Tag Archives: youtube

Arst Arsw: Star Wars in Alphabetical Order

baby darthFather’s Day by Artiee / Flickr

A friend recently lent me the book Uncharted: Big Data as a Lens on Human Culture, which discusses the development of the Google N-Gram Corpus.  After scanning millions of books, Google could not simply make them all freely available because this would essentially be republishing copyrighted works.  Instead, Google has made them all searchable by N-Grams (one-, two-, three-word phrases and so on up to n-words) which protects the copyrighted works because they are really only viewable in aggregate.  The corpus is, of course, limited in that it only includes books (as opposed to also including magazines, newspapers, oral texts, etc.), but given that it goes back hundreds of years, the size and the scope of the corpus is pretty amazing.

Early on in Uncharted, a book called Legendary Lexical Loquacious Love, a concordance of a romance novel, is affectionately described as a conceptual art piece that helped to inspire the N-Gram Corpus.  In Love, every word from a romance novel is presented in alphabetical order.  So, a word like a, which appears several times in the original source novel, is repeated scores of times.  The authors talk about how different the experience of reading a concordance of a romance novel is from reading the original romance novel, but how the former is compelling in its own way.  For example, they offer the following quote:

beautiful beautiful beautiful beautiful beautiful beautiful beautiful
beautiful beautiful beautiful beautiful beautiful beautiful beautiful
beautiful beautiful beautiful,  beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, beautiful,
beautiful, beautiful, beautiful,” beautiful. beautiful. beautiful.”
beautiful… beautiful…

These 29 occurrences of the word beautiful are, presumably, spread throughout the original novel.  But seeing them juxtaposed next to other words that begin with b (and with the scores of occurrences of the word a) gives you a different perspective on a romance novel.

What does this have to do with Star Wars?  Great question.  While reading Uncharted, I came across the following YouTube video:

Created by Tom Murphy, the video is “meant to be provocative in its uselessness.”  It took 42 hours to produce the 43-minute video, which is oddly compelling to watch.  In addition to the video, a small data bar at the bottom graphs the frequencies of each word, which is also tallied onscreen through the video.  It’s a difference experience, much like reading a concordance is different from reading the original source text.  For example, the famous scene in which Obi-Wan uses a Jedi mind trick on a couple of Stormtroopers appears in the original movie as follows:

Stormtrooper: Let me see your identification.
Obi-Wan: [with a small wave of his hand] You don’t need to see his identification.
Stormtrooper: We don’t need to see his identification.
Obi-Wan: These aren’t the droids you’re looking for.
Stormtrooper: These aren’t the droids we’re looking for.

(Source: imdb.com)

In Arst Arsw, this interaction is best summarized by the three occurrences of the word identification, which are the only three times that this word appears in the film.  Identification appears at 16:08 of the video.  There are many other interesting moments, particularly when different voices utter the same word several times (for example, leader by several rebel pilots) or when only one character uses the same word several times (for example, kid by Han Solo.)  For me, longer words are generally more interesting because they take longer to say, whereas the shorter words can fly by so quickly that they can be hard to comprehend.  One exception, however, is the word know, all 32 occurrences of which fly by in under 5 seconds.  But because the 26th know is so emphatic, it stands out against the rest.

I’m not sure if there are any other video concordances out there, but if there are, I would love to see them.  Especially if the original source material is as compelling as the original Star Wars.

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Making Engaging YouTube Videos: A Workshop

As part of Innovate at OSU, I present a hands-on workshop on Making Engaging YouTube Videos.  Although YouTube has been around since 2005, it remains the most popular place to watch videos on the internet. Not only can these YouTube videos be embedded almost everywhere, but annotations allow increasing levels of interactivity that can make videos more engaging by enabling viewers to navigate to different points within a video or to different videos entirely.

Getting Started

You will need a (free) Google, Google+ or YouTube account, and a laptop with some video files to upload.  It would be helpful to have some video editing software on the laptop, but it is not completely necessary.

Examples

Ronald has a spider on his head – more than two choices per fork

Haircut (a choose-your-own-adventure song) – note organization of nodes

The Time Machine: A Chad, Matt & Rob Interactive Adventure! – branching or non-branching choices?

Youtube Street Fighter – Lots of buttons to choose from

BooneOakley.com – Home Page – Annotations as website menu buttons

Annotations

There are 5 different types of Annotations:

Speech bubbles include a pointer that you can drag to point in any direction.

Notes are like speech bubbles without the pointer.

Titles are like notes but without the background color.  Available fonts are largest for Titles.

Spotlights are for highlighting an area to be clicked on.  Text is optional and appears transparent when the mouse is over the highlighted area.

Labels are like spotlights, but the border is bolder and text appears in a white box within the border when the mouse is over the highlighted area.

Annotations can be customized with different colors and font sizes. In addition to Annotations, users can also apply many Instagram-like filters with the Enhancements tab, add music with the Audio tab, and upload a caption file or transcript with the Captions tab.

