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Videos and the cubicle effect on content consumption

Posted by joconner on March 20, 2008 at 2:54 PM PDT

They do great work over there on the java.sun.com editorial team, and they've been improving the site with lots of videos lately. The last three featured content pieces have been videos. That's excellent work, but it's inaccessible for a couple reasons.

First, I like to hit java.sun.com first thing in the day from my workplace. That's been a cubicle environment recently. I can quietly read a text article, even print it and read it later during a lunch break. Unfortunately, I can't do the same with the videos. They're fun, sure, but unwatchable because video and audio are distracting to others in the office. Bandwidth issues aside...people just don't like to hear this from another cube. I understand that, so I don't intrude on their peace and quiet. Unfortunately, the video is inaccessible to me. And when I get home, well, there's a better than even chance that I won't watch a tech video then either.

Second, the videos are inaccessible to those with hearing or sight impairments. Seems obvious, right? Can't hear...the audio isn't usable. Can't see...can't watch the video either. I suppose you could listen to the video -- but not in my cube. So, the videos are inaccessible to others too. Granted, those who can't benefit from the videos are a small minority. Still, wouldn't it be nice to include them as far as possible?

I think a solution is possible. Video is a great idea for java.sun.com, and clearly the medium is popular. Just witness the popularity of YouTube, etc. I think the videos could be improved though with something very simple. Transcripts.

Providing a transcript with the video would allow cubicle dwellers access to the content. The same transcript makes the content accessible to hearing and site impaired developers too. Can't hear -- you can read the transcript content. Can't see? Text readers exist for that case. Either way, the videos become more accessible to a larger group of people.

Is this a complaint? No way. I enjoy practically all of the content provided by java.sun.com. This is just a friendly suggestion, hoping that it will bring the content to an even wider audience.

It has been a long, long time since I last worked in a cubical environment. I find the experience undesirable but tolerable. It makes me curious though...just how many of us work in a cube environment? Might be a great polling opportunity for the java.net editors...

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Comments

Yes, I would too would prefer a transcript and I don't sit in a cubicle. I can find the important points faster in text. I can cut and paste if I want to share a portion with someone else. I can even print it and take it to a meeting where I can use my time while I am not engaged in the topic being discussed. On wireless, I often don't have the bandwith. I will often skip videos. It may be that they are valuable to "demo" some visual feature but I have noticed that Netbeans has a number of articles with the appropriate screen shots. I prefer that.

For you, John, I recommend a good pair of headphones.

But I agree, transcripts make things better (searchable) for everyone, especially when they are time coded. We do this sometimes with meetings and presentations, and it's not too expensive.

I rarely if ever watch those videos. But doing so shouldn't be a problem with the right equipment.

Here everyone is equipped with a webcam and headset for videoconferencing. The cams hardly get used, the headsets are used mostly for listening to audio (CDs, iTune, webradio, and yes videos).

Ditto. I rarely watch the videos.

Well, I don't work in a cubicle and unfortunately I do a lot of work even when I'm at home, but I'd like to see transcripts too. Generally I find it more relaxing to read something than to watch a video - I presume because I can set my own speed, e.g. having a fast browse through an article to see whether it's interesting, or cycling on the same paragraph if I need to understand it better. It's a matter of random access vs sequential access.

Seems to me that those who are forced to dwell in cubicles are "site impaired".