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IDEA #7 – Video Comments Plugin for Blogs

Michael Arrington, TechCrunch 1/14/07:

“For the blogger crowd, it would be very useful to have a plugin that works directly with the standard comments feature that allows users to leave text, audio, or audio/video comments at their election. If someone builds a stable plugin that does that, we’ll be integrating it across all the TechCrunch network blogs.”

So how I see a solution happening is someone creates a WordPress plugin (with a Flash recorder widget that allows users to record audio/video right in the webpage via microphone and/or webcam on user’s computer). The WordPress plugin requires an Amazon S3 account and Amazon EC2 account. The EC2 will be the FLV server and the S3 does the hosting/bandwidth for the videos (blog owner pays direct to Amazon for both services).

Streaming Flash video (FLV) needs some sort of FLV server software to stream video — you can’t just host an FLV file and expect it to stream to users; if you just host the file, the user has to download the entire thing before it starts streaming. (This is my understanding, anyway). Thus, you can pay for Adobe’s expensive FLV server or you can utilize an open-source one. But regardless, 99.999999% of blog owners won’t be able to host videos on their blog, because they don’t have this required technology.

The widget developer could somehow monetize this solution by charging for usage of the plugin and/or Flash portion of the widget (I believe you could put some sort of licensing mechanism in the Flash recorder that licenses it to a specific domain), or the developer could charge for a default install of the FLV server on Amazon EC2 (pretty hairy, but if this install/setup could be automated for a client — would be very valuable) and charge the client anywhere from $5 to $100.

Tech brainstorm:

I wouldn’t allow users to email or upload a video — just do the webcam/microphone Flash widget … this will reduce spam, and in particular remove the feasability of the user adding an ad in their comment. User could also simply just post a text comment.

Might want to restrict the length of the audio/video comments to 2 minutes — or allow blog owner to specify maximum length. Blog can also specify whether to monitor the posts. Allow users to flag a comment as spam.

Allow other users to reply to comments via text/audio/video.

If commenter leaves an audio/video comment, they might include a link in the text box — allowing someone to quickly go to whatever website the commenter is referencing in their audio/video. Give ability for commenter (or readers) to transcribe the audio/video comments.

Eventually roll-out a JavaScript version maybe — so the blogger can use any blog back-end technology and just embed this JavaScript code into their source code.

Possibly create a network of users via all the blogs that utilize this (a la MyBlogLog-ish) and allow users to upload an avatar/profile info as a commenter.

If audio comment, user can display a photo/avatar in the “video” widget while the audio plays in the Flash Widget.

Permanent URLs to each comment. Ability for blog owner to specify whether the video/audio comments can be embeded on other websites. Ability for blog owner to specify whether outside video comments could be embedded on the blog (i.e. a user posts a comment on YouTube, embeds it on this blog).

  • Robert Dewey

    As a “commenter”, I’m not sure how much I would enjoy such a feature. I really enjoy reading the text and being able to copy/paste certain arguments.

    While Mike Arrington would make a good client and license the widget from you (or whoever does this), I don’t think the demand will be large enough to support it across the board.

  • Eric Nagel

    I agree with Robert… I still prefer to leave my comments in text, so I can think about what I’m writing, and I’d rather read comments, rather than listen to them.

    Video comments may cause some problems, like, “what did he say?” While sarcasm and tone come across better, how would this work for those who use English as their second language? I can read another language better than I can listen to it.

    Finally, I can read comments while on the phone, or without disturbing my coworkers (yeah, I know I work from home and have no coworkers in my office).

  • Peter Cooper

    Just to let you know.. FLV can be streamed to users without needing anything expensive or clever :) In theory, with a very basic FLV player your idea could be rigged together into any WordPress install. The hard part is the recording of the video direct from Flash, and that does currently require something special on the server end.

  • Steve Poland

    Searchles could likely upgrade their technology to include video/audio comments.

  • Jeff

    Let me just add(a little late I know) that we have created such a plug in for WordPress currently. Others will be added with finding the cash to support it. We allow for all media types. You do not have to worry about not having text because we keep that also. If you would like to jump on and take a sneak peek, drop me an e-mail and I will get you the log on info. You can see all the comments made if you go to the link from my name. And see how it will be utilized the most in my opinion.

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