jonny's Sift Talk Posts

You've Come A Long Way, Videosift

Yesterday, I found this press release from 2007 and just had to share it. Pretty impressive accomplishment for a website less than a year old. But I almost snarfed my coffee when I read this quote from dag:
We're also happy that VideoSift is not filled with clips of lip-synching teenagers and people filming their pets.

Well, at least some of our videos still "have cultural significance and trigger some great discussions within the community."

Flash 11 + Mac OS X = You Being Recorded

I recently upgraded the Flash Player plugin and standalone app on my Mac. Being somewhat paranoid, I always have Activity Monitor open showing all currently running processes. Since at least Flash 11.1, any web page with embedded flash opened in any browser on Mac OS X 10.6 or higher will cause a process named VDCAssistant to launch - regardless of the flash code being invoked. What is VDCAssistant? It's the process that controls access to the iSight camera and microphone.

Adobe assures us that this isn't a security flaw, and has basically refused to fix the problem. Call me crazy, but launching a process that accesses the camera and microphone (WHICH I DIDN'T WANT TO BEGIN WITH APPLE!!!) in my face whenever I access the internet is to me a pretty serious security flaw. Let them know it!

Revver Is Dead

Revver has been dead now for a while, right? Is it time to remove it from the "blessed hosts" list? Leave suggestions below for your favorite host to replace it.

Happy 6th Birthday VideoSift!

Am I mistaken, or was yesterday VideoSift's 6th anniversary?

I can't really bake a cake, so I brought a box of donuts shaped like 6's. I hope you like them.

Carry on below with congratulations, adulations, reckless gyrations, and oaths of fealty to SiftBot.

Why Is The Turtle's Face Still There?

Someone, please. My eyes are crying tears of blood at this point. This video is over a week old, but it's still the top video of the week. This evil turtle's face is torturing me on every page, and my sanity is suffering for it. Please get him out of here before this turns into some tragic mass murder/suicide featured on Dateline. (N.B.: Picture changed here for my sanity.)

Finding Recent Dupes

Other than happening to notice a 'dupeof' invocation in recent comments or on a video page, is there any way to view videos that have been nominated as dupes? With the confirmation 'isdupe' now required, we need some way to know when and where to look for them, especially older videos that happen to come up in searches and are nominated.

In the meantime, I've found a few dupes that need confirmation if anyone cares to confirm:

Time to Trim the Interface?

I was rereading a comment I posted yesterday about how to get people interested in videos with a narrower base of interest to actually see them, and realized that this is all about attention. Then I happened to sit back and look at the whole page. Try it - scroll to the top of the page and look at everything vying for your attention. In the header alone, we have:

Site name/home page button
Facebook login
Facebook like button
Google+ button
Search field + link to advanced search
Light/Dark interface button
RSS feed button

That's seven functional interface elements just in the header. It is followed by a menu bar with 12 menus each with a sub menu containing 3-7 items. Before you even get to the two columns of videos that all want your attention, the right being fairly condensed, you've scanned over about 30 different interface items. That is more than the window bar, tool bar, bookmark bar, and tab bar of my browser combined. Even for users that have been around for a while, it's likely there are significant parts of the interface they've never explored. For a new user trying to find a good way to browse through videos, it presents an overabundance of possibilities and I'd guess they usually just page through whatever the default settings dictate.

This is just a critique of the interface, and certainly not of the folks that created it or all of the functionality behind it. There's really no reason to get rid of any particular functionality. But its presentation really needs to be streamlined. I could offer some suggestions, but I'm sure there are people around that are better at UI design than I am.

How much of VideoSift interface would you estimate you've used? There's already a poll up, so just answer below if you're interested.

The 99

I'm not really a fan of comic books at all, but I thought some others may be interested in this story about "The 99" on PBS. It's a comic book series based on Islamic culture. The PBS video is supposedly embeddable, but all I can get is a javascript embed command, which won't work here, afaik.

The online site for the comic series can be found here.

Should the 2 day delay for dead videos going to the dead pool be changed?

  (20 votes)
  (20 votes)
  (11 votes)
  (4 votes)

A total of 55 votes have been cast on this poll.

Currently, when a video is declared dead, there is a two day delay before it enters the dead pool and is eligible to be fixed by any bronze star or higher. The reason for this is to give the original submitter a chance to fix their dead video themselves. I see no logic in this at all. In many cases, the original submitter is no longer around. But in all cases, the original submitter can modify the embed code on their own video at any time. In other words, if someone declares a video dead and immediately fixes it with an embed that the submitter doesn't like, the submitter can replace it at will.

