The trouble with YouTube is

Publishing on YouTube is cheap, quick, easy and not without its dangers. So here’s how to avoid the pain.

If it’s your own content you’re publishing and this is what you want to do, go for it. If you’re part of a digital storytelling project that helps others to make stories and you’re looking for a way of getting their stories out there, just be aware the embed code that’s on offer enables anyone to embed that video into a completely different website. Usually that will be someone’s on-topic blog; sometime though, the final destination is something much less desirable. It’s all about context, isn’t it?

Benefits of YouTube publication

  • Cheap. They pay for hosting and bandwidth, not you
  • Accessible. Your content has the potential to be seen by the huge YouTube viewing community and, because Google owns YouTube, it’s going to be findable via search.

Drawbacks of YouTube publication

  • You’re at YouTube’s mercy.  It’s their terms and conditions that apply, not yours, and you may sometime find adverts before and after, as well as around your video.
  • You’re at others’ mercy. You’re not in control of the way your content is contextualised. A digital story about, say, mental illness, may be embedded unscrupulously by someone (not YouTube of course)  into say a ‘Saddo of the Week’ site.

So my advice is: if it’s your story and you’re happy, go for it; if it’s someone else’s story you’re publishing, have a chat with them, discuss your concerns together, and take a decision after that.

Avoid using other people’s stuff – number 7 of 7 DS no-nos

This is your story, so try to use your own images, story, words, original sentiments, music, style, philosophy, etc. as far as you can.
The promotion of royalty-free content advocated by some digital storytelling trainers means that opportunities may be missed. Of course, sometimes you’ll find yourself working with people who have no access to their own materials. And teachers in class with young children may also find it easier to use images from the internet. If you do use your own personal materials though, you’ll not only avoid issues around intellectual property, but your story will also truly be your own.

Tribute forms

“How can people participate without  necessarily having to be centre stage?” That’s a question I’ve been asking myself ever since discussing digital storytelling with a colleague, Grahame Davies, last year.

My experience of Digital Stories is that they’re usually personal. This aspect of ‘talking about myself’ raises a barrier in some people and cultures. This was an issue raised by some people I met in Japan earlier this year.

Last night, on TV, I saw a piece of video that stands as a good example of a ‘tribute form’. Look at the first 55 seconds of the video clip on this page. It’s in Welsh. It features  people who live in Bala, north Wales. They’re all praising Mair Penri Jones – a woman who’s been active and helped many people in that community.

As well as being a form of storytelling about others, rather than the self, this form lends itself well to a project where equipment is in short supply and people need to work together to make a film.

I’d be interested to hear of other similar forms.

Pink fingertip syndrome

This is a new term I just had to invent. We launched a new Welsh-language mobile website yesterday (info). It was fast as anything when I browsed it alone, yet when I needed to show it to Siwan from the press office, it loaded ever so slowly. Why did this happen? Because of pink fingertip syndrome – I pressed the buttons differently when I was demonstrating and the server ‘knew’.

Eisteddfod 2008

It’s the week of the National Eisteddfod which is back here in Cardiff for the first time in 30 years. Lots of buzz on the Maes. I met Gwion Llwyd of Sbarc! yesterday while watching Mr Huw play live. Sbarc! is a successful Digital Storytelling project based in Caernarfon, run by Rhian Cadwaladr. Gwion said they’re experimenting with some interesting new story forms and he’s also part of Rhyfeddod.com – a performing art group which is planning an autumn show where projected couplets written by different poets are triggered depending on where on a stage a person stands. They’re also working on  a newly-funded slate-mining heritage project. Gwion’s fascinated by this enigma: so many people died in the Dorothea north Wales slate quarry in Llanberis when it was active in the C19-early20; after it closed, it was flooded to make a deep lake in which people today go diving; many of these divers die today in that flooded quarry…

Tomorrow, I’m attending the Wales Media Literacy Network event at the S4C stall. Nia M Davies of BBC Cymru’s Mosgito is speaking about the work that TV programme has done in giving access to the airwaves with live webcam linkups. Mosgito has been working alongside BBC Ffeil with Eisteddfod-goers to make films with young people this week.

On a personal note, I’ve been working with the BBC website team this year. Nice to see so much publicity for our Eisteddfod promo, all because it starred Ioan Gruffudd, Matthew Rhys and Gethin Jones…