Video Killed the …. ?
Jimi Bostock and Silvia Pfeiffer have been commissioned by the Taskforce to undertake a scoping study into the feasibility of a whole-of-government online video service.
So, yes, please shout out with any thoughts, let’s get this right. What have you seen has worked for your agency or similar organisations – what hasn’t worked? Any expectations that you have toward a video.gov.au site?
While not belittling what governments have achieved, the steps into the video world have been tentative. We must remind ourselves that many of the steps we take today that we think are big steps will be seen in the future as almost trivial. Such is life in the digital revolution.
Most agencies have an enormous amount of existing or potential video material – educational content, marketing content, news content, recordings of events etc. Most of this content barely makes it to the Web. Even agencies that would seem a natural fit for mass online video effort seem to have not rushed headlong into it. As example (and not singling them out), the National Archives in the USA are somewhat restrained in their use of YouTube and their official site does not seem to feature video at all. We can only imagine how much video they would hold and how much public interest there would be in it.
So, what is the hold up? Kids are making and uploading videos at a startling rate. None of us live long enough to watch even a day’s effort. Video is, by far, the fastest growing media being consumed online. So, why are we not seeing from government anywhere near the volume that general trends would suggest we should be seeing?
Agreeing that government needs to publish more video, the next step is a decision on how to publish all this content.
Most agencies have decided to use video sparingly on their site – only where it is absolutely called for to make it a modern presence. For example with the introduction of a new service as an addition to a press release. One such example of an Australian federal agency’s video effort is the recently launched Social Inclusion Website, which features videos of conferences and launches around Social Inclusion.
Other agencies have decided to step away from having to solve the technical challenges associated with hosting video and make use of the free YouTube service, even though YouTube has been blocked for many government departments. The Department of Broadband, Communications, and the Digital Economy for example runs such a YouTube channel.
Incidentally, YouTube is very good at making sure the videos get a wider exposure, since YouTube is the default video search engine on the Internet, but may be a precarious situation for a government agency to be potentially seen to endorse a third party service.
In any case, it is actually a big challenge to even find videos that have been published on government sites – and they can help make government so much more accessible, which is our main motivation in analysing the possibilities of a video.gov.au. For an agency, the motivation may be different and part of it may be to take away the need to solve the technical issues related to publishing videos.
So, let’s assume that the call is made by the powers to be that a video.gov.au site be developed. How would people in the Gov 2.0 community go about this? Should we go with a mega-YouTube presence and does it have the tools to make for a flexible and well-structured video.gov.au? Or should we be thinking one of the more ‘commercial’ service offerings? Could we build it from scratch? Would this be commercial or open-source? Could we find an off-the-shelf offering that could get us underway instantly? Should it be a centralised hosting site, like a “YouTube for government” or should it be an aggregation site that pulls in feeds from all the agencies and makes content available in a standardised and searchable format?
Or should it be a hybrid of all of these with a Twitter on top?
We would love input on these questions!
So, wish us luck and please do let us know your thoughts on the stuff we have raised here or any other areas you think we should be looking at, remembering the scope of our brief. Please feel free to post here or email us directly.