Saturday, March 24, 2007

Does Online Video Give Us a New User Interface?

Getting a handle on video search interface ...

"In Wednesday's SearchInsider, Aaron Goldberg looked at video search and what's going to be required for it to truly become an interesting advertising vehicle. Some of the speculation comes from Aaron’s musing about what might happen if Google purchased Blinkx.

To me, video search is one of the more interesting growth areas for search in the future. Currently, there are some restrictions on video search that are imposed by the current state of technology. Our ability to index video is restricted to the addition of metadata. For each video clip, someone must take the time to include the tags indicating what the video is about. As long as video search relies on this, the opportunities for advancement are extremely limited. But right now we’re advancing on several technical fronts to be able to index content and not rely on metadata. Several organizations, including Microsoft, are working on visual recognition algorithms that allow for true indexing of video content. Advancements in computing horsepower will soon give us the sheer muscle required for the gargantuan indexing task. Once we remove humans from the equation, allowing for automated indexing video content, the world of video search suddenly becomes much more promising.

When this happens, we move accessing information in a video from being a linear experience to being a nonlinear experience. Suddenly we have random-access to information embedded within the video. As mentioned, the technology is being developed to enable this, but the question is, will we as viewers be able to adapt to this paradigm shift? The evolution of video has been one that is coming from a linear, storytelling experience. Every video is generally a self-contained story with a distinct beginning, middle and end. This is how we're used to looking at video.

But when video search makes it possible to access information at any point in the video, how will that impact our engagement with that video? In the last 10 years, we've seen some fairly dramatic shifts in how we assimilate written information. We have moved from our past experience, where information was presented in very much a linear fashion in novels or books, to the way we currently assimilate information on websites. When we interact with websites, we "berry pick", hunting in various places on the page for information cues that seemed to offer what we are looking for. Assimilation of the written word is much more erratic experience right now. We move in a nonlinear fashion through websites, picking up information and navigating based solely on our intent and the paths we choose for ourselves. One of the greatest revelations in website design was that we can not restrict users to a linear progression through our site, much as we might want to control their experience."    (Continued via OutofMyGord)    [Usability Resources]

Microsoft's PhotoSynth - Usability, User Interface Design

Microsoft's PhotoSynth

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