URL-ing it your way to easy audio, video clips- John Udell on Hypermedia and Blogging

Sometimes in the RSS grazing you zoom quickly past something that just has a tiny spark, and it registers- this might be big. I had that sensation upong finding this O’Reilly article from uber uber geek John Udell, Prime-Time Hypermedia:

In the course of trying to transform my blog from a hypertext publication into a hypermedia publication, I’ve run into a bunch of obstacles. In the world of tech blogging they are — ironically — almost purely technical. Presentations, demos, and interviews are often freely available for viewing or listening, yet infuriatingly hard to link to. Almost anyone can create and post a snippet of audio or video, but almost no one can do so easily, spontaneously, or routinely.

In a series of columns beginning with this one, I’ll review and elaborate on a variety of hypermedia techniques I’ve been experimenting with. I don’t know beans about high-end AV technologies, so don’t look for expert guidance or Hollywood production values. I come at this from the bottom up, as a web-savvy blogger frustrated by the opaqueness and intractability of existing hypermedia content. I want to be able to repurpose that stuff on my blog. I want you to be able to do the same on your blog. And I’d like to see all of our blogs enriched with original audio and video content, where appropriate. It’s time to take the Web to that next level, and the means to do so are at hand.

(emphasis added)

He starts with references to issues of searching video content by indexing the content into text and searching that, something that technically works but really would not easily pan out. He then suggests another approaching, allowing weblogs to be able to link directly to specified segments within a vide/audio stream, and the blog posts would thus provide the text “annotations” that could then be searched (there are some parallels here to my own half baked ideas that weblogs could provide the contextual wrappers to learning objects, connected by trackbacks)

It goes like this (I think). There are available somewhere, many places, on the net, video chunks of longer length, 15 minutes, 20 minutes, etc, more than you would want to link to. Simply by using a link to a script on a web site again elsewhere, you can specify in the URL string the start and stop times of the A/V video segments you want to “chunk” out and reference in your weblog.

Hand it an MP3 URL plus start/stop times, and it hands you back the corresponding slice of the file.

It’s a whole different way of using audio/video, and taking the burden off the blogger of having to sort out how to stream the content- they can access and stream just small parts of a larger stream.

It’s not exactly clear what he is getting at until you look at some of the examples, see the elaboration in Udell’s blog He provides an example linking to a short segment of a 14 minute interview with Dave Winer:


Simply by fiddling and changing the beg= and end= parts of this URL, you can access different parts of the segment, eg. a earlier one.


It’s not clear yet how one could use this on a wide scale and it brings up the inevitable crying of who is going to host the media files and/or put up with remote linking– but it is the concept that is interesting, though experimental.

It just smells like potential.

Tip of the blog hat to Roland Tanglao and Tom Hoffman (who even points out how it supports digital portfolios)

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Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.


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