IDEA #7 – Video Comments Plugin for Blogs

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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).