Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Tuesday, January 25, 2021

search your tube
Google is now in the video search business — but not in the manner that you might expect:

With Google Video (www.google.com/video), Google is indexing the closed-caption transcripts from PBS, C-SPAN, Fox News, the NBA and others. Closed captions, originally intended for people with hearing impairments, are the text translations of program that typically scroll across the bottom of TV screens.

For now, the Mountain View search engine will not link directly to video content. Instead, when users click on a search result, they’ll be taken to a “preview page'’ that will show excerpts of the closed-caption text alongside relevant still images from the video program.

Where available, Google will also display programming information, such as the date and time the show aired and when it will air next.

“The idea is to help users find programs they know about and find upcoming programming they might want to know more about,'’ said Jennifer Feikin, director of Google Video.

So instead of locating the megabytes of mpeg, avi and other digital video clip files floating around the Web, Google’s just pointing the way to supplemental information. I can think of three reasons for this:

1. Most of the television video clips on the Web are unauthorized copies. At some point, rightsholders may go the RIAA route and decide to sue people/services that are providing these copies for Web distribution. I’m thinking Google is sidestepping any potential legal issues by only indirectly pointing the way, rather than directly linking to these shady files.

It’s worth noting that the competition isn’t concerned about this so far. Yahoo! Video Search brings back links to the real-deal video clips, without regard for where they reside.

2. For all the advancements, Web search technology is still basically primitive: It relies on text identification to harvest results. Even things like Google Image Search works by indexing the text information that surrounds the media being sought (in this example, the captions and accompanying text on the same page as the image files). So at root, it’s easier for Google concentrate on transcribed data instead of the files themselves, which is far trickier.

The search method for Yahoo! works on the text-search principle: It goes strictly by the filename. So the search service is dependent on people naming their video files accurately. To an extent, this is unavoidable, and a good bet regardless, but still not foolproof: If someone decides to use numbers instead of titles to name their video files, those files are harder for search engines to find (if they can find them at all).

3. Combining the prior two points, Google can position itself as an attractive search technology provider for DVR manufacturers/services. By building this search index now, based upon video content descriptions, Google can present it later as a ready-to-go utility to be bundled into a set-top box. And by demonstrating ahead of time that it won’t aid and abet the recovery of unauthorized copies of intellectual property, Google becomes a strong good-faith partner to the television industry. Yahoo!, with its current video search offering, can’t make that argument.

So I’m seeing this branch-out as laying the groundwork for bringing the Google logo to your television screen, in the mother of all convergence plays. The search heavyweight will soon be ubiquitously; I suppose someday, you’ll be Googling your refrigerator…

(This musing was inspired by a comment I made over at Blue Glow Worm)

- Costa Tsiokos, Tue 01/25/2005 10:56:47 PM
Category: Internet, TV | Permalink |

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