Links within Annotations

Every kind of Annotation can be linked to a point within the same video, a point within another video, a YouTube channel or playlist, or a subscribe button.  (Note: Linking within a video used to be almost instantaneous, but has since become a bit clunky due to the video reloading.) Links can also be set to open in a new window when clicked, which is useful if you want to be able to come back to the original video.

To configure the link, set the start time and end time and check the link box.  Paste the link to the video to link to a different point within the same video, or a link to a different video to link to something else one.

Let’s Try It!

(This video was annotated during the workshop.)

Other Resources

KeepVid.com – One of many tools that allows you to download YouTube videos.  Be sure to respect all copyrights, etc. but know also that mashups that are “transformative” are generally considered protected under “fair use“.

Download YouTube Videos as MP4 (Firefox extension) – This extension puts a download button into the YouTube interface on any video you view on Firefox.

Where do we go from here?

There are lots of potential uses for Annotations in YouTube videos.  By giving viewers an opportunity to interact with a video, rather than just passively watching it, they become more engaged.  We will discuss some of these in the workshop, but feel free to list more in the comments below.

EDIT: Thanks to everyone who came to this presentation at Innovate. I really like taking existing, stable technologies with low barriers to entry like YouTube and pushing the limits of what can be done with them. I hope you found this session useful. If you have any comments, or questions, or want to share a video you’ve created and annotated, please leave a comment.  Thanks!

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Non-Linear Narratives

I was first introduced to non-linear narratives through Quentin Tarintino’s 1994 cult hit movie Pulp Fiction.  I was hooked.  When I saw Christopher Nolan’s Memento in a small art theater in 2000, I had to return to watch it again a week later.

These two movies are among my all-time favorites, and I eagerly recommend them to anyone who hasn’t seen them, but I’m hesitant to recommend them to my students.  Both are violent and Pulp Fiction, in particular, has some very mature themes.  I certainly couldn’t use either one in a classroom, which is a shame because the non-linear storylines offer unique opportunities to use a variety of verb tenses to discuss the difference between the order in which the events occur chronologically and the order in which they are presented in the narrative.  Trying to untangle these two timelines is a fun challenge even if English is your first language.

The non-linear narrative in music video above, Darling It’s True by Locksley, affords all of the same opportunities, but instead of a gruesome scene in which a gangster’s moll overdoses in a drug dealer’s livingroom, there is a catchy pop rock beat.  Another advantage that a three-and-a-half-minute video has over a feature-length film is that it can be viewed and reviewed several times over a much shorter period of time, which is absolutely necessary if you’re going to wrap your head around the difference between the order in which the events occur and the order in which they are presented.

So, the next time your students are struggling to find an interesting application of the past perfect, have them watch this video and then ask them whether the lead singer had met his bandmate at the corner store before he visited him at the tailor’s. And if so, how many times?  When the video was recorded, had he visited the store before he went to the tailor’s?  If your students are focused on the task of untangling the timelines instead of worrying about which tense they are using (or which tense they will have been using) you’re doing something right.

Have you ever used non-linear narratives with your students?  If so, leave a comment below and share your favorite examples.

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Mashups in Minutes

fish heads

“Ever notice how the Fishheads song sounds kind of like Phantom of the Opera?”  Um, no, I hadn’t, but when Greg, whose desk is not far from mine asked me this question, I became curious.  I hummed each tune and I had to admit there were some similarities.

I opened a YouTube clip of each song (Fishheads and Music of the Night from Phantom of the Opera) and after a quick listen, I also thought there were some parallels that warranted further investigation.  I also found that I could play the Fishheads song, then switch over to another tab in my browser and watch the Phantom clip on mute, thus integrating the audio from one with the video from another.  Interesting.  And, when the Phantom’s mouth movements happened to sync to the Fishheads lyrics, pretty funny.  But, could I capture this hilarity for others to enjoy?  Enter Screenr.

Screenr is an online screen capture service that I’d seen but never used before.  Turns out it couldn’t be easier.  Go to Screenr.com, click on the “Launch Screen Recorder Now!” button, and drag the red rectangle over the part of your screen that you want to record.  From there, just click record for up to 5 minutes of free video.  It was a bit tricky for me to sync the start of the video and audio to the start of the recording, and I had to adjust the volume level so that the recording was not too loud, but after a couple of tries I managed to work it out pretty well.  See for yourself.

Unfortunately, WordPress, which this blog is built in, does not currently provide a way to embed Screenr content.  I should also be able to upload the video to YouTube from Screenr, but that feature isn’t working for me.  So, instead of embedding the video in my blog, you’ll just have to follow the link.

So, that’s how I turned an office distraction (no offense, Greg!) into an opportunity to try out a technology I’ve been meaning to check out.  And, I’m pleased to report, Screenr was extremely easy to use on the fly without practice or instructions.

Can this become a project for your classroom?  Perhaps.  It might be very interesting to ask students to create a Screenr video that combines the audio from one video and the video from another.  Because Screenr is web / browser based, there are very few editing options other than “record” and “stop,” but this simplicity can really flatten out the learning curve.  It would be interesting to have students present and discuss their mashups.  But, please, no Wizard of Oz vs. Pink Floyd.

