It’s been exactly one month since the band Walk Off the Earth uploaded their cover of Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know” to YouTube. More than 48 million views later, they are on fire and courting multiple record labels.
Think of it this way, if 1 in 20 viewers bought this song for $1 , this group would have made $1 Million in a month (assuming there were 20 million unique viewers). Along with the iTunes link and the direct download link, they also sell T-shirts. That’s the power of viral web sharing. The world’s greatest marketing tool is free.
Google’s YouTube started supporting for the CC-BY Creative Commons open license yesterday. Awesome news, and just in time for our Open Course Library phase 1 videos, which we will be captioning and moving to YouTube very soon. Here’s the announcement from the Creative Commons blog:
YouTube has added the Creative Commons Attribution license (CC BY) as a licensing option for users! Now when users upload video, they can choose to license it under CC BY or to remain with the default “Standard YouTube License.” Users may also change the license on existing videos by editing each video individually.
In conjunction with the implementation, YouTube has launched a Creative Commons video library containing 10,000 videos under CC BY from organizations such as C-SPAN, PublicResource.org, Voice of America, and Al Jazeera. The library will serve as a base catalog of videos for users to access, edit, and incorporate into their own video projects. The YouTube Video Editor now contains a CC tab that allows users to search the Creative Commons video library and select videos to edit and remix. Users may remix videos directly on the editor platform, and any video that is created using CC BY-licensed content will automatically display the linked source videos’ titles underneath the video player. Since CC BY is enabled as a licensing option, the library will grow as more users choose to license their work under CC BY.
As you probably know, David Wiley was recently able to convince Sal Khan of the Khan Academy to start using a CC-BY license on his 1200+ educational videos. Since all of Sal’s Open Educational Resources (yes, we can call it OER now) are delivered via YouTube they benefit from Google’s yummy, new auto-transcription and auto-translation features. I have experimented with viewing Sal’s video mini-lectures with both English and French captions. The English audio transcription seems fairly accurate, and the French translation (auto-generated from the English subtitles) has a little more that is “lost in auto-translation.” This definitely deserves it’s “beta” label, but it is impressive nonetheless when you consider it is all auto-generated.
So what does video auto-captioning mean for OER?
accessibility (readable by someone with a screen reader or braille output device)
discoverability (easy for others to find you via Google, etc.)
searchability (easy to find the specific part you are looking for – i. e. searchable video)
low-bandwidth access (if text transcripts are made available separately)
translateability (I think I made that word up)
Once you have an easy way to transcribe video content, several new possibilities open up. While not perfect, the auto-captioned content is definitely more accessible to users with visual and/or aural disabilities. (I just hope future iterations of auto-captioning will allow the content author to invite/approve users to edit these auto-captions, similar to the dotSub model.) But increased accessibility is only one way we can benefit. Now that you have captions, you can search them. Auto-captioning will make it possible to find a particular video on the web, or even a particular segment within a video using a keyword search. Soon you will “Google” through video for a particular scene. MIT is already doing video search (see their Lecture Browser and Spoken Media Project). Finally, raw text video transcriptions use less bandwidth than the original video content, which meets another critical need: access in low-bandwidth areas or places where the cost of bandwidth can be prohibitive. I’ll stop there for now, but it is clear to me that with the explosion of online videos and related rich media, video auto-captioning is a major step forward for the web.