Radical Proposal for the Queue, PQueues, and Beggar's Canyon

Let's remove the time limit for unsifted videos and replace the time-based expiration with some number of unique views (40?). This would obviate Personal Queues and the Beggar's Canyon entirely (and so both 'features' would completely disappear). All submitted videos would reside in each user's "personal" queue until sifted or viewed by some number of registered users.

Naturally, this would require changing the number of queue slots for each user. Instead of allowing each user to always have 1, 3, or 6 (probies, standard, charter) videos in their own queue, the most logical restriction would be to limit the number of videos submitted over some time frame. For instance, we could allow charter members to submit 6 videos every 2 days, standard members to submit 3 every 2 days, and probies to submit 1 every other day.

It will also require a restructuring of the Unsifted pages. In addition to the obvious default sorting of "least viewed", each user would be allowed to select the maximum age of videos appearing in their particular view of the Unsifted tab. An obvious reasonable default would be 3 days. But importantly, the maximum age could be extended to quite a large number, theoretically to infinity. In other words, if I go away for a month, I might reasonably want to see every unsifted video submitted in the last 30 days, sorted by least views or most votes. (This will completely remove any time-of-submission bias, as well as maintaining easy viewing of whatever the "latest greatest" vid is.) Just as importantly, a user should be allowed to select as little as 1 day for their view of the Unsifted pages. This would allow them to see whatever is newest, without having to slog through 300 videos sorted by votes/view (who came up with that lame ass idea anyway! ;o )

I initially thought of this idea several months ago, but chucked it because it was so radical that I figured no one would accept it. Shortly after the crash, I thought to bring it up again in a sort of Naomi-Klein-Shock-Doctrine kind of way, but things were moving too fast. I offer it now for serious discussion, as a possible means of improving the quality of sifted videos, in particular of helping all those videos that "fall through the cracks". Who knows - it might even help reduce the number of dupes.

[edit] Actually, the primary goal of this is to improve the user experience. Any improved quality of sifts or reduction in dupes is lagniappe.

Snuff Policy Revisited

As the comments on the recent motocross accident video demonstrate, the VideoSift snuff policy is poorly implemented and/or poorly understood. My understanding of the policy was that any video depicting human death (whether immediately apparent in the video or not) was required to have some documentary value other than the incident itself to be not considered snuff.

Personally, I think the policy is absurd, as the community should be allowed to decide what is or is not appropriate for itself. But if we are to have such a policy, then it needs to be clearly stated in unambiguous terms.

More Top 15 Confusion

There are several videos that have been in the Top 15 this weekend and not recognized as such. How long does a video have to remain in the Top 15 before it gets the medal? Is there some minimum vote count?

Also, what is the order of videos that are tied in votes? I had thought it was supposed to be oldest first, but there are currently 3 videos with 25 votes in the list that are ordered middle, youngest, oldest. (Not bothering with links, because it will probably change by the time you read this.) Those three also don't appear to be ordered by view counts either (unique or total).

Announcing the "Mind and Brain" Channel

Welcome to Videosift's latest channel, Mind and Brain. It's a channel devoted to the brain and its emergent mind - everything from neurons to consciousness. This includes videos of nerve growth and damage, models of perception, talks on theories of consciousness, cognitive and computational neuroscience, neuropathology, as well as applications of this knowledge in clinical psychology, artificial intelligence, education, etc.

The basic criterion for any video to be included in the channel is that it impart some knowledge of how the brain works, whether it be the function of synaptic boutons, or the emergence of a unified perceptual field. This would also include videos describing brain function in "lower" primates and other mammals, as well as computational neuroscience applied to artificial intelligence.

Having gone through a few hundred videos looking for ones to add, I've noticed that there is a definite grey area here. My instinct is to exclude videos that ignore underlying brain function. For instance, social psychology experiments like Milgram's shock experiment and Zimbardo's prison experiment, while immensely interesting, don't really fit in this context. Likewise, videos describing Skinner's radical behaviorism would seem antithetical to the channel, since, by definition, it denies the existence of a conscious mind.

That said, I welcome the addition of any apparently relevant video to the channel, with the caveat that I may remove it and ask for a reason that it be included. I promise - I won't be nearly as much of a hard-ass as rembar. (j/k rembar!

New Channel Coming Soon

Lucky me - I got a diamond and get to create a channel! I'll be creating a channel in the next week or two, and would like to get some feedback on the ideas I've had floating in my head for the last year. It wasn't long after joining VideoSift that I had set my sights on creating a "Law" collective. Since that time, the place has changed, and I've wondered if there is enough content to justify it. I've also had a few other ideas for channels since then. I still think a Law channel would be good, but I want to hear from you guys and gals.

