If it takes a thousand words to tell a story, and a picture is worth a thousand words, then how much information can you convey communicating with video?
I ask the question for a couple reasons. One is that one of my companies, vSocial, has recently gone beta, dubbing itself The Video Clip Sharing Community. The goal in creating vSocial is to offer a site that delivers the easiest way to upload, watch and share your favorite video clips.
Towards that end, the site just works in the sense that it obviates the need for client software on the part of consumers, runs across browser types and OS platforms, and removes the historical imperative that the uploader of a video know anything about encoding to share a favorite clip. Plus, the user interface is rich, having been built around the AJAX development methodology.
Because of this development approach, the user interface supports dynamic rendering of content items within web pages, enabling users to see what's new, popular or talked about in a single click.
In turn, viewers can tag, review and rate their favorite videos, and vSocial also supports user-defined RSS feeds so that users can subscribe to automatically receive all "New" video clips or just the clips served up by their favorite uploader. Next up is support for syndicating clips directly into iTunes for autonomous upload into the new video iPods.
Also recognizing that such clips are part and parcel of the way many consumers adorn their personal profiles and "My" spaces, users can easily embed a video within a remote web site, blog and/or online community. Below is one such example (rumor has it this clip is from a haunted car commercial -- beware). :-)
As to the uploading process -- let's face it, working with video is scary for a lot of people. Again, with vSocial it is brain dead simple. You choose your file, name the clip, provide a description of the video and tag it (if you'd like), and the software does the rest, auto generating thumbnails of the clip, which makes it easier for users to decide if the video is of interest.
While there are certainly other contenders who aspire to the 'Flickr for Video' crown, part of what makes vSocial unique (at least the stuff that I can talk about) is a core understanding that the power of video in the Web 2.0 realm is that it provides another means of telling stories and starting conversations.
One does not have to think too hard to see how IM or Skype sessions can evolve into a sort of group "short attention span theater," and how in the long tail scheme of things a new realm of content publishers will emerge to address this opportunity. Russell Beattie covers one example, "how to videos" in his blog.
Towards this end, vSocial is beginning to roll out web based tools that allow you to actually "do something" with video versus the site merely serving as a big remote hard drive.
Case in point, the company provides a Video Roll builder, which enables users to build a dynamic panel of multiple videos which can be incorporated into blogs, personal pages and the like.
The use case is: let's say you want to post a blog on the war in Iraq that tells the story of how the war went wrong. With the Video Roll builder tool you can create a panel of progressive clips from various sources (after all, the lion's share of blogging is derivative) that provide actual narrative from the first distortion of facts to the fall of Sadaam to "mission accomplished" to the terrors in Falujah and so on.
Apply that same model to telling the story of the birth of a child or a great vacation, and you get the picture of how this can enhance the online story telling process in a manner that is synchronous with the web of blogs and clickable people profiles (ala Facebook).
As an example of the capability, I have built a simple video roll based on clips tagged "parody." It took me all of 45 seconds and copied and pasted right into the Edit HTML section of TypePad.
The web is evolving from a web of text and links to a web of pictures, movies and sounds. While this may seem like a great big "DUH" to some folks, actually seeing how the model is coming together and the early applications that are emerging to address this opportunity, and of course, how all of this coverges with trends like the RSS-enabled blogosphere and user-generated content has me really excited about the road ahead.