I've just been to Martin Weller's talk on the Podstars project at the Open University. This is a pilot project to encourage academics from faculties across the OU to try their hand at producing short videos, slidecasts (slide presentations + audio) or other multimedia. Despite the name Podstars, the aim was not to create celebrities, but instead to lower the bar to multimedia production.

Welcome to Classics Confidential! On YouTube.

I was particularly interested in Martin's point that for him, doing slidecasts has become second nature. He mentioned recording himself practising a presentation – something he would do anyway. Then, using the tools on Slideshare to sequence the audio with the slides. This emphasises for me the idea that the right tools and attitude can result in something, like a slidecast, with minimal investment of time.

Podstars slide cast, by Martin Weller, on Slideshare.

And this is the point I've been trying to make for a while – perhaps not very well(!) – about captioning and audio description. That if we can lower the bar, by providing the right tools that are usable, and promote the ideas of crowd-sourcing. And if we can articulate the full benefits - for example, that captions can be a benefit for accessibility, and expand the audience for an English-language video into the vast non-English speaking world. Or, that a transcript can improve findability and searchability, maybe we can increase the proportion of captioned and described video on the Web.

To that end, here are a few links...

  • dotSUB.com

    Open and crowd-sourced captions/ sub-titles. Originally created for internationalizing/ localizing video, also useful for accessibility, and anyone who likes to skim a transcript! (commercial, but promotes Creative Commons licenses). Note, the idea here is you can upload your video, and start to transcribe/ caption and/or invite others to transcribe, and translate. So, potentially low-investment.

  • Universalsubtitles.org

    Open and crowd-sourced captions/ sub-titles. A new project from the Participatory Culture Foundation/ Miro, with the Mozilla Foundation – mainly with an accessibility slant, but with the internationalization and searchability benefits.

  • Oh No Robot: Comic Search!

    Transcribing/ describing web comics to improve search/ findability. Chetz Colwell pointed this out to me.

More on Podstars — live blogging from Doug Clow.