Sunday, May 17, 2009


The #1 Problem with the Rise of Video

As one becomes more experienced in surfing the web, one learns to quickly judge whether a web page contains credible, useful information, or not. The clues are not necessarily obvious, but deep-down you've learned to spot them:

- more ads than content
- brevity
- ads not related to content
- ads for gambling, credit cards, adult dating
- no sign of an author's name
- poor writing quality in the first paragraph
- lack of related imagery
- domain name with hyphens
- domain name using generic keywords
- lack of links to related content
- links within the content that lead to ads (commonly with a double-underline)

...and that's just off the top of my head. Most of time I can choose whether to read the content of a page, or not, in less than a second.

With video, most of the time all I have to judge it by is the title and the opening frame. That is next to nothing. Given how easy it is put together a professional looking, cut and paste video these days (I wouldn't have a clue how, but given how many appear on YouTube each day, it must be easy), a good portion of videos you come across are a waste of time. If you only ever visit the BBC you won't have a problem, but the more you stray from super-trustworthy sites, the lower the quality of the embedded videos you are likely to encounter.

Ongoing, people will need to learn how to decide which videos are worth watching. This will be a serious skill, because you cannot judge a video on the first second. Some don't even really get going until 10, 20 even 30 seconds from the start. And even then, if it takes them a while to get to the thing you desire to see, you might stick around, waiting...

These indicators of quality might help:

- personal knowledge of the quality of the site
- surrounding article - the more supporting words the better
- is it something that needs to be on video rather than words?

Regarding the last factor - UFO footage would be a definite, so would a celebrity interview or a plane crash. Or a demonstration of a product - I love video reviews of tech gear. But if it is a concept or theory, give me an article over a PowerPoint presentation any day.

In the future, I can see two things happening:

- a rise in bait and switch videos
- a rise in rating services

A bait and switch video is where you start watching one thing, and slowly but surely the content changes to something else. Perhaps a video on fixing credit problems that morphs into a pitch for a pyramid scheme. We know from infomercials on TV that people will continue to watch something once they have given it their initial attention.

Rating services could be in the form of a toolbar with thumbs up, thumbs down buttons. Or a paid service. Plenty of commercial website have badges in the footer of the page to indicate how trustworthy they are. Why not take this a step further and have a video certified to be of a high standard?

Or, we might just find that, unless it is from a site they trust, people will just stop watching videos.

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Wednesday, February 4, 2009


Web Mail Spam Filters Still Lacking

In terms of identifying spam using complicated methods, the three major providers do very well. But at a very simple level they are failing...

I've signed up with the Microsoft Partner program. It appears to be some behemoth covering all professionals who work with or sell Microsoft products. They send me an email, because I am a subscriber. It is sent from For some reason Hotmail doesn't display the content. Instead I get a message saying "This message may be dangerous." and I need to click on a link to see it. It's their own freaking message!

Meanwhile Gmail is sending virtually every piece of spam to the spam folder, with the exception of spam that pretends to be Google :(

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