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Audio and Video Chris McConnell Department of Radio-TV-Film November 30, 2006
Overview • Structured vs. Unstructured Data • The Big Challenge • Problems with Audio • Some Audio Solutions • Problems with Video • Some Video Solutions • Conclusion
Structured vs. Unstructured Data • Data management folks often talk about two kinds of data in the enterprise. • Structured data has a format that is enforced through software. • Unstructured data is not easily understood by computers.
Structured Data • Structured data is contained in a way that makes it easy for computers to index and search • The short answer is that structured data is in a database. • Things like XML files lie in a sort of gray area between structured and unstructured.
Unstructured Data • Unstructured data is just about anything else that doesn’t have a predictable structure. • Text documents (email, HTML, Word0 • Images • Audio • Video
Unfortunately, it gets more complicated • It’s useful to break out this category in a few different ways. • Text vs. “bitmap” data • Text can be read by crawlers, discovery packages, etc. • Good IA should make text easier to understand for automated tools.
Bitmap Data • Bitmap data represents images, audio, or video as a series of numbers that represent each slice of a file. • Darn near impossible for computers to extract meaning from the content itself. • Many vector-based data types like Illustrator, Flash, MIDI, and maybe PDF suffer from a similar problem.
Metadata • Some bitmap data formats like mp3 offer the ability to add metadata that provides more context or structure for the content. • However, video files provide operational meta data, but, if there’s space for metadata about the content, it’s rarely used, making video an even greater IA challenge.
Some Audio Problems • Even if mp3s have metadata that reveal title, artist, and other information, this information is rarely used on the Web. • Web browsers do not display this information. • Web pages rarely provide context in an useful way.
Case Study: Slumber Party • Pitchfork record review site allows users to click through directly to mp3s on record label sites. • When mp3 is playing, users have little idea what they’re listening to. • The record label has an even worse IA situation…
Some Solutions • Use embedding to make an mp3 playable within a page, with appropriate labels. • An mp3 download link can be provided for downloading or users with older browsers. • Working with Flash, add context to the Flash file. • Example: Warners Bros. Flaming Lips site. • However, it is difficult to provide a URI for embedded content.
Embedding mp3s • This allows you to create contextual text that describes the file. • In addition, it creates a URI for a contextual page for the song. <EMBED src="file.mp3" autostart=true>
Problems with Video • As with mp3s, many video files play in a browser window with little additional context. Example. • Video is often difficult to describe or label, especially if it’s so-called “viral video”
Medium-Specific Video Problems • Time-based media are difficult to scan or “scrub” for particular content. • Search engines cannot index video content, unless transcripts are provided on an HTML page. • Users may not have the patience to get to the good stuff.
Tagging Solutions • Tagging allows users to create descriptive labels for video. Example: YouTube • YouTube’s tagging system still does not allow users to identify interesting content inside the video. • “Deep Tagging” allows users to mark and label points in the video. Example: MotionBox
References • Weglarz, Geoffrey. “Two Worlds of Data – Unstructured and Structured,” DM Review September 2004. • “Add Voice to your Site: The html EMBED Tag” Access from http://www.world-voices.com/resources/addaud.html • “Deep Tagging and the Embeddable Motionbox Player” Motionbox Blog. September 13, 2006.