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Presentation September 20, 2009

Posted by gordonwatts in computers, Conference.

Ok. Really. This is my last post of Video for a while. Ever since I started the DeepTalk project I’ve started to be much more aware of how conference data is put out on the web. So it has become a bit of a soap-box for me. 🙂 But this is the last one for a while, I promise.

During my last several posts on this there have been a bunch of comments on how other conferences have presented their video online. I thought I’d give you my opinion. 🙂

  • Pycon 2009 – the annual Python conference. At first I was hopeful about this – the web page is quite nice and you’ll notice right at the top there is a nice iCal link so you can download the schedule. However, the schedule is just that – a schedule. You can’t get access to the links to the talks or video from there. Associated with the web page is a RSS feed too – which is excellent – I could now use my pod-cast software (any software should be able to read it) and I could download the audio of the whole event. Sweet. However, there is no way to connect the slides and the video or audio together via a program (as far as I can tell). The video looks like it is all archived on blip.tv. The beauty of this system is that it makes files availible in lots of formats (see this talk, click on the “files and links” to see). AND there is a small little RSS link at the bottom – so I can get all the talks down as video to my podcast software (the default seems to be the MP4 format, which satisfies most of my requirements as a good video format). So this conference has made its schedule available in a standard format (iCal), made all of its videos available in a standard format (blip.tv). I’d like to see some integration between the two so that one could find the slides, abstract, and video together, using a program. 🙂
  • Strings ‘07 Conference – a conference on strings. The conference website is basically a series of static web pages – including the schedule (I’ve extracted that page – but you can get to it by looking at the home page –> Scientific Program –> Speakers&Titles). There are links to the slides and Video. The video is in MP4 format (fantastic!). None of this is discoverable, unfortunately, by a program – you would have to scrape the web page in order to find it. Chimpanzee, who has left a lot of comments on these video posting, has done some work with this conference, putting it in iTunes as a show. Unfortunately, unless you have iTunes installed, this is not very useful as it brings you to an Apple page that asks you to download and install ITunes. However, Chimpanzee did put this on blip.tv as a several shows (one show per day – I think from the point of view of subscribing I’d have preferred a single show for the whole conference). Also, the nice RSS feeds to blip.tv are well hidden. So, well done with mp4 and PDF files up there. The blip.tv solution is quite nice, again. The static web page that links them together isn’t so good – it isn’t very discoverable, unfortunately.
  • Lepton-Photon 2009 – The agenda is posted in the standard agenda software in use in HEP, Indico, which makes it easily exportable. Each talk has a link to the PDF as well as a Video link. Unfortunately, the Video leads to a RealMedia file – which my open source tools cannot play. So the video format doesn’t pass muster.

I am pleasantly surprised by blip.tv. It looks like a very nice service. I have no idea what their business model is. The good news is that people won’t watch most talks from a physics conference very much – so they will require very little bandwidth.

No conference gets it quite right (IMHO), but they all come close. From my point-of-view, combining Indico with blip.tv seems like a fairly ideal solution given current technology constraints.

Two quick notes. First, there has been a hope that perhaps HTML5 would standardize a single video format – and we could all just depend on all browsers running it without having to install plugins like the security-ridden Flash or RealMedia. This is not to be, however. There is an excellent blog series for those of you who want to know what is happening to HTML5 that I stumbled on. This posting makes it clear that a preferred video format no longer exists in the standard (for details, see the change log for the standard).

Second, I keep holding up Indico as a nice way to post meeting agendas. But perhaps there is a standard for this sort of thing? A microformat or perhaps something form the Semantic Web? Then Indico (and everyone else) could produce that for various tools to parse. I only took a brief search, but didn’t find anything.


1. chimpanzee - September 22, 2009

I went ahead & put in the widget for feed subscriptions, it’s at the top of the vertical menu-bar:


I also put links to the blip.tv “video-blog” for each day (see vertical menu-bar “Blip.tv video-blog”), repeated below:


I originally planned to put all the lectures in a SINGLE show (like you recommended):


but I decided to do by day.

2. gordonwatts - September 22, 2009

Thanks for updating those links! Definately nice. And thanks for turning me on to blip.tv. Very cool!

3. Robert Shumake - February 2, 2010

There is obviously a lot to learn. There are some good points here.

Robert Shumake

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