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Television Media The Internet

Online Video Suddenly Gets Brainy 79

David Kesmodel writes "Several online-video efforts are under way that offer a more cerebral alternative to the typical fare seen on the Web, the Wall Street Journal reports. The ambitious, for example, intends to establish relations with all of the lecture series from the nation's scores of think tanks, civic groups, bookstores and the like, and then put tapes of their speeches and panel discussions online in an easily searchable fashion."
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Online Video Suddenly Gets Brainy

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    If by "better" you mean "more flash ads."
    • This may well be stating the bleedin' obvious, but the biggest problem is making sure everyone is able to access this through big pipes. Everywhere. For trivial cost (think people on welfare or minimum wage) for all you can eat download. Sadly, the nr of places in the world that can do this are extremely limited and I'm guessing the US isn't that different to the rest of the world. Indeed, IIRC, within the last fortnight, there has been /. commentary on certain ISPs doing a bit of price gouging.

      There needs

  • ...put tapes of their speeches and panel discussions online...

    So, these experts get to watch the drooling masses compare their work with the last episode of American Idol.

  • Won't work (Score:4, Insightful)

    by slusich ( 684826 ) * <slusich@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @02:50PM (#18786251)
    No one wants an online video service unless it's filled up with whiney emo kids complaining about how badly their lives suck.

    Seriously, while it sounds like a good idea, implementation is everything. It'll be interesting to see how they do.
  • I wonder how online video will affect cable providers.
    I'm sure online web sites like CNN, MSNBC, FOX News have gauged how much of viewership they lost on cable stations with the evolution of information via their web sites.
    I wonder how much online video will change this?

    • Re:i wonder (Score:4, Informative)

      by Drew McKinney ( 1075313 ) on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @03:16PM (#18786635) Journal
      It has already for some time. "Big Media" calls the phenomena of short internet videos and blurbs "infosnacking". Blogs, aggregate sites and sites like Youtube are included as sources of infosnacks.

      CNN and MSNBC have both tried versions of online blogs and infosnack videos with little commercial success. A few years ago MSNBC launched its big campaign to many oohs and aahs from insiders but few people on the 'outside' paid little attention. While small internet news productions like Rocketboom took off from such content. It seems industry still hasn't caught on.

      PBS did a great documentary on this called the "News Wars" - i think part 4 of 4 or 3 of 4 is where they talk about infosnacking.
  • Why? (Score:5, Funny)

    by MyLongNickName ( 822545 ) on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @02:52PM (#18786293) Journal
    Why do we need this when we have Slashdot?
  • so... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by cosmocain ( 1060326 )
    those who actually ARE interested in the world's affairs get an easier method to feed their information hunger.

    but i really don't believe that anoybody, who wouldn't watch news channels and use - maybe even international - websites to stay up-to-date with what's happening, will just because of a new possibility start to be interested. you can even find some informational stuff on youtube, but as long you are not interested in this kind of things, you'll still type in "boobs" instead of "global warming".
    • Re:so... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Red Flayer ( 890720 ) on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @03:38PM (#18786875) Journal

      but as long you are not interested in this kind of things, you'll still type in "boobs" instead of "global warming".
      Maybe it's just me, but even for those of us interested in those type of things, we still find our fingers typing in "boobies" despite commands from our brain to type in $SERIOUS_TOPIC. It's the unavoidable curse of being male and on the internet.

      That said, I agree that it's not likely to draw a huge amount of interest among people without prior interest -- except by referral. If someone sends me a link to a good video, I'm likely to look for additional videos from that source. This is where the high signal-to-noise ratio pays off in attracting and keeping users.
    • Re:so... (Score:4, Funny)

      by danpsmith ( 922127 ) on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @03:59PM (#18787177)

      but i really don't believe that anoybody, who wouldn't watch news channels and use - maybe even international - websites to stay up-to-date with what's happening, will just because of a new possibility start to be interested. you can even find some informational stuff on youtube, but as long you are not interested in this kind of things, you'll still type in "boobs" instead of "global warming".

      Then there's only one rational solution: to educate these people we need to tag videos about global warming with "boobs." In theory, this wouldn't be really misleading, as the more global warming occurs, the more spring/summer weather months we have further from the equator and the less clothing girls will wear during those months. Who knows, maybe some of them will even go wild on winter break.

  • That's better... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by JamesTRexx ( 675890 ) <> on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @02:54PM (#18786333) Homepage Journal
    First thing I get here is the famous "Nothing to see here, move along." message. I hope that's not going to be the default when looking for intelligent videos on the net. :-P

    I'm glad to see another opportunity to enhance knowledge on the net. Seeing more free course material (as in those of MIT) and getting more info from discussions etc. might just make it more accessible for people to gain knowledge and not hang around the tv all day because they can't afford a decent education.
  • MIT Open CourseWare (Score:5, Informative)

    by The Media Mechanic ( 1084283 ) on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @02:55PM (#18786341)
    MIT's Open CourseWare has online videos of undergraduate and graduate course lectures of actual math, engineering, physics professors... Many of whom are top researchers in their fields. This is about as brainy as you can get!

