At long last, Flickr does video. And true to form, they just get it absolutely spot-on.
The ’90 second limit’ thing initially feels restrictive, but it’s a perfect fit for their ‘photo sharing’ ethos. What impact on YouTube?, I wonder.
Personally, Flickr feels like a more natural place for me to share my occasional personal videos; and of course, it’s attracting its fair share of corporate users, not least in HM Government (FCO, No10). But with a more generous time limit (10 mins), YouTube remains the logical place for ‘corporate’ video; and paradoxically, I don’t see too many of its core ‘kids with mobile phones’ audience migrating to Flickr, especially if video remains ‘pro users only’.
By the way… this is my first post since upgrading to WordPress v2.5. And you won’t be surprised when I say, it’s fantastic. Looks gorgeous, and they seem to have refined the few annoyances of the last version (particularly Flash embedding).
Steve Herrman, writing on the BBC’s Editors blog, is absolutely right: the move to video embedded on the page is ‘quite a significant moment’ for the Beeb’s website. Except that, judging by the first visible example, it’s got issues. It’s either failing to buffer, or returning an error message.
As explained in more detail on the Internet blog, the move to Flash video means faster processing for them, better quality for international users, and better usability for everyone. Clips will all have their own ‘permalink’ pages on the site, which makes for easier linking – but if you’re thinking of embedding clips on your own site, you’ll be disappointed.
It’s a welcome improvement from the Beeb: the News site’s use of video was starting to look ridiculously dated, when compared to the iPlayer… or indeed, to competitors like Sky, who went down this route almost a year ago. But I think Sky still has the edge in terms of usability. The Beeb’s pages already feel too long to me; I doubt many people ever read to the bottom of a story. By embedding video at the top of the page, as they seem to be doing, it pushes the text content even further down. Sky’s ‘rich sidebar’ treatment gives the best of both worlds.
I’m genuinely surprised to see the Tories’ new Facebook-targeted viral video. It’s David Cameron, sitting in a drab – in the Commons, judging by the furniture? he says ‘Whitehall’ – office. Then it’s Jimmy Cliff. Then it’s flashy animations with a string of familiar electoral promises, some more substantial and quantifiable than others. Although having just watched it, I can’t actually remember any of them.
As Sky’s Jonathan Levy notes, Obama it ain’t. Nor is it Webcameron (although I note there’s a ‘DVD extra’-esque background clip on Webcameron). It feels more like an old-style Party Political Broadcast… one of those ones which tries too hard.
Two key words jump out at you. ‘Change’ – I make it 11 uses of the word (or a close derivation thereof) in 90 seconds, plus a couple of ‘different’s. Remind you of anyone? Then, in the final second – ‘donate’. This new entry-level ‘Friend Of’ membership is clearly the new Big Idea:
Donate as much or as little as you like and help us campaign for the change people really want. You’ll receive a weekly newsletter, information about getting involved in the local community, and access to our new Affinity Programme.
The use of the word ‘friend’, with a ‘Facebook exclusive’ (!) launch for the video, is not accidental. But it’s still an invitation to align yourself with a specific political party: a form to fill in on their website, an explicit – and crucially, un-retractable – declaration of Party Political support. Simple Facebook friendship, on the other hand, would leave me in control; would keep my details as confidential as I want them to be; and would still offer the same ‘engagement’ opportunity.
The Tories have done so much right in the new media space lately, making this all the more curious. I’ll be watching with interest. But no matter how much Cameron’s approach appeals to me – and I’ll admit, I like a lot of it – I won’t be signing up as a formal ‘friend’. And I suspect, as a politically-literate father in his mid-30s running his own business, I’m precisely the sort of person this is aimed at.