UK Web Focus (Brian Kelly)

Innovation and best practices for the Web

Posts Tagged ‘#bbdf’

Issues In Crowd-sourced Twitter Captioning of Videos

Posted by Brian Kelly on 23 Mar 2010

Crowd-sourced Twitter Captioning of Videos

Back in March 2009 Tony Hirst write a post on his OUseful blog entitled Twitter Powered Subtitles for Conference Audio/Videos on Youtube in which he provided a proof-of-concept on how you could take time-stamped Twitter posts and synchronise them with a YouTube video to provide Twitter captions for videos.

Although people liked the idea people commented that the process was too difficult. So two weeks later Tony wrote a post on Easier Twitter Powered Subtitles for Youtube Movies.

Captioned video of Gordon Brown's talkMoving forward to February this year and we find a blog post written by Martin Hawksey of RSC Scotland North and East which describes Martin’s service for Twitter powered subtitles for BBC iPlayer. And yesterday Martin used his software to which provides Gordon Brown’s Building Britain’s Digital Future announcement with twitter subtitles. Great stuff. What this does is to provide cost-effective crowd-sourcing captioning (which provides accessibility benefits) as well as helping to contexualise tweets, which may otherwise lose their meaning when accessed from a Twitter archive which is decoupled from the talk.

Have a look at the video – and if you’ve not yet listened to Gordon Brown’s announcements I’d recommend that you do so.

Issues About Reusing Twitter Posts

My recent post on The “Building Britain’s Digital Future” Announcement summarised Gordon Brown’s talk based on tweets from @hadleybeeman. I was slightly worried about the ethics of doing this. Partly in light of the responses to my post last year on What Are the #jiscbid Evaluators Thinking? which cited a couple of tweets. In response to that post my colleague Paul Walk pointed out that Anything you quote from Twitter is always out of context and raised the issue of “courtesy and good practice” when citing tweets. Paul’s post generated a lot of interest, with 27 comments being made.Of particular relevance, I felt, was a comment Paul made; “Beyond the need for absolute privacy for some communications it’s a grey area of overlapping contexts & tacit trust“.

I agree that this a grey area and there is a need for what Paul described as a “sophisticated sense of proprietary in these matters“.

I was prepared to cite Hadley’s tweets as I judged these to have been made for the public good.  I also made a judgement call not to cite tweets (from others) which I felt to be trivial or may not accurately reflect the views of the person who posted the tweets.  And it seems that Hadley appreciated the approach I took, subsequently sayingI think that once my tweets are up, they’re cite-able published material. I’d like credit, but they live on their own!“.

So we can make a judgement call on how we cite and reuse tweets, without having to go to the extremes of regarding all tweets as public property which are fair game or personal remarks which should never by cited.

But what happens if a Twitter stream is embedded in another environment,such as Martin’s Twitter captions of Gordon Brown’s talk? And what if Nick Poole’s tweet posted at 09:03 which is captured on the opening frame instead of saying “Gordon Brown getting started on Building Britain’s Digital Future now. Anyone there doing reportage via Twitter? #bbdf” had said “Listening to Gordon Brown – but slightly hungover after too much to drink last night #bbdf“?

My Thoughts

My view is that we need to acknowledge that tweets which are published in an open space are always likely to be reused by others, possibly in ways that we might not always be happy with. “Caveat twitterer” might be our motto. But we might also find, as Hadley did, that the reuse of our tweets can be beneficial- and the accessibility benefits of crowd-sourced tweets might be a particular benefit to be aware of.

Perhaps we should start to regard tweets which contain an event hashtag as being particularly likely to be reused.

And maybe there is a need for more sophisticated tools for aggregating such tweets. Would it be possible for a video captioning service to allow a preferred Twitter user to be used for the captions (perhaps an official event Twitterer, as UKOLN used at last year’s IWMW 2009 event Twitter)? And would it be possible to delete inappropriate tweets from a stream used for captioning? After all, as Martin Poulter has recently pointed out on his Ancient Geeks blog in a post on The dark side of aggregating tags the Conservative Party’s experiment in social media fell foul of, presumably, left-of-centre geeks, embedding inappropriate content, markup and scripts in a feed which was automatically displayed on a Conservative party Web site. Let’s not repeat that mistake.

