Searching for Hillary Clinton

Interesting Washington Post article by Sara Kehaulani Goo about the attempts to refine video searching on the web, comparing video searching to the early days of the web when text searching “was clunky and largely incomplete.” Goo notes that if you conduct a search using Hillary Clinton’s name on one of the big online video search engines, her online video announcement will not appear among the top search results. I’m generally sympathetic with the idea that we need more sophisticated video search technologies, but I’m also intrigued by the “problems” that search engines are facing in terms of video search, in part because these problems speak to important questions about how web video will be defined and what kinds of videos will be privileged.

I tried the same search for Hillary Clinton on YouTube and with some minor tweaks–ranking by date instead of relevance, adding another keyword–her announcement moved to the top of the listed results. But what I found instead of Clinton’s official announcement was far more interesting, in my opinion. There were already dozens of video mashups and other responses to Clinton’s announcement, many of them deconstructing the language and the camera techniques used in the announcement. Others posted homemade commercials endorsing Clinton for President. While I’m not a big fan of Senator Clinton, I’m even less of a fan of her conservative critics, but it was interesting to see their (apparently homemade) videos ranked “above” hers in the YouTube search. This is something that will no doubt be lost if the monetizing potential of web video is privileged over other criteria.

I need to get to some other writing projects right now, but I just wanted to point to the article because I think it does raise some interetsing questions that we’ll be thinking about for some time.

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