UK Web Focus (Brian Kelly)

Innovation and best practices for the Web

Asynchronous Twitter Discussions Of Video Streams

Posted by Brian Kelly on 22 Nov 2010

Twitter Captioned Videos Using iTitle

Martin Hawksey’s software for using Twitter to provide captions of video continues to improve.  At UKOLN’s IWMW 2010 event we used the iTitle service to mash together videos of the plenary talks with the accompanying Twitter stream. As you can see from, for example, Chris Sexton’s opening talk at the event, you can go back in time to see not only what Chris said (nothing new in providing a video of a talk) but also what the audience was tweeting about at the time – and you can also search the tweets in order to go directly (once the video has been downloaded into the local buffer) to what may be regarded as crowd-sourced video bookmarks – for example a search for “finance’ shows that at 9 mins 35 seconds into the video there was a comment that “Does anyone seriously think HR, Finance, Payroll and Student Record Systems can be run as Shared Services??! #iwmw10?“.

Asynchronous Twitter Captioning

That is an example of being able to replay the Twitter discussions which took place during a live event. But what if you wanted engage in discussions of a recorded presentation? Back in June 2010 Martin published a blog post which described uTitle, a development to his Twitter captioning service in which “Convergence @youtube meets @twitter: In timeline commenting of YouTube videos using Twitter [uTitle]“. In the post Martin said that “Having looked at synchronous communication I was interested to extend the question and look at asynchronous communication (i.e. what was said about what was said after it was said)“.

An example can be seen from the uTitled video of the When The Ax Man Cometh video, which was originally published on Seth Odell’s Higher Ed Live webinar and featured an interview with Mark Greenfield. I felt that this interview, which Mark has described on his blog, would be of particular interest to those of us working in the UK’s higher education sector as it raises challenging questions about the future of Web and IT services in higher education (and note I should thank Martin for processing the video using uTitle and Seth and Mark for giving permission for the video to be used in this way). In particular it asks the audience to consider the implications of idea’s published in a book on A University for the 21st Century written by James Duderstadt, President Emeritus at the University of Michigan:

  • Higher education is an industry ripe for the unbundling of activities. Universities will have to come to terms with what their true strengths are and how those strengths support their strategies – and then be willing to outsource needed capabilities in areas where they do not have a unique advantage.
  • Universities are under increasing pressure to spin off or sell or close down parts of their traditional operations in the face of new competition. They may well find it necessary to unbundle their many functions, ranging from admissions to counseling to instruction and certification.

Although this book was published way back in March 2000 the view that “Universities are under increasing pressure to spin off or sell or close down parts of their traditional operations” is particularly relevant to those of us working in higher education in the UK in 2010.

So if you do want to join in a debate (as opposed to simply passively watch the video) you can add comments to the post on the Higher Ed Live Web site or you can use uTitle to give your thoughts  in real time using your Twitter account. An example of the interface can be seen below in which, in response to Mark Greenfield’s assertion that “For profit companies can adapt more quickly then Universities” I respond “If true, don’t we need to accept need top change rather than accept as inevitable“.


Rather than discussing the content of Mark’s talk in this post I’d like to give some comments on the use of Twitter for making asynchronous comments about a video clip.

The first comment is that if you do this as you watch a video your Twitter stream is likely to be confused.  Unlike use of Twitter at an amplified event you will be tweeting on your own, and you will not be taking part in a real-time conversation with others centred around an event hashtag.

Also, unlike a live presentation, it is possible to pause the video while you compose your tweet – and even fast forward to see how the ideas in the talk develop and then rewind and give your tweets. On a pre-recorded video we can benefit from the 20/20 hindsight which is not possible in real life :-)

I am also uncertain as to how people will feel about adding comments to such a video, especially those doing this when no comments have been published – there might be a concern that you will look stupid making a comment which the speaker addresses later on.

I should also add that when I made my two comments I used a second Twitter account in order to avoid spamming my Twitter followers within strange tweets.  (Note that as the account had not been validated by Twitter at the time, the tweets were not being displayed in the Twitter search interface – Martin retweeted the tweets in order to ensure that the uTitle display contained some comments).

I’d like to conclude by asking two questions:

  • Is there a demand for a service which provides captioning of pre-recorded videos?
  • Should Twitter users claim second Twitter accounts which can be used in conjunction with automated agents (such as uTitle)?

2 Responses to “Asynchronous Twitter Discussions Of Video Streams”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Martin Hawksey, Brian Kelly. Brian Kelly said: Asynchronous Twitter Discussions Of Video Streams: Twitter Captioned Videos Using iTitle Martin Hawksey’s softwa… […]

  2. Not wanting to put bias in your poll, but having had uTitle out in the wild for a couple of months and I’m categorising this concept as intriguing but not useful.

    You touch on a couple of reason as to why the concept won’t go much further, the main appears to be a reluctance to pollute your timeline with random statements.

    Having experimented with audio timeline commenting in Soundcloud I think there is a reluctance to tag a comment within a specify point of the timeline. Personally I find it difficult to make specific comments within videos, instead generating an overall opinion.

    An area where I’ve had more success with uTitle is as a quick way to bookmark points on my own videos. Here’s an example of a podcast I uploaded to Vimeo

    The act of tweeting these bookmarks did generate some ripples within my twittersphere mainly to ask what event I was at. The other aspect which might make people consider using uTitle for this purpose is it does potentially improve the search optimisation or a resource as I highlight in

    I’m interested to see what other people think!


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