Law ("It's the Law!") - This channel would be for videos about legal issues. Videos discussing Supreme Court decisions, talks on copyright law, electoral law, civil and criminal cases would all be welcome. Random acts of criminality, be they stupid burglars or cops tasering handcuffed suspects, and general news stories about legal cases that don't describe the legal issues involved would not be welcome. Also, it would not be limited to legal issues in the U.S. For instance, the dismissal of Pakistan's Supreme Court Justices would be an interesting addition, assuming the video actually contained some content on the legal issues surrounding it, as opposed to just being a generic news report about it.

University ("The VideoSift University") - A place for higher learning at VideoSift. Any and all videos that provide serious learning, and those that take an in-depth approach to education issues. Google and ForaTV talks, university lectures, science and art documentaries - any in-depth videos that provide comprehensive learning. Videos of how to melt steel with thermite would not qualify.

Talk ("Conversations and Lectures") - A bit similar to the University, but this channel would be more focused on in depth interviews (think Charlie Rose, Inside the Actors Studio, etc.), as well as TED and Google talks of all varieties.

Biology/Medicine ("How Life Works") All things biological. Videos demonstrating biology concepts (e.g., animations of DNA transcription), surgical procedures, history of medicine. There might even be a little bit of overlap with the new Eco channel - videos demonstrating sustainable forestry, or farming bacteria for hydrogen production would be most welcome. Basic nature videos without any explanation of animal behavior or its consequences would likely not qualify, since we've already got a Nature channel.

Fantasy ("I'll smite you with my +2 BanHammer") - Just a rough idea at the moment. Basically anything swords and sorcery, dragons, elves, spirits of all sorts (ghost stories?). This could also include less traditional fantasy like The Adventures of Baron von Munchausen.

Other ideas are welcome. I know the old adage that I should create whatever channel I'd be happiest managing, but in all honesty, I'd be happy with any of those, though I am a bit less interested in the Fantasy channel. It will be at least a week before I'm ready to create the channel, as I'll be traveling for several days. I'll try to make up some playlists very soon and link them here to give some concrete examples for each channel idea.

I began creating playlists for each of those ideas, and in the process realized that I completely forgot my favorite channel idea.

Mind and Brain ("It's All In Your Head") - Dedicated to the workings of the brain and mind. Lectures, talks, and other videos on neuroscience, consciousness, perception, molecular biology of the brain. There might also be some room in here for videos about AI, insofar as they relate to brain science. Illustrations of optical illusions are not likely to be included unless the video describes the mechanism of the illusion.

Comment Voting

I've been wondering what the purpose of comment voting is and a recent channel talk post inspired me to ask everyone else. Originally, comment voting wasn't voting at all, but either applauding, marking as inappropriate, or flagging as spam. As I remember it, an aesthetic decision was made to change the 'applaud comment' and 'mark inappropriate' links to a pair of arrows, because the second line of text under comments was found to be too busy. Since that time, comment voting has evolved into more of a mechanism of agreement/disagreement with the content of the comment, instead of its original intent of applauding a well crafted comment (regardless of the opinion expressed) or marking it as inappropriate for being an ad hom attack, bigoted or otherwise hateful speech, etc.

My question to everyone is whether the community sees this as a good thing or a bad thing, and if there is any desire to return comment voting to its original purpose.

Flat-Earthers Unite!

You thought Creationists were delusional?? Apparently, there are people that actually believe the Earth is flat, and that all the evidence to the contrary is part of a massive worldwide conspiracy.

I wish I had some witty joke, but I'm simply left speechless.

Randy Pausch Died Today at 47

Randy Pausch, Professor of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University, died today of complications due to pancreatic cancer. His inspirational "Last Lecture", intended for his kids, has been viewed by over 6 million people world wide. He will be sorely missed.

Check out his talk, "Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams" and his appearance on Oprah.

5 Things You Hate About Videosift

Inspired by Jeff's recent post, I thought we should include the flip side. Here's the 5 things I hate most about Videosift (again, in no particular order):

1. popularity trumping quality
2. software bugs (as rare as they are)
3. mob rule
4. the lapse of intelligent commentary
5. sifting while drunk

Step up and air your grievances! Nah, actually maybe we can figure out the things that annoy the hell out of everyone and fix them.

[edit] See my comment in the other post for reference if some of those items see out of line.

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