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Methods for Tracking Viral Video Dissemination across the U.S. Blogosphere

The final speaker in this session at AoIR 2011 is Shawn Walker, whose interest is in the viral diffusion of information. He focusses here on the viral diffusion of videos during the last U.S. presidential election. Such diffusion addresses the dynamics of viral information flows online; videos sometimes managed to generate some millions of views in a very short time. Shawn’s project compared the diffusion of a number of videos across the blogosphere over the course of a year and a half.

How is this done methodologically? How can relevant data be gathered and analysed? Shawn generated data for some 125 videos across 10,000 blogs; this involves substantial data scraping and capturing, as well as (hand-)coding and analysing data. Extracting data on videos from YouTube is far from easy, and it’s impossible to predict which videos will go viral; instead, the project used a tool called Viral Video Chart to determine the top viral election videos, as well as exploring YouTube manually to identify different versions and mashups of the same video. Shawn also used paid access to viewing data provided by TubeMogul – which was not always comprehensive or entirely accurate, however.

The Emergence of Copygrey Services

It’s the last day of AoIR 2010, and the first session I’m attending starts with Jan Nolin, whose interest is in filesharing. He describes this as Internet-based cultural consumption (IBCC), in order to move away from terms like filesharing, peer-to-peer networks, and other more limited concepts. IBCC is a broad and inclusive term, then (though excluding user-led content creation) – it includes societal contexts, technological and economical choices, social relationships, and political and legislative contexts.

IBCC has been important in shaping the Net – it has been in a tug of war pattern between legislation and technology: increased legislation leads to advances in circumvention technology, etc. There was a tech push from filesharers at first, then a legal response, then further evasive technology like Napster, then counter-evasive practices from the industty, and more recently a differentiation between white, black, and grey practices. Most recently there has been a specialisation and commercialisation of grey markets – an emergence of a copygrey business model.

Trends in Video Content on Spanish News Websites

The next speaker at ECREA 2010 is Pere Masip, whose focus is on the multimedia content of Spanish online newspapers. There is a growing presence of video on such sites, indication new content as well as business models. Why and how is video used on news Websites, then? This study examined the Websites of three of the biggest Spanish newspapers, as well as of the most visited online-only news site in Spain.

Between 14 and 17% of stories on the three newspaper sites had videos; just over 10% of the online-only site. Such videos are mainly integrated with text news on these sites; only one site placed many of its videos in a separate section. Usually, these videos were professionally produced news videos; citizen-generated video content is rare. Such videos include a news organisation ident, but tend not to include bylines or other identifications of the journalists responsible.

Music Video Parodies as Fair Use

The next presenter at ICA 2010 is Aymar Christian, who continues our focus on YouTube: his interest is on music videos on the site, and he argues that music video remakes shared on YouTube are almost always fair use. User-generated music videos (riffing on official videos) are amongst the most popular genres on YouTube, following in a long tradition (also incorporating professional work, such as the Weird Al videos); music videos and their remakes stand in a postmodernist tradition that may critique representation and reject standard Hollywood narrative (not least also characterised by the emergenceof MTV.

Video Parodies as Memes on YouTube

The next presenter at ICA 2010 is Limor Shifman, who shifts our focus to YouTube and notes the rapid increase in the number of videos shared on the site (some 2000 more by the time this presentation is finished). There's a massive amount of people spending a massive amount of time on creating such videos - many of whom draw on existing videos by imitating and replicating them. YouTube videos which are taken up in this way are memes.

Memes are understood as similar to genes, reproduced by copying and imitation and undergoing subtle mutations in the process. The Net has further multiplied and accelerated memes; it is a paradise for memes (and for people who research them). Some such memes spread with no significant variation (Susan Boyle's Britain's Got Talent performance is one such example), while some serve as the basis for extensive user-generated parody and derivation.

Students' Use of TV Content across Different Platforms

Hong Kong.
The final session for this first day of The Internet Turning 40 starts with a paper by Louisa Ha on the use of multiplatform TV by students. Video is now consumed using TVs, computers, iPods, DVRs, DVD players, and mobile phones, but what are the patterns of such consumption and how does the usage of one affect usage of others? How is this related to different personal factors (gender, etc.), especially for user-generated videos? And how satisfied are the users of these different platforms?

Louisa undertook a national survey in 2008 of some 210 (US) college students in six public universities, 91% of whom watch online video (22% watch TV for more than16 hours per week). 47% were early adopters, having watched online video for more than three years at that point; they mostly came across such videos through surfing or (in 25% of cases) through peer influence. Online, 48% watched user-generated videos exclusively; 34% both user-generated and repurposed videos. Key sources here were YouTube (nearly 100%), Facebook, and MySpace, and mainly comedy and music entertainment videos.

Predicting Demand for Catch-Up Television

The next session here at EuroITV 2009 starts with another presenter from Alcatel-Lucent, Danny de Vleeschauwer. He notes the growth in catch-up television (CuTV), through initiatives such as the BBC's iPlayer or the ABC's iView - so that content is no longer consumed at exactly the same time (though still concentrated in a key period of time). This changes the requirements for IPTV: it can no longer operate under a broadcast or multicast model, but must now employ a unicast model which delivers a unique stream to each tuned-in viewer.

Future Directions for IPTV

The morning keynote on this second and last day of EuroITV 2009 is by Jan van Bogaert from Alcatel-Lucent. He notes the gradual shift from a triple-play model for connecting households using broadband (comprising of IPTV, voice, and Internet communication) towards a more converged model which he calls application-enabled broadband.

The older model still involves a walled garden approach, too,where IPTV, for example, is streamed into the home using the broadband network, but delivered only to the TV, not to the PC. A different model is to stream content 'over the top' on the Net, allowing access via broadbandp-connected TVs. This has also led to IPTV providers thinking about expanding their market by offering their TV channels not only as IPTV to their own subscribers, but also streamed over the top to users subscribed with their competitors.

Interactive Tools for Broadcast Directors

We move on to Janez Zaletelj, whose paper at EuroITV 2009 focusses on real-time viewer feedback in TV production, here in the context of the 2008 Olympic Games. Traditionally, in sports broadcasting, broadcast directors have no feedback from viewers whatsoever; adding such feedback channels, however, enables them to check the viewer acceptance of content, make changes accordingly, and otherwise communicate with the audience.

The project used IPTV for this purpose; four interlinked sub-channels carryng different content and allowing user votes as well as information flashes from the producers, were made available within the overall Olympic Games channel. The system was able to gather viewer statistics on each of the channels and on what content ws being watched, and this was able to be correlated with viewer profiles (gathered in some detail for the specific purpose of this prototype study).


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