Video Raised the Internet Bar

Video Raised the Internet Bar
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by Jim Hedger

The other day a few friends and I stopped back at the office after a long day of golf. By age, the foursome spanned three unique musical eras. Pete the chef is a child of the ’70’s. Business partner Andy and I are products of the ’80’s and our fourth, young Derek the hotel manager had his halcyon days in the ’90’s. Finding music that suits all our tastes is a challenge with one liking the guitar-god rock of Led Zeppelin, two digging the melodic meanderings of the post-punk ’80’s and the other intently listening to the contemporary sounds of today.

Though the several thousand MP3s from our collective systems have been merged into one meta-MP3 music file providing what should be at least a week of continuous, entertainment. The problem is, my main computer appears to be dropping its drivers and those thousands of MP3s are sounding sort of fuzzy.

After the short wave of annoyance passed, I decided to put my powers of search to the test and venture forth to find and replace my errant sound driver. It didn’t take very long to decide that was a bad idea disguised as a good one. Several pints of loosening fluid consumed between the 10th and 19th greens were still active. Ten minutes of extreme frustration surfing around the site of the company that made my sound card led me to Google in the vain hopes I could find another repository of arcane drivers.

“What’s taking so long with the Led Zeppelin? I can make a slow-soup faster than this,” taunted Pete the chef. Pete pushes the envelope when it comes to the never ending computer problems that tend to plague my home-office.

“Sufferin’ succotash dude! Hold your horses or even better, go slow-cook them. If it was that easy, I would just be able to type “led zeppelin (http://video.google.com/videosearch?hl= en&q=led%20zeppelin&btnG=Google+Search&sa=N&tab=wv)” into Google like this and… HOLY ****! Check this out guys…”

Inadvertently I stumbled upon Google Video. Pete’s Led Zeppelin (http://video.google.com/videosearch?q=led+zeppelin&hl=en) craving was instantly assuaged by a live 1979 performance of “Rain Song” and I was about to experience one of the most interesting innovations seen online in months.

While the Zeppelin footage was old and grainy, the sound was master quality. Next, we moved to the early ’80’s looking for anything by The Clash (http://video.google.com/videosearch? q=the+clash&hl=en). We were rewarded with a live concert version of the piece Rolling Stone Magazine called the most influential song of its decade, London Calling. Again, because the recording is almost twenty-six years ago, the video quality is rather low but the sound quality is excellent. Two successful searches lead to us wanting more. Derek leaned over and asked if we could find a piece by a friend of a friend in Toronto, Bedouin Soundclash (http://video.google.com/videosearch? q=bedouin+soundclash&hl=en). The first reference was the video for “When the Night Feels My Song”, the band’s recent hit, followed by five other live performance videos.

75% of the screen is used to display the video content with the remaining quarter on the right of the screen showing several options for viewers and webmasters. As we watched the two live performances and one video, we explored some of these options.

At the top of the right side screen is a five-star ratings system similar to the one used by Windows Media Player. Below the ranking stars an Email this video button allows viewers to send the video clip to friends. When the emailed clip arrives, a video box (present in both Gmail and MS Outlook) is displayed. A click on the play arrow opens a Google Video viewer playing the clip.

For some video clips, the “email this video” button has expanded capabilities. Bloggers are invited to display the clip on their blogs with links coming in multiple forms including, text links, embedded video, and direct support for MySpace, Blogger, LiveJournal and TypePad.

Below the Email/Blog/Post to MySpace button is a short description of the performers along with links to other pages displaying similar content. Directly below the description, five links appear showing a playlist of similar videos, still images from the video being shown, a list of videos posted by the user who posted the original, related videos, and other users’ comments. Below those options are links to all similar videos in Google Video’s database.

That’s a lot of webmaster friendly features. The ability to post embedded clips directly to a blog is likely one that webmasters will begin using, much in the same way YouTube videos are increasingly being shown on independent sites.

After listening to me rave about how ease of access to video production and distribution is rapidly changing the way I think about the Internet, my friends decided they would rather listen to some more music. So far, Google Video has not disappointed us, going three for three. For the moment, Google Video was batting an even 1.000. We decided to give it a bit of a challenge and look for some obscure content. “The Message” by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five (http://video.google.com/videosearch?q=grandmaster+flash&hl=en). Google had it. Four for four.

That’s where our luck and Google’s reach seemed to end. Trying to keep young Derek happy, we then searched for the intro theme from the Sopranos “Woke Up This Morning”, by A3. No such luck. Google video was able to find plenty of parody versions but the original three-minute song and accompanying video of Tony Soprano’s daily commute along the E. Jersey shore was moodily absent.

