily. It wasn’t a big deal when you’re looking at game, but sometimes a highlight wouldn’t load quickly enough to show properly. I found I could get around that by choosing
a clip and then immediately pausing it and waiting a minute. That usually loaded it up enough so that it played fine.

Longtime NCAA fans are going to miss a lot of history here — Michael Jordan immediately springs to mind. But this is a great start — what game data is here is organized wonderfully and is very detailed. Good stuff.

Large Site for Canadian Documentaries and Other Content, Viewable Free

CBC News has noted a new site from Hot Docs, which it describes as “the largest documentary festival in North America.” The new Hot Docs site has well over 150 documentaries from Canadian filmmakers (along with some other content) and it’s all available online for free. The site is available at http://hotdocslibrary.ca/en/ (that’s the English, non-Flash version.)

The front page has several sets of films you can go through — films by young filmmakers, films for educators, the most popular films — but I went straight to the browse tab and started poking around. The browse page is at http://hotdocslibrary.ca/en/browse.cfm. The documentaries are listed by title though they’re also sortable by year and by director. (The oldest dated documentary in the database was from 1951.)

The first doc in alphabetical order is $4 Haircut, a 6-minute short (with a groovy oompa tuba soundtrack) about a guy who, well, gets $4 haircuts. It shows his methodology and experience and while you might not expect a short featuring mostly a guy sitting around waiting to get a haircut to be interesting, it was. The documentary is embedded in the page with the usual volume control, pop-out to full screen, etc. The page also contains a summary of information about the documentary (director, producer, editor, etc.) In this case, the documentary also had extras, specifically transcripts in English and French.

I browsed through the shorts and found a number of topics — one film was about ginsing. Another featured Geddy Lee. A third was about Thomas Edison and sound reproduction in technology. They ranged from under ten minutes to around fifteen to 32 minutes in the case of the Edison documentary.

The videos loaded really quickly, there was a wide range of content, and it was all free. If you’re at all interested in documentaries check out this site.

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