UK Web Focus (Brian Kelly)

Innovation and best practices for the Web

Slideshare? Why Don’t We Video Our Talks?

Posted by Brian Kelly on 24 Jul 2008

My RSS reader (Feedreader) recently delivered to me a post on the eFoundations blog in which Pete Johnston mentioned that a “nice overview of RDFa and its potential applications, mostly here looking at Javascript client-side stuff” was available as an hour-long video clip on YouTube.

Video of a talk on RDFa

The video was, I believe, of a researcher who was giving a talk at a conference. He had a message he wished to communicate (of the value of RDFa) and, as he wished to maximise the impact of his message, was apparently willing for a video of his talk to be taken and subsequently made freely available.

In a recent post I described how Slideshare can help to maximise the impact of a researcher’s ideas, and Andy Powell has described how Slideshare was helping him to reach a large audience for one of his recent talks on Web 2.0 and repositories. Andy suggested that recording an audio commentary to accompany the slides would be even better, but acknowledged that he probably didn’t have the time to do this.

But seeing the above video clip, makes me wonder whether we should be encouraging videoing of talks, rather than the audio. And rather than attempting to do this for oneself or expecting the organiser of an event to provide a videoing service, perhaps all that’s needed is a colleague in the audience with a lightweight video device. And a blog post from Matt Jukes alerted me recently to the Flip F260N-UK Video Ultra Series Digital Camcorder, available from Amazon for about £100.

The approach I’d like to take the next time I give a talk (or if I find a speaker who’d be willing to be recorded) would be for the friendly face in the audience to video the talk, and also to have a laptop with the slides with a screen recording application (such as Camtasia or Jing) running. The video can record the speaker (which would be advanced by the helper) and the audio, which would then be in sync with the slides.

Of course the speaker would need to agree to this (and I feel should have the option to veto subsequent reuse of the recording if things go wrong). But as we found at last year’s IWMW 2007 event, many plenary speakers are happy for their talks to be recorded. And providing access to both an audio commentary of he slides and a video of the speaker might provide a richer experience for the audience. Or is this just using the technologies for their own sake?

6 Responses to “Slideshare? Why Don’t We Video Our Talks?”

  1. Yvonne said

    I made a recent presentation available both on Slideshare and on video. It would be interesting to see which one people preferred.

  2. Hi Brian,

    I agree with you wholeheartedly.

    I don’t actually work for Google, but the Tech Talk you refer to is the second talk that I’ve done there. And the reason I love doing it whenever I’m in San Jose, is exactly for the reasons you give–that they video the proceedings. (And, of course, because they have some great restaurants.)

    An interesting illustration of the benefits of recording talks is this; I did the same talk at Yahoo! a few days before this one, and it attracted 80 people in one room, and a further 80 at a remote location. (Yahoo!’s SearchMonkey is using RDFa, hence the interest.)

    However, the Google talk only attracted about 15 people. Apparently, because the talks are recorded at Google, employees don’t worry about missing the ‘live’ talk, since they know they can catch up later.

    Which is in turn what makes it all worthwhile, even if *no-one* turned up. :) As you can see, the viewing numbers of my talk on YouTube are already significantly higher than both the Yahoo! and Google audiences, and will hopefully continue to grow as people get interested in RDFa.

    So I very much agree with your sentiments, and would like to see many more talks recorded.



  3. Hi Brian

    I presented at the Futures conference at Edinburgh last year. All the talks were recorded and made available on Google Video. Subsequently I’ve made mine available on my blog. It’s proved to be a useful resource. I’ve had comments (mostly good) from all over the world. So it’s certainly helped with the exposure of the topic and given a wider audience than I otherwise would have had.

    It’s certainly something I would look at using again. One thing I have found particularly useful is being able to ‘see’ my own work. This has allowed me to be fairly critical of my style and make adjustments etc.. So if you can bear it, it is worth doing.

  4. James Currall said


    Did you not beta test this idea during my talk at IWMW 2008 – you seemed to be pointing your ultra small video device in my direction whenever I passed your way on on my 20,000 metre talk?

  5. I would go slightly further. There is a lot of value in having a high quality audio recording both to synch with the video (which if you use a webcam is usually poor) and because you can then use it for both screencasts and audio backing for slideshare presentations. You still have to synch the slideshare with the audio – I don’t know of any automated way of doing this. The problem is with multiple streams that pulling them all together becomes quite hard work.

    I have been known to just put my mobile phone on record as a way of doing audio indepently (Nokia N95 – gives really rather good quality – no doubt better than an iPhone :)

  6. I’m not quite so sure – I tend not to find the time to watch videos of presentations, although I may get a chance to flick through the slides – how useful this is depends on the slides of course.

    One of the advantages of text (I think) is that it is easy to skim through it and pick out points of interest for more detailed reading. I can also generally read more quickly than the same material can be delivered in a talk.

    Finally many presentations are just not good enough to hold my attention for long – and watching a recording tends to make it even more difficult (IMO). If you think of the quality required from a TV production to keep your attention for an hour, then the challenges of doing a captivating presentation are apparent.

    Although I’m not against making video available at all, I’m not convinced it is the best way to get the information across to a remote audience, which by definition decided it didn’t have time to travel to the event in the first place.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: