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Google, Twitter, YouTube, More: Short Saturday Buzz, July 12, 2014

Twitter has released a new set of analytics tools. The article I’m linking to makes them sound kind of like they’re just for advertisers only, but really they’re not. Looking at this and comparing it to Facebook (where the ResearchBuzz fan page has many more “fans” than my Twitter account has “followers” makes Facebook look really, really sad.

From Digital Trends: How to download YouTube videos. (Note that this is not necessarily legal and you should proceed at your own risk.)

Genealogy blogger Myrtle is having a geneasleepover for the FamilySearch worldwide indexing event. It’s a Google Hangout and everybody’s invited.

Google is predicting Germany will win the World Cup.

From Amit: The best services for sharing large files over the Internet.

Saturday fun: a Twitter bot will generate your very own emoji doll. Good afternoon, Internet…

I love your comments, I love your site suggestions, and I love you. Feel free to comment on the blog, or @ResearchBuzz on Twitter. Thanks!

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.

YouTube Labs Gets a Topic Search

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 Spawns Other Instant Properties

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 Gets a News Feed

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?

YouTube, Now With Automatic Captioning

Good news for folks with hearing impairments and folks who don’t have hearing impairments but sometimes just can’t figure out what other people are saying (that would be me.) YouTube announced last week that YouTube videos (at least those in English which have voices clearly speaking and aren’t drowned out or muffled by background noises, music, etc.)

Apparently there are twenty hours of video being uploaded to YouTube every minute (which personally I find mindbending) so as you might imagine it’ll take a while for everything to be autocaptioned. I did some random searches (for things like lecture, speech, items that seemed like they would be better suited for autocaption) and didn’t come across much. I did find a lecture on the Theory of Relativity that had been captioned, so you can see what it looks like. Captions are at the bottom and a CC icon shows up in the tool bar at the bottom of the video.

You can click that icon to turn the captions on and off, but you can also change settings as well — you can change the size of the captions and also use an auto-translate feature to have the captions appear in another language. It’s machine translation, of course, so it won’t be perfect.

Speaking of that, the transcriptions are machine transcriptions as well — so you know they won’t be perfect either. Owners of posted
videos can download auto-generated captions, correct them, and upload new versions. If your videos have not been captioned yet, you can also request that they get the captioning treatment — a “Request Processing (English Only)” button lets you put your video in the queue, while YouTube assures you “We will try our best to get some results in a few days.”

This announcement is great but I suspect we’re not going to really see the full impact of this until months down the road, when the mighty YouTube transcribing golems have had time to do their work and captions become a lot more common. I’m looking forward to the transcriptions becoming available in other languages, so I can use the translate feature.

Find Some Music with YouTube

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…

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