Next we went back to the ’80’s trying to find Scottish pop band Big Country (http://video.google.com/videosearch?q=big+country&hl=en). While we were unable to directly experience Big Country’s synthesized bagpipes, an American cover band, Wil Wilson offered two scratchy minutes of their version of that hook-laden melody played with a real bagpiper.

We conducted a number of other searches for bands ranging from the popular Santana (http://video.google.com/videosearch? q=santana&hl=en) (covers only), Guns N’ Roses (http://video.google.com/videosearch?q=guns+n%27+roses&hl=en) (live version of Civil War found), Eminem (http://video.google.com/videosearch?q=eminem&hl=en) (lots of content) and Van Halen (http://video.google.com/videosearch? q=van+halen&hl=en) (many covers, little original content), to the oldies such as Roy Orbison (http://video.google.com/ videosearch?q=van+halen&hl=en) (11 original pieces), Johnny Cash (http://video.google.com/videosearch?q=johnny+cash&hl=en) (great content), The Beatles (lots of mixed content), and Dion and the Belmonts (http://video.google.com/videosearch? q=dion+and+the+belmonts&hl=en) (pay-for-play content).

A quirky search for Elton John (http://video.google.com/ videosearch?q=elton+john&hl=en) videos produced William Shatner’s (http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid= 9186670810343559618&q=elton+john&pr=goog-sl&hl=en) classic version of Rocketman, the one Stewie Griffin parodied on the Family Guy. Recalling the Family Guy episode, Andy sat at one of the laptops and started a Google Video search for the clip featuring Stewie’s tribute to Shatner. Andy was unable to find it on Google video but a quick search of the main search engine on Google.com served up a successful link in the first three organic results directing us to GorillaMask.net (http://gorillamask.net/rm.shtml).

Finding the Family Guy tribute prompted us to revisit some of our less successful video searches on Google.com. In many cases, videos and songs unavailable at Google Video have been posted to YouTube though many of the song clips are overlaid with animations created by independent users.

It is relatively easy to post videos to both Google Video and YouTube though an account is required on both servers. With Google Video, submitting a clip is as simple as filling out a short, five-field form, agreeing to the terms and conditions, and hitting the upload video button. YouTube is a bit more complicated, asking submitters to help classify the video before it is uploaded.

In both cases, the content creator retains rights to the clips they submit however by agreeing to the terms and conditions set by Google, content creators are, in effect, “… directing and authorizing Google to, and granting Google a royalty-free, non-exclusive right and license to, host, cache, route, transmit, store, copy, modify, distribute, perform, display, reformat, excerpt, facilitate the sale or rental of copies of, analyze, and create algorithms based on the Authorized Content in order to (i) host the Authorized Content on Google’s servers, (ii) index the Authorized Content; (iii) display, perform and distribute the Authorized Content, in whole or in part, in the territory(ies) designated in the Metadata Form, in connection with Google products and services now existing or hereafter developed, including without limitation for syndication on third party sites; and in connection with each of the uses, if any, of the Authorized Content authorized in the video information page (the “Video Information Page”) which will be made available to You no sooner than at the time Google enables any of the features designated on the Video Information Page. This license gives Google the right to display Your Authorized Content via streaming and/or downloading technologies, and to display limited excerpts of Your Authorized Content for no fee to the end user. Google may in its sole discretion display a link or links to the website You designate (subject to Google’s approval) in the Metadata Form in connection with any display of Your Authorized Content, and to display links to third party commercial retailer web sites where purchases of the Authorized Content may be available, to the extent such third party commercial retailer web site serves as a distributor of the Authorized Content.”

The agreement appears weighted in favor of the content creator. While Google can mess with it and use the content as real estate for advertising delivery, the creator safely holds ownership and future commercial rights. Aside from offering potential buyers free material, content creators appear to have few worries about losing control of their creations.

The availability and accessibility of video through Google Video and YouTube is already expanding options for webmasters, advertisers and content creators, much as MySpace offered young bands a global exposure platform. With the easy ability to store media files on Google or YouTube servers and embed those files in blogs, websites and MySpace profiles, Internet users can expect a greater visual experience as webmasters discover and make use of tools that literally could alter the way we all view the Internet

About the Author

Search marketing expert Jim Hedger is one of the most prolific writers in the search sector with articles appearing in numerous search related websites and newsletters, including SiteProNews, Search Engine Journal, ISEDB.com, and Search Engine Guide.

He is currently Senior Editor for the Jayde Online news sources SEO-News (http://www.seo-news.com) and SiteProNews (http://www.sitepronews.com).

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