Prime-time Hypermedia

The two-way Web unleashed by the blogging revolution is, and will remain, largely a textual medium. And yet we're clearly at an inflection point. It's increasingly feasible to create and share media content. If you needed special AV skills and instincts in order to do that, it would be a non-starter. But I've never been an AV guy. What motivates me to explore the subject now is a profound sense that it's ready to become part of mainstream communication on the Web. I'm not sure where this series of columns will lead, but let's take it one step at a time. [Full story at O'Reilly Network]
Thus concludes the first installment of my new series of columns at the O'Reilly Network. Previously, the column -- archived here and here -- dealt with Web services, XML-oriented content management, collaboration, and a smattering of other topics. Now I've decided to use it to reflect on the various AV-related topics that I've been exploring lately.

Here's an example of the kind of thing that fascinates me. During the July 29 edition of the Gillmor Gang show, I said something that I knew I'd later be able to refer to by linking into the hour-long segment. Later is now, and here's one version of a link to my 20-second sound bite. Meanwhile a listener, Rob Wright, found an example, on the IT Conversations home page, of another way of doing the same thing:

In this insightful interview with IT Conversations' producer Doug Kaye, Alistair explains how he uses games as a model for software projects. He also discusses the American and European aversion to copying: the not-invented-here (NIH) syndrome. "If you want to become a senior designer, you don't get there by finding all the components that are free on the web" even though "that's very cost effective, the customer likes it, the boss likes that, but you didn't get promoted." [Clip]
Adapting the method shown there, Rob blogged an item in which he included this version of a link to my 20-second sound bite.

The two linking strategies are similar and complementary. Mine's based on a simple service I wrote in Python, which can be used as a proxy that clips from an MP3 file on any remote HTTP 1.1 webserver. So, for example, here's a snippet on the history of from the 14-minute segment that Dave Winer blogged today.

Doug Kaye rewrote the service in PHP, specifically for his IT Conversations site. He wanted to simplify the syntax (in his version, your URL need only reference the show ID), and he didn't want to depend on the MP3 file having a canonical address (because he uses a content delivery network).

I expect we'll see more variations on this theme, but the main takeaway is that what Rob Wright did -- creating an audio clip by forming a link -- is something that can open up access to a vast reservoir of otherwise opaque content. That's one of the themes I'll be exploring in this incarnation of the column, and there are a whole bunch more. It feels like a year-long project, at least.

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