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History For All

roman colliseum

How Earth Made Us is a documentary series produced by the BBC.  Like many BBC programs, the cinematography is spectacular.  But, perhaps more interesting, is the approach the program takes to history.  Instead of only examining human interactions, the program focuses on how natural forces such as geology, geography, and climate have shaped history.  And, the whole series is available on YouTube.

In the first episode, Water, host Iain Stewart explores the effects that extreme conditions have had on human development.  He visits the Sahara Desert, which receives less than a centimeter of rainfall each year, and Tonlé Sap, which swells to become the largest freshwater lake in southeast Asia during monsoon season.  The contrast is striking.  One interesting factoid is that the world’s reservoirs now hold 10,000 cubic kilometers of water (2400 cubic miles).  Because most of these reservoirs are in the northern hemisphere, they have actually affected the earth’s rotation very slightly.

The second episode, Deep Earth, begins in a stunning crystal cave in Mexico, in which crystals have grown to several meters long.  The cave, which is five kilometers below the earth’s surface, was discovered by accident when miners broke into it.  I can’t imagine what they thought when they first set foot inside.

The third episode, Wind, explores the tradewinds which spread trade and colonization, which lead to the beginning of globalization.  This brought fortune to some who exploited resources and tragedy to others who were enslaved.  The view from the doorway through which thousands of Africans passed on their way to the Americas is a chilling reminder of this period of history.

Fire, the fourth episode, moves from cultures that held the flame as sacred, to the role of carbon in everything from plants to diamonds to flames.  And carbon is also the basis of petroleum, which has powered the growth of humankind.  Several methods of extracting crude oil around the world are explored.

The final episode, Human Planet, turns the equation around tying the first four episodes together by looking at how humans have had an impact on the earth. One of the most compelling examples is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch which is the result of ocean currents bringing plastic and other debris from countries around the Pacific rim.  This garbage collects, is broken down by the sun, and eventually settles to the bottom to become part of the earth’s crust.  This is juxtaposed to rock strata in the Grand Canyon, pointing out that eventually, one layer of rock under the garbage patch in the Pacific will be made up of this debris.

In all, there is almost 5 hours of documentary video here.  It is a compelling production with spectacular imagery.  There are any number of ways to use these videos with an ESL class.  And because they are available on YouTube, there are even more options available to an ESL instructor.  Instead of everyone watching together in the classroom, the videos can be posted in an online content management system and students can watch them anywhere, anytime on their laptops and smartphones, if they have access to that kind of technology.  And if the videos are being watched outside of the classroom, there are more options for assigning different groups of students to watch different videos and then have conversations with students who watched different episodes.  The ubiquity of online video can bring learning to students outside of the classroom.

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Interacting With Video

hand in monitor

#edtech #esl YouTube annotations provide a discussion space layered onto each video.

In my previous post, Interactive Videos, I shared some examples of YouTube videos that incorporate some new interactive features of the site that overlay buttons and links that can take you to a different segment of the video or to a different video or website entirely.

These kinds of pop-up messages have been crowding onto YouTube videos since this feature became available.  If used gratuitously, they are annoying, but when used to add supplemental information, they can be quite useful.  As one example, take a look at the video tutorial for making the above image.  It’s a straightforward and informative two-minute video.  At about the 1:30 mark, some red text appears that seems to be essential information that was omitted in the original shooting of the video.  Adding a quick note is a simple solution that does not require reshooting the video.

But there must be more we can do with these tools.  I’d been thinking about some different ways to incorporate these techniques when I came across a presentation made by Craig Howard at the Indiana University Foreign / Second Language Share Fair.  The page includes a recording of the presentation, a handout that summarizes how to annotate YouTube videos, and a link to an example video, which I’ve included below.

The nice thing about this approach is that a video, in this case a video for teachers-in-training to discuss, can include the online conversation layered right over top of the video.  Comments by different speakers can be made in different colors and the length of time they are displayed can easily be adjusted as appropriate.  Of course, everyone involved needs to have free Google or Gmail accounts to sign in, and the video must be configured to allow annotations by people other than the person who uploaded it.

The ability to integrate video materials and online discussion so seamlessly opens up some interesting potential for interacting with videos in new and interesting ways.  I’ve recently looked at some options for online bulletin boards / sticky notes, including Google Docs, but incorporating this style of discussion directly onto the video is fantastic.

I’m still kicking around different options for making YouTube videos more interactive.  If you have other examples or ideas, please share them in the comments below.

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Interactive Videos

mocap character

When I hear the phrase interactive videos, I think of people covered in florescent mocap pingpong balls or choppy, Choose Your Own Adventure-style stories like Dragon’s Lair.  And there are those.  But, it seems that some creative tinkerers have pushed the envelope with some of YouTube’s interactive features and come up with some interesting results.

How can they be used with ESL and EFL students?  Well, in addition to viewing and interacting with the videos and then discussing or reporting on the experience, students could be challenged to determine how the videos were made.  For the more ambitious, students could make their own videos using the same techniques.  Some of them, like the Oscars find the difference photo challenge would be relatively easy to remake.

For more interactive videos that will get your students talking, watch 15 Awesome YouTube Tricks.

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