Social Media 203: YouTube Video Annotations

Annotations are a great new beta feature available on YouTube. They enable you to add text to your videos, and to have that text linked to a specific action on YouTube. I first saw this in some of the BarelyPolitical videos, and thought perhaps this was a premium feature.

It turns out it’s available to all of us.

For an example, I decided to use a video we did yesterday about the first large study of breast cancer detection using molecular breast imaging as an alternative — or at least as a supplement — to mammography. It turns out that molecular breast imaging found about three times as many cancers as mammography in this group of women. You can read more about the study here on the Mayo Clinic News Blog, and we also have links to some photos and resulting news coverage.

Here’s the screencast of me adding the annotations last night, which also shows how you can add annotations to your videos:


And if you want to see the finished product (and perhaps even subscribe to the Mayo Clinic YouTube channel), here it is:


The only real drawback from the publisher’s perspective is that the annotations can’t be linked to a non-YouTube URL. It would have been nice to be able to link directly to the blog post where the video is embedded, so viewers can get more information. But I’m fine with that, since I could add the link in the video description field.

From my perspective, the major advantage of YouTube annotations is that they offer a standardized way to add descriptive text, such as Dr. Hruska’s title, without requiring either expensive studio-grade video editing software or a lot of time and effort. The annotations are plain, but they also are crisp and functional. It takes only a minute or two to add these annotations. And if this is the standard on YouTube, anyone who uses it can have confidence that it will be seen as consistent with how Web video is done.

What do you think?

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Obama, McCain Both Have “Girls”

In his analysis of Barack Obama’s use of social media in Social Media 302, Associate Professor Scott Meis called attention to a key difference between this campaign cycle and those of the past:

In the past, a campaign team may have overreacted to a video such as Obama Girl or been concerned about not having a say in the messaging behind a video such as Yes We Can. Instead, the Obama team has embraced these videos and recognized the value and power of user-generated content in moving others to action.

That’s a really crucial change in the media landscape, and it’s here to stay. Candidates formerly would try to control the campaign’s message, but that has become extremely difficult if not impossible. As Scott mentioned, Obama Girl had a brief period last summer in which she essentially dominated the campaign news.


But now BarelyPolitical has also added “McCain Girl” to its YouTube lineup:


And just as we will expect to see Obama-McCain and Biden-Palin debates in the next 60 days, there is also a “Candidate Girls Olympics” competition.


Social media are more than just “new media.” I define new media as a way for organizations to bypass the mainstream media and deliver content directly to audiences. Social media means they aren’t “audiences” anymore. They can and will talk back, whether on social networks or through their own blogs.

As Scott said, it’s encouraging that both of the major campaigns have significant involvement in social media. (You can read about the McCain effort in Social Media 301.) But whether the campaigns are participating or not, the reality is that with the widespread availability of these cheap and easy tools, rank-and-file people across the political spectrum will be engaged on-line in this momentous election.

Social Media 202: Screencasting

Screencasting is a way of letting other people see what is on your computer screen. It lets you capture either the whole screen or a particular portion and create a movie file that you can upload to a video sharing service like YouTube or Facebook.

The benefits of a screencast are obvious, particularly for SMUG. Instead of a slideshow of a sequence of static screen shots uploaded to and synched to a sound file (pretty good alliteration, huh?), we can now show and tell with full motion, so you can see exactly how to do things. Pictures are extremely helpful, but movies should make the teaching clearer and the learning easier.

But how do you (or I) turn my computer screen into a movie?

For Mac OSX, Ambrosia’s Snapz Pro X is an excellent screencast software choice. It’s easy to use, and I was most pleased that it not only delivers great movies of my Mac screen, but also my Windows XP partition. You can see that example in this post on social sharing with Unlike most of what you see in SMUG, Snapz Pro X isn’t free: it costs $69. But I think it’s worth it for the power it gives you.

Just to show how far you can go with this, I decided to do a demo screencast using Flip video of me addressing my fellow SMUGgles from the front porch of Old Main:


Steps involved in this were:

  1. Shoot the video of me talking using a Flip on a tripod.
  2. Transfer the file to my Mac and open in QuickTime
  3. Play the video at half-size, while capturing the surrounding 640 x 480 window using Spapz Pro X screencast software, and then saving to a QuickTime movie file.
  4. Open that file and repeat the cycle, creating another QuickTime file that could again be played at half size.
  5. After repeating a couple of more times to create the “hall of mirrors” effect, edit the pieces together using iMovie or Final Cut.

The point, besides having some fun showing a movie of a movie of a movie, was to show that through screencasting you can do show-and-tell training demonstrating anything on your computer screen.

Ironically, the only thing I can’t screencast using Snapz Pro X is a step-by-step introduction to using Snapz Pro X!

I still like Slideshare and will use it to some extent (particularly for the Snapz Pro X course), but I think a screencast can be a much more effective way to teach.

If you’re a Windows user, this list from Mashable has some screencast software alternatives.

What do you think? How could you use screencasting for your training programs?

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RAQ – Photos from a Flip Camera?

I’ve gotten something of a reputation as a Flip video camera booster (you might even say it’s the official video blogging camera of SMUG), and today a friend copied me on an e-mail about an offer for a free Flip that included a question for me and led to some others. In keeping with our Recently Asked Questions feature, I’m sharing both the link to the free Flip offer and the subsequent dialogue.

Continue reading “RAQ – Photos from a Flip Camera?”

A Peek at the Flip Mino

In our family visit to Louisville this weekend, I got to see my friend Rick Kelley, who had taken my recommendation to get a Flip. He chose the Mino instead of the Ultra, though, because he has a house full of boys. The Ultra’s AA batteries likely would have been regularly cannibalized for use in a GameBoy; with the Mino’s rechargeable battery, that’s not a concern.

So here’s some video I shot of Rick’s Mino, using my Ultra.


Here, for comparison, is some video of me handling an Ultra. I shot it using my webcam and did a direct upload to YouTube, so it was optimized for speed instead of quality. But you can get the idea of the relative size and design aesthetics of the two models.


Of course, you can see a more elegant view of the Flip at the company’s site, but I’m betting they used a higher-end camera to produce it. Just a hunch.

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