Serious uses for YouTube’s new popup video feature

I’m loving YouTube’s new video annotation feature, which Phil Shapiro alerted me to. Lots of people are going to have lots of fun with that. If you remember when MTV first started doing popup video, you’ll have some idea how much fun.

But from Phil’s perspective and mine, this is a seriously useful tool as well. He’s planning to annotate screencasts with it. And I found a great use for it here.

That short video features Bob Coffey, the senior climber at our YMCA. When I made and posted the video, I wasn’t quite sure how senior Bob was so I didn’t say. Yesterday I remembered to ask. Turns out he is 79.

It’s painful to add new information to a video. Opening up the raw file (if you even kept it around), adding a caption, recompressing, reuploading — it’s too much overhead, and unless there’s a compelling need you’re just not going to bother.

Of course you can update the textual wrapper, and alter the title or description. But in this case, I didn’t want to that. The information is much more effective when inserted midstream. After he’s scampered halfway up the wall, the popup annotation saying “Bob Coffey is 79 years old” makes the point more subtly and powerfully.

The point, by the way, is that we can do more, physically, at all ages, than we think. I’ve known a few people over the years who have redefined what’s possible, and it’s always an inspiring thing to see.

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One thought on “Serious uses for YouTube’s new popup video feature

  1. We at Overcast Media are developing a technology that will make adding popup bubbles a lot easier. It is the basic idea you talked about (adding textual and audio content to video stream).

    Currently, our studio program handles most video formats and we are working on Flash now. If you are interested, please visit our site,

    Our Wikipedia entry ( talks about how the technology works.

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