Posted in Twitter | Tagged: | 4 Comments »

The “Building Britain’s Digital Future” Announcement

Posted by Brian Kelly on 22 Mar 2010

I have just caught the end of Gordon Brown’s live video stream (hosted on the number10.gov.uk Web site). I have also been following the Twitter discussions centred around the #bbcdf #bbdf tag (a topic which has trended on Twitter this morning).

There has been a certain amount of cynicism in my Twitter feed, with developers being sceptical about Gordon Brown’s knowledge of Linked Data (if it’s difficult for experience Web developers to get, why are politicians talking about it) and others asking “Who will pay for the announcements which have been made?”.

I’m sure that Gordon Brown doesn’t know much about Linked Data – but he does have advisers who do. And I’m pleased that Professor Nigel Shadbolt from the University of Southampton (who, together with Dame Wendy Hall, gave the opening plenary talk about Linked Data at the Online Information 2009 conference) has been advising the government on the benefits of openness, open data and Linked Data. The question of how such developments will be paid for is a more relevant one – perhaps further cuts could be made in the UK’s Trident programme?  More realistically I’m sure civil servants will be giving details of the associated costs and the Tories will be questioning how it will be funded. So I don’t intend to get bogged down in the details of the costs; rather I want to pick up on some of the key points which were made.  And I’ll use some of the tweets from @hadleybeeman as a summary of the various announcements.

The comments that “PM making a plan to secure recovery, growth, jobs, success in the global marketplace” and “PM committing to bring public borrowing down fairly and without damaging public services” are just electioneering and content-free. The comment thatPM says we can’t rely on an open market to look after all Britons; instead we need an open partnership of business, economics & gov” is more political and reflects a Blairite mixed economy vision. It seems that thePM is after open, interactive public services. Be prepared to cancel current projects (which?) to save £billions. Create 1/4 mill jobs“.  Hmm – cancelling IT projects (and Web sites). As Hadley commented, the devil is in the detail -which projects are to be cancelled?  And also won’t cancelling current projects result in job losses rather than job creation? Perhaps this is creative accountancy: 1/4 million jobs created for new projects (but 1/2 million jobs lost for those working on existing projects?).

Moving away from political speculation (and a degree of cynicism) the comment thatPM says that underpinning next generation of Britain is next generation of web: semantic web” is interesting and is the announcement that the “PM committing to access to every home, digital services transforming the way each citizen interacts with gov” (an announcement that has already been published in today’s Guardian). meanwhile researchers at the University of Southampton will probably be opening bottles of champagne at the news that the “PM announcing £30m to create Insitute of Web Science. Best of world scientists, headed by Prof Nigel Shadbolt & Sir Tim Berners Lee“.

I was particularly pleased with the announcements which demonstrated a commitment to greater openness. We heard thatPM announces commitment to greater transparency of workings of Whitehall. data.gov.uk, 1 Apr: Ordnance Survey data will be openand thePM announcing that in autumn ALL non-personal government data will be released. “New Domesday book”, overseen by National Archives”. In additionPM says we will release all @directgov content for reuse“.

The announcements were all about new initiative and policy decisions, though.  We heard thatPM: we will close 500 more gov websites. New requirement that each will be interactive with citizens“. The apparent demise of central government Web sites as publishing mechanism seems to  have been announced:  “PM: “My Gov” marks the end of the one-size fits all, man from the ministry knows best view of public services” and an announcement which will probably frighten civil servants:PM: “My gov” will be gov on demand. Civil svnts will no longer be editors. Citizens will be in control, determining lvl of engagement“.

My final comment is that Gordon Brown seems to have embraced a Web 2.0 vision:  “PM: Opening more policy to e-petitions, scrutiny & consultation. Podcasts, twitter, flickr, youtube, new No10 iphone app (free)“.

I have tried to provide a quick summary of this morning’s announcements, based on Hadley Beeman’s valuable live tweets.

So it seems that the Government will be shutting down many of its brochure-ware Web sites and replacing them with more interactive services which will incorporate use of various Web 2.0 approaches  and technologies (such as Twitter).   The Government will also be opening up access to its (non-personal)  data and will be providing access using Linked Data approaches.

I think this is a very radical series of announcements which, on the face of it, fit in with my views on the benefits of Web 2.0 in the public sector and the benefits of openness and open data.

What do you think?

Posted in openness, Web2.0 | Tagged: | 4 Comments »