My Journal



Semi-Synchronous Communication: Adding Notes in Viddler.

Last week, I was discussing with someone the ability one has to add textual comments (annotations) to the timeline of online videos, such as in YouTube and Viddler. In this way, one is commenting textually at certain points in the timeline of the video. This is rather exciting, since it breaks a limitation of annotating video/audio.

When I am reading a book or article, I can take notes in the margin, so it is connected to the text’s passage that inspired me. If I am listening to an audio (or even video) podcast, without such an annotation feature, I can take notes on a certain point (pausing the media, not unlike pausing your place in a written text to write something down), but I cannot link it directly to that point in the audio. Short of writing down the point in the timeline (e.g. at point 1:17), which is not so unlike writing down a page # and parag. #, I am forced to rely more on memory to recall what the original point was. Also, I can take audio notes while listening to the audio (pause the podcast and then Jott notes to myself).

Today, I was looking at this a bit more and found that, in Viddler, I can also add audio comments. In addition to the textual notes I added, the video note pops up and gives the user the option to click and watch.

I think a great addition would be the option to have any inserted video comments play automatically. While one would not always want this sitting on, it would be beneficial sometimes, since the viewer be prepared to click the play button on the video not when the timeline hits that point.

Also, if the purpose was to take notes, it would be essential (on something like Youtube) to have them only display personally. In other words, I’d log in to account and the notes would just display for me. For example, if I was watching a Youtube video of a historic or public event, such as a Derrida clip, I might want to add my notes at a given point in the video, but would not, necessarily, want those to display publicly. Conversely, on something like my own viddler-type video, this function could remain public and is very useful to have ongoing conversations in the same way one does textually on a blog.

Thus, the situation creates what I will call semi-synchronous oral communication. From primarily oral to chirographic communication, a characteristic with which Plato most disagreed was that a text could not answer for itself. In other words, the reader who desires clarification of a point is at a loss, since the orator/author is not present. This is true of secondary orality, as well (tv/radio). However, it is not completely true 100% of the time with tools like Viddler. For example, if you have a question, argument, or discussion point on something I said in the video you just watched, you can post/ask it in video form. Basically, my oration is secondary orality and is not live. However, there are factors that make it seem live to you the viewer (personal, direct, human, etc.), yet with the obvious downfall of one-sidedness. But, you, the viewer, can ask a question immediately, to which I can respond in a lagged amount of time. Of course, there is a time factor in that I cannot ask questions to Derrida in his video, and if you ask a question of mine, I might never respond.

While basically asynchronous, the perception of seeing a real person to whom you can immediately ask a question, makes it seem a small step closer to a synchronous conversation. However, I certainly acknowledge that it is in-part in the perception. The part in which it is not just a matter of perception is that it is a matter of degree-of-lag. Considering the textual equivalents as analogy, if we are having an ongoing discussion on a discussion board, blog, or email, we consider that asynchronous. If we are communicating in an IM window, that is synchronous. But, if I am in the chat session and working on other tasks, only popping in every ½ hour or so, or perhaps not even remaining at the computer, but rather walking around still popping in occasionally, that is semi-synchronous. I am basically still in the chat, it is still essentially a live conversation, yet with quite a lag. (This ties closely to this discussion). With the video, I might get your video and respond right away if I am online (assuming all is hooked up, it is often easier to make a video response than to form a textual response. Also, I receive updates (to my phone) when a comment is left on my blog, which shortens the response lag. In this way, with the perception of speaking to a real person and the reality of a relatively short lag, I see the situation as semi-synchronous.

    • Konnie
      Oct 15, 2008 at 7:12 AM /

      Thinking about the ‘video chat’ (is that what it is?), one thing really stands out: the ability to comment at point-of-use/interest/speech. This will definitely take out guess work on the part of the recipient as to what the comment refers to. S/he then has the ability to address any video comments in the same fashion. So, I agree a conversation like this could conceivably go on for a long time, just like a real conversation could. A big difference, though, is the ability to ponder one’s thoughts more carefully because one can view the entire video first and then go back and insert comments that might have been sparked by later parts of the video. In other words, one has the advantage to create much more deliberate comments (let’s assume they are video) than in a live f2f conversation. An added phenomenon would be that the conversation is no longer sequential in the traditional sense but could grow in multiple dimensions, i.e., a video comment inserted at a certain point might veer the conversation into a different direction, create a fork.

      However, the entire original video with its various ‘first-round’ comments is still available and can be continued at any point, possibly with newly gained insights. All of these new forks can now be traced/archived and be picked up at any point again, spawning new tracks.

      This new conversational maze/spiderweb could give rise to observable invention through rhetoric.

      sequential (synchronous) conversation: >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

      ^>>>>>>>vvv ^>>>>>>>>
      ^ ^^^
      multi-dimensional conversation: >>>>^^>>>>vvvv>>>>>>>>>^^^^^^>>>>>
      (semi-synchronous) vv

      …forgive the crude illustration ^_^

    • Konnie
      Oct 15, 2008 at 7:14 AM /

      ok, the illustration looks nothing like I intended…lol

    • thbarrow
      Oct 16, 2008 at 1:50 AM /

      Yeh, I did not understand the illustration. Acknowledging what seem to be unplanned line breaks, I stared at it a while and think I need a hint as to what is represents.

      Again, I launched a New Post, to fully address your comment, and because my response puts forth a new term/idea.