    For example... l1999/VideoLectures/index.htm []
  • It would be nice if (Score:3, Interesting)

    by zappepcs ( 820751 ) on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @03:01PM (#18786433) Journal
    some cable station actually created a news and info channel that performed as well as my use of the Internet for news? Seriously, a couple of hosts out front and a couple dozen web searchers, a few people coordinating the display of data... 30 minutes of the news Internet style without typing or clicking... hmmmmmm

    No, I don't mean something stupid, but for every story I read about, I can quickly verify with a second or third source. When a new word or entity pops up I can hit Google or Wikipedia or other sites for reference quickly....

    Well, not sure how it would work, but I wish news stations would take a clue from how the Internet is used.
  • I, for one, welcome our intellectual webcasting overloards.
    • I, for one, welcome our intellectual webcasting overloards. -- You are making a tired and unfunny Microsoft joke--Cancel or Allow?
      Tail recursion: see Tail recursion
  • we have had online encyclopedias, online open source books, it is only a matter of time before we get online videos that educate instead of appeal to the lower common denominator.

    In the USA we have an education problem, people dropping out of high school or college or never going to college. If professors and experts want to make educational videos to stimulate the mind, go right ahead. I can enjoy that sort of video. It would be like taking a Telecourse for a college.
  • ...instead of having to be there and fall asleep in an uncomfortable chair, you can stay at your computer and fall asleep drooling on your keyboard :) All joking aside, there are certainly a lot of people I'd like to listen to their speeches that I would not typically have access to.
  • Of course this will work. It's the same principle that gave rise to the Internet and FTP and HTTP and all the rest.

    With the cost of entry converging toward zero, it's not hard to cross the point where it's easier and cheaper to just do it than to worry about how to make money doing it.

  • ... because there's nothing like good, intellectual think tank [], I always say.
    • by Synic ( 14430 )
      Don't forget all the ones that give a helping hand to technology companies (Microsoft, SCO, etc) and political orgs (RNC).
  • TED (Score:3, Interesting)

    by DrWho520 ( 655973 ) on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @03:17PM (#18786641) Journal
    TED []
  • by BaumSquad ( 632811 ) on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @03:20PM (#18786675)
    There is already a great site for this type of smart content. YouTube for Braniacs, if you will. Check out There are over 13,000 presentations available to peruse through, and even cooler, you can search within these presentations and it will find the words you search both in the OCR text of the supporting materials (powerpoint, doc cam, or whatever) and even within the spoken text! Really cool tech.

    I am affiliated with the site, as I work for the manufacturer, Sonic Foundry, of the technology that creates the content that all of this is made from. But it's still way cool, and certainly the search tech is really cool, and it's really available, right now. Sweet.

  • It might be nice to have some intelligent content on the web for once. I go to the top 100 videos on Google video (via sageTV) once in a while. It's disappointing that at least 80% of it is half naked 16-24 year old girls and guys getting kicked in the balls. You'd think that people would get tired of watching that stuff after a while. I know I did. It would be nice to go to a site where the content is supposed to stimulate your brain. Other sites have their uses, but I think it's kind of depressing t
    • by Hatta ( 162192 )
      It's disappointing that at least 80% of it is half naked 16-24 year old girls

      Half-naked? That is disappointing.
  • by michaelmalak ( 91262 ) <> on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @03:35PM (#18786831) Homepage
    YouTube has plenty of this stuff already. It's just that YouTube's search facilities are a still immature. But not impossible. You can subscribe to "channels". You can click on your favorite authors and see what they've produced lately.

    It's like all those niche search engines that were supposed to compete against Google. Yes, some people use them, but not as many as the niche search engine developers would have liked.

    BTW, OT, my two favorite YouTube fictional series are:

    1. AfterWorld []
    2. We Need Girlfriends []
    • YouTube has plenty of this stuff already.
      No, it said "Online Video Suddenly Gets Brainy", not Grainy!

      - RG>
    • by British ( 51765 )
      YouTube's search engine while I agree is immature(you can't do specific searches on tags/metadata that you can input in uploaded videos), but still 100 times better than google video's crude layout & search.

      I swear any search I do on google video ends up with Charlie Rose programs in the search results. Like I wanna see him!
  • They need better web page design (or perhaps more testing against various browser configurations or web page standards).

    I tried viewing their site:
    - using firefox 1.5(.0.9) (the latest my Employer's IT people certify),
    - with expanded fonts (for my poor aged eyes on a hi-res LCD screen)
    and found it unusable.

    The positions of various items are forced in such a way that the text is all overlapping and the "advanced search" box (along with several other items) is buried under the sample program s
  • Before PBS there was National Educational Television, which had a miniscule audience
    but there were shows that people liked. Max Morath had a show about ragtime for example.
    I remember a show called "Two For Physics" which was done by a couple of Physics Professors
    and very low budget, but I liked it and learned a thing or two from it.

