Wednesday, May 21, 2008
  Omnisio or nomnisio?
I took a look at Omnisio today. It is a tool that allows one to associate video clips with slide presentations, and then allows users to comment directly on the video. It sounded cool and useful.

I chose to watch Merlin Mann's Inbox Zero talk. Watching him speak, as well as hearing the talk with slides should be so much richer, I thought. And some intelligent comments from other previous watchers would be added value. In fact it is the worst of multimedia meets the worst of "Web 2.0". Since you have good sized video and good sized slides, with OK sound the presentation did not so much stream and trickle with frequent annoying hiccups. Make the video smaller, maybe compress the sound a little more and that combination would be great though (or deliver it from a DVD for real quality). The comments, of course are not intelligent, they are anonymous and crowd out the video with such gems as "Great!!!" repeated 16 times at various apparently arbitrary points. It might have been interesting to know that the chair (that almost appeared in the video) was Ikea, but it was irrelevant and so just another blot on the video. All in all a big disappointment.

Now before you think I am a multimedia Luddite, or a Web 2.0 sceptic, hear me out...

The multimedia aspect is brilliant, the combination of video and slides has the potential to offer so much more than slides and audio alone. Except in this implementation it does not work. Both slides and video are smallish (about 480px wide each) which is unavoidable for web delivery, but they are not small enough (at least on NZ's rather narrow "broadband"). Bigger slides with smaller video in one corner (think Camtasia with a webcam) would download faster and give a fullscreen experience.

Or, deliver it on DVD...

Web 2.0 is great, when users contribute usefully. The "wisdom of crowds" works (at least often) and applications like Google Earth and sites like Flickr use publicly contributed resources brilliantly to provide a growing and useful body of material. But do not give me the folly of "Anonymous" once humans are sure they will not be identified we tend to give reign to our baser instincts - in this case a plethora of useless, annoying and occasionally rude comments. Which proliferate like rabbits, at times almost hiding the presenter behind a barrage of meaningless verbiage.
Microsoft's chief, estimated worth $46bn, is the US' richest man
Make users login, identify them and provide their email address so that particularly crass and stupid "comments" can get the feedback they deserve, and you'd have a brilliant opportunity to interact with the video. (Probably you'd need to put most comments outside the video and only put those which like the "Ikea chair" comment relate directly to some visual element on the video itself.) But you can't do that, because of spam, once again spam ruins a potentially useful tool.
Do you remember back in 2004 when Bill Gates multi-billionaire philanthropist and founder of the world's biggest software company proclaimed that the spam problem would soon fixed? Spam will be a thing of the past in two years' time, Microsoft boss Bill Gates has promised. Nice one Bill!

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