Saturday, October 20, 2007

When did my browser turn into a television set?

It seems that up to one third of content is now YouTube or similar video components. Just today over at Slate there was a link to something about Romney's Fatal Flaw. Click and there is no text. Instead, a video loads, beginning with an ad for an Infiniti sedan. Which can be a surprise if you've opened the link in a tab.   ...   Where is that sound coming from?

And who wants to listen to John Dickerson anyway? Reading should be sufficient.

TPM has gone the video route as well. It's okay to use when showing some meaningful body language (!) that Bush might employ. But if it's just the White House Press Secretary or announcement du jour from the State Department, having video isn't necessary. In fact, it's a problem.

It takes too long. It eats bandwidth. It doesn't do what a reporter does: boil down a story so that the essentials are conveyed to the reader.

And some of these videos are awful. There was a twenty-one minute discussion between Peter Beinart and Jonah Goldberg about Pamela Anderson and Hollywood immorality. You have to see it to believe it.

Is this what high-speed Internet is turning to? In addition to videos substituting for writing, we are also seeing mini-commercials between web pages.

One thing for sure, this development will result in people spending much less time in front of the computer.


try the flashblock extension for Firefox

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10/20/2007 10:54 AM  

I couldn't agree more. I read TPM every day (via RSS and clicking through to see posts of interest, multiple clicks/ day). But I've probably viewed only two or three videos in the months they've been putting them up. I doubt I've ever watched one all the way through.

I have watched one or two bloggingheads, where the advantage over text is that there is at least some real-time interaction between people that one wouldn't get from text. But even in that instance I will keep the audio going while hiding the video.

Also, I don't sample videos just to see if I'm interested in them--I skim text, but I don't skim videos.

The random videoization is a bad trend and I hope people find out that it drives eyeballs away more than it attracts them.

However, some things really are necessary to see in moving images (the "Macaca" incident, a true documentary of the sort that fellow from The Nation did at conservative gatherings -- though IMO he didn't do them that well after establishing the concept. The "necessary" videos are a small fraction of the vids I encounter. 99 percent of stuff is better communicated through text.

OTOH, for entertainment things, I download stuff to view on my home TV system. I don't want to be glued to a computer to watch a BBC documentary or a sitcom.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10/20/2007 11:25 AM  

Anon: I agree that some things are best on video (I'm not like those folks who are proud not to own a television set), and I don't click much on those that are there.

Your expression (ramdom videoization) is apt. It's being done partly just because it can be done. Reminds me in some ways of the local news helicopter filming a police chase, in a way. While very few are interesting*, for the most part they eat up time and and the end of the broadcast, you've lost out on real news.

* Once in Los Angeles, there was a chase of someone who stole a large truck used to distribute 7-UP. Now that was weird, and worth watching. (When the truck made some turns, two-liter bottles would fly out the open cargo area and roll on the street and explode.)

By Blogger Quiddity, at 10/20/2007 12:32 PM  

It's also annoying, if one uses a computer without sound equipment as the one I sit in front of currently.
And I usually print out interesting stuff to keep a record (also better for the eyes). Difficult to do that with videos.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10/21/2007 2:01 AM  

One important factor is that reading text is _much_ faster.

I remember taking one of Clinton's longish State of the Union addresses and reading the entire transcript. It was roughly four times faster than the stated runtime.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10/21/2007 2:59 AM  

If I want video, I can go to YouTube myself. Why can't simple text links to the video files be posted without having to waste bandwidth and page space with clunky embedded files? I have to admit that bandwidth economy is one of the few things that Drudge does right (at least on my system).

But the video embeds are just part of the problem for me these days. For a few sites now, it's getting to the point where I need some sort of cheat sheet to determine what all the oh-so-clever nicknames apply to, and whether a webpage headline/blurb is trying to be ironic or literal. One headline on TPM today: "Duke So Dumb, His Bribers Also Did His Job" This is a HEADLINE on a serious blog?

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10/21/2007 8:07 AM  

I just don't like sound or music when I'm trying to read Web sites. And it must be very disruptive in the cubicle environment of so many businesses today.

And, no, I don't like turning off sound by default since I often listen to Web-based radio. So I get stuck sometimes having two independent soundtracks going on simultaneously.

By Blogger Laurie Mann, at 10/21/2007 6:12 PM  

My most recent YouTube Videos:

Dana Perino Pushes Bush's Big Lie, Reporters Sit on their Asses

Thom Hartmann's Hypocrisy for Israel
(Parts 1 and 2)

By Blogger Tom, at 10/22/2007 7:16 AM  

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