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The need for speed: Rich media content

And now, here’s yet another reason to advocate for fiber optic redundancy in Humboldt County; rich media content.

What is rich media content? According to Wikipedia.org, it’s “a broad range of interactive digital media that exhibit dynamic motion, taking advantage of enhanced sensory features such as video, audio and animation.” If you download a video, you’re watching rich media. If you put that video into your web page, you’re broadcasting it. People watch and listen to a rich media file while online, or oftentimes, they can save it to their hard drive, and watch it later using players such like Real Networks’ RealPlayer, Microsoft Media Player, or Apple’s QuickTime. Of course, broadband access is a must.

Rich media can take on many forms, and is quickly evolving. It can take the form of an advertisement you’re forced to watch before you can get into a particular website, or news clips that get rebroadcast on the web. Many teachers include rich media content as part of the learning experience. Whether their students are participating in a video exchange with a classroom around the world, or downloading PBS segments, rich media is helping students stay current with what’s going on in the world around them. This is one small reason why advocating for redundant broadband is so important. If our connection goes down and a backup isn’t there, students suffer.

Since about 2004, rich media search engines have sprung up. These search engines save time, because traditional search engines have a very difficult time indexing these types of files, and often miss a lot of rich media content. The technology behind the engines is astonishing. For example, videos and podcasts are indexed by voice recognition software that translates the content and registers it in the engine. While results can vary due to background noise and such, the capabilities are increasing by the minute.

Try out the following search engines and see what you find. Remember, you can utilize filters to screen out any unwanted types of content. Also, if you have video you’d like to have indexed, you can submit it for registration consideration. And of course, if you’re a business owner, you can even advertise on some of them.

www.Singingfish.com

Singingfish indexes multimedia formats, including Windows Media, Real, QuickTime, and mp3s. It’s basic and easy to use. Do a search for “Willie Nelson cowboy song,” and you’ll find links to news clips from around the world that discuss the hoopla, and mp3s that Willie wrote with “Cowboy” in the title. Or type in “Humboldt County,” and you’ll find songs for download on HumboldtMusic.com, NPR podcasts about the tree-sitter pepper spray case, tourism videos, and mock news from High Times Magazine. Click on any result and you will be taken directly to that website. You can save your searches right on the site.

www.Truveo.com

Without any front-end glitz, Truveo operates similar to Singingfish, but with a cleaner interface. And soon enough, just about everyone will know about it, now that AOL/Time Warner owns it. Truveo launched this engine last September, and in lightening speed, AOL bought the 12-person company in January.

www.BlinkxTV.com

Blinkx can find particular segments within a broadcast, and each video stream starts off at the point in the clip that’s most relevant to what you were looking for. But what makes Blinkx stand out is the company’s free, downloadable desktop software for PCs. The Blinkx software “Smart Folders” feature will automatically create folders in your computer, and automatically fill the folders with pictures, music video clips, text, and Web pages you downloaded, and will index related ones that already exist on your hard drive. What’s the point? You no longer have to rack your brain to find the right search terms, either on the web, or on your computer, to find relevant content, Smart Folders does it for you, based on what you’ve been working on and the content you’ve been searching for. The technology is a little boggling, but you can read more about at Blinkx.com.

Technologies like rich media are changing the world faster than you can imagine. For rural residents to thrive, it’s critical to stay educated and be aware of our lives are affected by these rapidly evolving technologies, so please come to a Redwood Technology Consortium meeting and get involved. Visit http://www.RedwoodTech.org for details.