Like it or not, the Internet video revolution is upon us. Video comes closer to mimicking real life without being there than the written word or audio alone.
Before I explain, I want to offer two words of advice: create video. Show our readers how your product works. Show how you created an innovative gadget. Walk us through your latest software tricks. Let's face it: video-like 3D CAD models have been around years. Real video of products and demonstrations is a CAD model's first cousin. We have started embedding YouTube video in our stories (PS3 disassembly and ZMT's dancing robot) which is only slightly more involved than creating a hyperlink.
No doubt, YouTube is driving this new phenomenon and seismic shift in how we take in information. YouTube claims it serves up 70 million videos daily. In another spot on its website, it claims the figure is 100 million. Regardless, that's a lot of video. Here's other YouTube stats:
65,000 new videos are uploaded daily: source, YouTube.
In the first six months of 2006, unique visitors to YouTube grew 297 percent to about 20 million: source, Nielsen NetRatings.
In October, Google agreed to buy YouTube for $1.65 billion (I think YouTube sold out too cheap and too soon).
I've been asked several times if I think video would take off on the Web. My reaction was that launching such an initiative meant expensive equipment and expertise to create professional-looking videos. In fact, six years ago, I ran just such a venture called Zcast.tv for which we managed to blow upward of $400,000 to outfit a studio and a control room.
The fact is, millions of teenagers are submitting videos of acceptable quality using their parents' camcorder and the editing software that came with their PC. And focusing on video creation, which happened 15 years ago when the market was flooded with $500 camcorders, misses the point. What YouTube showed us was how to easily play and distribute video.
My sense is that video will grow rapidly in the B2B publishing space and for Design News (who's going to do the YouTube for technical and B2B videos?). When Siemens announced it would acquire UGS in late January, we did the usual story on how that might change life for UGS engineers and customers. We also searched for some videos to link to and sure enough, UGS had “video case studies” on its website. In the end, we did not link to them, because they were not relevant to the story. But finding the videos when we really did not expect to, drove home the point that the Internet has no peer as a distribution mechanism.
Videos should clearly, and as objectively as possible, show how products work. Leave the hype, hyperbole and branding at home or, like we do with a press release, we'll edit it out when we can. We can take all major video formats — MPEG, wmv, avi, Quicktime, RealVideo and Flash — and drop them in our custom Flash player for quick playback. All videos will be clearly attributed to the source.
As for the content itself, we want video that can enhance the drama and realism of a product. Watching the Honda ASIMO robot run for the first time defied words. Maybe, Nick Pagazani (Gadget Freak Case # 96) could have walked us through how he built his remote trigger for his camera strobe. An occasional talking head is good, too.
The larger impact on designnews.com is expressed in one word: “mashup,” whereby content from different sources in different formats (from us and from anybody as audio, video, blog posts and stories) is commingled. Many content websites such as CNN.com and CNet.com provide so-called mash-ups. And we at designnews.com will follow the mashup principle as well. A former colleague of mine even runs a Mashup camp and Mashup University.
Yes, we're jumping on the video bandwagon, but by no means is the written word or the block diagram diminished. Product design requires copious description and precise illustration. Nothing surpasses written material for depth, richness, efficiency and even beauty. That's why we haven't seen video manuals for the iPhone. Internet video will no more replace accurate and pleasurable descriptions than TV replaced books and newspaper. Internet video for technical topics is additive and will simply make the consumption of information richer and that much easier.
Send your video directly to me or to one of our technical editors. If it's too big, we'll give you instructions about how to ftp it. Contact me at my blog, If it Ain't Broke or at firstname.lastname@example.org.