MoJo Challenge: Unlocking Video

I wanted to participate in the first challenge from the Knight-Mozilla News Technology Partnership (aka “MoJo”), a partnership that focuses on using open-web innovation for journalism. Their first challenge, Unlocking Video, looks at how web video tools can transform news storytelling.

My first concern with this challenge was the fact that the video might not be viewed on the site it is intended to be viewed on, so Javascript and DOM elements needed might not be available. It’s easy enough to write an add-on that will scan a page for video tags and allow me to add them to a queue that I can watch on my own time, or perhaps they are viewed in a feed reader, etc. I didn’t want to lose the supplemental content in these situations, so that was my starting point.

With that in mind, I would like to present the following idea…

A video add-on system:

  • Browser users can install add-ons (AOs) that are only activated on a video element.
  • AOs could be housed in a new control area (play/pause, slider, volume, add-ons).
  • AOs could auto-run (a sub-title AO), or wait for user activation (an alternate camera angle AO).
  • Allows viewers to install only the AOs that interest them.
  • AOs are written in Javascript and can interact with the DOM surrounding the video.
  • Since it’s powered by web technologies, already a large developer base for creating AOs.
  • Provide developers free storage to save data, however, data is available to all AOs:
    • If one AO timestamped the mention of a location, another AO should be able to access that.
  • Allows supplemental content to still be delivered when the video is viewed away from the host site.
  • Some ideas submitted to the challenge could be implemented using this system.
  • AOs should not sit idly by… if it’s a photos AO, and there are no photos yet to show (even if there are) it should prompt the viewer to contribute the own content.
  • Could fit into the Mozilla Web Apps initiative.

Why do I think this is interesting for news organizations?

  • News organizations can create their own AOs
  • These news AOs can now report news to ANY video on the web, even if it’s not news-based:
    • Watching a video of Anthony Bourdain visiting Cambodia could show recent events in that country.
    • Watching a video of a hockey game on YouTube could show the current standings of the teams involved.

Possible AOs could cover:

  • Translation/Sub-titling
  • Map integration (tagging/showing locations seen, mentioned)
  • People information (tagging people seen, mentioned)
  • Communication with other viewers (web socket)
  • Up-to-date information (stock prices, an athlete’s stats)
  • Social media content (related tweets, my friends that have ‘liked’ this, flickr photos, etc)
  • Analytics (Example: Using HTML5’s Video Tag & Javascript for Video Analytics)

What might be missing:

  • Understanding the content/context of the video early on to give meaningful data to AO developers.
  • Data sharing between AOs would need to consider malicious/fake data.
  • Do we need a specialized video AO system, or could regular browser AOs do the job?