YouTube has announced a new series on content for political candidates, called Spotlight. Candidates will be able to ask the YouTube community a question and monitor comments and video responses sent in from users. They'll then get a chance to respond to the group discussion later in the week. The goal is to provide an open forum for users to know candidates a little better, and for people to ask questions directly--an option that's historically been out of reach (outside members of the press or those involved in campaign events). The project is also taking advantage of a … Read more
Old-school Mac users might remember a little application called HyperCard. Originally a database application, it doubled as a casual animation tool--letting users create fairly basic cartoons, frame by frame. This morning I've been playing around with AniBOOM's ShapeShifter, a Web-based animation creation tool that brings back those old feelings of black-and-white computing, with a new social bookmarking twist.
ShapeShifter is pretty simple to use. There are four shapes to choose from, and you can place them wherever you want on the canvas. Each shape can be rotated, resized and grouped together to make new forms. When you're … Read more
It's a little late, but I want to wrap up the Stirr event I emceed last week. As with all other Stirr gatherings I've been to, this event included four carefully chosen presenters pitching their new Web companies. These were the companies we heard from last week:
MetaWeb, makers of Freebase, had the most popular presentation, judging by the silence of the audience during the pitch and the applause meter at the end of it. The MetaWeb database platform underpins the Freebase application and is designed to be a shared repository of structured knowledge. The blogosphere loves it, … Read more
We got the tip today about a brand new service called Bubble Guru. Its goal is simple: to give your blog or Web site visitors a short pop-up video message that runs and closes without any user interaction required. You can also record and send message to friends via e-mail. For viewers, there's no escape--the talking bubble will follow them as they scroll down the page.
The service is by no means a full-fledged video blogging tool; it falls into a strange subcategory between video messaging and a pop-up advertisement. It's also a little early in development, offering no way to save and track the messages you've created. For now the service is free, but a paid subscription version is on the way for about $10 a month.
We thought long and hard about the usefulness of this for the casual user. In truth, video embedding services from YouTube or Viddler is much more user friendly. Users can turn those videos on and off at their discretion and pass any interesting ones along to a friend. That, however, isn't the point of Bubble Guru. This service is all about grabbing your attention, which it does very well. We've embedded one for you: to see what it looks like, click "read more" below.… Read more
Mog, the music recommendation tool and social network left beta this morning and launched a new video channel called Mog TV. The video service scans your music library and offers YouTube music videos that it thinks you'll like. There's also a kitschy feature called "The Magic Button" that can randomly bring up content related to your musical tastes. The button has been placed site-wide, and can be found on user profiles, Mog TV, and artist pages. The only bummer here is the need to install the Mog-o-matic software on your machine for access to personalized recommendations, … Read more
YouTube went offline last night for updating. The new version is live now. Features include the capability to customize the colors and content on your personal profile page, and a new Google Labs-like feature, TestTube, where you can experiment with new YouTube features. The TestTube projects are the interesting thing here.
For example, TestTube has the new Audio Swap feature (previous coverage), which lets you replace your video's audio with a music track from one of several artists that YouTube has made arrangements with. The interface to make the swap is easy, and the selection of musical themes is … Read more
We saw a lot of work and business tools for conferencing and collaboration come out of Under the Radar last week, but what about when you want to have fun? YouCams is a slick little embeddable video, voice, and text-chatting tool that's a mix of fun and business. The entire app runs in Flash, and users can jump in and join a discussion without the need for registration. The tool is aimed at social network users (mainly the MySpace crowd) as a way to communicate and interact with one another. Something that will likely get them blocked from the service, like what happened to competitor Stickam.
If you've used Stickam before, the Webcam functionality is a little similar. And by a little I'm being generous, because YouCams is much more full featured. There are two tiers of service, both free and paid. Basic registration is fairly generous, giving you voice, text, and video broadcasting privileges. Upgrading to the premium level turns YouCams into a full-on conferencing tool, allowing you to video chat with three other users at the same time, and own a personalized URL with the option to host your own conferencing room.
An interesting addition to YouCams is integration with YouTube, and a large variety of widgets. These float around on the interface, and require no extra installation. It feels a little bit like YourMinis. The Space Invaders widget in particular nearly kept me from finishing this post. Likewise the YouTube integration is well done. Video links pop up in a conversation bubble, and won't start until you click on them. Like the widgets, they float around and can be resized on an ad-hoc basis.
There's also a social networking component integrated in the service. Users trade 'stars,' which act as credits to buy into various features. It's an interesting take on user involvement, although I'm not sure it'll catch on until users have a real reason to get involved. Maybe giving them access to premium content like music or movie downloads would be a good hook. In the meantime, casual chatters will likely get a kick out of YouCams for its slick interface and ease of use.
I've embedded a YouCams module after the jump. It might not run if you're using Firefox. We've been in contact with the YouCams team about this, and they're on it.… Read more
Microsoft is closing its video-sharing site, Soapbox, to new users for up to two months so it can create better safeguards against pirated content.
The software giant, which agreed earlier Thursday to distribute movies and TV shows for big media companies, has seen Soapbox fill up with unauthorized clips since a test version of the site launched last month.
No new subscribers will be accepted, but anyone who has already signed up for Soapbox can continue to access the site, said Adam Sohn, a director in Microsoft's online-services group.
Microsoft stood to be embarrassed by the existence of pirated work on Soapbox. There was a real possibility that the company could have found itself distributing video from News Corp. and NBC Universal, at the same time another one of its units was hosting material stolen from those same companies.
Microsoft, AOL, and Yahoo have agreed to be part of a new online joint venture of media conglomerates that also includes NBC Universal and News Corp. The new video network, scheduled to debut this summer, will feature full-length programming, movies, and clips from at least a dozen television networks and two major film studios. … Read more