Fresh & New(er)

discussion of issues around digital media and museums by Seb Chan

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Video archives in YouTube? – National Library of Scotland

July 2nd, 2008 by Seb Chan

Lorcan Dempsey pointed to this rather excellent presentation titled ‘There’s No Place Like Home?’ from Ann Cameron at the National Library of Scotland. In it she describes way that the NLS has been uploading archival video materials to YouTube and highlights some of the issues around Copyright, and metadata that have emerged from the project. The issues around context (slide 15) are also important in light of Henry Jenkins’ recent presentation.

Like Lorcan I also like Ann’s point that ‘every website we upload a moving image to is a shop window to the National Library of Scotland'(slide 14).

SlideShare | View

Like the increasing number of institutional photographic collections that are being uploaded to Flickr, YouTube could feasibly provide a similar highly accessible repository of video archives (Video Commons?). However, unlike Flickr, YouTube does not intentionally nurture the kind of communities that have developed around Flickr. In light of the recent work by Henry Jenkins and Jean Burgess on YouTube, it is clear that YouTube acts more as an interactive repository.

Many museums, galleries and science centres have already created their own presences (channels) on YouTube but this has tended to be contemporary content – talks, TVCs, presentations, digital stories.

Whilst communities form around content and actively create ‘video responses’ and propagate viral memes (see especially Burgess’ recent work on the nature of viral video on YouTube – Chocolate Rain, the guitar renditions of Pachabel’s Canon etc), the textual responses (comments) to works on YouTube seem to be less important than textual responses (comments) on Flickr.

As Burgess points out, though, the best textual responses to YouTube content happen on the blogs, forums and website on which video content ends up being embedded, rather than on YouTube itself. Whilst this also occurs with Flickr embeds, my hunch is that Flickr’s active nurturing of its ‘own’ community around the site means that embedding plays a lesser role than it does for YouTube content.

Tags: 3 Comments

  • Many thanks for referring to this presentation – its been a great example of the success of using Youtube as a means of getting more material out there, and by example, its proving the final point you make in your post.

    I also should add that the presentation was not only Ann’s work, but two colleagues here on the project contributed – Liam Paterson and Eilidh MacGlone The following link is to Eilidh’s write up on the work, and well worth a review. http://widwisawn.cdlr.strath.ac.uk/issues/vol6/issue6_1_4.html

  • Seb, I don’t think the purpose of setting up a YouTube channel is just to receive textual responses, so the comparison to Flickr doesn’t seem to be relevant to me. We’ve had our own channel for nearly nine months now and while there are only nine videos up, I’d say they have been more popular (& more historically significant and interesting) than that from NLS. See:
    http://www.youtube.com/user/AustWarMemorial
    It seems to me that our motive has been more along the lines of sharing decent content in a forum where the people might see it. We haven’t written a paper about it, but having uploaded several of the videos myself, I don’t think it is really the minefield that this presentation makes it out to be.

  • Seb Chan

    Hi Mal,

    Of course a YouTube presence isn’t just about the textual responses – primarily it is about reach. I like the NLS’s line about YouTube acting as a ‘shop window’ for the NLS.

    What I was getting at is that the design and community management social infrastructure of YouTube itself differs from that of Flickr and this is very much reflected in the nature and style of the text comments that YouTube attracts.

    Seb