    PBS also had a show called "Mathnet". And there was "3-2-1 Contact!". Why not resurrect
    some of these shows and make them available?
    • by Ctrl-Z ( 28806 )
      How about bringing back programs that teach us how to spell words like "minuscule"?
  • Will be to have people sumarize each of the online videos and dumb them down and repost their own version so that people will actually have the patience to read them because you know that the general public doesnt want to have to think for themselves
  • (Score:3, Informative)

    by jalefkowit ( 101585 ) <`jason' `at' `'> on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @04:09PM (#18787299) Homepage

    Another example of brainier-than-usual video that isn't mentioned in TFA is [], which hosts hour-long dialogues between two experts on various issues of the day (mostly political, but sometimes they have science, religion & culture too).

    Of course, since "experts on various issues of the day" tend not to be among the most attractive people in the world, and the video is just of them talking, I have no idea why they don't just do audio-only and save bandwidth. But if you've got a Mickey Kaus pin-up on you're wall, consider your day made!

  • She teaches you the origin of a new word each week.. plus she's hot :-) []
  • Funny you should post this story about the educational value of the web today. I just watched a video of an Atlanta public access TV show in which the woman gives a very insightful explanation of the evils of men who are good in bed. Before online video, only the good folks of Atlanta would be able to enjoy this material. Today, you can all watch and learn by clicking this link [].

    Watch the video before modding me down, guys. I think you'll find it very Informative and perhaps even Insightful.


  • by morethanapapercert ( 749527 ) on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @04:45PM (#18787831) Homepage
    I have been watching two sites regularly for "brainy TV". Both consist of generally very good public speakers giving a lecture or presentation about important concepts. The first I found was TED [] which focuses more on future concepts, developing trends in society and that sort of forward looking stuff. The second was one I first discovered on my local PBS station (TV Ontario) and later hunted down online. The show is Big Ideas [] which features mainly the most skilled Canadian College and University lecturers talking about the subjects that they teach.

    I particularly liked Jacalyn Duffin's [] lecture about the history of medicine during the Rational Movement and it's relation to the scientific method in making a diagnosis.

    If anyone knows of any other good webcast sites (other than the MIT open courseware project, which I already have.) please let me know.

    • I can find and absorb information through transcripts much faster and more reliably than by watching or listening to a lecture. The way material is presented can be enlightening or entertaining, but this is usually when the aim is entertainment rather than learning.

      The most important part of an oral presentation is the post-lecture question and answer session. Oral debate does allow for rapid to and fro, though usually the thoughts presented are more shallow and half-baked than is the case for written

      • I agree, if I am trying to study and learn I do much better with a well written and illustrated textbook. Watching the babble box is different, that's something I do to relax and be entertained. Mainstream TV offends me however, and being a geek, I find watching a deep documentary or well presented lecture to be relaxing, engaging and fun! My wife (yes, a slashdotter who is actually married!) does not share my tastes in TV programming* however, so when I want to sit and veg out in front of the tube, it's at
  • Long Now (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I attend almost every seminar from the Long Now Foundation (, they record and post everything on their website, powered by; it is very nifty, each session is indexed to the word, so you can click on any word in the context and the video will jump to that particular point.
  • There's definitely an audience for this, and I can think of dozens of my own friends who'd be interested (some of them teachers). Academia has been waiting for a service like this to be available for some time. Right now, I get my lectures through P2P and torrents but this will be nice for stuff I don't want to keep, don't want to wait for, or can't find elsewhere.
  • The Perimeter Institute has been putting its lectures online for some time now. []

    Now I agree that it's good to have a central location for this sort of thing, but its hardly revolutionary.
  • This Japanese YouTube clone [] (currently in closed gamma) lets viewers add their comments in the form of subtitles that scroll across the video. It's like the inanity of YouTube mixed with the inanity of 2ch. Wait, maybe this wasn't a good response to a post about online video getting brainy.
  • YouTube has Brainy too. []
  • I enjoy the Stanford CS Colloquium [].

    The article doesn't actually link to the subject sites, so here you are: [] and ResearchChannel [].
  • There is a pretty amazing video on [] with Will Wright from MAXIS talking about programming generative systems and showing a demo of his new game Spore. The whole clip is backed up by Brian Eno playing generativly created music. []
  • The default "search" box only allows 16 characters. For more than 16 chars, you have to use the "Advanced search". I guess that means, for the brainiac network, use of 17 characters makes you "advanced". Woohoo.
  • London's largest daily newspaper, The Daily Telegraph, recently did a story on open source video []:

    According to proponents of a burgeoning new genre of independent film - "open source" cinema - New Line's U-turn [in adopting changes demanded by the prospective film audience] foreshadows the future of filmmaking, one where audiences control what kind of movies get made.

    More info on open source video can be found on Wikipedia's article on the subject. Newsforge's very own Joe "Zonker" Brockmeier has also pen []

  • The article states : Suddenly,The Web Is Giving Eggheads Something to Watch. I imagine that "eggheads" a rather dumb epithet, could sometimes be applied to the very folks who designed "the web" at CERN in the first place.

"If you lived today as if it were your last, you'd buy up a box of rockets and fire them all off, wouldn't you?" -- Garrison Keillor