Friday, March 21, 2008

Project Play: YouTube

I love YouTube. It took me awhile to "get it", and I'm still kind of regretful that I showed my wife how to find Johnny Depp clips. Once she gets to the Springsteen and Leonard Cohen music videos, I may never see her again.

So, is it coincidental that all the Internet access in our library network slows down in later afternoons? That our library system needs to devote ever greater resources to buying bandwidth? Apparently, it's true: if you build it, they will come. And they'll download streaming media.

The New York Times reported last week:

For months there has been a rising chorus of alarm about the surging growth in the amount of data flying across the Internet. The threat, according to some industry groups, analysts and researchers, stems mainly from the increasing visual richness of online communications and entertainment — video clips and movies, social networks and multiplayer games.

Moving images, far more than words or sounds, are hefty rivers of digital bits as they traverse the Internet’s pipes and gateways, requiring, in industry parlance, more bandwidth. Last year, by one estimate, the video site YouTube, owned by Google, consumed as much bandwidth as the entire Internet did in 2000.

What does this mean for libraries? Continued investment in bandwidth for one thing, and paying attention to how our electronically-delivered services are impacted. OTOH, YouTube-hosted videos are off-site for a library: we put library instruction on YouTube's servers, a patron watches it in the office or at home -- it's no bandwidth off our nose.

I like the creative uses of YouTube by libraries, including library instruction, marketing contests (like the recent InfoSoup video contest), etc. I've found it easy to embed YouTube videos in blog posts here, as witness these examples.

Finally, here's a YouTube video embarassing for all concerned , shot at a meeting of our system's library directors: it's a bit of Lucie's farewell party, with video shot on my phone. Prime stuff.


jdscott50 said...

We had to upgrade our bandwidth. We went from 1.5 mbps to 6mbps thanks to e-rate. Things were beginning to grind to a halt, especially in the afternoon. This is the next great problem in libraries. We have the newer computers, but we need the bandwidth.

Terry Dawson said...

Yeah, it's not unlike the situation we see on our highways: more traffic leads to more lanes leads to more traffic.

In the case of streaming media, we actually have a city policy that prohibits it, though we created a library exception for obvious reasons.

But we have to be watchful: Pandora is VERY cool, but our staff (self included) dasn't use it at work -- you can just hear it sucking up the bandwidth.