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.
YouTube announced late last week a new feature over at Test Tube, its lab site. It’s called YouTube Topics and it’s available at http://www.youtube.com/topics?feature=testtube.
(You will have to opt-in to use the feature, but that does not require you to have a YouTube account or be logged in.)
YouTube Topics lets you explore YouTube by browsing topics generated from an initial search. After the first search, you’ll get topics related to your search across the top of the results page. Next to the result videos themselves, you’ll get topics to which they are related. I did a search for Carol Burnett and clicked on the “Explore” link next to the related topics.
The related topics cover the expected (Tim Conway, Carol Burnett Show), the somewhat-out-there-but-possibly-linked (Golden Girls, Johnny Carson, Joan Crawford) and the Okay-I-don’t-get-that-at-all (mosque, obama, Sarah Palin.) If you click directly on the topic, you’ll be taken to a new search for that topic. If you hold your mouse over the topic and then click on the big blue and white plus sign next to it, the topic will be added to your current search query and the query will be rerun.
If you do a search for Carol Burnett mosque you will get results — but at this writing there are only two, and they appear to both be playlists. Since the playlists mix Carol Burnett videos with videos related to the “Ground Zero Mosque” category, I guess you could say the two topics are related — but it does seem like a stretch.
Topics listed with the video search results work the same way — you can search for them independently or add the topics to your current search. Removing topics from a current search is as easy as mousing over the query in the search result page and clicking on the item you want to remove.
I like this idea in theory, but man did I find some weird related topics.
Google Instant got a lot of attention when it was launched last week. But it also got a couple of people inspired, as there are now “Instant” offerings for two other Google properties — though neither one of them was put together by Google.
I read about Instant YouTube at VentureBeat. You can try it at http://ytinstant.com/. Apparently the guy who put it together, Feross Aboukhadijeh, got a YouTube job offer out of it. Good for him! Start typing, and YouTube Instant will guess your query and start playing a video. I started typing giraffe and it started with “Gummy Bear,” then went to “Girlfriend,” then guessed “Giraffe” on the third letter — and immediately showed me a video of two giraffes smacking the mess out of each other with their necks.
Like Google Instant, you can turn off the anticipated search by preceding the search with a +; searching for +gir gives you a highlight reel from Invader Zim.
Meanwhile, I read about Google Maps Instant at TechCrunch. Michael Hart (who’s lookin’ a job, Google, you listening?) has a site at http://hartlabs.net/instant_maps/. Start typing an address and Google Maps Instant will bop you all over the world as it tries to guess the address you’re looking for. I typed in 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and I ended up in New York, Pennsylvania (multiple times), and even Australia. Google Maps Instant got it when I got to 1600 Penns.
I’m not sure how much “real life” use I would get out of this site but it sure is fun to play with. Just type in some random words. Did you know there was a “Groovy Way” in South Carolina? Oh, and look out for Ninja Trail in Mount Airy, North Carolina…
Update: As I finished this I saw an update on Twitter about another project from Michael Hart. Google Images Almost Instant is available at http://cdn.michaelhart.me/mh/instant_images/. Do NOT try the giraffe search with this one because this search is apparently not filtered and I really did not need to see that — the page updates with anticipated search for every letter you type. Actually I’m having a hard time finding examples that don’t give you at least some potentially objectionable content. Even an attempt to search for September gave me a page of septum piercings. Which, if you want to do that, is great, but I’m somewhat startled when confronted with a whole page of them. You’re on your own with this one. Be careful if you have sensitive eyeballs.
YouTube posted something intriguing on its blog yesterday: the announcement of the YouTube News Feed. On a Web site noted for cute kittens, laughing babies, and people explaining historical events while inebriated, the idea of honest-to-goodness news being distributed sounds more radical than it probably should.
The News Feed will be distributed via CitizenTube; if you go there you’ll see a blog style front page with embedded YouTube videos. At this writing the top news story is an explosion of a gas storage tank that took place in North Carolina over the weekend. Each post includes a bit of context and view counts (though the view counts seem really, really low.)
Other stories covered on the page today include “Explosion Injures 15 German Police Officers,” “Knoxville Police Altercation Caught on Video”, and “Congressman Scuffles with Student.” How is YouTube finding this news? Its blog post notes that it is working with the University of California at Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism, but it also encourages video uploaders to tweet pointers to their own news videos @citizentube.
There weren’t a huge number of videos on the site — just 12 for the month of June — and it’ll be interesting to see if YouTube goes for depth or breadth. I think if the site goes far afield and pulls in a wide number of videos covering a number of topics, it’ll be interesting to surf. But if it’s just a few videos a day highlighting stories that are already covered elsewhere in depth — why would I watch this instead of video highlights on a news network site?
Thankee TechCrunch for the pointer to the new YouTube Music Discover Project which lets you use YouTube to explore music videos and possibly pick up on some new artists.
Enter a music act on the front page. (If you can’t think of one YouTube will give you some suggestions.) YouTube will take your artist and make you a list of videos by that artist sprinkled with some hopefully-related artists.
I did a search for Flogging Molly. YouTube gave me the screen you see here, with a tab that has a list of Flogging Molly videos available on YouTube. There’s also a mixtape tab that has the video playlist that you see on the left side of the screen. (The videos start playing automatically when you get the results page.) Then there’s a related artists tab that opens up to other lists of songs. In the case of Flogging Molly, YouTube recommended ten related artists, only two of which I had heard of.
The playlists that the Music Discover Project generates can be saved or opened, or songs removed on the fly. The songs in the related artist tab can be dropped into the playlist as well.
The site took most of the artists I threw at it, though sometimes there were only a few videos available and no related artists. Sometimes I was a bit surprised by the related artists it turned up and sometimes it seemed spot-on (do a search for Michael Hedges.)
Just two complaints: if you want to do a new search, it looks like you have to reload the page to get rid of your old search. And when you’re looking at music videos in that fairly small area on the results screen, the Google ads are about three times as annoying. Good thing you can minimize ‘em…
The Library of Congress has announced that it has a new channel on YouTube. Though the films are going to be available at LOC.gov and American Memory, you definitely want to check out the official YouTube channel at http://www.youtube.com/user/LibraryOfCongress.
At the moment the LOC has 74 videos available, divided into several playlists including videos from the 2008 National Book Festival and “Kluge Center Series: Prominent Scholars on Current Topics”. But I suspect the playlists that’ll hold your attention are the 21 early (1904) films from Westinghouse and the 20 early (1890s) films from Edison Companies. The Westinghouse videos range from a minute to six minutes long and tend to feature industrial machinery in action. The Edison Films are much shorter (between 30 seconds and a minute) and feature everything from Native American dancing to boxing cats to a strongman named Sandow doing a 56-second posedown.
If you’ve used YouTube at all, none of this is going to look unfamiliar to you. The videos are organized into easy-to-use playlists and a lot of them have gotten serious numbers of views even though the announcement for the new site was only ten days ago. Unfortunately, while this collection has reach through YouTube it doesn’t have much in the line of community — every video I looked at had comments disabled. I was very much hoping that comments would be used like they are for Flickr Commons — folks with historical information supplying background that the LOC doesn’t have in its description (or perhaps doesn’t even know about.)
The Library of Congress is also using brief bumpers before and after featured video. This is okay — they’re not really long enough to be intrusive or annoying — but they can give a surreal quality to what you’re watching, especially as the old videos are silent. “From the Library of Congress in Washington DC.” (30 seconds of boxing cats in a silent movie ensues.) “This has been a presentation of the Library of Congress.”
Worth a look, but I am missing the comments.